Thursday, November 24, 2016

Lake Bonita, Moreau Lake State Park: 11/13/2016

Ski season is almost here, but we were able to squeeze in another short hike close to home on one of the last really nice days of late fall. Lake Bonita is a recent addition to Moreau Lake State Park, with the official trail being marked just a few months ago.

Lake Bonita, Moreau Lake State Park, Sunday 11/13/2016.

The Saratoga Skier and Hiker, first-hand accounts of adventures in the Adirondacks and beyond, and Gore Mountain ski blog.

Every time we hike in Moreau Lake State Park we are surprised at how much the terrain feels like a southern extension of the Adirondacks. With the Lake Bonita trailhead less than a 15 minute drive from home, it's a great option when we have too much going on to make the longer drive north.

Despite the bright sun, there was no mistaking that it was November. The low angle of the sun kept the shady side of the lake dark and cool. Just about all of the leaves were down except for a few oaks and beeches that still showed some color.

The trail is a 2.5 mile circuit of the 60-acre lake, keeping close to the shoreline for most of its length. You wouldn't know from the wilderness-like setting that Lake Bonita was part of the Mount Mcgregor Correctional Facility until just recently. During the "prison decades" Lake Bonita was off limits to the general public. As a result, the shoreline is undisturbed and the lake is free of invasive species. No boats of any kind are allowed, and although fishing is allowed, live bait is prohibited.

Some of the lake's "floating bog" islands

The lake is dotted with numerous tiny islands which are essentially floating bogs. You can read about the interesting plant communities that these islands support here.

We took our time on our circuit, especially on the sunny of the lake, but still finished the hike in about an hour and a half. With minimal elevation change, it's easy to keep a quick pace. A large rock outcropping on the north shore of the lake provides a great spot for a lunch break or to just hang out and soak up the setting.

With the trailhead being so close to home, I'm sure we'll return to Lake Bonita many times. We're already looking forward to exploring the frozen lake this winter on cross-country skis.

If you go: The Lake Bonita trail head is located due west from Exit 16 of the Northway. Follow Ballard Road approximately 2 miles to the intersection with Route 9, continue across Route 9 on Ballard Road (becomes Corinth Mountain Road) for another 2 miles. The trailhead is on the right, marked with a wooden DEC sign.

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