These three ponds are located in the Sentinel Range Wilderness Area and offer excellent loop opportunities. There are two trails that lead into the area and either can be used to create a loop to the three ponds.
Cross-country skiing and snowshoeing
In winter, it is a scenic spot for snowshoeing or cross-country skiing. After the steep beginning and ending stretches it's easier than summer, because the snow makes for a more even surface.
This scenic trio of ponds offers all kinds of outdoor recreation along an easy trail for all skill levels. In summer it has camping, swimming, and paddling.
From the intersection of Route 86 and Route 73 in Lake Placid, follow Route 86 toward Wilmington. Continue for 5.5 miles to the southern trailhead on the right and an additional 1.1 miles to the northern trailhead also on the right.
This is a 3.5 mile loop hike along a well-traveled trail with mostly moderate conditions.
From the southern trailhead for Owen Pond start over a moderate course on the newly rerouted initial 0.2 miles. The new portion has been in use for a while but there are still some very soft areas. You will quickly come to the original trail alongside a brook in an area that is notorious for being wet and slippery. As you pass by an erratic on your right, you will begin to slowly move away from the brook and climb slightly before dropping again to the brookside and eventually Owen Pond.
Past Owen Pond you will find the trail to be slightly more moderate than most of the other sections of this trail. Before hardly any time at all you will see Copperas Pond with the sweet views of Whiteface Mountain over the far side. Passing through a camping area and over a long boardwalk you will come to an intersection. Right heads to Winch Pond and left goes along Copperas Pond and meets up with the northern trail approach to the region. For this loop follow left along Copperas Pond.
The tread here is narrow in spots and quickly comes to a trail sign pointing right. Go right, left will take you to the lean-to on the shore of Copperas but is a dead end as far as hiking. The trail now sweeps and goes over a few small hog-backs before it reaches another intersection. Follow here to the right to reach Winch Pond; left will bring you steeply down to Route 86, the northern trailhead.
Listed as one of the top brown trout waters in Essex County, Owen Pond was reclaimed in 1952 and remains an excellent fishery. The state annually stocks yearling browns here.
Only 19 acres and just over 30 feet at its deepest, this body of water is home to browns, rainbows, and lake trout as well as some smallmouth, bullheads, and pumpkinseeds.
This carry is a bit long, but not overly difficult. The initial section is part of a re-route that the DEC did a few years back to help create additional parking. The start is a tad narrow and windy, but short. Once on the old section of trail you will have a much wider tread under you, making it much easier to proceed efficiently while carrying a small canoe or kayak. With a slight climb to the trail you will notice it, but not find it overbearing. The best launch is along the northern shore past the outlet. Footing can be a bit tricky along the pond.
Size in length
Roughly 0.25 miles from north shore to south shore
How to get there
From the intersection of Route 73 and Route 86, follow Route 86 toward Wilmington. Continue for 5.2 miles to the Owen Pond Trailhead on the right.
Type of launch and carry
Semi-short carry of 0.5 miles. The nice thing about this half mile is it isn’t super demanding. But with that being said, I don’t recommend that you carry a heavy boat either. Lighter, smaller boats are recommended, but for two people to carry a canoe isn’t all that out of the ordinary either.
Type of water
Very well sheltered and flat with mostly calm conditions, no motor boats allowed.
This is a bit of a longer carry than most ponds, and much more rugged, but the reward is a quaint, quiet, and peaceful experience. The effort to reach this small backcountry pond is worth every step. Not recommended for heavy boats due to the terrain. From Route 86 you will start climbing right away. The initial portion of the trail is rather steep with many rocks littering the trail. The steep portion will end at an intersection with Winch Pond.
Head right toward Copperas Pond. This final section is rolling hills that quickly lead you to the shore of the pond. A lean-to rests on the shore down a small spur trail to the right. This pond is paddled very infrequently, so you will most likely have it to yourself. However, it is a popular short hike and swim destination in the Adirondacks, so you might have visitors in that sense.
Copperas Pond has one lean-to and two primitive tent sites, though the state Department of Environmental Conservation will be changing the locations of the campsites in 2020.
Copperas Pond is also a great swimming hole during the hot days of summer.
Find out more
Read our blog post, The Lean-to Life.