Moose Pond: A Cool Fishing and Camping Combo
Paddling and Birding along Quebec Brook
Camping in the Saranac Lake Area

Submitted by guest blogger Tyler Merriam.

It was an 83-degree summer afternoon when I took my most recent trip to Moose Pond. It is rare to find people who can participate in an impromptu stand up paddleboard trip mid-week. It was because of this that my only paddling companion on this day was the rubber duck who accompanies me on all my paddling trips: Devo Duck. Moose Pond can be enjoyed rain or shine. During rain, mist covering the surrounding peaks gives the pond a Middle Earth feel reminiscent of a rainy day in the High Peaks. During 83-degree afternoons you can’t help but go for a swim and dry off in the summertime sun. Regardless of the weather, Moose Pond has a lot to offer.

For starters, the views are second to none. Moose and McKenzie mountains, two of the Adirondacks' highest 100 peaks, are a mere 3 miles southeast of the shoreline. Whiteface Mountain can also be seen in the distance. As the sun sets on a clear evening you can sometimes see the sun reflecting off of the castle and observatory on its summit, an experience that only happens when the lighting is just right. All three of these peaks have trails up them, and each one offers a unique challenge with rewarding views. Other lesser-known peaks such as Mount Alton and Slide Mountain can also be seen from the water, depending on where you are located on the pond.

Other than views, Moose Pond also boasts some charming campsites, eight in total. Some have rocky waterfront that's perfect for swimming, while others are nestled in stands of towering white pine trees, offering a soft forest floor of pine needles on which to set up your tent. My favorite campsite is on a peninsula on the northeast portion of the pond, which not only has a great area on which to set up a tent, but also has some great swimming options, from a small rock ledge to jump off on the western side, to a little beach on the eastern side. This site is also accessible from the parking lot by following a small herd path around the northern shore of the pond.

If you’re out for a day trip, don’t miss the picturesque beach on the eastern shoreline, just south of Grass Pond Outlet. At the tip of this beach is another great campsite, if only because you have a sandy swimming area nearby! The beach is shaded by a tall stand of white pine, and nothing beats lying in the sun on an 83-degree day, listening to the soft hum of the breeze blowing through their needles. The beach is shallow for quite a ways out from shore, so wading into deeper water takes time. This makes it a great option for viewing aquatic life, from freshwater muscles to small minnows, which nibble on your toes.

Camping and swimming aren’t the only fun you can have on Moose Pond — the fishing is also excellent. The average depth of the pond is 28.5 feet, but the deepest part is 71 feet, quite respectable for a small body of water! This depth allows for a variety of fish to live together, and gives anglers various fishing options. Rainbow trout are stocked by the DEC every year, as are landlocked salmon and occasionally brood stock salmon. Lake trout can also be found in the deeper portion of the pond, and brook trout are not unheard of, especially at the mouth of Grass Pond Outlet and Moose Creek. I’m usually paddling whitewater rivers in the spring when the trout fishing is the best, so once the weather warms up in the summer I’m left to fish for bass. This serves me well on Moose Pond, though, as there is also a healthy population of smallmouth bass, and even some brown bullhead.   

Beyond the natural aspects of Moose Pond, it also has a rich human history. In the mid 1920s two business men, M.J. Callanan, of Keeseville, and George L. Starks, of Saranac Lake, began construction of a resort on the northwestern end of the lake. It was to be named Bel-Lago, which, when translated from Italian, means “Beautiful Lake.” Both Callanan and Starks considered Moose Pond to be one of the most wildly beautiful locations in the Adirondack Preserve, and they wanted to create an experience that would allow others to enjoy the pond in its natural beauty. With the crash of the stock market a few years later, however, plans for the resort were abandoned and the wide road cut from Route 3 into the pond soon became overgrown. Other camps were built alongside the pond, though, and local families flourished here until state purchased the land in 1965. You can still see the remains of these camps alongside the shoreline, most notably at the chimney located between two campsites on the northwestern shore.

To access Moose Pond by boat, leave Saranac Lake on Route 3 and travel north until you arrive in Bloomingdale. From the four-corner intersection turn right, continuing north on Route 3. In less than a minute you will reach River Road on your right, immediately after crossing Sumner Brook. Turn right here and follow the road one-and-a-half miles to the next signed right-hand turn, Moose Pond Road. Follow this road to the end, being aware that it turns into a dirt road approximately halfway to the pond. At the end of the road you’ll reach a paved parking lot that fits approximately 20 cars.

Another way to access Moose Pond is via the hiking trail on the other side of Moose Pond Footbridge, a green metal bridge that crosses the Saranac River several miles north of Saranac Lake. This entrance can be tricky to find, as there are no roadside signs and the dirt road is not obvious as you drive by at 55 miles per hour. The trick is to set your trip odometer to zero as soon as you cross the train tracks on Route 3, as you’re heading toward Bloomingdale. The Moose Pond Footbridge road is exactly four miles from this point! Make sure you take the turn onto this dirt road slowly, as low-rise vehicles have a few bumps to contend with soon after pulling off the road. At the end of this road is a parking lot for three cars. From here it is a 1.5 mile hike to the pond along the old road cut for Bel-Lago, now a mere footrail. There are, however, the remains of a few 1940s are cars near the trail, so make sure you look closely to spot them on your hike in!

My favorite memory of Moose Pond is waking up early in the morning after a cool evening of early October camping. I sat on the rock outcropping in front of my campsite and watched as the soft glow of the morning sun climbed up the surrounding peaks. I reminisced about this trip as I lay on my stand up paddleboard on this hot August afternoon, almost 7 years after that October camping trip. I look forward to the next time that Devo Duck and I will be able to spend a night on this pond once again.

After a trip to Moose Pond, head into town for some food, art, and nightlife!

Paddling and Birding along Quebec Brook
Camping in the Saranac Lake Area

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