There are dozens of hiking trails in the Lake George Area. They’re scattered around the towns and villages of the region, trailheads peeking out from roadsides like hitchhikers, waiting for adventurers to drive by and discover them. The Berry Pond Preserve is one of these hidden trailheads.
The Berry Pond Preserve, a trail that begins in the Lake George Recreation Park, offers 1,436 acres and about four miles of hiking trails in the Lake George Wild Forest. On a beautiful spring day in May I parked in the empty lot near the trailhead to the Recreation Park’s cross-country trails and headed off for Berry Pond.
Before you’re officially hiking the Berry Pond trails, you have to navigate the cross-country skiing trails. These were wide and easy trails, soft from all of the recent rain. Bright blue trail markers posted on trees lead hikers towards Berry Pond. Before long, a large lean-to and a raging brook came into view. The noise from the water was thunderous, drowning out the road noise from nearby Route 9.
After stomping around the lean-to for a minute, I kept following the trail markers, walking on cross-country trails like Wolf Den. Before long, the trail widened to a road of muddy slop. This area had been logged, and the result was a mess. Cut logs covered both sides of the trail, seemingly left for good. Further up, after the first solid incline of the hike, the trail remained covered in downed branches. Between the soft mud and the swathe of branches on the trail, this portion of the Berry Pond Preserve was unpleasant.
Hikers will be relieved to learn that the carnage does end. A yellow sign signifying the beginning of the Lake George Wild Forest also signifies a more natural, Adirondack trail. The hiking here is easier. There are no logs to dodge or divots to avoid. I could barely hear cars anymore. Road noise was replaced with the sound of rushing water.
The trail here was narrow and covered in leaves, heading uphill gradually. A steep downhill led to switchbacks crawling up the side of the ridge. The switchbacks led to a meeting with the orange trail and the steepest portion of the hike. I opted to remain on the blue trail and started dragging myself up the hill. It was steep and had me breathing heavily. The sun was beating down on my back and the mud was sticking to my boots. I stopped twice to drink water and rest.
The top of that hill was the final tough portion of the hike. The trees began to thin, and I could see blue sky up ahead. I followed the winding path to an opening and another wide road. The north end of the clearing had a beautiful view of southern Lake George, sitting at the end of a sloping lawn. I stopped to admire the view for a few moments before moving on.
The blue trail curved down the backside of the ridge, lazily heading towards the orange trail and Berry Pond. Walking down was pleasant and easy, and a nice breeze cooled me down. Eventually, the trail leads to a wide dirt road that is a seasonal snowmobiling trail. I started trudging down the road, walking mostly downhill and trying to avoid the mud without leaving the trail. Then I made a mistake.
I came to a four way intersection which marked the beginning of the orange trail. I should have turned right at this intersection to head towards Berry Pond. Instead, I walked straight, thinking I was going the right way. Before long, I was back at the first intersection of the blue and orange trail. I had missed the turn and wasn’t going to find Berry Pond.
I was disappointed and tired. I wanted to see the pond, but I wasn’t interested in walking back up the orange trail. Instead, I hopped back on the blue trail and headed for the parking lot. I was back on the cross-country skiing trails before long.
The Berry Pond Preserve offers solid hiking. Those looking for a moderate challenge will enjoy the few steep climbs. I can’t recommend this preserve for kids. The logged areas are a mess, and dodging those limbs is an ankle's worst nightmare. Dogs would probably love this hike, just for all of the opportunities to chew on branches.