Skiing Upper Saranac Lake Loops

Sweet Day on the Floodwood Loop- A Ski to remember

The Drive:

From the intersection of Route 3 and Route 86 in Saranac Lake follow Route 3 toward Tupper Lake. Continue to Route 30 between Tupper Lake and Saranac Lake and then follow Route 30 toward Fish Creek. Continue for just under 9.0 miles to Floodwood Road on the left. Follow Floodwood Road for around 3.0 miles to the trailhead on the left, which seconds as a snowmobile trail.


The Adventure:

We were stoked to get out and do our longest ski tour of the year, but we were kind of worried about what to expect. We knew it was a snowmobile trail, but how much does it get used, would it be rutted, would it be untouched and need to be broken the entire distance, so many questions with only one true way to find out – hit the trail!

This trail can be quite a challenge as we remembered from past trips through here and we were prepared for it. We had ample food, water and even a warm beverage in our pack; we even carried snowshoes just in case a ski broke. It would a miserable hike out for many miles with only one ski and post-holing with the other leg.  We noticed definite snowmobile traffic at the beginning, but they hadn’t been there in a bit so a light coating of powder welcomed us. There is one advantage to light dusting each night during the week, it makes the skiing a bit better. We enjoyed the fast start along the trail, with a wide corridor through the woods we soon came to Floodwood Pond on our right. With nice vista out over the frozen body of water a stiff breeze pushed us back in the woods.  We moved along shore in nice shape and soon found ourselves looking out at the bubbling waters of the outlet. Now along a much narrower trail we moved a bit slower, it was also slightly overgrown in a few spots. We were having trouble now on the small hills getting a decent grip with the fish scales, so we had to do a bit “the herringbone hustle” up the rolling terrain.  

Next was Little Square Pond, another attractive example of an Adirondack backcountry gem. The trail now followed Fish Creek, sometimes close, other times a bit further away, but the frequent sound of water under the ice was very inviting.  We were then invited onto more rolling hills and a couple nice small downhill runs, I aced all but one – a sharp left caught me off guard as did a buried branch that had eyes for my left ski. Soon we found ourselves out on the road at Fish Creek Campground.


The return leg:

We followed the road up to finish off our loop and the backside and found the return section of the loop nearly untouched a bit worried on time we wasted no time. We passed by Echo Pond on this very mellow section of trail and in a flash found ourselves at a bay on Follensby Clear Pond. Then in another flash, I must have blinked, we were at Horseshoe Pond. There is a trail that leads into the mouth of the horseshoe shaped shore and one that bypasses the extended journey. We took the longer approach and dipped into the peninsula that makes the horseshoe. If you have the extra time and energy I recommend taking for extra views out over the lake, its mellow and not demanding at all. As I mentioned a cutoff trail will avoid this added mileage. We swept around Horseshoe pond and passed between it and Little Polliwog Pond. Another nice hill in this area caught me off guard as I found myself pretzeled in some scrub. We passed by Polliwog Pond soon after and enjoyed the rolling hills that led us back out to Floodwood Road.


The Road:

The loop ends at Floodwood Road, roughly 0.75 miles from the car. Back on the road we tried to ski for a while longer but the shoulder wasn’t much fun and the road itself, while had some snow, it had much more sand. If you decide to head over that way you may be able to ski along the side of the road, but I wouldn’t rely on it, there is a good chance you will have to walk this short distance. It’s not a terrible walk, quite scenic, but not long enough where the hassle of a second car is necessary. Once back at the car we were anxious to get the ski books off and all the other outwear. I am a huge fan and advocate of bringing a change of clothing and shoes no matter how cold they may be when you put them on. The ride back to Saranac Lake got us even hungrier for some pizza, but we opted for a slightly healthier alternative and stopped by Nori’s for some nice treats.

Interested in doing this too, but don’t have the gear? Crosscountry and backcountry ski rentals are available in the area and are very affordable. Want a guide, there is that option too. Maybe you have never skied before and want a lesson; we can hook you up with that as well. No matter what you choose to do, I bet you will be hungry and maybe a bit tired after; we welcome you to stay with us as well.    

Map of Floodwood Loop

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About The Author

Spencer Morrissey is an Adirondack native and to this day resides and works in the park. He works as a community developer, smart growth planner, recreational consultant, and licensed guide. He is the owner of Incapahcho Wilderness Guides a publishing company, and co-owner of Mountain Goats, LLC an Adirondack Guide Service based out of Lake Placid and Cranberry Lake. Spencer is a 5-time 46er and a winter 46er, a fire-tower challenger completer, a finisher of the Adirondack 100-highest, and is in the pursuit of climbing all the names peaks in the Adirondack Park. Spencer is a published author with titles; “The Other 54,” “Adirondack Trail Runner,” and “Adirondack Trail Skier,” with other titles always in progress.

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