By Phil Brown
My friend Brian Mann and I took the long way to Grass Pond Mountain. We paddled across Cranberry Lake, camped at Chair Rock Flow and hiked six miles the next day to Lows Lake, following an old trail that the state reopened a few years ago. From there we scrambled up the rocky slopes to enjoy a stunning vista of the lake and of wilderness extending in all directions.
We thought it a worthwhile trip, but there is a more sensible way to get to Grass Pond Mountain. The easiest is to paddle up the Bog River and Lows Lake. It’s roughly a 10-mile trip to the base of the 2,350-foot mountain, which rises directly from the north shore.
There is no official trail up Grass Pond Mountain. Brian and I began our climb from a dirt road, closed to motorists, that parallels the lakeshore. We left the road near the western bay formed by the large peninsula (it’s almost an island) portrayed on the map on Page??. If you’re paddling, take out anywhere near here, find the road and head up the mountain wherever it seems right.
We passed a few cairns on the ascent, but we didn’t see a consistent trail. My guess is the reason a herd path has not developed is that the slopes are so open that people simply pick their own route up the mountain. Either that or we missed the trail.
It didn’t take us long to reach a ledge where we stopped for lunch and took in the scenery. Below us was Lows Lake, with its islands, inlets and floating bogs and nary a ripple on its surface. More than 40 miles to the east, we descried snowfields on Mount Marcy (this was late April). Blue Mountain lay 25 miles to the southeast. Just across the lake, to the southwest, was Tomar Mountain on the edge of the Five Ponds Wilderness.
After lunch, we continued our ascent from one ledge to another, with the lake and surrounding wild lands always in view. When we arrived at what we assumed to be the top, we saw the true summit, an open slab of rock to the northeast. We bushwhacked there in 15 minutes. It afforded more views of the lake and the first of Graves Mountain, which looked like a rocky fist thrust defiantly toward the sky.
The climb to the summit entails only 500 feet of ascent, and you don’t even need to go to the top to get the best vistas. If you’re paddling Lows Lake, you’d be remiss not to take time for a short trip up this attractive peak. But don’t take my word for it. When Bob Marshall—one of the original Forty-Sixers—explored this part of the Adirondacks in the summer of 1922, he rated the view from Grass Pond Mountain the best in the region. It still is.