A trio of pond hikes

Submitted by Pamela Merritt on October 18, 2017
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Categories: Hiking, Fishing, Adirondacks

North Hudson has a lovely bunch of pond hikes, and a particular set of three are worth investigating. They are all close together and good for any skill level. They also let hikers choose how long they want to hike, and how much water they will find at the end.
All three are located on Ensign Pond Road, along a 2.5 mile stretch. There's parking at the trailheads.

Short and sweet

The Gero Pond Trail is 0.3 mile from where Caza Turn Road connects with Ensign Pond Road. Look to the right to find the historic cemetery, roadside, and find the parking area a little further down the road. Walk back to the fence, and pass the cemetery on your right. The trail through the trees is just beyond it.

It is a short and easy hike until the very end, when the terrain drops sharply about 3 feet. This is where a trekking pole or walking stick really helps. If all else fails, sitting down and sliding on the fallen leaves will work.
There's a quarried stone dam here, turning Black Brook into Gero Pond.

There's a waterfall effect over the dam that makes some fine zen water sounds. I would stay off the dam itself with its slippery rocks, but the near shore has a few openings for different vantage points.
Peering downstream will offer views of Black Brook, and looking upstream gives some lovely views of the pond.

Gero Pond runs alongside Ensign Pond Road almost its entire length, but this hiking path is the only way to actually see it, as the shoreline is heavily wooded.

Easy gem

The hike to Challis Pond is 2.3 miles from the Caza Turn intersection. It was named after an early settler named Timothy Challis, but the trail sign reads "Chalis Pond." But you know how difficult it is to use auto-correct on those wooden signs.
This trail is a great example of why I like late fall and early spring hiking. WIth so many trees still leafless at those times of year, we get the lovely "cathedral of trees" effect at various points throughout the trail.

Usually, getting this much sunlight is when it is glimpsed through the trees, from meadow sections off of the trail. But on the Challis Pond trail, there are many sections where leafless tress let in many shafts of light, letting the late season golds and yellows glow in the sunshine.
The trail starts climbing early on, for an overall elevation gain of 227 feet by the time we reach the pond, but it's all gradual and not demanding. The trail twists through many interesting boulder formations and variations in forest density.

Another feature of the late fall hike is the magic carpet of fallen leaves to walk over. This is where the color went. It can still be enjoyed.
The trail starts to flatten out, and then Challis Pond appears in a dramatic reveal.

This is a beautifully rounded pond that will make you wish you brought an inflatable or ultra-light kayak to allow for further exploration. Maybe next time.
Even without that extra thrill, there are some wonderful shoreline views from the trail's end. If you're comfortable following a faint trail, there is supposed to be one circling the shoreline. Unlike going off trail in a forest, which should not be attempted without bushwhacking experience, the pond provides a certain guideline that will bring you back to the beginning.

Part of a network

The Hammond Pond trailhead is 2.9 miles from from the Caza Turn intersection. This has a large parking lot since it is also the trailhead to a whole network of water destinations. Hammond Pond, Berrymill Flow, Bass Lake, and Moose Mountain Pond are all accessible from here.

This is a scenic trail over its entire length. Early on we cross a bridge over Black Brook, which chuckles along over many large rocks.

Soon the trail starts to follow a ridge along the brook, with many more scenic opportunities behind it, like scenes of meadows and distant mountains.
This contrast between the deep forest on one side, and the downslope brook and meadows on the other, makes for a lot of variety.

The trail follows the brook all the way to the dam that created Hammond Pond. And what a glorious sight it is. We climb onto a bunch of giant rocks and see much of the shoreline from this vantage point.

Off to the right is another bunch of giant rocks with interesting mosses. We can walk out onto the wooden platform over the dam for even more vantage points.

This is a great place to sit down and just let it all soak in.
Read the blog post, Spotting Wildlife: Moose Mt. Pond for more about this amazing trail network. As a bonus, Challis and Hammond ponds are also trout ponds (no bait fish allowed) and mountain biking trails.
Find the right lodging. Enjoy more dining. Find similar hikes with the blog post, Kid Hikes Near Water.

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