Sunday, May 3, 2020

Hiking the Floodwood Loop

Over the winter I anticipated a busy hiking season for the spring.  Coronavirus put a damper on some of my plans.  Travel outside of the immediate area is discouraged.  While hiking isn't put on hold, low risk hikes close to home are recommended where there is little risk of crowding. I had done several shorter, easier hikes in the past weeks. With beautiful weather on Tuesday, April 28th, I felt the need to take a longer hike.  I decided to revisit the Floodwood Loop, which I hiked previously right after Christmas.

The Floodwood Loop is located about 20-25 from Tupper Lake, New York.  While the Adirondacks feature numerous mountains, this part of the Adirondacks sits in lowly, flat terrain dominated by numerous ponds.  Typically, this area see more traffic on the water than on the trails.  The Floodwood Loop covers 9 miles and the trail travels between many of these ponds.

I started on the north end of the loop.  A mile of dirt road closes the loop on the north end while traveling along Middle Pond.  I began my hike with the mile of dirt road.  This time of year, I saw no other people or traffic along the road.  My only company was a pair of loons that swam on the pond.

Middle Pond
From the dirt road, the trail begins.  I chose to hike the loop counterclockwise.  Generally the trail was in good shape.  I passed the only brief section of lingering snow within the first quarter mile.  Floodwood Pond is the next pond on the loop.  The pond comes into sight after a half mile of leaving the road.  After a mile, the trail comes to a nice campsite that sits right on the water of Floodwood Pond. 

Bridge over small creek

Choya on the bridge

Floodwood Pond
From the campsite, the trail passes a junction.  Follow the signs for Fish Creek.  Fish Creek is also the next body of water that the trail passes.  The trail travels along the slow moving creek for a short distance before reaching another campsite.  The creek flows into a wider stretch that look more like a pond. 

Fish Creek

Trail through moss

Fish Creek

Fish Creek flowing into pond near nice campsite
Beyond the campsite, the trail travels along the now wide Fish Creek.  A three way junction marks a portage trail between Fish Creek and Follensby Clear Pond.  Heading straigh,t the loop continues until it reaches Fish Creek Ponds Campground.  The loop can be shortened by taking the portage trail to the left since the loop passes right by this in another mile or so.  While hiking this stretch, I was serenaded by loons calling from Follensby Clear Pond.

Wide section of Fish Creek

The trail continues along Fish Creek

Fish Creek by a portage trail

The full loop passes a short distance through the campground before heading back north.  The first body of water the trail passes is Echo Pond.  Echo is one of the smaller ponds on the loop.

Echo Pond

Not long after passing Echo Pond, the trail reaches the junction that serves as the Fish Creek to Follensby Clear Pond portage trail.  Follensby Clear Pond sits to the right at this junction a minute walk away.  Follensby Clear is the largest pond on the loop and this is the only easy access to it on the hike.

Follensby Clear Pond
Beyond Follensby Clear, the trail becomes more overgrown.  The first half of the loop featured clear trail. Brush encroached the path on the second half.  Sections of bog and wet terrain make the second half more challenging as well.

Horseshoe Pond soon comes into sight.  As its name implies, the pond is in fact shaped like a horseshoe.  Because of its shape, the trail passes both arms of Horseshoe and you hike along it a good distance.  The trail wraps around the second arm of Horseshoe before reaching its outlet.

South end of Horseshoe Pond

Horseshoe Pond outlet

Crossing Horseshoe's outlet requires a little finesse.  The crossing is fairly wide.  Unfortunately, its bridge only covers the second half of the crossing.  It can be crossed without getting wet, but requires a little thought to do so.

Bridge in disrepair
Little Polliwog Pond is the next body of water.  Two short portage trails access the pond.  Little Polliwog gives Echo Pond a run for its money as the smallest pond on the loop. 

Little Polliwog Pond
From Little Polliwog, the trail quickly reaches Polliwog Pond.  Polliwog is fairly big and you can access it at several points from the trail.  

Polliwog Pond

Polliwog Pond at second access 

The trail crosses some wet sections after Polliwog.  The trail crosses a bog that requires a little thought to avoid getting wet.  The trail stays soggy beyond the bog.  Another wet section uses a bog bridge.  However, the muddy travel continues twice as long as the bridge gaps.  With careful footing, using roots and branches, the mud can be traversed without getting wet.

Trail passing through boggy section

Wet section of trail
Beyond the wet sections, the trail moved onto dryer land, the last mile or so of the loop followed much nicer trail.  One last body of water comes into view near the end of the loop.  This is Middle Pond.  When Middle Pond comes into view, the end of the loop is a few minutes away if your parked on the east end of Middle Pond.  If you started at the west end, a mile of easy road walking closes the loop.

Gentle trail

Choya near the end of the loop
The homestretch
Even though the full loop travels 9 miles, the Floodwood Loop is a fairly easy hike.  A few sections of mud and water add a slight level of difficulty, but the hike features next to no elevation change and gentle terrain.  The numerous bodies of water make this hike enjoyable and worth the trip if you're looking for a low key hike.  The calling of the loons certainly added to the experience.  In summer, I suspect the hike would be quite buggy with the abundance of water.  This area makes a nice off season hike.  The numerous ponds also make a nice flatwater paddling destination.  Both times I hiked here in the off season, I had the loop to myself.

Fish Creek in winter 
Follensby Clear Pond in winter

Winter on Polliwog Pond

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