The Gulf Brook Road was in bad shape when I visited Boreas Ponds in June. So bad that it took thirty minutes to drive my Subaru 3.2 miles to the Fly Pond parking area. So bad that I made a video about it.
Since then, the state Department of Environmental Conservation has reconstructed the road to the parking area–ditching, grading, removing rocks, and laying down gravel. The result: this week it took only ten minutes to drive to the Fly Pond lot.
The former logging road is gated beyond the lot, so for now visitors must hike or bike the remaining 3.5 miles to Boreas Ponds. However, DEC plans to rebuild the road beyond the gate as well, which will allow the public to drive to two other parking lots under construction.
The first of the new lots is just past LaBier Flow, an impounded stretch of the Boreas River. The second lies less than a tenth of a mile from Boreas Ponds. DEC has cleared and leveled the lots, but as of Tuesday, it had not laid down gravel.
DEC has constructed a put-in and takeout on LaBier Flow. Both have gravel paths leading to the water. Paddlers heading to Boreas Ponds can shorten their portage by 0.4 miles by paddling across the flow. Otherwise, if a paddler parks at the Four Corners, the portage will be about 0.9 miles.
The lot closest to the ponds will have only six spaces, two of them reserved for the disabled. The other four will be available to anyone who obtains a permit.
The Four Corners will have ten spaces (but it may be expanded). If the two new lots fill up, visitors will be forced to park in the Fly Pond lot. However, people could still drive to LaBier Flow to drop off canoes or gear.
The department has said it hopes to finish work on the road and the lots before winter, but that may depend on the weather. In any case, it seems likely the rest of the road will be open for the 2019 paddling season.
Back in June, I figured it might take an hour to drive the family sedan to the lot closest to the pond–which I thought would deter many visitors. If the rest of the road is rebuilt, however, it should take half that time.
Bill Ingersoll, one of the founders of Adirondack Wilderness Advocates, had argued for closing the entire road to vehicles, but inasmuch as he lost that battle, he does not object to repairing the thoroughfare.