The Time I Tried the 4-3-2-1 Challenge in One Week…

HA! I planned this out so well, spending hours over the brochure I sent away for from the Indian Lake Chamber of Commerce.  Somehow, I really thought that I was going to complete this challenge in one week.  10 hikes, 6 days … how hard could that be?


Let’s just make it back to reality here… How about 5 of the 4 required “easy” hikes instead.

July 10, 2017

Buttermilk Falls

Mom, dad & I are enjoying a week away at Lewey Lake State Park.  Today, after a trip to The Wild Center in Tupper Lake we decided to knock off one of the 4 easy hikes in the 4-3-2-1 Way Challenge.  It’s a very short hike, most places that list it don’t even give it mileage. Gaia GPS clocked 0.21 miles total while we were there. That is no where’s near what the actual mileage of the “trail” is, since I was back and forth up and down the falls taking photos. 


I’ve actually done this “hike”, many years ago on a family vacation with my parents & their camping buddies.  I remember swimming in the water, and jumping off rocks (okay, lets be real…I was not jumping off the rocks.)

I would not have recommended swimming here today, with the recent rain, the water was gushing over the falls. 

Above the falls, the water was slightly calmer and a great spot for fishing. At least, I assume so, since there were a group of people fishing in this area.  We spent a good 15 minutes just watching and listening to the water in this area.  I would have loved to have stayed longer, and wished I had thought to bring my hammock and kindle!

July 11, 2018

Death Brook Falls (AKA: Secret Falls)

When they rated these hikes as “easy” they really weren’t kidding.  For Death Brook Falls (apparently also known as Secret Falls) we clocked in just over 0.5 miles round trip.  We spent about 30 minutes total for the hike in, exploring around and looking (and of course listening) to the falls.  The trail is located on NYS Route 28/30 just after passing Golden Beach Campground. 

This hike was our first for the day, and was also located farthest from where we were staying at Lewey Lake.  There isn’t really a parking area that you find at some trail heads, so we just found a spot off to the side of the road on the opposite side of the street. There was no trail register for this hike, so we did not sign in.

For a few paces you’ll follow a wide beautiful trail that then opens up to a large grassy clearing.  Then you’ll head back into the woods.  At that point you should be able to hear the falls.  After another small jaunt through the woods, you’ll come to see the brook. The falls are somewhat hidden, but just cross over the brook for the best view.


There are a few side trails we noticed (that are steep) that I believe likely go up to the top of the falls.  We did not hike these, as my mom doesn’t do steep!  (For more photos & statistic details, check out the GPS track from Gaia GPS here.)

Grassy Pond

Our second hike of the day was the short but sweet Grassy Pond.  Clocking in at a little longer than Death Brook Falls. The trailhead for Grassy Pond is also located on NYS Route 28 on the other side of Golden Beach Campground.  We parked in the small lot, and headed for the trail. (This is also the trail head for Wilson Pond).  For one way, the sign has it pegged for 0.5 miles (1 mile round trip).  The trail was marked with red markers and very easy to follow.

I have a serious thing for taking photos of signs and trail markers…


Shortly after the sign and first markers, there was a trail register. We signed in and noted we’d be going to Grassy Pond and back.  The trail was a little muddy in spots, which was okay for me in my really great hiking boots, but my mom was just in sneakers.  We did a lot of maneuvering around the muddiest spots.  We passed a few others on the trail into Grassy Pond, but for the most part, we were the only ones on the trail.

At one point, there was another trail that crossed over the trail we were follwoing.  There was a sign to guide us for the correct trail.  I’m not sure what that other trail was, or even if it really was an actual trail.  We finally began to see glimpses of Grassy Pond.  It looked incredibly peaceful.


At this point we had clocked at 0.5 miles on my GPS app.  We attempted to get closer to the water for a better view, but the ground was very mushy and swampy, so we didn’t try to go much further.  Around this area there was remnants of a campfire.  There were no signs that specified camping in this area.

After a few minutes just looking at the pond, and enjoying the sounds of nature, we headed back for the 0.5 miles to the car.  We passed a few others on the way back, then signed out and got in the car for the next adventure. (For more information about Grassy Pond and the GPS track – with photos on the track as they were taken – click HERE.)

Rock Pond

This is likely my favorite hike of the day.  Rock Pond connects with Lake Durant and is sure to provide a relaxing atmosphere, and a really cool bridge!  

As I was looking at the brochure the Indian Lake Chamber of Commerce sent to me, the front has a beautiful photo of this cool wooden bridge over a body of water with the leaves in their full autumnal glory.  My dad was looking at it and said … “I want to find this bridge.” I wasn’t sure how we were going to accomplish that, since it doesn’t say where to find it on the brochure, and the trail descriptions are no more than a sentence or two.  So we just chose hikes along the same driving route.  Little did we know that we would find that bridge at Rock Pond!

You’ll find the trail head on a dirt road that eventually gives boating access to Lake Durant, the trail head is located before this access point.  The dirt road is off of Durant Road, which is off of NYS Route 30.

After the informative sign stating it would be 0.6 miles to Rock Pond, we found the trail register and signed our way in.  Then headed to the pond. The woods trail was absolutely wonderful, we didn’t see anyone on the trail on our way in, but as we neared the pond, we did hear voices. We arrived to the pond and lo and behold sat the bridge my dad wanted to find! There were some girls fishing off into Lake Durant from the bridge.


As you reach the bridge, Lake Durant will be off to your left, and Rock Pond to your right.  It would be easy enough to carry a kayak or canoe over this little bridge to paddle around Rock Pond. We spent a good amount of time just looking out to either side.  The trail does continue on, eventually coming to Lake Durant Campground.  I spent some time sitting on the bridge just enjoying the time.


On our way back we came across these trees growing on a rock.  My dad said he thinks that the tree growing around it, back into the ground was likely what was pushing this rock up to create that space between the rock and the ground.


I lead the way back to the trail head, and got a ways ahead of my parents.  So when I reached the trail register, I signed us out and had some time to take some fun pictures of the wildflowers growing near the trail register. (For more information on Rock Pond, check out the GPS track with more photos HERE.)

Barker Pond

I’m usually at peace with the forest; with the quite sounds of nature.  But here… I’m not kidding you, there was enough eeriness to make the hairs on your neck stand straight up.  We had time in the day for one more hike.  Our two options left were at 0.25 miles and 0.75 miles.  My mom, suggested the shorter, (next time she does that I think we’ll ignore her and head for the less remote longer hike that we could have done  in the amount of time it took us to actually find the trailhead for Barker Pond.)

You’ll find it on the “Flow Road” which is a seasonal (closed in winter) road that is currently used for logging.  We saw no logging action, but it felt like we were driving on this dirt road forever.  Eventually we did come to a road that split off to the right, with a sign for Barker Pond.  It was still several more miles on that road.  We’re sure it felt like so long, because the road was so bumpy, rocky, and even had tall grass in the middle toward the end.

We could tell this was not a well traversed area.  Eventually, that second dirt road comes to a clearing with a rock parking lot.  The trail head will be a little further up the road, that is eventually blocked off with large boulders.  As we stared out on this hike, it was incredibly overgrown.  Clearly it is not used all that often. There is also no trail register to sign in.   After a quick 0.25 miles we came to the pond.


We did a little looking around, but when I looked down and noticed a fairly fresh pile of what I would only assume was bear scat, looked to my right into some incredibly thick forest, I showed my parents what I found and we high-tailed it out of there real fast.  Granted, the bear was likely more scared of us than we were of him.. but since the trail was so short, we had left water, and all gear back in the car… and my dad runs faster than both my mom and I…

I noticed the camping allowed signed, wondered why anyone would want to do that here,  took a quick selfie… to prove I was there – worry face and all – and we safely made it back to the car in one piece. (For more information on Barker Pond, a GPS Track and photos click HERE.)

(Later in the week, we confirmed that it was actually bear scat at a store in Old Forge using a children’s book that told all about different kinds of animal scat.)



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