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A Fall Hike Up Mount Baker
Paddling Jones Pond in the Fall

The weather

The saying goes, “Wait 5 minutes and the weather will change.” In this case one day made a huge difference. The previous day I biked with Gretchen and Trisa on part of the Oregon Trail, and it was cold. We even had layers and gloves on, and our feet were cold!  

The next day, the weather was grand. I wanted to bike again, so I texted Trisa and learned Gretchen was on a hike. I figured Trisa didn’t want to go as she had only that day to pack. Surprisingly, Trisa was excited about doing another ride, even though she had recently returned from a lengthy honeymoon and was heading out the next day for a week-long getaway. How does she do that? I need a lot of time to pack!

Plans change

Our plan was to bike on Keese Mills road, but as soon as we parked our cars in the area below St. Gabriel's Church, my former church, Trisa suggested another route. We headed toward Saranac Lake on Route 86, then we took a left near the Brighton Town Hall onto Jones Pond Road, Route 31. Memories flashed as we passed the town hall — years ago I attended the teen dances and 4H meetings held there while growing up in Paul Smiths. 


Unlike Route 86, which can get busy, Route 31 has little traffic, so we were able to ride side by side most of the time. We biked approximately 4 miles when we reached the Jones Pond Camping Area. I have paddled Jones Pond many times and have picnicked in this area when paddling, but I never realized there were trails and other campsites until Trisa pointed it out. We biked a trail, a little over a quarter mile, until we came to private property. There were several camping sites along the route. Trisa stated these sites are very popular, which is understandable as they are beautiful and a nice distance from one another.

What’s the story?

Back on our bikes, we headed toward Rainbow Lake and at the T-intersection we turned right onto County Route 60, heading toward Gabriels. We passed an old fire truck in a field that was interesting, so I took a photo. I don’t know the story behind this fire truck or why it has Y106.3, Saranac Lake's radio station, written on the side. My Google efforts proved only a consumption of my time.


Our next stop was the park in Gabriels — I spent many hours hanging out there while my dad coached little league baseball, so it was another moment down memory lane. Years ago, I revisited the park with my mom and sons so they could play on the playground, and we also visited in the winter so they could ice skate on the outdoor rink. Being young at heart, Trisa and I jumped on the swings and went down the slide. I caught her in action! I was thankful I was the one behind the camera, not in front of it.

Another detour

After a little snack at the park, we took the next right onto Route 86, heading back to Paul Smiths. I thought our bike outing was going to end too soon, then Trisa stopped near the power line road and suggested we bike it. She had skied in that area with Dave and recalled getting a little mixed up until they hit the junction. Of course, I said “Yes!” Many times I compare myself with Forrest Gump; for no particular reason I just keep on going while biking or paddling!

For the most part biking on the dirt road was easy, but there were areas that were a little tricky due to the soft sand. A few times I saw the edge was better, so I biked along that, or in the middle, or on the other side. Basically, I went wherever I had to go to avoid the soft sand, so I was all over the place!

Itty bitty guy

We stopped near a little pond, or maybe it was just a marsh area, so I could take some photos, and shortly after that Trisa spotted a turtle. She pulled a wrapped penny candy from her pocket and placed it next to the little guy — he was tiny! We took note of where we were, so on our way out we could avoid running over him!

We checked the time and decided to bike for another 15 minutes. The going was slow due to the sandy areas. We came upon a junction with postings on the power line pole, 4 miles to Lake Clear – Charlie’s Inn, and the other direction indicated Bloomingdale. The pole indicated we were on Corridor 7, a snowmobile trail. 

Another guy

As we started to leave, a man on a mountain bike was headed our way. We talked about where we were and where we had biked, and he stated he bikes on the trails often as he lives in the area. He also picks blueberries along this route, and he pointed out the exact spot where he had picked this past summer. There were so many blueberries he returned the next day only to find a bear in his blueberry patch! Needless to say, he did not venture into the patch. No worries, as the bear didn't bother him either but instead ran into the woods. However, he said he did stay to pick berries in a different location, with his eyes and ears fully engaged!

On our way out I checked my app for the mileage and learned we had only biked 1.59 miles to the junction. It seemed so much longer due to the sand. I plan on revisiting this area and biking to Lake Clear with a return to the intersection via Route 30. The guy on the bike said the 4 miles to Lake Clear is the prettiest and is without power lines. 

Easy Street?

Once back on Route 86 we headed toward Easy Street. There is no signage there now. Seriously, Easy Street? It must have been a joke because it is a hill — a long hill that's 1.11 miles long according to my Google research. We were both happy we were going down instead of up! More memories…I was going up the hill once as a teen and fell off my bike as a dog ran into my front tire. Luckily I was not seriously injured, but I did spend the night in the hospital due to a small concussion.

Before long we were at Church Pond, which is behind St. Gabriel's Church. Seeing the pond made me want to be on the water. We took the dirt road near Church Pond, which brought us to the church parking area. Trisa pointed out that the Jack Rabbit Ski Trail was right off the church driveway. It is now on our cross-country ski list!

Back at our vehicles I checked our mileage — 13.83 miles with many stops and lots of laughs! Now, my brain was thinking food. I was longing for a soup and salad from Lakeview Deli — not sure what kind of soup or  salad, but I knew whatever I decided it would be delicious! It's one of many dining options in Saranac Lake.

Author:Lisa Sciacca
Categories:Outdoor Recreation
A Fall Hike Up Mount Baker
Paddling Jones Pond in the Fall

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