A ski to remember
Getting to the Floodwood Loop:
You can find this unique ski by following Route 3 out of Tupper Lake toward Saranac Lake, then taking the Route 30 turn toward Fish Creek. Continue for just under 9.0 miles to Floodwood Road which will be on the left. Now follow Floodwood Road for around 3.0 miles to the trailhead on the left, which doubles as a snowmobile trail. Parking can be a bit limited if there is a ton of snow – but a ton of snow is a good thing!
Playing on the Floodwood Loop:
We were stoked to get out and do our first ski tour of the year, but we were kind of worried about what to expect. We knew it was a snowmobile trail and we had heard nightmares about sporadic conditions - but how true would they be? Would the trail be rutted, would it be untouched and need to be broken the entire distance? So many questions with only one true way to find out – just get in the car and see what you find, so that’s what we did.
This trail can be quite a challenge as we remembered from past trips through the area and we were prepared for just about anything. We had ample food, water, and a warm beverage in our pack; we even carried snowshoes just in case a ski broke miles back in the middle of the forest. It would a miserable hike out for many miles with only one ski and post-holing with the other leg. We noticed definite snowmobile traffic at the beginning, but they hadn’t been there in a bit so a light coating of powder welcomed us and covered the iced-up tracks. There is one advantage to light dustings each night during the week, it makes the skiing a bit better. We enjoyed the fast start along the trail, it offered a wide corridor through the woods we soon came to Floodwood Pond on our right. While there were nice vistas out over the frozen waterway, a stiff breeze froze our nostrils pushing us back into the woods. We moved along the shore in nice shape and soon found ourselves looking out at the bubbling waters of the outlet – still flowing heavily below a thin layer of ice. Now along a much narrower trail we moved a bit slower, it was also slightly overgrown in a few spots, snowmobiles must have turned around. We were having trouble getting a decent grip now on the small hills, even with the fish scales, so we had to do a bit of “the herringbone hustle” up the rolling terrain.
Next was Little Square Pond, another attractive example of an Adirondack backcountry gem. The trail now followed Fish Creek, sometimes close, other times a bit further away, but the frequent sound of water under the ice was very inviting. We were then called onto more rolling hills and a couple nice small downhill runs, I aced all but one – a sharp left caught me off guard as did a buried branch that had eyes for my left ski. Soon we found ourselves out on the road at Fish Creek Campground.
The back-side of the Floodwood Loop:
We followed the road up to finish off our loop along the backside and found the return section of the loop nearly untouched. A bit worried about the time, we wasted none. We passed by Echo Pond on this very mellow section of trail and in a flash found ourselves at a bay on Follensby Clear Pond – not hesitating to lounge around we kept moving. Then in another flash, I must have blinked, we were at Horseshoe Pond. There is a trail that leads into the mouth of the horseshoe shaped shore and one that bypasses the extended journey. We took the longer approach, mainly because we couldn’t decipher the cut-off trail, it looked to be in rough condition - we dipped into the peninsula that makes the horseshoe. If you have the extra time and energy I recommend taking this for extra views out over the lake, it's mellow and not very demanding at all. We swept around Horseshoe Pond and passed between it and Little Polliwog Pond. Another nice hill in this area caught me off guard with a crusty layer, as I found myself pretzeled in some chin hobble. We passed by Polliwog Pond soon after and enjoyed the rolling hills that led us back out to Floodwood Road.
Finishing up the Floodwood Loop:
The loop ended at Floodwood Road, roughly 0.75 miles from our car. Back on the road we tried to ski for a while longer but the shoulder wasn’t much fun and the road itself, while it had some snow, it had much more sand. If you decide to head over that way you may be able to ski along the side of the road, but I wouldn’t rely on it, there is a good chance you will have to walk this short distance. It’s not a terrible walk, quite scenic, and not long enough where the hassle of a second car is necessary.
A well-deserved treat in Tupper Lake:
Once back at the car we were anxious to get the ski books off - along with all the other outwear. I am a huge fan and advocate of bringing a change of clothing and shoes no matter how cold they may be when you put them on. The ride back through Tupper Lake got us even hungrier for some pizza, so we stopped off at Little Italy for a bite and a beer.
Interested in doing this too, but don’t have the gear? See what a local guide can do for you. Maybe you have never skied before and want a lesson; we can hook you up with that as well. No matter what you choose to do, I bet you will be hungry and maybe a bit tired after; we welcome you to stay with us as well.