Lincoln Pond overlook is more than meets the eye
By Tim Rowland
Lincoln Pond overlook is a wholly unimpressive knob overlooking, you guessed it, Lincoln Pond. The only thing to maybe, possibly, recommend it is a barely visible snaggletooth outcropping of rock toward the summit, which lords over the Lincoln Pond Campground.
There are indeed great views of the lake from this point, which is reached by way of an unmarked but easy to follow trail to the base of the knob, and then a quick bushwhack to the top.
But there is a whole other side to this Sybilian little bump that takes you away from civilization and to the brink of some of the deepest and most dramatic Adirondack backcountry.
From the east side of the considerable (572 acre, nine miles of shoreline) Lincoln Pond, it looks for all the world as if you could easily bop to the top of this bump in 45 minutes, an hour tops. Which you can, but there is a catch, that being that some highway engineer some way some how managed to pinch Interstate 87 between the lakeshore campground and the forested mountain flank. It’s a neat trick; people driving across the causeway that bisects the pond have no clue the Northway is Right There, while summertime Northway motorists never have a notion they are passing a sizable body of water.
But the engineers also thoughtfully included a couple of ample tunnels beneath the Northway for people wanting to access the western wilds from local Lincoln Pond Road to the east. This also means the whine of passing diesels will be a companion for much of this short hike.
So again the duality: You are virtually guaranteed solitude on this seldom-traveled route, yet for most of it, your ears will remind you that you are not alone in this world.
Parking is at the boat launch on Lincoln Pond Road (accessed either from Elizabethtown to the north or Mineville/Witherbee to the south) just north of the campground entrance. From there, walk north on the road to a small campground annex on the right. Across the road is a small gate with a stop sign. Enter here and bear left along a path that was once a real-for-sure thoroughfare in pre-interstate days.
In half a mile you’ll come to the tubes. Once through them, the trail then hops back up to the old roadbed and begins to climb gradually along a small stream with rocks so uniformly green it appears that the moss has been sprayed on.
At 1.1 miles is a junction with a path to the right flagged, for some reason, with ancient beer bottles hanging from the trees. Do not let alcohol lead you astray; ignore this trail and continue straight for another hundred yards until you are confronted with a firestorm of orange flagging and, in a few more feet, signs advising you have arrived at a private property line.
Here, turn left and begin the bushwhack due south, following the property line through the open woods over a couple of humps to the base of the small mountain. This becomes a Hansel and Gretel situation as you hunt for these breadcrumbs of signage in the forest. But you need only use this aid until you begin to climb steeply — the entirety of the little knobs are on state land, so once you have a good toehold on the final scramble you can simply head up until you run out of up.
The bushwhack is less than a quarter mile, and while the final scramble is steep, you are afforded open forest with minimal blowdown.
The dramatic views of the wild country to the west are best from a few expanses of open rock just beneath the summit, although they are being encroached upon by the trees (where are the spongy moths when you need them?) and may not last many more years, in summer anyway. Still, there are clear vistas of the awe-inspiring cleft between Giant and Rocky Peak Ridge, a unique silhouette of Bald Peak and endless, unbroken forest as far as they eye can see.
Hopping off the west knob and popping up on the east will offer an entirely different world. Lincoln Pond dominates the foreground with its camps, motorboats and jet skis, and the roar of the Northway is directly below. It’s a fine view, and an interesting contrast to that of the west.
You can return the traditional way, but if you are a seasoned bushwhacker — or worried that you might be late for the last day of the ice cream sale at Stewart’s — you can shortcut your original route by heading directly down off the east knob heading north, picking your way through some tricky but negotiable ledges to the valley floor. You will cross the little rivulet with the mossy rocks before arriving back on the old road just west of the tubes — ready to rejoin civilization that you never really left.
Distance: ~3 miles
Elevation gain: 632