Thirteenth Lake Hike, NY

I woke at 5 am today and spent the morning stacking wood and getting ready for next season. By the early afternoon I was ready for a break and decided to check out the “new” trail that connects Peaked Mountain Brook to the Hour Pond trail on the western side of Thirteenth Lake.

View of Thirteenth Lake from NY state campsite

I’ve been thinking a lot about Thirteenth Lake lately — it just seemed appropriate to hike the newest trail in the Siamese Ponds Wilderness and complete a loop around the lake.

There has been so much rain that the trail was being drenched by “streams” that have sprung from the steep slopes of the lake’s western shore. Peaked Brook was raging. I followed the red trail up to the bridge that now crosses the brook and made my way along the new trail.

Trail around 13th Lake

The trail follows a route that hunters, fisherman and skiers have used for decades. I’d been through this col thrice before the trail was cut. Once in summer on a scouting expedition, and twice in winter on skis. The forest I remembered was majestic, with big, widely spaced trees.

bridge over Peak Mountain Brook

I was a bit concerned that the new trail would diminish the awe I’d felt moving through this forest in the past. But the trail has been beautifully cut and in my opinion, hardly impacts the wildness of the walk.

Old trees along Thirteenth Lake Hike

As I approached the height-of-land, I was amazed at how much water was still coming down the seasonal stream I was following. As I crested the col, I saw that all the water flowing past me was pouring from an impressive beaver dam.

beaver swamp in Siamese Ponds Wilderness

I descended the col, reached the Hour Pond Trail, and then the Hour Pond Outlet. I’d never seen the outlet so high, even in spring. I walked quickly to back to the old farm clearing and to the trailhead, covering about ten miles in total.

bridge over Hour Pond Outlet

I love the new trail. It’s beautiful and looks to be erosion resistant. And while I enjoyed every moment of today’s walk, I couldn’t escape the feeling that the new trail made the wilderness a little bit smaller.

6 comments on “Thirteenth Lake Hike, NY

  1. Nice trail report Harvey. It seems that with every improvement there’s a tradeoff however small but from what you said it seems like it might be worth it.

  2. From your photos, looks like a great addition. Came up this weekend, tried to get a hike in, but too much work on the home. I will live vicariously through your photos.

  3. How were the bugs? They were absolutely brutal hiking on Sunday near Lk George – and I hardly ever complain about the bugs.

    That’s a lot of water in the photo of Hour Pond Outlet. It’s been a very wet spring / early summer, been tough getting hikes in.

  4. Bugs were surprisingly non-existent until I got to the low point in the Puffer Pond Trail, where you cross the 13th Lake inlet. You’ll notice I wrote “I walked quickly to back to the old farm clearing and to the trailhead…”I was getting chowed. I think the difference was that the breeze died and the sun came out warming things up.

  5. Fifty years ago I lived on thirteenth lake road and often went into the forested trails to siamese pond and elizabeth point – camping out.. I sailed the lake with one of garnet hill’s tiny sailboats and swam there from the farther shore the entrance to the state land from old farm road was quite different then to what it is now as I saw when I visited the area in 2015. A disappointing cemented over public space for cars. My little home is still there though owned by someone else who made it into a fortress rather than a dwelling compatible with nature – friendly and belonging. Nothing of the world is the same anywhere – not in this tiny hamlet in the woods nor in any big city. I left four poems I wrote for this occasion of my visit and rolled up each one into an individual tiny scroll and placed each scroll into a tiny see thru glass vial with a waterproof seal on top, then strung each vial up with a fine cord onto a lower limb of four individual trees for all eternity. Sort of a message in a bottle idea. The fifth vial and poem was buried in the sand at the beach front belonging to garnet hill lodge. My heart was there 50 years ago and still my heart is there. It proved to be my only one true home. The poems are about this and about love and loss and longing. I leave off with this poem by Alun Lewis…

    Deep in the heart of the lake

    Where the last light is clinging / a strange foreboding voice
    Is patiently singing / do not fear to venture / where the last light trembles / because you were in love / love never dissembles.

    fear no more the beast, the bully, / the lies, the vain labour. / make no show for death / as for a rich neighbor.

    What stays of the great religions? / an old priest, an old birth./
    What stays of the great battles? / dust on the earth. / cold is the lake water / and dark as history. / hurry not and fear not

    This oldest mystery. / this strange voice singing, / this slow deep drag of the lake / this yearning, yearning, this ending /
    Of the heart and its ache..

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