Skiing the Fish Pond Trail

Lots of Snow So We Can Play

As usual, Wren and I have been cross-country skiing on a regular basis this winter as our snow, once a bit thin, has been piling up. One of our favorite places to go is the network of trails off of the Fish Pond Trail in Lake Clear. The trails there are designated cross-country skiing trails and they wind through beautiful deciduous and mixed forest and around the series of lakes and ponds which border and compose the St. Regis Canoe Area.

Not only is the location beautifully remote, it also gets a large dose of snow each winter. Meaning, that if coverage is lean in town further south, there will usually be snow in Lake Clear. It also has the advantage of offering a few different loops which can be made difficult or easy depending on the skier’s skill or interest. That has worked fine for me of late as I’ve been slowly nursing an injured shoulder and it helps to keep me on fairly level and rolling terrain, while I skip the big hills where a potential fall could set my recovery back. But if large hills are what you are after, the Fish Pond Trail has that too.

Excellent Conditions

Conditions on the trails have been great, and after our most recent dumping of snow, Wren and I were there again to explore. We wound out past Little Clear Pond, taking the trail which loops Little Green Pond and stopping to chat with a couple of other folks out with their dogs. The trail was already well kicked-in by previous skiers, and we made good time as a result even with the soft snow conditions. Exploring such trails is seldom about speed anyway, and I stopped now and then to look at rodent, White-tailed Deer, Coyote, or Mink tracks.Wren Lake Clear

Signs of Nighttime Activity

One place on the trail was particularly interesting. Animals have been quite busy there for the past couple weeks as evidenced by the trampling of the underlying snow which was packed down and dotted with the dints of nighttime activity. The smells of all this must be overpowering to Wren who ventures off to explore each time we pass it. On this particular ski, she predictably headed off the trail and set off to smell her way around the impacted area. The signs of what happened were hidden by the fresh snow, but it appears that the Coyotes had made a kill – likely a deer - in the area. I followed Wren to check it out and to try to keep her from eating a bone or whatever else attracts a dog to a leftover banquet in the woods. After inspecting the area a bit, I corralled her along the trail in front of me.

 We continued on a narrow and twisting portion of the trail as it passed a series of downed logs directly along the ski path. It is a fun place to practice skiing quickly while working on proper step-turns. If this is of less interest to folks, the trail to Fish Pond is a wide two-track and we were soon cruising along that for a couple miles as well. With the sun getting low and a cold night coming, we eventually turned and retraced our steps. Other skiers may consider making a loop by skiing across one of the ponds on the way back to the parking area, but we skipped this due to a cold breeze. Another loop takes skiers back along the railroad bed which runs along the parking lot. But we stuck to the well kicked-in trail we had come out since I find that route more enjoyable.  Wren - ice beard

Checking Out Our Ice Beards

We returned with quite impressive ice beards for our effort – mine from the freezing of my breath on my facial hair and Wren’s from her constant nosings in the snow. On very cold days our ice beards can be very impressive indeed, and it’s fun to compare them once we reach the car. Wren usually wins these contests and she did again on this day. We loaded up in the soft pastel light of early evening and headed home for some leftover hot chili.

 For more information on cross-country skiing in the region, check out this page. Or maybe snowshoeing is more your style? Whatever adventure you choose, if you don’t have leftovers available for you after your ski, you should consider stopping at our excellent local dining establishments for a hot meal. 

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About The Author

Alan Belford has spent much of his life outdoors exploring and learning about wildlife – particularly birds. Alan is often out hiking, paddling, running, or cross country skiing – with his Labrador retriever Wren at this side. A certified teacher and former cross country, baseball, and ultimate frisbee coach, he loves teaching others and has taught multiple natural history (specializing in ornithology) courses for both college students and the general public. He is a licensed guide in New York State, he has traveled widely both domestically and internationally, and he is also a published travel writer and photographer – focusing on outdoor and nature writing.

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