From a small trickle to a mighty river
The Fourth Connecticut Lake is a protected nature preserve located on the U.S. side of the U.S./Canadian border. The Nature Conservancy holds a conservation easement that safeguards the 78-acre preserve and the surrounding forest. The lake itself resembles a small bog, but it is more accurately a northern acidic mountain tarn — a small glacial pond. The small brook flowing from the pond is the start of the 410-mile Connecticut River. Just as you can step back and forth between Canada and the United States while climbing to the lake, you can step back and forth across the Connecticut River at its humble beginning at Fourth Lake.
A short, moderately steep climb takes you to the pond. The trailhead is located just behind the U.S. Border Guard installation. Limited parking is located immediately south of the guard station. Hikers do not have to check in with border guards before accessing the trailhead.
The trail is made up of granite boulders at certain spots, which can be wet and/or icy. It’s wise to pay attention to your footing. The hike to Fourth Lake is .6 miles. Once there, you’ll see trail markers for Loop Pond, a beautiful trail that circles Fourth Lake and brings you to the spot where the Connecticut River begins. Round trip, the hike, including the Loop Pond trail, is 1.7 miles and takes about two hours.
The forest is predominately balsam fir and delightfully fragrant. You’ll also find red spruce, paper birch, and mountain ash. The edge of the pond is made up of a floating bog of mosses, sedges, grasses and insectivorous plants like pitcher plant. Look for wildflowers at the southern end of the pond. The pond supports a small year-round fish population, river otter and beaver. Other wildlife includes moose, white-tailed deer, black bear, spruce goose, and three-toed woodpeckers.
Because this is a conservation area, no dogs are allowed and there is no hunting, trapping or fishing.
Surface Elevation 2,670 feet
Area 2.5 acres
Outflow There are two outflows. Beaver activity determines which outflow becomes the Connecticut River
Location 22 miles north of Pittsburg off Route 3, at the U.S./Canadian border
Average depth Between 2 and 4 feet
Maximum depth 5 feet
Pause for the Magnetic Hill
Bring your passports and head north, crossing the border into Quebec. You won’t be going far. Once across the border, you’ll immediately descend a large, steep hill. Turn your car around once you’ve reached the bottom, put it in neutral and take your foot off the brake. Drum roll, please! In seconds you’ll find yourself being pulled back up the hill toward the United States.