In a herkie jerky winter full of stops and starts, it can be easy to mire in the what ifs. “What if it were a few degrees colder?” “What if all that rain had been snow?” “What if it would just SNOW?!” 

But being Adirondacker’s we just roll with the punches and wait for the weather to change, after all, that happens about every hour inside the Blue Line anyway.  

Which brings me to a Friday in February, desperate to get back to sliding on snow after Mother Nature forced us to switch to ice skates for our fresh air the last two weeks. For this outing I chose Upper Sargent Pond Trail, hoping that the open hardwoods and relatively mellow terrain will hold enough snow to ski without doing too much damage to myself or my equipment.  

trail marker

Written by Tim Helms

Long Lake Parks & Recreation Outdoor Recreation Specialist

The trailhead for Upper Sargent’s Pond is off the North Point Road in Long Lake, which begins exactly two miles from the Route 28/30 intersection. After turning onto North Point Road drive approximately 6 miles and the trailhead will be on your left, with a small parking lot big enough for four or five cars and a yellow and brown DEC sign marking the trail, as well as distances to Lower Sargent and Tioga Point. 

After signing in at the trail register, I start the gentle climb up the trail from the parking lot following the red trail markers. The trail reaches its highest elevation, just under 2,000 feet a little over a quarter mile from the trailhead, then follows rolling and mellow terrain for the next mile to Upper Sargent Pond. 

There are two spicy spots to take note of, the first is a short pitch with a small stream running through the trail at the bottom, and the second is the only large hill. The small stream is easily crossable with skis on, but you will want to come to a complete stop before attempting to ford it. The only large hill on the trail is about one mile from the trailhead and is the Pitch of Consequence. The hill starts with a wide sweeping turn to your right, and then turns back to the left before getting steeper and gaining speed. The bottom of the hill is the crux of the trail and requires navigating a tight space between a downed tree on a curve, and maintaining enough control to avoid the wet spot immediately after. On this day I did all of those things poorly and was lucky that the cold snap this week firmed up the notorious wet spot at the bottom of the hill since I skied directly through it. After this quick bit of survivor skiing, it’s back to soft turns, and about a tenth of mile later I come to the Upper Sargent and Lower Sargent Pond Trail junction. From here you could bear right and ski the roughly two miles to Lower Sargent Pond, or as I did today, bear left and ski about a quarter mile to the shore of Upper Sargent Pond.  

Although it is an overcast slightly grey day, I snap a few photos from the shore and revel in the fact that it is surprisingly not windy here today. 

The return ski is slightly more arduous since you have to climb up the Pitch of Consequence, but after that it’s a relatively gentle ski out and I’m back at the car in under an hour. There are some wet spots to avoid, but all of them can easily be traversed around, and there is virtually no blowdown on the trail. Overall, the skiing is slightly better than I was expecting but watch out for some sharks just under the snow that can grab your edge or ski base. 

Since anything worth doing is worth doing right, I decided to cap the ski with lunch at the Brookside Hops & Hoagies in Long Lake, and tuck into a bowl of soup and pint. There isn’t a better way to finish off a winter adventure in the Adirondacks than a bite in a local watering hole.  

Who knows how much more snow we will get, or how many more ski days there are going to be. But for right now, all the winter activities are back in swing, so strike while it’s cold. 

Know before you go: The Upper Sargent Pond Trail had a trail register just in from the parking lot and it is important to make sure you utilize these. Not only do they help Rangers in the event of a rescue, they also help the DEC manage state land and trails. And lastly, even though this trail is short and well-traveled, it is important to make sure someone knows your itinerary before you go, pack appropriately, wear the right clothing, bring plenty of water, and stay on the trail. 

food after the ski. soup and chips

Lunch at Brookside Hops & Hoagies.