Thursday, August 25, 2016
Clear Pond Mountain: 08/20/2016
It’s understandable if you’ve never heard of Clear Pond Mountain. As one of several summits in the privately owned 12,000 acre Elk Lake – Clear Pond Preserve, its trail is open only to guests of Elk Lake Lodge. We got a chance to hike the mountain and enjoy its phenomenal views during a 2-night stay at the lodge last weekend.
The short trail to CPM’s 2500’ summit can be accessed by hiking a mile or so around the shoreline of Clear Pond, but an even better option is to paddle across. That’s exactly what Beth and I did, grabbing a pair of kayaks from Elk Lake Lodge’s private boat landing.
At nearly a mile long and a half mile wide, Clear Pond is hardly a “pond” at all. The views of the nearby High Peaks from the pond rival the views from the summits. Instead of making a beeline across the pond to the trailhead, we paddled the length of the pond out and back, beaching our boats for a few minutes at a broad beach where Clear Pond Inlet enters at the far end of the pond. We never saw another boat the entire time we paddled.
Eventually we paddled our way over to the CPM trailhead, pulled up our kayaks and started the hike. It’s short and easy, gaining 600 vertical feet in under a mile. Like all of Elk Lake Lodge’s private trails, it’s lightly traveled and well maintained. Stepping out onto the broad summit ledges, you’ll almost feel guilty for being rewarded with such a striking and dramatic view for so little effort. Clear Pond lies directly below, with Elk Lake nestled at the foot of the High Peaks just beyond. Although we hadn’t seen them while we were paddling, we could hear a pair of loons calling from Clear Pond below. And, you guessed it, we didn’t see another soul.
Back at the lodge we drank in the view of the High Peaks across Elk Lake before dinner, followed by a spectacular sunset. I’ll post photos and a trip report from our next hike, Dix Mountain, within a few days.
More info on Elk Lake Lodge can be found here and here.