“A flat, long, and relatively easy hike through a beautiful mixed forest, past numerous lakes, and along streams.”
— Sam Newman-Stonebraker
Birding · Fall Colors · Lake · River/Creek · Wildlife
A great rainy day hike! This trail passes and runs along several lakes in the Saranac Lake Wild Forest that most people normally get access to using canoes and kayaks. Though the trail itself rarely goes directly next to the water, there are a half dozen or so canoe carries and access sites that will get you to the shores of the ponds and waterways. The woods and wetlands that it passes through are quite diverse and very lush, so look out for mushrooms and fungi along with the typical flora and fauna of the area! For the most part, it is definitely one that is good for those seeking a bit of solitude on a busy weekend.
The Little Square Pond Trail
(red markers) leaves the Floodwood Road and passes through the woods for about 0.75 of a mile until it reaches Floodwood Pond. Take the canoe carry (yellow markers) to the right a few hundred feet until it reaches the beach for a quick view of the pond. Get back on the trail and follow it through the woods along Floodwood Pond. You'll get a couple of views of the lake, but the trail itself never really goes onto the shore unless you bushwhack 100 feet or so.
After passing though a campsite at the south end of the lake, you'll head left (follow the trail markers) and to the east a bit. A couple hundred feet after this, there will be a trail that shoots off to the right and heads down to a bridge that crosses a stream. It's worth stopping and taking a look at the fish and other wildlife that might be in the water.
Go back up to the main trail and follow it through the woods and along the water for about 2 miles until you reach a canoe carry that connects Fish Creek with Follensby Clear Pond. You could continue on the Little Square Pond Trail
all the way to Fish Creek Pond Campground to connect with the second half of the hike, but the canoe carry will save you a bit of rambling through the woods.
Cut across on the canoe carry and take a look at Follensby Clear Pond when it meets the beach/launch area. Loons can often be heard on the islands out on the lake. From here you'll be following the Horseshoe Pond Trail
(blue marker) back north to Floodwood Pond Road. The Horseshoe Pond Trail
is significantly more overgrown and less-well maintained than the Red Trail, but there are markers roughly every 100-200 feet, so it's hard to get too lost.
The trail will curve around Horseshoe Pond and follow a peninsula that just out into it. Parts of this area were particularly lush with thick, green moss carpets and some boggier areas. The trail will eventually curve back around Horseshoe Pond (with some views of the water along the way), and will get to a stream connecting Horseshoe and Little Polliwog Ponds. There is an old, decrepit wooden bridge that crosses the stream/swamp here. Be very careful when crossing it (it's not high off the ground, but quite slippery), and try to step off and onto the ground as soon as you won't get your shoes wet.
From here, it's just under 2 miles until you get back to Floodwood Road. Take advantage of the canoe carries crossing the tail to get access and views of Little Polliwog Pond, Polliwog Pond, and Middle Pond along the way. Some minor bushwhacking will also give you views of some smaller, unnamed ponds.
Once the trail reaches the road, take it west for a mile along the north shore of Middle Pond and return to you car.
Flora & Fauna
Mixed hardwood and evergreen forests, ferns, mushrooms (most I've seen on a hike in this area), water birds (ducks, loons, etc), maybe a moose.