Long Pond in St. Regis Canoe Area is long on scenery, seclusion
By Tom French
Before Carrie and I had kids, we used to visit Long Pond in the St. Regis Canoe Area every year. We had our special site, a point of land with a large sandy shallow. Cobblestone foundations from the state’s tent platform leasing system were still present along with a concrete hearth.
At daybreak, almost a dozen loons gathered off our “front porch” as if they were having morning tea. They would chortle with each other for a while and then depart separately, slapping the water with their wings as they took off, then spiraling around the lake several times as they slowly gained elevation, passing our campsite each time – the beat of their wings swirling the air until only two or three birds were left.
I fondly remember looking up through the trees above the campfire after dark and trying to memorize the black silhouettes of the branches against the star light in the sky – especially the last time when I knew it might be a few years before I returned.
Twenty-four years later, I finally did when I introduced my daughter, Emma, to the area. I was not disappointed. We arrived at the Long Pond Parking Access on a midweek morning and wheeled our canoe .2 miles to the hand launch. Loons were calling before the hull hit the water. We passed three on the way to the bottom of the U-shaped lake.
Within a half hour, we approached the old spot. My excitement grew as it appeared no one was occupying the site. Alas, a large yellow sign came into view and I knew it said, “No Camping.” Site recovery was in progress.
An after-trip inquiry to the DEC revealed that the site will be permanently closed. In addition to evaluating various levels of impact, the State Land Master Plan also requires campsites be “out of sight and sound of one another and generally a minimum of a quarter of a mile apart.”
Fortunately, 15 sites exist on Long Pong, all with a privy. Seven more can be found on nearby Slang and Turtle Ponds. We found a delightful site across the bay with a sandy landing and large, flat tent area.
We unloaded the canoe, pitched the tent, and relaxed along the shore in folding chairs as we ate lunch. Loons called in the distance.
Part of the charm of Long Pond is the opportunity to ascend nearby Long Pond Mountain, a 2530-foot peak accessible only via canoe or kayak. The trailhead is also the carry to Mountain Pond.
I was introduced to the area in the early ‘90s by my friend and Adirondack sage, Doug Miller. He wanted to fish the pristine waters of Mountain Pond. At the time, Doug worked at the nearby Adirondack Fish Hatchery. He knew the pond was stocked and fished by a select few only. You got to want this one – between the carry from the car, the 2.5-mile paddle, and then second half-mile portage. Somehow, I drew the short straw and carried the canoe, but I was so enamored by the area, I brought Carrie later that summer and the annual tradition began.
The hike to Mountain Pond is relatively flat, but after skirting the shore, the trail quickly steepens and gains 830 feet in the 1.4 miles to the top. It took Emma and me about an hour. Along the way, we passed a toad nursery – dozens of dime-sized toads hopping across the path. Views from the top include the High Peaks, but be sure to explore the path to the west and a rockface with views to points south including the old ski trails of Big Tupper on Mount Morris.
Camping on Long Pond is a dream – the surface so still the reflections of stars can be confused with camp fires. The thick forests along the shores echo any sound several times (we counted at least four when our paddles hit the gunnels), so when the loons call, it sounds like dozens. We also heard an owl, bullfrogs, multiple splashes on the water, and the usual buzz of the woods. Morning was misty, but quickly cleared allowing for further explorations on Slang and Turtle Pond. Although the one-mile plus carry to Nellie or Bessie Ponds is more than we were willing to endure, it is part of the Nine Carries Route, though the DEC St. Regis Canoe Area Website indicates flooding due to a beaver dam between Long and Nellie Ponds will require a short paddle. Maybe they should call it Ten Carries instead.
Long Pond can be accessed five miles down the Floodwood Road after turning off Route 30, 3.5 miles north of the DEC Fish Creek Pond Campground.