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Saturday, December 6, 2008

The New Pond Trail

In mid October, soon after our magnificent Split Rock Reservoir hike, we decided to explore the New Pond trail.  

Per the Smoke Rise & Locale Trail Directions, we had two options:

+ From the north:  Mountain Road Trail/New Pond Trail [blue] with access from Beechwood Lane

+ From the south:  New Pond Trail [blue] begins on West Shore Drive between lots #814 and #818.  Continue north around New Pond to connect with the Split Rock trail [white] and continue to the Beechwood Lane access or south along New Pond to join various old woods roads and the NY/NJ Trail Conference trails.

As we were familiar with the first, we opted to begin there, hoping to end up on West Shore Drive, where we parked one car.

Then, as we did for the Split Rock Reservoir Trail Hike, we parked at the end of Beechwood Lane [west of Red Oak Lane], walking to the trail head - located between lots #20 and #21 - to Mountain Road trail which runs from North to South. 

[The Mountain Road trail is marked with blue blazes.]

This was only our second time on Mountain Road; we were again impressed with how clearly it is the remains of a major 19th century road and surprisingly big. Although steep at the beginning, the 2nd mile was quite level with obvious signs of earthworks. Francis S. Kinney was definitely busy here!

As we approached New Pond, we noticed a boggy area on our left. A small stream trickled into it.  It became slightly more important as we continued trekking south.
We caught sight of an impressive 12 to 15 foot tall structure ahead. The stream crossed our path and met up with the structure. We stepped over rocks and then headed uphill to the structure's level.

It was a dam. New Pond dam. Can you guess who built it? According to Tom Kline, Francis S. Kinney did.  

The photo shows Ted determining that the section by the spillover is heavily silted up. Notice how wide the structure is.

After admiring New Pond - and it is a beautiful pond - we continued on the trail only to find our way blocked.  Talk about a rude encounter!  A massive barrier of dirt, branches, rocks and other debris had been piled onto the trail. We peaked around and discovered that a house had been built - part of the Centex Grandview development on South Glen Road.

We backtracked just a bit [noticing a congenial fire pit] and found what looked to be a trail heading east [the direction we needed to head towards to find our way to West Shore Drive].

We followed that trail and soon came across the massive erratic pictured here, with another fire pit and plenty of firewood stacked up...

We continued around the rock, looking for a trail, found something that seemed legitimate, discovered it wasn't much of anything, decided to maintain our eastern heading and found signs of civilization: an electric fenced yard.  We avoided it, but followed its periphery.  That led us toward a bog and finally into someone's front yard and onto West Shore Drive.

I can't remember which yard it was.   And, although I feel terrible that we trespassed onto someone's property, you have no idea how relieved we were to make it to West Shore Drive.

For the record, we 'landed' farther north than we expected.  As we headed south toward our car, we did pass the sign [see photo above] indicating the trail head for New Pond. We were too tired to explore.

We felt, though, that we had a mystery on our hands.

The mystery ate at us so much that, the next day, Ted & I decided we needed to enter from the New Pond Trail marker and find what happened.

Things seemed normal enough except that we noticed red silt runoff atypical for this area.  We quickly saw why:  Centex Grandview construction with mounds of unprotected and leaching fill and quite a lot of erosion into the drainage below which leads to our lake.  We kept on to where we thought the trail was [or had been] and made it close to where we had met the trail blockage....

In so doing, we realized that it wouldn't take much to reconnect the trails. According to Ken Bitz, Smoke Rise owns an easement that allows us to do so. The Lake & Environmental Committee will be considering the matter and - should we get the okay - we will need as many able bodies as possible to mark off the new trail.  I hope you might be interested in participating in this marvelous community project.

We'll let you know when we learn more. 




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