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Thursday, October 2, 2014

Ferncliff Forest and Thompson Pond Preserve(Dutchess County)

Took a ride after work today down to Dutchess County to visit Ferncliff Forest in rural Rhineback and hike up to its fire tower.
A large parking lot off of Mt Rutsen Road provides access.  The trail quietly climbs up a woods road just past a large kiosk.
The sun was breaking through the clouds as I strolled along.
 Ferncliff’s communal farm period — hand-dug wells, cisterns, root cellars and old foundations can be found throughout the forest.

After only .6 miles you arrive at the fire tower.  The views are absolutely amazing in all directions with the best vista being towards the Kingston-Rhinecliff Bridge and the Catskills.
 Traffic traveling over the Kingston-Rhinecliff Bridge.
 An incredible panorama to the west over the Hudson River.

 Inside the tower.
 Tremendous views over Northern Dutchess County.
 On my way back down the steep steps.
 Looking all the way up the fire tower from the ground.
 The trail buried under leaves.
 Deep leaves.
 Looping back down the East Tower Trail I arrived at a lean to.  A nice spot to relax for a few minutes soaking in the day.
 Returning back past the pond(which is currently under construction) on a beautiful fall day. 
Although a short 1.2 mile RT hike, the panoramic views made it more than worth it.

After leaving Ferncliff Forest, I headed east on Route 199 over to Pine Plains to visit Thompson Pond Preserve.  I've been intending to visit here since I had hiked Stissing Mountain a few months ago and driven right past Thompson Pond.
The trailhead is located in a small pull off along Lake Road.  The trail actually follows an old woods road for a distance at the base of Stissing Mountain.
 The pond is never very far from the trail, but there are little if any clear views. 
 The sun's light was shining on the east side of the pond but Stissing Mountain was casting a large shadow over the entire west side as well as the trail I walked on.
 As the trail turns left along the south end of the pond, it becomes a true foot path.
The south end of the pond follows a long boardwalk that is often under water during wet periods of the year.  Luckily, the recent dry weather helped to keep my feet dry today.
 Once the trail turns again along the east side of the pond, it borders a local farm for quite a distance.  Another, newer boardwalk guides you through a damp area here.
 A large footbridge crosses a large wetland, where the headwaters of Wappinger Creek flow from the pond.
 As you continue along the east side of the pond, decent west views across the water provide a look at Stissing Mountain's steep slopes.
 A closer look at the mountain and its firetower.
 One last look at Thompson Pond near a small bench on the north side of the pond. There are many geese and ducks located at the pond and you can hear them basically throughout the entire pond loop.
The trail is almost completely level for its entire distance and is more of a walk than a hike, but it was very pleasant.  The foot trail ends back at Lake Road and you must walk the remaining distance along the road back to your car.  Total distance was about 3.0 miles RT.
Total distance for the day was a bit over 4 miles.

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