Running around Moss Lake

Sis Lake is a good place to turn around. Photo by Phil Brown.
Sis Lake is a good place to turn around. Photo by Phil Brown.

Trail running is a popular sport out west but not so much in the Adirondacks. I run on trails fairly often and rarely encounter another runner, so I was bit surprised to see a fellow jogger on a trail near Moss Lake last weekend.

But in retrospect, I am not that surprised: The 2.5-mile loop around Moss Lake is nearly ideal for running. Most of the route follows an old woods road that’s used for cross-country skiing in winter. The run can be extended by taking a side trail to Bubb and Sis lakes—for a total of 4.7 miles.

The trail around Moss Lake is nearly ideal for running.
The trail around Moss Lake follows an old woods road, which is great for running.

Moss Lake is on the road from Eagle Bay to Big Moose in the western Adirondacks. It once was the site of a Girl Scouts camp. In the 1970s, after the state bought the camp, Mohawk Indians took over the property and declared it to be an independent nation. They occupied the site for a few years before a legal settlement was reached. A sign at the trailhead relates this history.

If you’re unsure whether you’ll want to extend your outing to Bubb and Sis lakes, run the loop counterclockwise. That way, you won’t reach the side trail until late in the loop, and you can better judge if you’ll have the time and energy for the detour. The following description assumes a counterclockwise direction.

From the trail register, the trail heads slightly downhill and turns left, soon passing a side trail that leads to a deck overlooking Moss Lake. After a small uphill, the trail parallels the northern shore. This section is somewhat rocky, but not as much as typical hiking trails.

After passing a boulder field on the right, the trail descends to cross a small stream. At 1.3 miles, you come to a large bridge over the outlet, with a view of the lake’s south bay.

At 1.8 miles, you reach the junction with the trail to Bubb and Sis lakes. Turn right if you want to take the detour. You’ll reach Bubb Lake in 0.6 miles and Sis Lake in 1.3 miles. If you continue another 0.15 miles, you come to a path on the right that leads through a hemlock stand to the shore with a good view of Sis. This is a good turnaround spot, though you could continue (on rougher trail) for another 0.9 miles to a trailhead on Route 28.

Once back at the junction, turn right to continue the loop. You’ve got only 0.7 miles to get back to your starting point. The trail descends to another large bridge, this one over the inlet, and then ascends to an unmarked junction. Bear left here. After another small down and up, you’ll pass through a clearing with some scientific apparatus and then arrive back at the trail register.

For a good view of Moss Lake, walk down the short side trail from the register to a beach on the eastern shore. Note the osprey nest on the dead tree on the lake’s island.

Directions: From NY 28 in Eagle Bay, turn north onto Big Moose Road and drive 2.2 miles to the Moss Lake parking lot on the left.

About Phil Brown

Phil Brown edited the Adirondack Explorer from 1999 until his retirement in 2018. He continues to explore the park and to write for the publication and website.

Reader Interactions


  1. Jane says

    Moss Lake Camp was never a Girl Scout Camp. It was a very unique sports camp for girls. Dr George Longstaff wanted women to excell in Tennis,Swimming,Archery,Canoeing,diving,show jumping and more. He hired the best coaches in the country to come to the Adriondacks in the summer and teach these sports. My sister ran around the lake every morning all summer long! Please get it straight.

    Thank You

    • lynn taylor says

      I spent a month in Sept. 1963 or 64 as part of Longstaff’s summer/winter school–“Adirondack Southern School For Girls” Does anyone have any pictures of Moss Lake Camp?

      • Gitti Barrell says

        I was a camper from 1967-1970. I believe that Adirondack Life has photos as well as the Adirondack museum. The Buffalo News might because it was a popular choice of the society folk in Buffalo for their daughters. I remember a photo of a group of us in a war canoe that the paper published. Loved Moss Lake camp. Actually had a sing along a little while back refraining some of our favorite campfire songs. Can’t remember what I had for dinner last night but I still remember words to camp songs from the sixties!

  2. Peggy Wynn Price says

    I was a camper at Moss Lake Camp in the early thirties and later a counselor in the forties. I still have the leather bound brochure of that camp and all the buildings as well as many photos during that time. It was a private girls’s camp divided into three age groups with three different sites; Junior Camp Senior Camp and LOdge for the older girls camp. Dr Longstaff married one of the counselors and built a beautiful home on one of the promitories. There used to be a cabin on the island where the swimming instructor lived. We had a Sunday swim where we would go out to the island in canoes and swim back to the camp–about a quarter mile.

    I visited the area in the early 80ies and was surprised to see all the buildings gone–they were fairly substantial but I was glad to see it become a part of the Adirondack park System for everyone to enjoy.

    I have many memories of the camp and the area.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *