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Old 01-30-2021, 06:08 PM   #3
DSettahr's Avatar
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 5,296
Continued from above...

At the base of West Mountain, I found myself turning right (south) on the old road that would be my route all the way back to my car at Brown's Tract Ponds. Before long, I'd reached Sucker Brook, which was crossed on a wooden bridge above a small canyon through which the creek funneled. Just before the bridge I noticed a very obvious herd path that branched off right (west), which I followed a short distance before turning back. (I have since confirmed via a member of these forums that this is a herd path that continues all the way to Cranberry Pond, maybe 20 minutes or so upstream along Sucker Brook at a moderate hiking pace).

About 10 minutes beyond the Sucker Brook bridge, I reached another junction where a side trail lead a few hundred feet down to the head of Sucker Brook Bay on Raquette Lake. Here, I found a somewhat narrow but otherwise nice sandy beach, and a designated tent site perched atop a nearby knoll. The beach looked to be a nice spot for swimming. I was a bit surprised to see that the campsite didn't appear to get a whole lot of reqular use- given it's proximity to the beach plus also the fact that it is (I think) the only designated tent site on this part of Raquette Lake, I would've expected it to be a more popular one. Maybe the bulk of the overnight boat use is instead concentrated at the numerous lean-tos located elsewhere on the lake.

Back on the old road again and traveling further south, I reached some problematic beaver flooding where the trail crosses the appropriately-named Beaver Brook. The water here was over the tops of my boots- and had it not been the final few miles of my hike, I might have elected instead to switch to my crocs (and risk leaches) to keep my footwear and socks dry.

I also passed a junction with the side trail to Uncas Road, arriving at that road mid-way between Brown's Tract campground and the hamlet of Raquette Lake. A quick glance at this trail as I hiked by did not seem to indicate that it was at all well maintained.

Further south, I passed junctions with side trails to Brown's Tract campground itself, and to Shallow Lake further to the west. While hiking south along the west shore of Lower Brown's Tract Pond, I noticed a moderately impacted herd path that lead down to the shore of the pond. I followed this to a small rocky peninsula on the pond- with decent views and what appeared to be great swimming.

After crossing the inlet between the two Brown's Tract ponds on a slightly rickety bridge, I was now on the shore of Upper Brown's Tract Pond. Two days prior when I'd started my trek, I noticed a lot of cars parked on Uncas Road near the gate that blocks the south end of this trail- and now I saw why. There's a couple of sandy beaches long the east shore of Lower Pond that this trail directly accesses, with picture perfect swimming. Even better, the beaches face directly into the prevailing winds out of the west and there was not a bug in sight. Each of these beaches was empty when I strolled on past, but I can imagine that this is a popular local swimming hot spot and I've no doubt that the area gets pretty crowded at times.

A few feet beyond the last beach and I was stepping back out onto Uncas Road and at the conclusion of my hike.


Overall, in spite of the added challenges that keep me from being able to recommend this itinerary to the broader hiking community (the bushwhack section in particular) I personally was pretty satisfied with this trip. Loop backpacking trails are in kind of surprising short supply in the ADKs when you consider the size and amount of backcountry that the park has to offer, and so it was neat to be able to piece something together of this length, in an area of the park that I haven't really spent too much time exploring previously.

It seems too that in addition to the lean-tos along the route, there's enough tenting options also that it would not be too terribly difficult to do this loop over 4 days as opposed to my 3, to facilitate a slower pace.

The Pigeon Lake/Otter Pond stretch definitely needs more/better maintenance. I also think there could/should be designated tent sites at both of those bodies of water... and while I hesitate to give a hearty endorsement to the idea offhand, I do think that even a lean-to one of those two spots might potentially increase use of the area enough to maintain an established tread on the trail, without risking the same abuse as has been unfortunately common Queer Lake (I think Pigeon Lake and especially Otter Pond would be better insulated from that kind of depreciative behavior due to the added remoteness).

A quick glance at the map also indicates that it would be possible to construct a new trail that more directly connects Black Bear Mountain with Cascade Lake, thus eliminating the road walking stretch entirely. As it was, this is far from the worst road walk I've ever had to endure while hiking (the bike path along Route 28 especially makes it that much more bearable).

But overall, for anyone who is comfortable with unmaintained trails and especially full on bushwhacking and is looking for a new backpacking loop to check out in the ADKs for an extended 3-4 day trip... this is definitely an itinerary worthy of consideration, I think.

Last edited by DSettahr; 01-30-2021 at 06:37 PM..
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