Popular Eagle Bay hiking trail offers simple navigation, lakeside views, sandy picnic area
By Jamie Organski
While Bald Mountain in Old Forge likely holds top place for popular Adirondack hikes, the Moss Lake trail is a close second. The easy 2.5-mile long trail winds through the Fulton Chain Wild Forest and loops around Moss Lake located northwest of Eagle Bay.
Suitable for all ages and abilities, the Moss Lake Trail has been the site of wedding ceremonies, field trips, and picnics due to a trail surface that allows simple navigation, scenic views, as well as handicapped-accessible campsites and picnic areas.
Armed with sunscreen, bug spray, water bottles and bagged lunches, Town of Webb UFSD elementary students recently embarked on one such field trip on the sunny morning of May 13.
Youngsters in grades kindergarten through fourth grade tackled the majority of the trail, took a hydration break at a bridge located at the midway point, with a lakeside lunch and games serving as a reward for their adventurous efforts.
The hike begins at the main parking area off Big Moose Road, where guests register at the kiosk and read about the area’s rich history. Since it’s a loop, the trail can be started from either direction.
Here are some of the sites you will encounter doing the hike counterclockwise:
After signing into the kiosk and heading to the right, hikers will reach an accessible section of trail that has been graded for wheelchairs. At that spot, a short side trail leads to a wooden dock boasting a breathtaking view of Moss Lake.
Although the trail is primarily wide and smooth, hikers should use caution traversing a bit of rocky terrain as the trail briefly ascends, and descends (with a caution sign serving as a warning) ahead of the 1.25 mile mark. This halfway point takes hikers across the scenic Moss Lake outlet via a wooden bridge. At the 1.8 mile marker, folks will come upon a major junction with the Bubb and Sis trail that leads to Bubb Lake and Sis Lake. Hikers should keep left in order to remain on the main loop. The Moss Lake hike takes about an hour to complete. Dogs are welcome, but must remain on a leash.
From 1923 to 1972, the Moss Lake area served as the site of the 600-acre Moss Lake Camp for Girls which was established and run by Dr. George H. Longstaff. Of the nearly 3,000 girls who attended the camp throughout the years, many returned year after year and some even became staff members.
The camp included three separate units designed for girls of varying ages. Each unit was equipped with its own sleeping bungalows, infirmary, dining room, recreation trail, dance studio, archery range, craft shop, tennis courts, fencing equipment, waterfront (ideal for swimming, canoeing, diving, water skiing and sailing), and a rifle range for the oldest girls of the bunch.
Aiming to foster the girls’ social and athletic development, the camp enlisted the services of nationally-recognized specialists to instruct each activity. Through participating in these activities campers had an opportunity to gain self confidence, a sense of responsibility, and leadership skills like respect for themselves, others and the environment.
A riding facility housed 40 horses, 3 riding rings as well as a blacksmith shop.
- The trail around Moss Lake is the former Moss Lake Camp for Girls’ bridle path, built in 1924. It is ideal for hiking/walking in the summer and skiing in the winter.
- Moss Lake is also known as Whipple Lake.
The property was purchased by the Nature Conservancy in 1973, and the tract was acquired by New York state that same year, as a portion of the Adirondack Forest Preserve. The Mohawk tribe occupied Moss Lake from 1974-1978, creating a settlement called Ganienkeh, which they eventually relocated north near the Canadian border. The buildings were demolished by the state Department of Environmental Conservation in 1979.
- Directions to the Moss Lake trailhead: From NYS Route 28 in Eagle Bay, turn north (left coming from Old Forge, right coming from Inlet) onto Big Moose Road and drive approximately 2 miles to the large Moss Lake Trailhead parking lot on the left. (Trailer parking is not allowed.)
- Coordinates: N 43° 47.322’, W 74° 50.654’
- Elevation Information: 187 ft elevation gain with a surface elevation of 1,759 feet.
Recreation news and information
Sign up for the “Backcountry Journal” newsletter, delivering trip ideas, info and more to your inbox every Thursday