Sly Pond Revisited

Pine ConesThis past weekend I headed back to the Moose River Plains Wild Forest in the Adirondack mountains. Last summer I hiked here for the first time on a failed attempt to reach Sly pond. The trail to Sly pond is not heavily used so it is a bit tricky to follow at times.

After three or four miles, the trail literally runs out into the middle of a beaver pond and stops. I was stymied. Although I continued across the pond by jumping from hillock to hillock and walking the beaver dam, I was never able to find the trail on the other side. I ended up giving it up and heading back to camp. I decided to give it another try.

You take Cedar River Rd. to Wakely dam where there is a registration point before entering the seasonal road that runs from there to the west entrance at Limekiln Lake. There are campsites on either side of the road beginning at about seven miles. Eventually there is a left hand turn for the trail to Sly pond. There is a sign post here, but the sign is gone.

There is one campsite on the side road to the trail head, but the road was blocked by blowdown. I camped at a site back on the main road near the turn off.

Early in the morning I headed up the trail. First you need to wade across the Moose river. Water levels seemed to be a little down all over so this was not a problem. If you pick the right spot, the water is only about knee high.

I had gotten an early start, the weather was fine, and I had studied my topographical maps carefully so I was looking forward to a leisurely walk confident that I could find my way to the pond. Alas, it was not to be.Sunny Fall

No sooner had I crossed the river than I started running into blowdown. Obviously this is to be expected early in the year before the people who kindly maintain the trails (thanks folks)  can get out an clean things up a bit. However, the amount of blowdown was amazing. Every few feet there were downed trees criss-crossing the trial. Some I could climb over, some I had to crawl under, some I turned my back on and pushed through, others I just had to go around.

It was actually easier to bushwhack through the woods than it was to follow the trail. It seems that the trees along the trail are especially prone to losing their tenuous grip on the thin soil since they are deprived of the support of surrounding trees. I wanted to stick with the trail though, so I toiled on hour after hour climbing and hacking my way along.

Finally, tired, sweating and bug bitten, I reached the beaver pond and stood by the tree with the final trail marker surrounded by water. I crossed over and started looking for the trail. It seems that you need to bear to the right immediately after reaching the far shore. There are no markers – just follow the general clearing through the trees.

In a few hundred yards, this leads to another beaver pond and another confusing point. The key here is to NOT cross the beaver pond, but instead to turn left and follow the general clearing up hill. There are no trail markers here either, but I did notice that someone had made scrapes in the bark of two trees on either side of the trail.

As I climbed up the hill I was never sure if I was on the right track or not. The open line that I was following often ran in the bed of a seasonal stream so I didn’t know if this was a trail or if I was just following the stream to who knows where. Finally after what seemed like a mile or more of relatively steep climbing, I found a trail marker on the side of a blown down tree. Woo Hoo!

From here on there was an occasional marker or sometimes a bit of surveyor’s tape tied to a branch. I reached Sly pond around noon after a hard slog. At around 2885 feet (according to my GPS thingy)  Sly pond is one of the highest bodies of water in the Adirondacks.

I puttered about for a while taking some photos and stuff. At high noon, the lighting was not what you would want for landscape type shots so I was not happy with any of the ones that I took.

RocksI dreaded hacking my way back down that trail so I decided to circle around the pond to the outlet and then follow the stream down. This would cut a fair bit off the looping trail and maybe avoid the blowdown problem.

At first this was a good deal. The water was low and I hopped from rock to rock down the stream. There were a few spots where it got steep enough that I had to get down on all fours and scootch down wide clear sections of rock like ski slopes.

Unfortunately as I got lower down the mountain and things started to level off, two things happened – the blowdown started across the stream and the black flies and mosquitoes went nuts. The blowdown was not too bad, but the bugs were. They seemed immune to DEET and they were so thick that I must have breathed in a pound of the little buggers!

Eventually I made my way down to the Moose river. The trouble now is that I was a couple of miles east of the original trailhead where my car was parked. My choice was to try and bushwhack along the river or to head due north through the woods until I hit the road and then walk down it.

I decided to head through the woods which worked out OK. It took longer than I expected so I was a little worried at one point that I had read the map wrong or something, but eventually I came out on the road.

Well, it wasn’t the leisurely walk in the woods that I had envisioned, but it certainly wasn’t dull either.



5 Responses to “Sly Pond Revisited”

  1. Bernie Kasper Says:

    I have been on few hikes that ended up like that, got lost in the Smokies once, you have some really nice images and a very well done site. Good work.

  2. forestrat Says:

    Thanks, Bernie.


  3. fencer Says:

    Interesting trip, and I enjoyed your photos… especially liked the last one.


  4. forestrat Says:


    All my hikes seem to end up being “interesting”. I’m not sure why.

    Isn’t there some famous curse about “may you live in interesting times”?


  5. Andrey Sukhanov Says:

    I did this trip, forth and back to Sly Pond in fall 2010, it pretty much follows your interesting descriptions. No human traces behind the beaver pond. I wish you made the photo of the beaver pond to see how it develops in time.

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