Owen & Copperas Ponds - A Winter Wonderland

Looking across Copperas Pond
Owen & Copperas Ponds
Difficulty: Easygoing
Date of Summit: 12/11/2010
Distance: 3.4 miles (round-trip)
Trip Time: 2 hrs
Ascent: a whopping 174 ft
Temperature: 34 degrees fahrenheit

It felt SO GOOD to be back down in the park.  After almost 7 months of no hikes in the Adirondacks, I was beginning to feel ashamed to even still have this blog.  This all changed today, thanks to a visit from my in-laws.  While the ladies took in all that Lake Placid had to offer (ie: shopped), Byron and I explored a little gem of a trail just a few miles northeast of Lake Placid.  I discovered this short hike via Day Hikes for All Seasons by Bruce Wadsworth, my go-to book for whenever guests come to visit the north country and are looking for a relaxing jaunt in the park to fill an afternoon.

Map from "Day Hikes for All Seasons" by Bruce Wadsworth
We chose the Owens & Copperas Ponds hike for a number of reasons.  We wanted to relax.  We wanted to take some nice photos of winter.  We didn't want to get in over our heads (like so many times before).  Perhaps most importantly, we wanted to finish in time to enjoy a beer in Lake Placid after the hike.  All perfect goals, and all were attainable with this hike.  A short 1.75 mile hike in, and the same back, totally about 3.5 miles of hiking.  There was barely any climb in altitude, and no tough scrambling.

Snow Collected Around Buds
Such Soft Snow
We were a bit concerned - as we drove down to the park from Potsdam - that we might have made a mistake in not renting snowshoes.  The snowcover on the side of the road looked to be 12+ inches.  Luckily, our decision was a good one, as the trail contained hardly more than 4-6 inches of the powdery stuff.  It was also a beautiful rendition of snowfall in the park, looking more like someone had decided to hose down the forest with shaving cream, instead of snowflakes.

What a beautiful hike this was! The trail was gradual and easy-going and there was hardly a need for more than hiking boots (in fact, snowshoes would have made it harder to hike, but Byron used his new Kahtoola MICROspikes, which definitely helped).  Every half-mile, a pond would greet you, sitting at the base of a small peak and crying to have its picture taken.  We did just this for the first pond we came across - Owen Pond - which is accompanied by one of the Sentinel Mountains as its backdrop.  I thought I'd test the strength of the ice on the pond, only to instantly find my right leg about knee-deep in icy water (thankfully, my gaiters and waterproof boots stopped most of the water from ruining my day).

Panoramic of Owen Pond

We continued on to the next destination - Copperas Pond - where we planned to take a break at the lean-to overlooking the water.  On our way, we ran into a hunter and his dog, who had been on the search for snowshoe hare that morning.  It felt a bit strange to run into a hunter during the hike, seeing him stand on the trail with his gun, but I quickly realized that he was out there for many of the same reasons we were - to enjoy the wilderness on a beautiful day.  After saying goodbye, we continued on to Copperas Pond.  It was an equally majestic sight, with a small lean-to tucked into the hillside, across the pond.

Not a bad lean-to site on Copperas Pond...
At this point - 1.3 miles into the hike - we decided to push forward around the perimeter of the pond, to make the lean-to our midway point for the day. It was a short hike of about .4 additional miles, that included traversing a few rocks and boardwalks, to the lean-to.   We enjoyed a quick break of trail mix and hot tea in the lean-to, and turned around to backtrack our path to the car.  As we neared the end of our journey, we continued to find excuses to stop and snap another picture, as we were both taken aback by the way the snow had decided to collect on the flora of the park.  I'm definitely returning to this peaceful part of the park in the summertime, as I'm fairly certain that it will be just as beautiful and relaxing in the warmer months as well.

Walking back to the car, from Copperas Pond


Johndan said...

Local grammar tip: When you're going from Potsdam in to the ADK, It's "up" (elevation) not "down to" (compass point).

Oahu Hiker said...

Thanks for the post. It snowed here in Hawaii yesterday! But I didn't hike in it.


Byron Bennett said...

Nice shots, Dave. Hope mine turn out also. I wish I could do this more often.

Ellen said...

I found this entry while searching for short Adirondack hikes, and this trail delivered a very enjoyable experience. Thanks for the information and the wonderful photography!