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Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Thacher Park via Ryan Road

Celebrated the summer solstice by visiting the quiet, northern area of Thacher Park this afternoon.  Parked at the very end of Ryan Road, where a large parking area provides access to two trailheads.  I opted to start on the trail all way to the right of the lot on the yellow perimeter trail on a gorgeous, breezy, comfortable day.
 Almost all of the trails in this part of the park are level, but the trails near Ryan Road were especially muddy today.
 Wildflowers in bloom.
After a little over one third of a mile, I pricked up the Long Path and followed that northwest through a mostly hardwood forest.
After meeting up with the Hang Glider Road, I turned right following this old road to Hang Glider Cliff.  An incredible, peaceful vista awaits.  The village of Altamont sits nestled amongst the green far below.
 Looking towards High Point.
 Distant views towards the Albany skyline.
 A nice, summer breeze and low humidity made this a prime spot to relax and soak in the sun.  I hung out here for about 15 minutes by myself.  A true sense of solitude, you can't experience in the southern par to the park.
After retreating back to the Long Path I turned right and headed towards High Point. At almost all intersections there is good signage and trail mileage.

The Long Path runs concurrent with the red blazed Fred Schroeder Trail north to High Point Cliff.
 High Point Cliff offers more sweeping views, but is a much smaller area than Hang Glider Cliff and footing can be tricky if you are following the informal paths along the ledges.  Here's a view directly down over the Altamont Fair.
 High Point Cliff is a very fun spot to explore and soak in the commanding vistas.
 Continued west along the Long Path with minimal elevation change on y way towards Old Stage Road.
 Just off trail and in some spots even on the trail are many crevasses, which are quite common in the Heldergbergs.  This was a more substantial one I spotted just off the Long Path.
 Just before arriving atOld stage Road, the Long Path passes by a very large, wide open meadow.
 At the next trail junction, I turned left onto the yellow Perimeter Trail heading towards Carrick Road.  I passed by this interesting tree along the way.

The Perimeter Trail passes the Carrick Road trailhead and continues generally east on an old extension of the road.  Eventually the trial becomes a smaller foot path again, soon arriving at a small, but picturesque pond.  This pond has clearly risen beyond its original banks crowding the trail and even rerouting it in one area.
Continued east on the Perimeter Trail all the way back to my car on Ryan Road.  Hiked about 6 miles RT on a picture perfect day.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Huyck Preserve-North Trails(Rensselaerville)

The Huyck Preserve located in the town of Rensselaerville is a popular preserve, with Rensselaerville Falls and Lake Myotosis as the centerpiece. I have hiked these trails several times in the past, always hitting the well known southern access points, being sure to take in the falls and lake views.  Few people realize, however, that there are over 2000 acres and 12 miles of trails at the preserve, with many of that residing in a remote northern section.  My plan today was to visit the secluded northern trails, which see far fewer visitors than its southern sections.  I parked in an unmarked pull off on the shoulder of Wood Road, a rough gravel road just south of Peasley Road where a kiosk sits back a few yards into the woods.  Almost directly across the road from the trailhead is a large dammed up area of Ten Mile Creek, which sits in the Partridge Run Wildlife Management Area.
 Just past the kiosk(trail maps are available), the Partridge Path- Loop Three begins.  You have the option to go either way, and I chose to turn left(north). The trails are very well marked and in remarkably good condition.  Elevation at the trailhead is roughly 1800 feet.
 This high elevation forest is laced with stone walls, which criss-cross the prserve.
 Passing through a pine plantation.
 At one point, Loop Three crosses under power lines, which affords some views to the nearby hillsides.
Loop Three comes to a connecting trail at a footbridge over Ten Mile Creek.
 All trail junctions are well marked at the preserve.  The connecting trail between Loop Three and Loop Two to the east is .25 miles.  Loop Two climbs up and over a knoll on its way to Loop One, which sits to the southeast.
 Just off trail a short distance is an old barrel of some kind.
 Loop One eventually drops down towards a beaver pond, which can be seen through the trees.  A very short bushwhack brings you to pleasant view.
 A serene scene.
 After leaving the beaver pond, Loop One skirts a beautiful, large meadow on the east side of the preserve.
 Views to the nearby hills across the meadow.
 A large,elderly white pine.
 Passing through a fern glade deep in the woods.
I eventually followed Loop One back to Loop Two, and then Loop Two back to Loop Three, following the southern legs of each.  Loop Three closely follows Ten Mile Creek, with its many picturesque cascades and pools.

 Got back to the trailhead again as evening set in.
Mileage for the trails are as follows:
Partridge Path Loop Three is 2.7 miles.  Partridge Path Loop Two is 1.2 miles, and Partridge Path Loop Oone is 1.5 miles.
Just uphill past the car on Wood Road is a gorgeous old cemetery, lined with stone walls.  I took a few moments to soak in the stark beauty of the scene.
Hiked 5.7 miles RT through a beautiful high elevation forest in rural western Albany County. 

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Griffith Lake & Baker Peak Loop(Vermont)

Headed north to Vermont on a hot and humid day to hike up to Griffith Lake and Baker Peak in the heart of the Green Mountains.  To find the parking area, take Route 7 north from Manchester for 13 miles to South End Road on the right(east).  Turn here and follow this road for just under half a mile to the parking lot on the left.  The trail leaves from the southeast corner of the parking area just beyond a trail mileage sign.
 The trail is marked with blue blazes and starts out nice and gentle on an old road.
 Crossing over a tributary of McGinn Brook.
 A fast running drainage bathed in early morning light.
 The trail heads southeast, closely following the tributary, before turning sharply northeast.
 After about half a mile of hiking, the trail enters the 6720 acre Big Branch Wilderness.
About a mile into the hike, the trail passes over a well built footbridge across a section of steep side hill slab.
 Hand railing aids the hiker just past the foot bridge.
 About 1.9 miles into the hike, the trail crosses over the main branch of McGinn Brook.  Wet rocks can make this a bit tricky, but it is certainly doable. 
 Once across the brook the trail comes to a junction.  A left leads up one mile to Baker Peak, and a right heads towards the Long Trail and Griffith Lake. I turned right here, climbing steadily up beside the brook on a muddy trail.  This trail crosses over several small tributaries before eventually hitting drier ground.
 About 1.4 miles from the trail junction and 3.3 miles from the car, I arrived at the Long Trail.  Turning right(south) on the LT, the trail drops down to the shoreline of Griffith Lake in a short .2 miles.
 Griffith Lake is a quiet, high elevation(2600 feet)backcountry body of water with a feeling of remoteness.
 I explored the shoreline for a bit, stopping to relax and have a bit to eat.
 Pink azaleas were really showing off their pretty colors near the lake.
After enjoying the water's edge for a while, I turned back, heading north on the Long Trail through mostly hardwoods.  The trail meanders along for nearly 2 miles before finally arriving at the Baker Peak Trail.  From here a trail sign points you directly up the steep rock slab up to the peak.
The last .2 miles up is a fun rock scramble with great views opening up behind you.
 Turning around, the views are outstanding.  Directly to the west, through the thick haze is 3770 foot Dorset Peak.  Elevation of Baker Peak is 2850 feet.  Mileage for the day at this point was about 5.6 miles.
 A look all the way down to South End Road where it leaves Route 7 near the parking area.
 Southwest views over the Otter Creek Valley and the Route 7 corridor.
 Route 7 can be seen way down in the valley below.
 Turning slightly to the northwest, the view encompasses the north end of Dorset Peak and the Danby countryside.
After enjoying the great views, I headed down the Baker Peak Trail one mile back to the brook crossing and then the Lake Trail all the way back to the car.
Glad to get back to the car on a sticky, hot, and humid day.  Total mileage of 8.6 miles RT, with 2350 feet elevation gain.