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Monday, March 31, 2014

Helderburg Adventure

Headed west out to the Helderburgs of western Albany County after work today to take a look at some waterfalls.  Early spring is often the best time to see streams and creeks running at their fullest.  First stopped in to Fox Creek Park in the town of Berne.  It is a small park in the center of town with the creek flowing swiftly beside it.  
 Fox Creek is a medium sized creek that rises near Heldberburg Lake and empties into the Schoharie Creek near Middleburgh.
 The powerfully running water flowing downstream.
 A closer look at the falls.
 18th and 19th century mills were located here, using the creek's water as power.  The Route 443 bridge stands above the top of the falls, as seen here.
Water was roaring from all directions, including from a pipe under the parking lot into the creek.
Took a short ride up to Cole Hill State Forest and stretched my legs for a short walk.
 Cole Hill Forest's early spring woods.
 Happened to notice this cascade flowing down a hillside near Cole Hill State Forest.
 Drove further west to Partridge Run Wildlife Area where there are several small falls and cascades to view, with just a little effort.
 There are two falls along Partridge Run road.  They are found at the bottom of a large glen and can only be accessed by bushwacking down the hill off the road.  It is well worth the effort to find these falls on the unnamed tributary of the Switz Kill.
 Several hundred feet up the stream is the other falls.  These are even harder to access, especially in the deep snow and ice, but are very beautiful.  The water was flowing strong.
 North winds kept it feeling cold, but the sun was doing its best to warm it up.
 An old dam along the Redbelly Trail, where a series of small cascades flows downstream.
 Cascades on an unnamed stream that flows out of White Birch Pond.
 You must bushwack a short distance to get to these falls but they are very scenic.  They actually continue further into the gorge and in drier weather would be nice to get a better glimpse of.
 For my final stop in this leg of waterfalls, I headed down to Rensselaerville Falls in the Edmund Niles Huyck Preserve.  These are some of the most beautiful falls in the entire area.
 The falls are actually a series of falls totaling over 100 feet.  It was hard to capture the beauty of the water because the trails were extremely icy and dangerous.
 Ten Mile Creek.
 Ten Mile Creek's swift waters.
 Took a gorgeous ride to rural Rensselaerville in the Cheese Hill area, where there are breathtaking roadside views of the Catskills.
 A farm house and the beautiful Catskills to the south.
 Late afternoon sun from Travis Hill Road in Rensselaerville.
 A farm deep in the valley.
 A beautiful evening.
 A view to the southeast into the Northern Catskills.
As March ends and April is set to begin, it seems that we may have finally turned the corner.


Sunday, March 30, 2014

Rising Waters(Schodack Town Park)

Took a soggy walk in the Schodack Town Park during my lunch break from work today.  Very heavy rains in addition to snow and ice melt left all local creeks and streams running high.  The Moordener Kill runs through the middle of the park and was running high as well, but still within its banks.
The trail was under water and quickly becoming one with the creek.
Fast current.
The water was flowing very powerfully.
A steady light rain fell the entire walk, leaving pine needles dripping.
On the left is the main creek, and the right is usually just a small flowing stream, but today it appeared to be two large creeks.
There was quite a bit of ice on most of the trails.
Water was pooling in any low areas.  This is a deep spot in the woods.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Olana

The forecast called for a dry morning with partial sunshine before clouds and heavy rain moves back in this evening, so I headed down to the Olana State Historic Site in Hudson.  Olana was the home and estate of the famous 19th century artist Frederic Church.  It is owned by the state and provides over 5 and a half miles of old carriage roads and walking trails on 250 acres.
Trees in the large field near the entrance.
The mansion has an unusual mixture of Victorian and Middle Eastern styles, and sits proudly atop the hill with splendid views.
There are many interesting benches and interpretive signs throughout the property.
Access to the grounds is fee and open to the public, but there is a small nominal fee for tours of the inside of the mansion.
Amazing views to the southwest beyond the lawn and down to the Hudson River.  The Catskills can also be seen rising steeply over the Hudson.
Looking up at Olana's facade.
The Catskills Mountains majestically rising to the west.
Looking up at the castle from down on the lawn area.
There are great views in many different directions from Olana.  Here is a view to the south and east with Blue Hill rising over farms.
Church had a artistic vision of how he wanted the landscape to look and created a pond at the foot of the hill.  This was all part of his plan to create, conceal and reveal vistas of his house and the surrounding Hudson Valley.
The Ridge Road follows the northern meadow of the property and leads to a large clearing with direct views over the Hudson and Rip Van Winkle Bridge leading into Catskill.  This is a fantastic place to picnic and linger.
Large ships and barges come through this stretch of the river often.  This one was heading south.
The Rip Van Winkle Bridge is far below, connecting Hudson and Catskill.
Views to the north follow the River up towards Athens.
The Catskills rising up towards the skies.
One last view of the picnic area in the clearing.
East facing hills from Ridge Road.
Ridge Road was a carriage road built by Church to provide access to the north meadows.  Far reaching views to the east are visible as well.
A large field provides a nice spot to take a break and enjoy the northeastern viewshed with Mount Merino directly ahead to the north.
This goose was just hanging out on the melting ice.
The man made pond remains mostly frozen over.
The trails were a regular spring mess wherever they weren't paved.  Here is a section of the lower carriage road that was completely iced over.
The mansion and fields from the pond area.
A side trail breaks off from the carriage road and leads to Red Hill.
The trail follows a long thin ridgeline to a spectacular clifftop area far above Route 9G.  Barns, fields and woods can be seen stretching down to the Hudson here, with the Catskills well beyond.
Facing north from Red Hill.
This location also provides an ideal view of the RipVan Winkle Bridge.
Inbocht Bay is visible about 3 miles in the distance to the south.
The barns and lower carriage road area in the foreground from Quarry Hill.  A carriage road leads through the woods and arrives at this clearing with a direct view up the lawns and access road to the mansion.
The road leading to Cozy Cottage.  Cozy Cottage was a small country cottage that Church and his wife lived in for several years while the mansion was being completed.
North Road leads from Cozy Cottage and winds its way through the woods on its way north to the mansion.
Hiked about 5 miles on a cool, but very nice morning.