Rock Pond Boulder Hunting

The sky threatened to rain all day Sunday, so Heather and I skipped a day of climbing in favor of more boulder-hunting. We started late, so were forced to choose a semilocal destination: Rock Pond near Old Forge. Aside from the obvious appeal of its name, aerial maps promised steep terrain and a handful of sizable boulder-like shadows in the vicinity. But the rock quality and quantity looked questionable, so a rainy afternoon seemed like a great opportunity to at least cross this one off the list. My dad had the afternoon free, so he joined us.

We parked at the end of Brown’s Tract Road, just South of Thendara. This positioned us for the shortest possible bushwhack to the pond. An alternate, possibly easier, path begins at the Middle Settlement Lake trailhad, but is almost double the length. Our direct route carried us directly up and over three distinct ridgelines, none particularly steep, but all strenuous enough to slow our progress. Future trips would be optimized by staying at a lower elevation and skirting the base of the ridges.


The woods were peaceful and desolate. Although less than a mile from the road, signs of civilization were totally absent. But just before arriving at the pond, we stumbled on to a lightly-used, unofficial trail marked by pink tape — most likely a fisherman’s or hunter’s trail. The trail led us conveniently around the edge of the pond, directly to the spot I’d targeted.

Boulders appeared, but all were disappointingly chossy at first glance. I explored up and across the hillside, occasionally finding small pockets of climbable rock, but most was of very poor quality. After a bit, I heard Heather yelling in the distance, so I snapped a few pictures and tramped back down to see what the commotion was about.

Glacial erratics don’t get much bigger than this

The commotion was about one of the biggest freestanding boulders I’ve ever seen in the Adirondacks.

Seriously, the thing is massive and featured enough to be climbable. But at around 35 feet tall, it’s actually too high to safely climb ropeless, and no easy downclimb exists. But it’s an impressive piece of stone regardless.

The sun was beginning to set, so I rushed to inventory the adjacent area. A handful of truck-sized boulders nearby hold potential lines, as does a small cliff band below. But we were forced to head back before I could investigate farther.

Reviewing Google Maps at home later, I found that the most significant visible rockfall was all on the Southwest shore of the pond, just past the point we’d explored. More monster boulders are unlikely, but the probability of Goldilocks (just right) boulders seems high. Without a doubt, we’ll be returning very soon to find out what treasures, if any, remain undiscovered.

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The entry Rock Pond Boulder Hunting was posted on November 23, 2011 and tagged

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