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Friday, May 24, 2024

Seven Hills, Buckwheat Hill & Stump Pond(Cowee Lands/ Capital District WMA)

Checked out a brand new, large area of public land (and soon to be part of the Capital District WMA) up on the Rensselaer Plateau this afternoon.  This swath of land is located just west of the original Capital District WMA and dotted by small peaks and many wetlands, which are mostly easily accessed by rough forest roads.  I parked at the gated end of Fire Tower Road in West Stephentown(Elevation 1717 feet) and headed east, following the road on foot.  The sun was shining, a light breeze was blowing, and humidity was low making for perfect spring conditions.

Within just a few minutes of walking, I felt as if I was a million miles away from civilization, with the tower atop nearby Seven Hills easily visible above to the east.

I followed the service road up to the 1949 foot summit of Seven Hills, where an enormous tower stands in a grassy clearing.  Not the most scenic summit, but interesting anyways.  Old maps label this as "Seven Hills Firetower", but it is certainly no longer a fire tower.

From the summit clearing, I bushwhacked south back down to a former Cowee logging road, which made for easy travel.  I passed a NYS Forest Ranger Truck parked in this area, but didn't see the Ranger until much later at Stump Pond.


Further along the road to the SE, I came upon this beaver pond, near the source of Roaring Brook's headwaters.

The old road continues SE. deteriorating further along the way, but still easily passable on foot.


Eventually I turned right, south, onto Williams Road, which is an abandoned town road that soon splits again.  At the split on Williams Road, a large meadow and foundation can be found, suggesting that this was probably a farm and homestead 100 years ago or so.

Further evidence of human activity are nearby stone walls on each side of Williams Road.

I decided to stay south on the original route of Williams Road, which gradually climbs up towards the 1736 foot summit of Buckwheat Hill.  The summit area sits just east of the road, with the true summit sitting in a large swath of hardwoods and littered with old, rusted garbage.

A few yards away from the summit is a large, grassy meadow.

After hitting the top of Buckwheat Hill, I continued a short distance south whereI was able to pick up a road along the power lines that swings back NW.

Once off the power line road and back into the woods, I bushwhacked over towards Stump Pond, where I first encountered the beautiful outlet area just SE of the pond itself.


A few short strides away from the outlet was stunning Stump Pond.  This high elevation pond has a very Adirondack vibe to it and a sense of solitude. 

The solitude was briefly broken up by a Forest Ranger, whose truck I had seen earlier and  was also visiting the pond.  We chatted for a bit and he seemed to be a real nice guy.  He told me that there was another pretty wetland just north of Stump Pond that sits well off trail.  Of course I had to pay that a visit too..and he was sure was pretty.

From the weltand. an easy bushwhack NW through mostly hardwoods,brought me back to the Cowee logging road and eventually my car.  A grand tour of this new public parcel, high up on the gorgeous Rensselaer Plateau. Covered 6.9 miles total with 900 feet of total ascent.  

Map below.  Red P=Parking    Blue X's=Summits Hit and Stump Pond View       Red X's=Wetland Views 

Saturday, May 18, 2024

Wachoosik Park(Town of Nassau, Rensselaer County)

Visited 22 acre Wachoosik Park today, Rensselaer County's newest park located in the town of Nassau.  The official ribbon cutting occurred earlier this morning, meaning I was lucky enough to be one of the very first people to visit here. 

Hard work put in by the town and volunteers on these trails is evident, such as this well built foot bridge.

Calico Brook, a small, babbling stream meanders its way throughout these woods.
I took the red and white loop trails, which pass by handsome old stone walls and mixed forest.  The red trail is the perimeter loop, which covers about 7/10 of a mile,  The white trail forms an interior loop and traverses about a half mile.
There are three small stream crossings and a little bit of climbing in the woods, but all very easy and pleasant.
It's so nice to have a local spot to explore as this park is less than 5 minutes from my house.  The only drawback I could find is that the sounds of traffic from busy Route 20 are a constant.  Covered about 1.2 miles on a beautiful, bug free Saturday evening.  A big thank you to David Fleming and the town of Nassau for making this happen!!!

Monday, May 13, 2024

Squaw Mountain-East Peak(Jessup River Wild Forest-Adirondacks)

Headed up into the central Adirondacks near Indian Lake to do a little off trail exploring of Squaw Mountain's East Peak on a cloudy spring day.  I parked at the corner of Griffin Road and Route 30 (Elevation 1797 feet)and crossed the road heading north into the woods, pausing for a moment to take in the view of 3899 foot Snowy Mountain towering above to the west.

Once in the woods and firmly on state land, I began a gradual ascent through open hardwoods, sporting a new coat of green.

Quickly the climbing became increasingly more challenging through a mixed forest, as I angled my way over to a steep area of ledges.  Although only at 2300 feet elevation I was able to find several good viewpoints down towards Indian Lake and even a sliver of Route 30 heading south.


From a slightly higher spot and more open ledge, a broader view of Indian Lake opens up.

Once on the ridge, the ascent is straightforward and fairly easy, soon arriving in a very open area of ledges and sedge grass.

At just under 2800 feet, a very unusual, large grassy clearing provides very good views down to Indian Lake.

From the clearing, continued up to a 2985 foot high spot(not the true summit), which was wooded and surrounded by spruce.

A few steps away from the high spot, I was able to enjoy views north to neighboring Squaw Mountain, easily identifiable by its open rock scar.

A mere ten yards away is a framed view over to nearby Snowy Mountain as well.

Dropping down from the high spot, I headed SW down the ridge, contending with large areas of dead fall and spruce much of the way.


Back down below 2700 feet, I finally hit the open ledges that I was aiming for.  From an open ledge, a nice view back at the ridge I had just climbed to the east.

From the nose of the ridge, there are several great views from different open ledges.  Indian Lake and some of its islands as well as ribbon of Route 30 can be seen down below. 

NE views across an open area of nearly vertical rock.
A large swath of Indian Lake is visible from this open ledge.
Unfortunately rain showers began moving in over the south end of Indian Lake, obscuring distant south views.

Across the valley of Beaver Brook to the SW stands Snowy Mountain(far right) and its other lower summits.

With showers quickly moving in, I opted for a quick drop down off the ridge, descending steeply south/ southeast.


Light rain kept my pace brisk, as I dropped SE all the way back down to my waiting car.  Luckily the intensity of the showers never picked up, as I covered 3.3 miles RT, and 1200 feet of total ascent for the day.

Map below.  Red P=Parking  Black X=Grassy Clearing/ View   Blue X=High Spot    Red X=Open Ledge Views


Friday, May 3, 2024

Unnamed Misery Mountain aka Peak 2611(Taconic Ridge State Forest-Rensselaer County, NY)

Headed over to George Allen Hollow in eastern Rensselaer County to explore a new public access bushwhack route to one of Misery Mountain's many summits on the Taconic ridge.  Parked in a small pull off on George Allen Hollow Road(Elevation 1350 feet) and crossed the road heading south through an open meadow with views at the ridge I'd be heading for.  A green landscape and spring blossoms on a 75 degree day made for nearly perfect conditions.

After a slight drop through the meadow, there was a small stream crossing of a tributary of the Little Hoosic River.
Early May means plenty of wildflowers, including this trillium.

Once firmly into the woods, the ascent begins.  At first the climbing is moderate, but very quickly becomes quite steep.

Ascending out of the hollow, I was soon able to enjoy some screened views back to the north at the next ridge north.

Although the slopes were steep, the woods were quite open to make for pretty easy going.

Directly north sits the ridge just north of George Allen Hollow that I had climbed back in early January.
Open vistas are few and far between on this area of the Taconics, but I was able to enjoy some small windows down into the valley and to a further ridgeline north of Mattison Hollow.

Stumbled upon an old woods road on the steep terrain, so briefly utilized it to gain some additional elevation.

Up and over 2000 feet, the filtered views north became broader, stretching all the way NW towards the nearby Rensselaer Plateau.
Screened view down into George Allen Hollow near my starting point.

I didn't make a direct route to the summit, instead choosing to hug the steepest slopes towards the west snout of the ridge.  I was able to find one good view west across Route 22 and towards the hills of the Capital District WMA and Cherry Plain State Park.

Eventually turned east, gradually climbing to the top of the ridge.  Just a bit below the true high spot sits a large, open clearing.

Beyond the clearing, I picked up a flagged route up to the nondescript, wooded 2611 foot summit.

After hitting the top, I circled my way over to the Taconic Crest Trail for a few moments, before dropping steeply down to the NW, with a woods road to aid my way.

On my drive home, I made a brief stop along Gorge Allen Hollow Road to take in the ridgeline I had just been on(the ridge left of the house.)

Total distance hiked was about 3.8 miles RT and over 1300 feet of ascent.  

Map below.  Red P=Parking     Red X=Summit