Dan and Hannah Hike the Moss Lake Trail in the Adirondacks of New York

Moss trail around the lake

Looking for a delightful family hike in the Adirondack Mountains?  Hannah and I have the 2.5 miles Moss Lake Trail for you.  To get to the trailhead, go north from the New York Thruway at Utica, head a simple 47 miles to touristy Old Forge.  Continue on route 28 for nine miles to the well-marked left turn onto Big Moose Road where two plus miles later you will find the Moss Lake trailhead on your left.

Moss trail Geo on trail

Geof Longstaff, tour guide, on the Moss Lake Trail

Assembling with three dozen others for a guided tour by Geof Longstaff, the son of the founder of the Moss Lake Camp for Girls, we have come this first week of August to where Hannah spent six summers as a teenager, first as a camper, and later as counselor/water skiing instructor.

If you come in early August, you too can take this three hour, mellow hike/tour.  Contact the Town of Webb Historical Association.  Click here for their website.  Geof was at the top of his game.

Moss trail H and Karen P

Hannah with Karen, the reason Hannah came to this reunion.  Karen was a camper when Hannah was a counselor at the Moss Lake Camp for Girls

Other campers from the 1960s have joined us including Karen, a dear friend to this day.  Check out this roster of activities at this camp: classes in horseback riding, tennis, swimming, water skiing, fencing, canoeing, ballet, sailing, archery, and riflery (pictures from back in the day below).  Girls were divided into two teams, the Blue team competing against the Gray team.

Hannah was regularly the captain of the Gray team and Suzie the captain of the Blue.  Suzie would beat Hannah in the tennis finals while Hannah would outswim Suzie.  They each were Honor Girls for being ones whom the other campers looked up to.

Moss trail H and Suzie

Hannah with Suzie with Moss Lake in the background

Well, it turns out Suzie is here today, the niece of Dr. George Longstaff, the founder.  In his introduction, Geof introduces Suzie as the top athlete years ago at camp.  And then Suzie, does a a Suzie thing, which indeed, is a Hannah thing.

Suzie speaks up for all to hear and says very humbly that Hannah was right there with her athletically.  I am so pleased for Hannah to get the brief recognition that often gets left unspoken.

Moss trail H at lake

Moss Lake Hannah

You see, those six summers at Moss Lake were when Hannah learned she was really good at sports, people genuinely liked her, and she had something unique to offer the world (i.e. herself!).  She was acknowledged and celebrated for who she was and who she could become.  In her own words, I didn’t know then, but now I realize that I discovered parts of myself at Moss Lake that might have remained undiscovered for years.

Moss trail by outlet

Moss Lake from the outlet stream bridge

And now back to the Moss Lake Trail which is almost entirely shaded, basically level with a hillock or two.  Enjoy the pictures of the Moss Lake Trail and then the historical pictures from the past of this girls’ camp, home to Hannah’s Coming of Age.

(Consider commenting on this blog so I know you are out there.)




Moss trail outlet better

Geof speaking to the assembled hikers at the bridge over the outlet to Moss Lake

Moss trail group picture

Moss Lake campers, family, and counselors

Moss Lake photographs from back in the day (1935-1972)

Moss archery better


Moss horses even more


Moss tennis


Moss fencing


Moss canoes


Moss main house

A former Moss Lake camper got in touch with me after reading this blog and provided this additional information about the death of Eleanor Roosevelt’s granddaughter, Sally Roosevelt. Hannah was on the hike when this accident happened in 1960!

Aloha, Dan & Hannah – Came across your blog via the Moss Lake facebook page and enjoyed your Moss Lake hike post. I was a Moss Lake Camper in the 60s and early 70s. However, it was this story that I wanted to share after reading your recently posted Eleanor Roosevelt quote. https://www2.gwu.edu/~erpapers/myday/displaydoc.cfm?_y=1960&_f=md004825
ER’s granddaughter, Sally, was a camper who was injured in a fall from a horse, a very unfortunate accident. Eleanor Roosevelt wrote about it in her diary which I came across online.

19 thoughts on “Dan and Hannah Hike the Moss Lake Trail in the Adirondacks of New York

    • It is not. The last summer of camp was in 1972. It no longer was a viable operation. Eventually the Nature Conservancy bought the land and then donated it to the New York State Park System, which maintains it beautifully to this day. I wish it was closer for you to hike when you come to New England. The next two blogs (one pagers from now on – 500 words or less) take place at Moss Lake and at nearby Bald Mountain.

  1. Another one “still out here”! This whole blog is awesome. I love, love, love it. And we love Hannah for sure. This place looks beautiful. THOSE OLDER PICTURES ARE UNBELIEVABLE. I especially love the one with all the women lined up on horses and the tennis court shot. My oh my, I remember playing with those old tennis rackets. Fun fun.

    • Thanks. It’s amazing what old pictures you can find on the Internet that are in the public domain. Stunning how many horses were stabled there each summer. Considering your pickleball proess, I am guessing you were quite the Martina or Chrissy back in the day!

  2. What a beautiful place! I would love to hike that trail some day.
    The pictures, both past and present, are awesome!
    I really enjoyed this, Dan! Thanks so much for sharing. What great memories this most hold for Hannah!

    • It’s just up from Utica when you head to Buffalo. Delightful area with many small hikes and an abundance of hikeable fire towers that you will learn about in a subsequent blog. It’s a special time that the real Hannah began to emerge.

    • As you know, no truer words than your last sentence. It makes me wonder if a generation later your kids had such an experience. Eight weeks is a long time away from home, and now quite expensive.

  3. Pingback: Dan, the Showoff at Moss Lake in the Adirondacks of New York – over60hiker

  4. I’m always intrigued by how fondly most people I know hold their camp memories. I suffered way too much from homesickness to risk going. I love how you and Hannah are such cheerleaders for each other and how you delight in Suzie’s recognizing Hannah’s athletic prowess. The old pics are fabulous!

    • Funny, you mention cheerleaders. When ever someone compliments Hannah to me, I always reply with some variation of “you got that right!” As the next blog shows, negative joking and trash talking just never work for me. They are too close to what lies unsaid in someone’s heart. It’s like sarcasm. The targets of sarcasm are never quite sure if you really mean it or not.

  5. I was there the day of this hike and my friend and I enjoyed hearing all of the former campers’ stories!! Thank you for providing the written format with all of these incredible pics!!

  6. Moss Lake camp holds a special place in my heart. I spent 8 summers there in the 40’s and remember it all vividly. I spent one year in Jr. camp where I was terribly homesick but then on to Senior Camp and Lodge where I thrived. Col. Shiskin, Capt. Selihof, riding Mr. Longstaff Sr’s horse, Major who was a handful. Mr. D, Mr. Z, Uncle George, Uncle Andy, Mr. Harding and Miss Lillian all were wonderful. The swim from the dock at Lodge to Turtle Rock to the island and back to the dock which we had to do twice to qualify for the wilderness trips which were great adventures! I was on the Blue team and remember creating songs for the competition with the Grey team held in Madison Square garden. These are just a few of my wonderful memories but I’m mindful of your one page limit even though I have some questions I’d like to ask.
    P.S. Just finished reading “Indian Givers” which I ordered from the Old Forge Hardware and found extremely interesting.

    • Ask away! My wife Hannah, a camper in the early 60s,may be able to answer some of your questions. It’s been two years now and the hike around Moss Lake with Dr. Longstaff’s son was informative, and good exercise. Maybe, after Covid, they’ll be another hike back in time.

      • There is an upcoming history hike (next wk i think?) at moss lake with one of the longstaffs. I attended last yr and former campers attended! It was super interesting! Check the Goodsell Museum website for info. Having the former campers there made it really fun!

  7. Hi. We were there exactly two year ago for the history hike around Moss Lake. Time well-spent. We’ll probably wait for another year or two til Covid leaves town. Thanks for the Goodsell Museum suggestion for info.

  8. My sister Peg and I have been doing this tour with Geoff for years. Peg came across an advertisement for the tour, so we decided to check it out. So glad we did, and we have a new tradition. That’s us on the left in the photo of the tour, posing in front of the map. Since our first tour, many other campers have joined the “alumni” group. Every tour is different and informative, since everyone brings their own memories and perspectives. One year when there was a rather large number of former campers, we even got together at Geoff’s home to sing camp songs around the campfire. Margy Cassard Rider, her husband Tom, and I were the camper representatives on the tour this year (2022).

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