Pets allowed
Allowed with Restrictions
Elevation Gain
462.00 ft (140.82 m)
Trail type
There-and-back
Distance
1.50 mi (2.41 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

Along Route 86 between Lake Placid and Wilmington, there is no shortage of signs marking trailheads, fishing spots, and scenic stops. The road runs on a little shelf between the Ausable River and the sharp rise of The Sentinel Range Wilderness Area. Blink in the wrong spot, and you'll miss the trailhead entry to one of the region's sweetest swim spots: Copperas Pond.

There are two ways to access Copperas. The first is to use the Owen Pond trailhead, which takes you up to Owen, Winch, and Copperas ponds. Owen and Winch ponds, pretty as they are, tend to be surrounded by more marshy areas (think bugs). If you want to bypass the first two and just get to Copperas, you'll need the Copperas Pond Trail.

Unlike most trailheads, where the parking is adjacent to the trail, the trailhead for Copperas Pond is across the street. When you see the sign, park alongside the river. Then look across the street, and you'll see an opening in the dense woods. That's the starting point. Technically, you're heading into backcountry, so even if you're planning a short hike, take a moment to sign-in.

The trail is short and steep, about a half-mile to the top. It alternates between stair-like roots and rocks and an ambling track with soft dirt and pine needles underfoot. At the summit, you're treated to an immediate view of Copperas Pond. There is a path that circumnavigates the pond. There is no beach, but there are plenty of small landing spots ideal for parking a pack and a couple towels.

Copperas Pond is 30 feet deep with very little in the way of a gradual slope. The depth plunges quickly from the shore. The water is clean, refreshing, and clear, though within about 10 to 15 feet you won't see the bottom. It's one of the few ponds that supports a population of trout, which require clear, healthy, well-oxygenated waters to survive.

If you follow the trail to the right, you'll find a large erratic, large rocks deposited by glaciers and scattered all across the Adirondacks. In fact, Copperas Pond has a lot of rocks, but this particular one rises immediately out of the water about 9 feet and makes an excellent jumping rock. A large, downed tree trunk is lodged at an angle about 30 feet offshore and makes a natural raft, where you can take a break from swimming. It's been there many years; there are no branches, just a long, smooth, waterlogged trunk.

Follow the path about 200 feet, and you'll find an Adirondack lean-to complete with the prerequisite fire ring. Oriented with pond views, the lean-to offers a great place to bunk for the night. There are no amenities, and please practice Leave No Trace. Black bears are fairly common to the area, so be sure to tree your food if you camp overnight. To return, just retrace your steps, following the same path to the trailhead. During summer, mosquitoes and deer flies can be persistent.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Summer
Fall

Congestion

Low

Parking Pass

Day Use

Open Year-round

Yes

Pros

Deep, clear water. Short path. Forested.

Cons

Buggy. Muddy path occasionally. No beach.

Trailhead Elevation

1,574.00 ft (479.76 m)

Highest point

1,806.00 ft (550.47 m)

Net Elevation Gain

274.00 ft (83.52 m)

Features

Near lake or river
Shelters
Bird watching
Backcountry camping

Typically multi-day

No

Permit required

No

Location

Field Guide

Comments

Have updates, photos, alerts, or just want to leave a comment?
Sign In and share them.