Oh, what a great hike this turned out to be! Darcy and I were looking for something that wouldn’t take all day (the heat was forecast to be upper 80’s), and a trail that wouldn’t be too busy. We weren’t disappointed!
Pole Hill Pond is a trail near Bolton Landing, NY that is about a 5 1/2 mile loop, offering a beautiful pond, nice views of Lake George, and a not so beautiful pond. It was great to get our pup Blue out in the woods, too. According to AllTrails, the elevation gain is about 1,535′, but I think ours was slightly higher than that. Maybe the heat???
The parking lot is rather small, but there were only two cars there when we pulled in. It’s a dirt lot with lots of ruts, so be aware. Our route would run clockwise, but it was a toss up as the pond seemed to be about the halfway point anyway. We signed in at the register where only about a dozen people had done the same since the beginning of June, and headed into the woods.
The first mile or so was pretty buggy, muddy, and wet. The trails follow old logging roads it seems, and you can tell where the old skidders ran through. The area is also covered in ferns and typical “wetland” fauna, so of course the bugs were loving it. And when we showed up? They started REALLY enjoying themselves! Bug spray, bug spray, bug spray! I could kick myself for forgetting my head net today.
The trail doesn’t have much elevation gain, and then you bear due west and up it goes. It’s certainly a leg burner at times, but the wood open up a bit and dries out as you climb. There’s nothing technical here, just up and up. There’s a nice, open area as we popped over 1300′ that offered a really nice breeze and a chance to sit, so sit we did. Blue, after running around and burning energy, decided to lay down in the grass as well. I think we could have sat there a lot longer if the bugs left, but at least they weren’t nearly as bad as earlier. The sun was starting to really cook, but this spot is gorgeous.
We dropped down into a col (or saddle. In the Army we called this a “saddle”) and then back up. We passed the first two people we would see… and then dropped back down… and then back up! Then we got to the trail’s high point where there are some really nice views of Lake George and the mountains beyond!
We passed a couple of guys going in the opposite direction and talked about the trail and then warned us of the little “mosquito maternity ward” just past the big pond, then took a few pics before heading down toward the pond which was still out of view. There’s quite a descent down some rocky terrain, but eventually we came to a beautiful pond tucked away in the mountains. As is always the case, Blue never passes up a chance to go swimming (in anything… mud, muck, anything!) so she jumped in for a bit. We at some snacks and had some water, then decided to get moving as the ever present bugs were getting bad here.
The trail winds around the pond and heads south past another little swampy pond. Ah, the Mosquito Maternity Ward! Darcy noticed a huge tire in the water, and soon after the trail begins to follow a very discernable skidder trail. It’s a very gentle descent that follows a really nice stream, but we were still glad we chose to go clockwise.
The trail heads southeast until it gets to an intersection that was a bit confusing. There are signs but the direction they face is a bit ambiguous. It only took a moment to orient, but still something to be aware of. Basically keep heading straight through! Shortly after this point we saw a couple coming toward us and they gave Blue a pat on the noggin, and we continued on. The trail skirts some private property and you can see where they’re trying to get the trail away from the line, so please, follow the markers and not the cleared “path”. That’s the private property!
We got to the intersection close to the lot and Blue once again jumped into the stream to cool off. We signed out (I think just after 1pm), and with the heat we decided to find the closest Stewart’s (Exit 25, Chestertown seemed good) and grab a couple of sherbet coolers and some jerky for Blue.
Pole Hill Pond is a relatively short trail, but the “bang for the buck” work out, proximity, and light traffic make it a perfect hike. We’re really looking forward to hitting it in the fall!
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