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Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Barberville Falls(Rensselaer County)

Kalli and I took advantage of a small window of time we had today, to go explore Barberville Falls, a 117 acre Nature Conservancy Preserve, located in Poestenkill.  Unfortunately the only parking is along two lane Plank Road, which means you must walk along the road for about a quarter mile before turning east and crossing a bridge on Blue Factory Road. A Nature Conservancy sign and well defined, yet unmarked path leads you directly through the woods and to the falls.
 The freezing cold water of the Poestenkill just above the falls.
 The short woods trail to the falls on a bright, sunny-but cold day.
 The incredible sound of crashing falls is almost deafening as you arrive at the top of Barberville Falls.
 A view at the top cascades.  The thundering sound of water is absolutely overpowering.
 We carefully traversed the steep banks of the gorge and made it to the bottom of the falls, where large icicles were all around.
 Barberville Falls, an incredibly impressive 92 foot waterfall from the base of the falls.  During times of high water, like today, the sheer power of the falls is amazing.
 The Poestenkill's frigid waters at the base of the falls.  Due to the lack of sun from steep walls of the gorge surrounding this large pool, the creek runs a much colder temperature here and had a lot of ice chunks floating all along the shores.
 Ice chunks floating around at the base of the falls.
  A truly incredible sight!
 Frozen mist and ice coming from the sheer power of the falls creates a frozen shoreline.
 Remnants of a defunct mill project from many, many years ago provide a chance to walk along the creek above the falls.  Here is a shot of the Poestenkill's calm waters dropping off the shelf and crashing below.
The very top of the freezing cold falls.
 Frozen rocks and branches along the top of the falls.
 After finally dragging ourselves away from the waterfalls, we headed back to Blue Factory Road and followed it up about .1 of a mile past a house and re entered the woods on the Ridge Trail.  It wasn't particularly easy to find but small orange discs eventually guided us on our way.
 The sun felt nice, but biting winds and temps in the mid 20's made it a bit cool.  Much of the Ridge Trail is through hemlock woods where views are minimal.
 We crossed picturesque Davitt Pond Brook twice along the way.  The babbling brook, which is probably easy to cross at low water, was a bit challenging with the frozen rocks and fast rushing waters.
 Davitt Pond Brook.
The trail wasn't easy to follow in several spots, especially just after meeting back up with the Poestenkill.  Seems that there are a couple of missing orange discs, so we had to look around before finding our way.  The Ridge Trail eventually forms a loop, completing a 2 mile trail and brings you back to the road.  We walked the remaining .35 miles back to the car where we could warm back up.  Total distance of about 2.7 miles RT on a bright, cold, sunny day!

Monday, December 29, 2014

Rounds Mountain(Taconics)/ Glendale Falls & Chesterfield Gorge(Berkshire Hills)

Had the day off and decent weather so decided to hike the Rounds Mountain section of the Taconic Crest Trail near the New York/ Massachusetts state line today.  Rounds Mountain is a 2257 foot prominent peak in the Taconic Mountains.  The trail can be accessed from a small pull off at the end of dead end Madden Road in Hancock, Mass.  To the left is a private driveway and to the right, blue blazed markers with white diamonds mark the Taconic Crest Trail.
 The old extension of Madden Road begins climbing immediately.  It is wide and muddy through this section.
 After .65 miles, the trail leaves Madden Road and swings to the right, climbing steadily.  A sign clearly marks the turn.
 A look down through the bare woods allows for a glimpse down into Hancock and other nearby peaks.
 There were steady sections mixed with a couple of steeper areas on the climb.
 A look south and east towards nearby Jiminy Peak.
 After about 2.4 miles I found a clearing in the woods which provided views west into New York State. 
 West facing views over rural Stephentown, NY.
 The steep, wooded slopes of Rounds Mountain.
According to the GPS, I hiked 5.22 miles RT on the mountain with an elevation gain of nearly 1400 feet. I still had a few hours of daylight left, though, so headed into the Berkshire Hilltowns to visit a couple of beautiful Trustees of Reservations properties near and along the Westfield River.
My first stop was Glendale Falls in quiet Middlfield, Mass.  The Falls can be found off of remote Clark Wright Road, where a large parking lot with a Trustees sign is found at a bridge crossing over Glendale Brook.
 The sounds of rushing water are immediately heard as you step out of your car.  The brook runs past the parking lot, and several small cascades provide a teaser of what is to come.
 A small walk gives a unique glance at Glendale Falls from the very top.  The brook seemingly drops out of sight.
 Another nice view of the upper falls area.
 There is a very nice trail that wanders down the wooded hillside to the base of the falls.  It is not long at all, basically a touch over .2 miles but still pleasant.
 The Falls drop nearly 160 feet in all.  Here is a shot of the falls with a bystander for scale.
 This is a very popular attraction and I can now see why.
 The awe inspiring power of the mighty falls is overwhelming at times.
 There are several places where you can get very close to the falls, where the sheer size and power can be felt.
 After leaving Glendale Falls, I headed just a bit further east to Chesterfield Gorge, another Trustees property.  Both of these locations are also part of the Wild & Scenic Westfield River area.  A sign indicating "Chesterfield Gorge" can be found along Ireland Street at the turn for gravel River Road.  A short distance down the road is a large parking lot and kiosk for the Gorge. 
 Only steps away from the parking lot is a fence and overview over the East Branch of the Westfield River. 
 The scene below is truly remarkable, as the East Branch flows mightily downstream through the Gorge.  The steep rock walls are an indication of the powerful force of the river down through the years, as it made its path.
 Another view from the Gorge, looking downstream.
 Several small brooks run down the hillsides past the East Branch Trail, dropping down into the Westfield River.
 The East Branch Trail drops down beside the beautiful East Branch of the Westfield River, offering many views.
 The East Branch Trail continues on for nearly 9 miles along the river.
 A look back upstream from a higher spot along the trail.
A truly remarkable, yet peaceful place to enjoy the best of what nature has to offer. The daylight was dwindling unfortunately however, so decided to head back to the car.  Hiked in about one mile before turning back.  Had a fantastic day exploring some beautiful areas in the hills of Western Massachusetts.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Capital Hills Golf Course(Albany)

Another beautiful winter day allowed Kalli and I to get out for a couple of hours after work today to enjoy the day.   We walked the paved paths which meander through Capital Hills Golf Course, located in a residential section of Albany.
 We saw countless other people out enjoying the fantastic weather, most with dogs.
 The trails are all paved with minimal ascent, making for easy, pleasant walking.
 The trails wind throughout the golf course, with many trail options available.
 Unseasonably warm temperatures in the low 50's made for a perfect afternoon stroll.
 A bird's nest we discovered along the Normanskill.
 A serene pond, located near one of the greens.
 Setting sun.
 A nice silhouette at the top of the hill.
 Evening beginning to descend on another early sunset.
 Hiked a total of exactly 3 miles.
 We were lucky enough to spot this beautiful sunset over the Albany skyline on the way home.