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Old 06-23-2011, 01:51 PM   #1
BushwhackingFool
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Question Bear Pond Road condition, Middle Branch Oswegatchie crossing and other questions.

I am planning an extended bushwhacking trip this summer into the central part of the Five Ponds Wilderness and I had a few questions about access that I was hoping I could get some Intel on here.

I want to access the Five Ponds via Bear Pond Road at the trailhead for the Brindle/Grassy Ponds and hike in using marked trail, old trail and herd path all the way to Sand Lake. From Sand Lake I would take the marked trail until the southern end of Wolf Pond then head east into the backcountry all the way to Oven Lake with the ultimate destination being Cracker, Gal and West Ponds to the north. A complete discussion of this trip can be found on my blog.

My questions are:

What is the current condition of Bear Pond Road? After all the rain this spring I am concerned about getting all the way to the Brindle/Grassy Ponds trailhead. In the past I did not have to worry about such things since I had a small pickup truck but now I own a Honda Fit so road conditions are a matter of concern.

How is the current crossing of the Middle Branch of the Oswegatchie River? The last time I was in the area it was still necessary to ford the river here but typically it was only about ankle deep. Is this still true?

Finally, does anyone have any information on the conservation easement east of Oven Lake where Hyde Pond and Gull Lake are located? Are there any restrictions on access, camping, hiking, etc.?

Any other information on this area, especially east of Toad Pond (where I was last year, which can be read about here) would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks for all your help!
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Old 06-23-2011, 02:54 PM   #2
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The Bear P. Rd. hasn't been graded this year and there are some sizable rocks to place one's tires over, rather than straddle & risk an oil pan with a low clearance vehicle. But there are no sizable wash outs & with great care & slow speeds it's doable- I was up there with a Saturn car, last week. (Your car looks like it has some decent clearance, or I would never say that it's doable)

As for the Middle Branch- it's temperamental with the slightest bit of precipitation, so it's good to keep in mind that there's some flopped metal I-beams for crossing on the Upper South Pond road/trail...should the need arise.

Gull Lake & Hyde etc. are still in private ownership & posted against trespassing. But are slated to go to NYS in the future.
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Last edited by pondhopper; 06-23-2011 at 03:13 PM.. Reason: Info on Gull etc.
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Old 06-24-2011, 10:08 AM   #3
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Thanks for the info, pondhopper!

Sounds like my Fit will be able to make the drive down Bear Pond Rd. if I take it slow and easy. It is times like this that I miss my old Ranger though. Usually I access this area via Wanakena from the north but that means two days on familiar trails instead of exploring new places off the beaten path. I am a little nervous about leaving my car unattended at the end of Bear Pond Rd all by itself but I think I will give this way a try anyways.

I almost forgot about the metal I-beams down at the Upper South Pond trail. Thanks for reminding me. I thought I read somewhere that there were plans to put a bridge in for the Brindle/Grassy Ponds crossing but I guess budget cuts may have done that in.

The National Geographic map has the area around Gull Lake and Hyde Pond marked as conservation easement. They must have been mistaken. It shows the border of the private property coming very close to the eastern shore of Oven Lake. Do you know if it is possible to go along the eastern shore without crossing into the private property?

Thanks again for all the information. I wish I was able to get up in that area more often but life and back issues keep intruding.
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Old 06-24-2011, 11:24 AM   #4
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You're welcome.

I really, don't like saying the Bear Pond Road is doable with less than a small pick-up, but I can with a low clearance car & therefore, you should be able to with a car with a little more clearance. One spot where there has always been sizable rocks to take care around is near the Moncrief Creek crossing. Among others of fairly short distance.

The DEC did/does have plans for a bridge @ the old Grassy P. crossing, but like you mention- budget issues cropped up.

I'm not very familiar with that side of Oven Lake, but believe Wldrns is. (PM him, perhaps) And the land is in easement with tax breaks & guarantees for going to NYS in the future. Don't remember the exact date, but a search here for "Negro Lake", should bring up a thread with that info.
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Old 06-24-2011, 01:47 PM   #5
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Now you have me a little worried about driving on Bear Pond. I guess I could go in via Wanakena again. Or only partially go in on Bear Pond Road, park off the road somewhere and hike in the remainder of the way.

I would hate to get all the way in there, go on an arduous 8-day trip and then come out to find I cannot drive myself out because the road conditions.

That would suck!
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Old 06-24-2011, 01:59 PM   #6
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I doubt the road's condition would worsen from what it is now w/o some extreme event. That is Ranger John Scanlon's area now, maybe call him and ask whether your vehicle is adequate for the road.

Btw- Oven Lake is supposed to be near where the Old Military Road passed going from Lake Champlain to Sackett's Harbor - not from Rome to wherever like your site says. The current road to Inlet on the E. Br. Oswegatchie & the current road from Long Lake passing the N. end of Raquette L. towards Brandreth both follow its old route.
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Last edited by pondhopper; 06-24-2011 at 02:25 PM.. Reason: better define road's rt.
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Old 06-24-2011, 02:56 PM   #7
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Tick tock....oops, I meant the Old Military Road passed by Sagamore & West Mt via Cedar Lakes way. rather than from Long Lake to Brandreth, which is part of the Old Carthage Rd. The Inlet Rd. part is correct.(in my prior post)
I apologize.
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Last edited by pondhopper; 06-24-2011 at 03:56 PM.. Reason: another error
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Old 06-24-2011, 05:42 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pondhopper View Post
You're welcome.

I really, don't like saying the Bear Pond Road is doable with less than a small pick-up, but I can with a low clearance car & therefore, you should be able to with a car with a little more clearance. One spot where there has always been sizable rocks to take care around is near the Moncrief Creek crossing. Among others of fairly short distance.

The DEC did/does have plans for a bridge @ the old Grassy P. crossing, but like you mention- budget issues cropped up.

I'm not very familiar with that side of Oven Lake, but believe Wldrns is. (PM him, perhaps) And the land is in easement with tax breaks & guarantees for going to NYS in the future. Don't remember the exact date, but a search here for "Negro Lake", should bring up a thread with that info.
I'd be very curious to see how the DEC would construct a significant bridge over the "O" that wouldn't be washed away. I've seen the river dry enough to rock hop and wet enough to be almost knee deep. Early spring must be crazy. Still if it can be done, that would be great - its a fantastic area.
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Old 06-25-2011, 03:37 PM   #9
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I'd be very curious to see how the DEC would construct a significant bridge that wouldn't be washed away.
The logging road bridge over that span never came close to washing away. It was about 10 feet above the normal water level vs. 7-8 feet like the bridge to Upper South Pond, which never washed away. However, at the Upper South spot a few years ago, ice built up enough to bend the upstream side I-beam into nearly, horseshoe shape. The current gated riverbed crossing towards Grassy Pond actually follows the exact spot, where the old Emilyville Rd. crossed & the bridged crossing was just a few yards downstream from there.
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Old 06-25-2011, 03:55 PM   #10
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Gotcha. So the new bridge, when built would not be exactly where the road bed trail cross at this point. It is kind of wide there. Have not been downstream form there, but imagine it might get a higher grade and shorter distance. Would be nice to have that bridge.

I've seen the I-beams further up the road that cross the river. I understand that is another way to reach Sand Lake, although a bit tougher.
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Old 09-12-2011, 06:18 PM   #11
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Looks like I misunderstood where they said the bridge is going- it's going across @ the Upper South Pond trailhead mentioned earlier & NOT the old Grassy Pond / Emilyville Rd.crossing. Here's a pic I took today & the bent I-beam mentioned in a prior post is laying behind the backhoe (barely noticeable).....(On a side note: I rode bike up from Bergren's Landing & blew a tire just before the Bear Pond Club's gate.....it was unrepairable & some kind gent's in a pick-up offered me a ride from near where Gregg's Lake Outlet crosses the road & saved me a sizable portion of what would have been a 15 mile walk out...LOL)
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File Type: jpg 9-12-11 Upper South Pond Trailhead.jpg (112.0 KB, 163 views)
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Old 09-22-2011, 07:24 PM   #12
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Sept. 22- took a ride up & the bridge is getting closer to completion. Pictures can be deceiving, because the stringers are around 2 1/2 feet in diameter & it's quite a span across the Middle Branch:
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File Type: jpg 9-22-11 MBO Bridgework2.jpg (113.6 KB, 132 views)
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Old 09-22-2011, 07:43 PM   #13
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Sept. 22- took a ride up & the bridge is getting closer to completion. Pictures can be deceiving, because the stringers are around 2 1/2 feet in diameter & it's quite a span across the Middle Branch:
2 1/2 feet in diameter!!! Is this going to be for Jeep use or just a footbridge? Also, how close can you legally bike to Sand Lake before you need to hike it in?
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Old 09-22-2011, 07:59 PM   #14
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2 1/2 feet in diameter!!! Is this going to be for Jeep use or just a footbridge? Also, how close can you legally bike to Sand Lake before you need to hike it in?
Nobody said anything about riding bikes to Sand L., cuz that's illegal- however riding on the Bear P. Rd. is not (rode in truck, today). I'd guess the logs are that diameter on the butt end, because of the length of the logs required to span so far for the footbridge.
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Old 04-23-2012, 09:20 AM   #15
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I used this bridge last week on a trip in to Sand Lake. Works good.
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Old 04-24-2012, 01:15 PM   #16
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I used this bridge last week on a trip in to Sand Lake. Works good.
How is the condition of Bear Pond Road?
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Old 04-27-2012, 11:34 AM   #17
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I hiked into Rock and Sand from the Bear Pond road a couple weeks ago. The Bear Pond road was much rougher than what it has been in the past few springs. There are some pretty significant ruts but they are, for the most part, easily avoided. If one were to take their time, I think it would be possible to navigate the road with a car.
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