It was all Steve Anger’s fault. The owner of North Country Angler peaked our curiosity when he wrote a Conway Daily Sun article called, “North Country Angling: Fishing on Blue Pond” (Sept. 19). Neither Peter nor I ever heard of this hidden Madison pond. Could we find it, using our maps and his description? If we found it, would it be as blue as he described? We had to find out.
The article gave clues about where to start looking. We drove down to Madison in search of Blue Pond. Steve mentioned a woods road off Forest Pines Road as his access point. Driving south on Route 113, we bore right at East Madison Road intersection, passed school, firehouse and town hall. We spotted Forest Pines Road on our right.
Turning there, we went about a ½ mile up the road, looking for a dirt road. We passed one with house numbers and “Cabin Road-PVT,” knowing it led to houses. The road turned sharply right uphill, and we spotted the road on the left, leading directly to the powerline. There we parked, and went across to explore the woods road on the other side.
It was threatening rain the first time we went, so we explored on foot instead of wheels. Boulders there discouraged some vehicle traffic, but ATV’s had found a way around them. Down the washed-out road, we came to railroad tracks, cutting a green tunnel through the trees. Maps we consulted beforehand showed if we went north on them, we’d reach Madison Boulder and eventually Conway. Turning left or south would take us to Silver Lake Railroad Station.
With Blue Pond destination in mind, we headed down the dirt road. At the bottom of the hill, the road veered right. A spur trail turned sharply left, near a bubbling stream. Up a hill and down, it led to a pond. Was this Blue Pond? It didn’t look blue. We walked out on soggy planks to explore its edges. It looked shallower than Steve’s description. We wondered, was this it?
After enjoying early fall colors, we followed the spur back to the main road and turned left. The road was in good shape, and showed recent use by ATVs and equestrians. Looking for other geographic markers to fix our location, we walked a mile or more. An overgrown road on our left looked like no one had gone there in a while, so we avoided it.
Continuing, we came to a swamp on our right we guessed might be Cranberry Bog. Looking across, we spotted beaver and wood duck houses on the far shore. When it started to rain, we decided this was our turn-around point. On a sunnier day, with faster transportation, we’d come back to see where the dirt road led.
The question remained-had we found Blue Pond? We started to doubt it. At home, armed with NH Gazetteer Map 41, Silver Lake area USGS topo map, and downloadable New Hampshire Wildlife maps (tinyurl.com/y4zh3k52), we came to the conclusion we had not reached Blue Pond, but had found Mack Pond. The swamp wasn’t Cranberry Bog, either, but a no-name swamp. We were close to our goal, but hadn’t reached it. Time to go back to explore.
The best source we found for plotting our way was Google Satellite images. We could zoom-in and locate roads that were hidden to us before. One of them showed the way to Blue Pond, another showed roads leading left toward Hedgehog Hill Road or right toward Madison Boulder. We hoped we had enough information to find Blue Pond, then go back to the main dirt road to complete a loop.
What you see from the air is not necessarily what you’ll find on the ground! On our second Blue Pond foray, we took our bikes, rode past boulders, the Mack Pond turn, and up the dirt road. When we spotted the overgrown road, this time, we turned left. Google had shown us this was the way to Blue Pond. It didn’t show thick brush and blackberry bushes we’d have to fight our way through or the steep, rocky climbs we’d have to make.
Passing the true Cranberry Bog on our right, we knew we were getting closer. A rough downhill section led us to a spur to the right where we turned and climbed up a ridge to catch our first Blue Pond view! A steep path down brought us to its shores. It looked deep — Steve Anger said it was 40 feet, but we weren’t sure it was blue. Overcast skies may have muted its color. According to Steve, “Blue Pond got its name from the deep azure blue color of the water,” caused by a great ice chunk left under the glacial till after the glaciers receded.
Spotting a cabin at pond’s far end, we wondered how anyone ever got out to it on this rough road. We continued on to check it out. We abandoned bikes and started walking, wishing we’d worn long pants! Many leg scratches later, we found the other end of Blue Pond, but no way to the cabin. Cabin dwellers hadn’t come this way! We followed a stream bed up to the pond’s outlet and discovered why. A private graveled driveway led to the cabin from somewhere else.
Our curiosity satisfied, we walked/rode back on that trail we came in on, vowing to question Steve about his route to the pond. At the road, we turned left, enjoying the firm packed surface and open road. At the road’s fork, we turned left. According to the satellite map, this road would lead to a small gravel pit in a short distance and connection to Hedgehog Hill Road.
The trail was washed, with loose rocks and a steep climb that stopped my wheels. Walking to the top, I saw the pit and knew we were almost out of the woods. Past a closed gate, with a sign prohibiting motorized vehicles, we came to Hedgehog Hill Road, a well-maintained road. Turning right, we rode a short distance to dirt North Division Road. A left turn there led us to paved High Street.
Finally, we had a downhill ride with beautiful views! At Route 113 junction, we turned left. Passing a powerline road, we considered taking it back, but abandoned that thought. Powerlines can be rough, wet and impassable. We decided it was better to take the road.
At the Silver Lake Railroad Station, I suggested we follow the tracks back. There was a packed-down single track next to the tracks that looked rideable. We turned left into the railroad yard, pedaled past parked trains and rode past Drew Pond and Mack Pond. At the dirt road, we turned right and rode to the van to complete a challenging 6-mile loop.
We finally found Blue Pond and completed our loop ride successfully! It’s amazing the mountain bike explorations you can do if you have good maps, sense of direction, and intestinal fortitude! Be curious and adventuresome, but know where you are and what your limits are. Get out and explore, but wear your “Hunter Orange!”
• Saturday, Oct. 12, from 6-10 p.m., Leaf Peeper Bike Bash, presented by White Mountains NEMBA and Backyard Concept at Theater in the Wood, Intervale. Potluck, beer, movies and ride films, guest speakers and vendors. Check it out at: tinyurl.com/y59oayyj.
Thursday, Oct. 17, 5:30-7:30 p.m., Mt. Washington Valley Bicycling Club’s Fall Meeting at Red Parka Pub in Glen. Celebrate the riding season with free apps, cash bar and raffle prizes.