Wherever I live, there is usually a place I visit frequently for a quick escape relatively close to home. Spread out over various Wild Forests, conservation easements, and Primitive Areas; the Bog River Complex contains 25,000 acres of forest and water, just south of Tupper Lake. I have spent more days in the Bog River Complex than any other part of the Adirondacks. There are numerous opportunities for hiking, cross country skiing, paddling, and mountain biking.
Within the area stands numerous low mountains. One of my most frequented spots is Hitchens Pond Overlook, sometimes called Lows Ridge. At only 2,170 feet in elevation, the small mountain is easy to overlook among a sea of mountains in the Adirondacks. Despite its low elevation, its summit features bare cliffs with nice views with not too much effort. I have climbed to the vista a handful of times in the past year.
In warmer weather, the trail to Hitchens Pond Overlook can be accessed by bike, foot, or canoe/kayak. The actual trail runs only a mile to the summit. Gates limit access however, and a relatively flat road leads 2.3 miles to the trailhead. The 2.3 miles can be walked or traveled by bike. Alternatively, paddlers traveling the Bog River Flow toward Lows Lake can access the start of the trail from the portage between Hitchens Pond and Lows Lake. When the trails are snowfree, I occasionally utilize the route as a trail run. Once the snow flies, the approach runs a little over 2 miles longer and requires skis or snowshoes. On February 14th, I decided to make a winter trip to Hitchens Pond Overlook.
Snow plows stop about two miles short of the summer starting point to the trail. In winter, this is just after the first campsites on Horseshoe Pond. On skis, the first two miles go by quickly. The road is groomed for snowmobiles and skies nicely, just listen for snowmobiles and stay out of their way. Along the way, the route passes a couple of nice spots to look across Horseshoe Lake.
After about two miles, I reached the gate that marks the summer parking area for this trip. A sign shows the distances for Lows Dam (where the trail begins) and to the Overlook itself. My easy travel came to an end.
|Horseshoe Lake's outlet|
|Open water in Horseshoe Lake's outlet|
|Skiing on snowmobile packed road|
|Turn toward Lows Upper Dam|
The next 2.3 miles travels over a dirt road that remains closed to motor vehicles apart from the occasional DEC truck. With the exception of a lone deer track, the road was untouched. Even with skis, the travel was relatively slow. The snow pack was roughly 30 inches deep as measured with my ski pole. The road doesn't really change much in elevation. Despite the deep snow, I made better time than I expected on the road. The route travels through a relatively nice forest with an occasional view over a snowy bog or within sight of a low mountain. The deer tracks followed the road the entire 2.3 miles to Lows Upper Dam.
|Lone deer trail in otherwise |
|Snow is about 30 inches here|
|View over bog toward low mountains|
|30 inches of snow on the stump|
The road reaches another gate after 2.3 miles. This is the site of Lows Upper Dam. An old stone structure also stands near the gate. The trail to Hitchens Pond Overlook begins near the stone ruins. Before I began the climb, I skied below the dam to Hitchens Pond, about a 1/4 mile downhill. In the summer, this is the portage trail to Lows Lake above the dam. More stone ruins stand along the trail. There are picnic tables and a privy for use in warmer weather. In summer, the area sees a lot of paddler traffic. In the winter, I appeared to be the person here in a while based on the lack of tracks. The ruins date to the beginning of the 1900s when Abbot Augustus Low dammed the area to provide power for the Horseshoe Forestry Company's infrastructure.
|Lows Upper Dam|
|Hitchens Pond under snow|
|Swimming moose on Hitchens Pond from 2019|
|The moose after his swim|
|Hitchens Pond Overlook above the ruins|
|Start of the snowshoeing|
|At least 30 inches of unconsolidated snow|
Fortunately, the trail only covers about a mile and gains 400 feet of elevation. I reached the Overlook in about 40 minutes. By comparison, I will cover this stretch in about 15minutes when trail running. Although the forecast called for partial clearing, the snow picked up as I reached the viewpoint. I still had good views over Hitchens Pond and Lows Lake, but the distant mountains remained hidden by low clouds. I included a few photos below of the vista on a nicer day.
|Limited view in the snow from the overlook|
|Same view in September|
|Distant High Peaks on a clear day from the overlook|
|Hitchens Pond from the overlook|
|Same view in September on a clear day|
|Low mountains obscured by snow and several|
snow covered bodies of water
The descent took half the time as the climb. My previous snowshoe tracks and gravity's assistance brought me to the start of the trail in less than half the time. Back at the start of the trail I switched back to skis. The last four miles of my trip retraced my tracks back to the beginning. With my old ski tracks in place, the skiing went by with much less effort.
|Silver Lake Mountain visible on decent|
|My ski track on my ski back to the beginning|
|The same road in September|
|View over Hitchens Marsh|