Bob Brand is a neighbor of the Lake Clear Lodge & Retreat. He's enthusiastic about the multitude of outdoor opportunities available in the Lake Clear area. Bob wants to enlighten potential visitors to the hiking, paddling, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing day trips that are easily accessed from here.
Introduction & Trails from the Lodge
There are lots of options in this category. I'll start by describing a trio of nearby routes we frequent off route 30 heading north from the Lodge. Obviously, you can just stroll on the considerable acres of the Lodge property or walk forever on the railroad tracks. With regard to the latter, there used to be a tourist train that went by twice a year at the blazing speed of 4 MPH on its way to or from it’s summer home between Lake Placid and Saranac Lake but that is gone so you don’t have to worry about getting run over (if for some reason you didn’t hear the loud clanging bell that accompanied the train’s passage.)
The Paul Smiths College Visitor Interpretive Center
The most popular place to walk around is the nearby Visitor Interpretive Center (VIC) run by Paul Smith’s College. There is a good reason for its popularity. The many trails are well maintained, foot friendly smooth, and offer a variety of ecosystem experiences. Some of the trails feature long boardwalks across boggy areas. There is a very large blown down tree at the end of one of these boardwalks where the pulled up root system impressively towers over your head. It's probably 20 feet tall. Next to the VIC building is a small playground for the kids and a butterfly house with a helpful staff person to answer your questions. The VIC is not exactly a wilderness experience but, if it is the goal, you can hike for a long time on the numerous trails. And you may learn something. Plus, it's free. It is located about a mile past the Paul Smiths entrance, which itself is about 6 miles north on route 30 from the Lodge.
Black & Long Ponds
Black and Long Ponds offer nice waterside walks. Naturally, Black Pond is longer than Long Pond. I haven't yet done an analysis of their relative blackness. (You have to wonder about the naming of ponds around here. Within 4 miles there are 3 Green Ponds. Well, actually one is Little Green Pond which, of course, is larger than one of the Greens and of similar size to the other.) The trails mostly course alongside the water with mild ups and downs. At the end of Black Pond, you can turn right, cross the fish barrier dam and do a circumnavigation of the pond. There is a bridge over the short connection between Black and it's smaller polyp like bay to the east which is a nice place to sit and enjoy a snack in the sunshine. If you go straight instead of crossing the dam the trail goes to a leanto near the far end of Long Pond. Go out on the dock in front of the leanto. The trail continues past the leanto and connects to the Jenkins Mountain trail, but that's another story. You have to backtrack along Long to the junction by the fish barrier dam. If you walk around Black there is a steep 1 to 2-minute climb near the end. After this short pitch, look for a long sloping rock on the right which looks down on the smaller channel before it opens up to the pond. We once saw a loon swimming rapidly underwater here from our high up vantage point. It was quite a memorable experience.
Directions to Black & Long Ponds
Access the ponds by turning left on Keese Mills Road immediately past the Paul Smith entrance. Drive about 2 ½ miles to a small, wood rail enclosed, dirt parking area on the right with a VIC sign. There is a map at the trail sign in the kiosk. Though this area is part of the VIC it is far away from the main VIC trails.
Red Dot Trails
Another Paul Smiths group of trails is called the Red Dot Trails. It's a bit of a maze so I can't describe any specific routes. Just bring a sense of adventure and you'll eventually end up someplace familiar since the trails loop around. In the process of exploring the trails, you walk along Church, Little Church, and Osgood Ponds and cross a couple of man-made canals that connect the ponds. These water passages were dug so people could get to church without portaging their guideboats.
Directions to the Red Dot Trails
Find the Red Dot Trails by turning right into the roadside parking area opposite Keese Mills Road and then continue slightly further away from the road through the woods to the white church. The trail starts on the left side (as you drive in) of the parking area in front of the church. Park by the church.