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Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Round Ball Mountain and Harlem Rail Trail

After a couple of relaxing days, I was anxious to get out and get some walking in.  The weather was still cold in the low 20's, but it didn't feel too bad after below zero wind chills all day yesterday.  Drove down to Round Ball Mountain, a 105 acre conservation area, located at the Columbia County/ Dutchess County line.
The sun was doing its best to fight through thick clouds, leaving sort of an eerie looking sky.
There is a small parking lot, literally located in the woods off a dead end gravel road.
Even though temperatures have well well below freezing the better part of the last few weeks, the March sun is doing a great job melting any south facing hillsides.
There are a total of four trails on the property totaling 2.2 miles altogether.  The main trail is the green trail which basically runs the perimeter of the area, while a yellow trail can be utilized as a shortcut.  From the yellow trail and many sections of the green trail are screened views down over the Harlem Valley and Route 22.
I'm not really sure what this huge hole was, but it was fenced in(presumably for safety reasons).
Even on the bleakest winter days, one can find beauty in the landscape if they look hard enough.
A solitary leaf laying on the snow packed trail.
A short blue trail leads to and along a small tributary of the Webatuck Creek.
Partially frozen running water.
The trails are all very well marked with colored signage throughout.
Most of the trail was broken in by snowshoes, making walking nice and easy.  A red summit trail circles the upper plateau of the mountain, offering broken views through the trees to the south and east.
The Taconics are the most striking feature from the summit, rising in the east.
Although the summit is only 1318 feet in elevation, it offers spectacular views.  The Taconic Mountain Range rises steeply over the open countryside, including Brace Mountain to the northeast.
Spectacular winter views from an opening in the trees. The western slopes of Thorpe Mountain rise to the southwest.
The road to and from the conservation area is surrounded by beautiful, rural farmland.
Rolling farmland.
After finishing my hike of Round Ball Mountain, I drove a few miles north to an access point to the Harlem Valley Rail Trail.  The Rail Trail is nearly 15 miles of paved trail through farmland, wetlands, meadows, pastures, and woods of the Harlem Valley.
A short distance down the trail, the Noster Kill winds through the woods and under the trail.
It was getting late in the day, so I continued on the trail for about a half mile before turning around and heading back.
There are benches along the trail for relaxing and soaking in the peace and quiet.
Back near the parking area, I came across this stone marker with NY 101 carved into it.   Here you are precisely 101 miles away from Grand Central Station.
Even through the snow and cold, I enjoyed getting out and hiking about 2.5 miles.

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