For those who are unfamiliar, the Boreas Ponds Tract is a large section of land in the Adirondack Park that is a mixture of forest and wilderness lands that allow for extensive recreation in the area. While not getting into the complicated details, the land was recently classified by the APA as a mixture of “Wilderness” and “Wild Forest”. The Wild Forest portion opens up a corridor allowing for motorized access on Gulf Brook Road to within 600 feet of the ponds. This classification will not be official until the NY Department of Environmental Conservation drafts its Unit Management Plan (UMP) to govern precisely what recreational uses will be allowed to the public.
This classification, which adds Boreas Ponds to the High Peaks Wilderness, will make the area the largest wilderness area in the Northeastern US. The expanded High Peaks Wilderness will encompass about 275,000 acres (after the state officially merges the land with the Dix Wilderness), making it the third largest Wilderness Area east of the Mississippi River.The land tract includes its namesake, the Boreas Ponds, which “form a 320-acre body of water”. If 320 acres sounds large for a cluster of ponds, you’re right – it’s one of the largest in the Park that is bordered by forest preserve. The ponds and their surrounding wilderness are a perfect area for recreation, encompassing opportunities for fishing, hiking, biking, skiing, and paddling, to name a few!
An easier hike in the land tract is the gradual walk along a dirt roadway (fittingly called “Boreas Pond Road”) to get from the parking lot on Gulf Brook Road (which is within the land tract) to the Boreas Dam. The hike is 3.6 miles, so while it is a bit long for carrying a canoe, it’s plenty do-able if all you’re carrying is your fishing rod and lunch. The road also allows bikers, as well as people bringing their kayaks or canoes along on wheeled carts. And in the winter, it’s not uncommon to see skiers and snowshoers out enjoying the frozen ponds (note that Gulf Brook Road is typically not plowed in the winter, so this adds about an additional 3 miles to your trip, making it about 12+ miles round trip for skiers and snowshoers who are making their way out to the Boreas Ponds).
UPDATE: Gulf Brook Road remains closed to public motor vehicle use due to washouts caused by the 2019 Halloween storm. DEC has repaired several ditches and culverts to date but additional roadwork is required for the road to be passable by motor vehicles. The road remains open for hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, skiing, and snowshoeing. Visitors can park at the Blue Ridge Parking Lot. An estimated completion date for road repairs will be provided when one is available. Please direct questions regarding Gulf Brook Road construction to (518) 623-1209.
In addition to the road into the dam, there are also a number of other hikes in the area, as trails are slowly getting added to the land tract. The beauty of Boreas Pond is truly hard to beat in an “untouched pristine wilderness” kind of way, but one thing to keep in mind is that Boreas Pond is not the destination if you’re looking for mountaintop views, as it is mostly encompassed by low wetlands. That said, the view of the mountains from the shores of Boreas Pond (or from a canoe or kayak in the middle of the lake) are hard to beat. Once there, you’ll have access to a unique view of the High Peaks (Gothics, Haystack, and Marcy) that is not often seen. However, if you’re truly set on climbing some peaks while you’re out there, you can always hike nearby Vanderwhacker Mountain one day, and head to Boreas Pond the next!
While not often something we get the chance to mention in our other posts about the Adirondacks, there are also a number of horseback riding trails in the Boreas Pond area. You can ride horses along the Boreas Pond Road, as well as on a few other trails designated for horseback riding on the land tract. There are also parts of the land available to hunting, just of course make sure you’re following the rules and regulations of the land use as well as the seasons.
There are a number of ways to recreate on the Boreas Ponds Land Tract, from hiking and biking to fishing and camping. We hope you get the chance to head out and enjoy these wild lands and if you have any tips on the area, definitely share with us in the comments!
Download Map: Boreas Pond Tract Recreation and Access (courtesy of DEC)
Directions: Access via Blue Ridge Road in North Hudson, NY (Google Maps)