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Biking in for monster whitetails

Last year, I spent several days fishing waters along the horse trail system in the Hayes Brook-Slush Pond area, which is located just off of State Route 30, a few miles north of Paul Smiths corners. The trail system features a network of fire truck roads and old logging roads that connect with several small streams and a few backwoods ponds.

Although the Hayes Brook region does attract horseback riders, hikers and cross country skiers in season, it remains lightly traveled, especially after the trout season ends.

The area is designated Wild Forest, a classification that permits the use of mountain bikes. Few people realize that despite being banned in designated wilderness areas, the use of mountain bikes is permitted on nearly 1.3 million acres of Forest Preserve land classified as Wild Forest, with most, but not all, trails in Wild Forest being open to mountain bikes.

Much of the Saranac Lake Wild Forest is open to bikers, as are fire truck roads in the St. Regis Canoe Area as well as a seven-mile, primitive corridor that reaches from Star Lake into the Five Ponds Wilderness almost to Cage Lake. Biking is permitted throughout the Moose Plains, a sprawling piece of backcountry that is located south Old Forge.

Most of the trails in the Hayes Brook area are comprised of old tote roads which provide a wide swath for hikers, skiers, bikers or horseback riders to travel side by side. The forest features a mix of boreal, northern hardwoods and mature pine plantation and the topography is a blend of river valleys and rolling hills.

The Osgood River and Hayes Brook comprise two of the area's major waterways, while the nearby waters of Mountain Pond, Grass Pond and Slush Pond offer additional opportunities for brook trout fishing. Barnum Pond, located a mile south of Mountain Pond on Route 30, provides anglers with an additional opportunity for largemouth bass.

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