A guided tour of the Sargent Ponds Wild Forest
A few years back Long Lake asked me to lead hikes for them in the Long Lake Region, of course I jumped on the opportunity. This year's outings started with the Sargent Ponds Loop in Long Lake, located quite a distance back along North Point Road. The group meet-up time is always set for 8 a.m. at the Geiger Arena located at the park on Mount Sabattis. I was first to arrive but soon after the cars started to pile in. I was planning on a large group from the number who pre-registered. As always, others are welcome to just show up on the day of but they're is no guarantee there will be any open slots. My group was filled to capacity; I couldn't have accommodated any more, to stay at or under the legal limit. This was only the second time I had a full crowd, the other was for a trip up Mount Adams. On Mount Adams I had 27 people show up - unfortunately I couldn't take them all, it was nearly double the legal limit for a hiking group. A family of eight and another family of six had just showed up the day of, I gave them directions to Owl's Head Mountain as a great alternative family outing they could easily do on their own.
Soon the "Little Bus" would arrive which is supplied by the Town of Long Lake as a means to get the group to and from the destinations. The bus was in fact filled with eager hikers. Arriving at the closest trailhead everyone stepped off and I wished them all a "great journey" as I remained on the bus. I got a few chuckles, but corny humor isn't for everyone. It would be three-and-a-half hours later that the bus would pick us up at the far trailhead allowing us the opportunity to not hike the road section of the loop, instead to make it more of a two-car traverse.
I went over some important information before we set ou. With such a large group I wanted to be sure we joined back up at intersections if we were to get spread out. I asked for a volunteer to sweep the trail, making sure no one was behind them. I got a volunteer right off and from that point on I didn't need to worry about the back end of the group, as I worked my way up and down the line. The faster people in the group, as I imagined, got ahead on this easy trail. The trail conditions were great, they were dry, little to no deadfall along the way, but the bugs were pretty aggressive - luckily we didn't forget to bring bug spray!
We met up at the intersection for Upper Sargent Pond which was 1.1 miles from the trailhead; we were all there in a flash and quickly up the 0.2 mile spur trail to the shore of the pond. At the pond we were surprised to see a couple canoeing the far shore, possibly a canoe they had stashed a while back; it was aluminum, I can't imagine they would carry that in too often. A half-dozen pictures and a water break later, we joined back up at the intersection and made plans to meet up again in 1.5 miles at the intersection for Lower Sargent Pond.
From here the trail becomes obviously much less used. On most occasions people come in from one side or another but not very often all the way through. The trail still remained very dry with only slight amounts of mud, but definite signs of heavy runoff from recent deluge activity. It wasn't all that long before we passed by Middle Sargent Pond on our left, hardly noticeable off in the distance through a thick stand of conifers. Middle Sargent is not one of the ponds we went to visit that day, nor is it one that gets visited often by anyone; we went right for the payoff on Lower Sargent as many surely do.
Meeting up at the intersection we continued straight ahead and passed by the DEC fish barrier on our right, then passed by the side trail to Tioga Point and then the short spur trail to the end of Lower Sargent Pond. The trail here continued to the lean-to which is where I wanted everyone to gather for lunch and a longer break. This spot is much farther away that I had recalled, and the trail itself is becoming quite overgrown - 'rugged' might be a defining word. Eventually we reached the lean-to, which aside from clutter left by recent and not-so-recent users, was in decent shape. We took an extended break along the rocky shore but were eventually prompted by incoming weather to move on.
We moved quickly back to the main intersection where we all congregated for the last time before setting off on the final 2 mile leg of our journey. Quickly the faster people in the group started to pull away, and as I made my way up the line it was apparent they would reach the bus well before us. The two in the front I knew I could depend on to be safe as their experience well outweighed the norm. As we passed by Grass Pond in the distance to our right we started to get introduced to a bit more mud, but again, not too bad if you were to compare to other trails in the Adirondacks. The rain then started to settle in, but only as a drizzle and most of that was collected by the tight canopy of the hardwoods. Make sure you come prepared for all weather! Soon I could see some of the patrons were winding down and hitting that so called "wall" of hiking activity, we could hear the road off in the distance. Soon the "Little Bus" could be seen in the distance through the trees, and then there it was, the trailhead and the register, and we were out. One of my regulars on the hikes I lead was a real champ; she brought chocolate frosted cookies for everyone for a small celebration of a successful hike. Thank you very much, all calories burned, regained!
So, does this make you interested in a FREE guided adventure with Long Lake? Go to the town's website and see what's coming up for events and future guided adventures - we would love to have you along. Then while you're here be sure to check out our fun shops, lodging opportunities, and excellent dining experiences.