You will notice a brown sign marking the start of the Duck Pond Multi-Use Trail on the left side of the road (before the gate). On the right side of the road, opposite the sign, three yellow blazes on a tree mark the start of the yellow-blazed Bear Claw Trail. Follow this trail through a pleasant second-growth forest, crossing a number of stone walls – evidence that this area was once farmed....
You will notice a brown sign marking the start of the Duck Pond Multi-Use Trail on the left side of the road (before the gate). On the right side of the road, opposite the sign, three yellow blazes on a tree mark the start of the yellow-blazed Bear Claw Trail. Follow this trail through a pleasant second-growth forest, crossing a number of stone walls – evidence that this area was once farmed. After climbing a low rise, the Bear Claw Trail descends to end at the paved Duck Pond Multi-Use Trail.
Cross the road and continue on the white-blazed Limestone Trail, which soon curves sharply left and begins to run parallel to the shore of Duck Pond. Like the other ponds that you’ll be passing on the hike, Duck Pond is known as a “sinkhole pond” – meaning that it was formed in a depression in the limestone that underlies the area. The water level in this and other sinkhole ponds varies significantly from season to season, and they are home to a number of rare and endangered species.
Soon after crossing a low stone wall (where a path leads, left, to the lakeshore), the Limestone Trail bears right, away from the water, and climbs a little. It continues to run parallel to the pond, but some distance from it, until it ends at a junction with the red-blazed Spring Lake Trail. Turn right onto the Spring Lake Trail, which follows the route of an old woods road.
When you reach a fork in the road, bear left to continue on the red-blazed Spring Lake Trail (the right fork leads to a parking area on Dove Island Road). About 0.2 mile beyond, an unmarked trail on the right leads to the southwestern shore of Spring Lake, but you should continue ahead on the Spring Lake Trail. Soon, you’ll be able to see Spring Lake through the trees on your right, and the green-blazed Sinkhole Trail begins on the left. Continue ahead on the red-blazed Spring Lake Trail, which makes a short ascent and then turns sharply right.
In another 0.2 mile, you’ll reach a four-way intersection. The blue-blazed Passage Trail begins on the left, but you should turn right and follow an unmarked trail that leads down to the shore of beautiful Spring Lake. This lake is technically a sinkhole pond, but it is deep enough that is filled with water year-round. You’ll want to take a break here to enjoy the scenic surroundings.
When you’re ready to continue, take the right fork of the trail (facing away from the lake) that leads back to the red-blazed Spring Lake Trail. Turn right on the Spring Lake Trail, which soon passes through a hemlock grove and reaches a third sinkhole pond. This one, known as Little Frog Pond, is usually little more than a shallow grassy depression partially covered with water, and it is an interesting contrast to the two larger ponds that you passed earlier in the hike.
The Spring Lake Trail continues through dense groves of hemlock. It climbs a little and eventually reaches an intersection where the red blazes lead both straight ahead and to the left. This is the beginning of the “tail” of the loop, and you should continue straight ahead to the trailhead on the entrance road to the Duck Pond Group Camping Area. Turn right, follow the entrance road back to Route 619, turn left onto Route 619, and follow it for 350 feet to the turn-off for the Duck Pond Multi-Use Trail Area, where the hike began.
To view a photo collection for this hike, click here.Publication: Submitted by Daniel Chazin on 06/16/2006 updated/verified on 03/23/2015
This hike follows old woods roads and footpaths through the park, passing several attractive ponds.
Whether you are going for a day hike or backpacking overnight, it is good practice to carry what we call The Hiking Essentials. These essentials will help you enjoy your outing more and will provide basic safety gear if needed. There may also be more essentials, depending on the season and your needs.
Hiking Shoes or Boots
Water - Two quarts per person is recommended in every season. Keep in mind that fluid loss is heightened in winter as well as summer. Don't put yourself in the position of having to end your hike early because you have run out of water.
Map - Know where you are and where you are going. Many of our hiking areas feature interconnecting network of trails. Use a waterproof/tear-resistant Tyvek Trail Conference map if available or enclose your map in a Ziplock plastic bag. If you have a mobile device, download Avenza’s free PDF Maps app and grab some GPS-enhanced Trail Conference maps (a backup Tyvek or paper version of the map is good to have just in case your batteries die or you don't have service). Check out some map-reading basics here.
Food - Snacks/lunch will keep you going as you burn energy walking or climbing. Nuts, seeds, and chocolate are favorites on the trail.
Sunscreen and insect repellent
Rain Gear and Extra Clothing - Rain happens. So does cold. Be prepared for changing weather. Avoid cotton--it traps water against your skin and is slow to dry. If you are wearing wet cotton and must return to your starting point, you risk getting chills that may lead to a dangerous hypothermia. Choose synthetic shirts, sweaters and/or vests and dress in layers for easy on and off.
Compass - A simple compass is all you need to orient you and your map to magnetic north.
Light - A flashlight or small, lightweight headlamp will be welcome gear if you find yourself still on the trail when darkness falls. Check the batteries before you start out and have extras in your pack.
First Aid Kit - Keep it simple, compact, and weatherproof. Know how to use the basic components.
Firestarter and Matches - In an emergency, you may need to keep yourself or someone else warm until help arrives. A firestarter (this could be as simple as leftover birthday candles that are kept inside a waterproof container) and matches (again, make sure to keep them in a waterproof container) could save a life.
Knife or Multi-tool - You may need to cut a piece of moleskin to put over a blister, repair a piece of broken equipment, or solve some other unexpected problem.
Emergency Numbers - Know the emergency numbers for the area you're going to and realize that in many locations--especially mountainous ones, your phone will not get reception.
Common Sense - Pay attention to your environment, your energy, and the condition of your companions. Has the weather turned rainy? Is daylight fading? Did you drink all your water? Did your companion fail to bring rain gear? Are you getting tired? Keep in mind that until you turn around you are (typically) only half-way to completing your hike--you must still get back to where you started from! (Exceptions are loop hikes.)
Check the weather forecast before you head out. Know the rules and regulations of the area.
The Leave No Trace Seven Principles
- Know the regulations and special concerns for the area you'll visit.
- Prepare for extreme weather, hazards, and emergencies.
- Schedule your trip to avoid times of high use.
- Visit in small groups when possible. Consider splitting larger groups into smaller groups.
- Repackage food to minimize waste.
- Use a map and compass to eliminate the use of marking paint, rock cairns or flagging.
- Durable surfaces include established trails and campsites, rock, gravel, dry grasses or snow.
- Protect riparian areas by camping at least 200 feet from lakes and streams.
- Good campsites are found, not made. Altering a site is not necessary.
- In popular areas:
- Concentrate use on existing trails and campsites.
- Walk single file in the middle of the trail, even when wet or muddy.
- Keep campsites small. Focus activity in areas where vegetation is absent.
- In pristine areas:
- Disperse use to prevent the creation of campsites and trails.
- Avoid places where impacts are just beginning.
- Pack it in, pack it out. Inspect your campsite and rest areas for trash or spilled foods. Pack out all trash, leftover food and litter.
- Deposit solid human waste in catholes dug 6 to 8 inches deep, at least 200 feet from water, camp and trails. Cover and disguise the cathole when finished.
- Pack out toilet paper and hygiene products.
- To wash yourself or your dishes, carry water 200 feet away from streams or lakes and use small amounts of biodegradable soap. Scatter strained dishwater.
- Preserve the past: examine, but do not touch cultural or historic structures and artifacts.
- Leave rocks, plants and other natural objects as you find them.
- Avoid introducing or transporting non-native species.
- Do not build structures, furniture, or dig trenches.
- Campfires can cause lasting impacts to the backcountry. Use a lightweight stove for cooking and enjoy a candle lantern for light.
- Where fires are permitted, use established fire rings, fire pans, or mound fires.
- Keep fires small. Only use sticks from the ground that can be broken by hand.
- Burn all wood and coals to ash, put out campfires completely, then scatter cool ashes.
- Observe wildlife from a distance. Do not follow or approach them.
- Never feed animals. Feeding wildlife damages their health, alters natural behaviors, and exposes them to predators and other dangers.
- Protect wildlife and your food by storing rations and trash securely.
- Control pets at all times, or leave them at home.
- Avoid wildlife during sensitive times: mating, nesting, raising young, or winter.
- Respect other visitors and protect the quality of their experience.
- Be courteous. Yield to other users on the trail.
- Step to the downhill side of the trail when encountering pack stock.
- Take breaks and camp away from trails and other visitors.
- Let nature's sounds prevail. Avoid loud voices and noises.
The Trail Conference is a 2015 Leave No Trace partner.
(c) Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics: www.LNT.org.