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Sunday, February 28, 2016

Greenport Conservation Area

Woke up to sunny skies and above average temperatures, making for a beautiful day to go for a local hike with Kalli.  We stopped by the Greenport Conservation Area, which is just north of the city of Hudson along the east shores of the Hudson River.  The pleasant weather brought out lots of folks, as the lot was nearly full when we arrived.
 Felt a lot like spring on the trail, with the sounds of birds coming from the trees.
 There are over 5 miles of trails throughout this conservation area, and I've done all of them at one time or another.  Kalli has not, however, so we decided to take one she has never been on.  We took the yellow trail south to its end, where there is a nice overlook towards the Catskills.
After returning on the red/ yellow trails, we took the main trail to a bench, where we stopped to enjoy the nature around us.  We watched this bird feeder for a few minutes, but it sat quietly, as did we.
 After our short break, we soon met up with the blue trail and followed it north, eventually looping back along Hickory Lane.  We paused one last time for this scenic view across the large open fields.
Hiked nearly three miles total on a muddy, late winter day.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Bare Top Mountain(Sand Lake)

Had an offer from a friend to hike 1315 foot Bare Top Mountain(known locally as Bear's Head), a small peak in the town of Sand Lake this afternoon, and simply couldn't pass up.  Access to the land is strictly private but he has permission to be there, so we parked in a farm field and began our way.  After crossing open fields, we entered a mixed forest on woods roads.
A large meadow with my friend's dog leading the way.
Arriving at the ledge near the summit.  Although not the true summit, the view from this vantage point was fantastic.
Looking northwest.
A great view of Glass Lake, directly below.
Glass Lake with Route 43 to the right, winding through Averill Park.  Looking carefully in the center of the photo, you can make out the Albany skyline.
A zoomed in view of the small hamlet of Glass Lake.
We followed some old woods roads which circle the summit area, before heading back towards the truck.  A nice, small hike with big views.

Burden Pond(Troy)

Visited historically significant Burden Pond located in an urban section of South Troy this morning.  Although it is hard to imagine today, Burden Pond was very relevant to the industrial development of the area in the 19th century.  The Burden Dam ushered water from the Wynants Kill downstream, under Route 4 to the Burden Iron Company, where the world's largest waterwheel turned.  Further upstream an abandoned powerhouse generated electricity to the Burden Iron Company as well.        
Parking is found by following Route 4 through Troy, then turning onto Campbell Ave and immediately parking on the left side of the road in a small parking lot near the south end of Burden Pond Dam. 
Burden Pond on a beautiful late winter day.  The pond was once much bigger than it is now.  Years of sedimentation has turned the once large pond into a marshy swamp.
After leaving the car, take a few steps towards the water and pause a moment to take in the view of Burden Dam.
Cross over the Mill Street Bridge(Route 4) in front of the dam and then walk east across the lawn towards the dam, on the opposite shore from the parking lot.  Here is the view of the dam looking towards Campbell Ave.
An easy to follow trail soon enters the woods, continuing east along the shores of marshy Burden Pond.
The sun quickly began thawing out the ground, turning the trail into mud.
Looking across Burden Pond at a contrast of nature and city dwellings.
There are several different trails that break off from the main trail, with some climbing up steep hillsides.  The recommended route is to stay close to the water to avoid the muddier, steeper slopes.  Following the shores of the Wyants Kill, you will soon arrive at the ruins of the powerhouse.
A quiet stretch of the Wyants Kill.
The sounds of rushing water up ahead can only mean one thing.  You are approaching the first set of picturesque cascades.
The cascades from the trail, encased in a deep gorge.
Continuing past the first cascades, where the trail shows obvious use from off road vehicles.
Looking downstream at the Wyants Kill.
Arriving at the main waterfall, a pretty eight foot high drop with several fallen trees and branches collected over time.
Just above the main falls is a clear view of the pipeline which supplied water directly downstream to the powerhouse.
  The view of the main falls and pipeline from atop the small ravine.
The property ends after about half a mile at the upper falls and pipeline.  I turned around there and began heading back.
A section of old boardwalk which fell into disrepair and has now been rerouted around it.
Looking up the steep ravine at blue skies above the South Troy ballpark.
Really enjoyed this historical walk, with a lot jammed into a one mile RT hike.  One tip I would offer to anyone visiting, would be to bring a friend and be careful, because this is an urban area.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Kinderhook Creek Nature Preserve(East Nassau)

Went for a nice evening walk at the 80 acre Kinderhook Creek Nature Preserve in a rural corner of the town of Nassau.  I had been here before, back in June, prior to the trails being completed and realized what a treasure this place was then.  Today, on a blustery winter day, I came to appreciate this preserve even more.  The Rensselaer Land Trust has done an amazing job, cutting and marking many trails throughout these woods.  I pulled into the empty, somewhat icy parking lot about an hour before sunset.
I started on the main trail, which is an old woods road, marked in white that heads east and then south, passing several trail junctions along the way.
Followed a orange marked trail briefly north up to the top of a small plateau that overlooks a wet area.
Turning south onto the orange marked trail, which provided glimpses of the fleeting late afternoon sun through the trees.
Eventually met up with the black marked SAY trail, which climbs steeply up a hill and then comes careening down an even steeper slope towards the creek.  Footing can be treacherous here, and even worse in wet or icy conditions.
Walking north along the SAY trail beneath towering boulders and paralleling the creek.  The trail never goes directly to the creek, but there are many opportunities to walk the 15-20 feet through the woods to the water.
A small section of rapids on the Kinderhook Creek.
An intimate look at a beautiful stretch of quiet water on the creek.  Public fishing is open here, so I would expect this to be a popular spot come spring and summer.
The SAY trail eventually bends to the left(west), away from the creek and then closely follows an unnamed winding stream, which eventually empties into the Kinderhook.
 As the sun set, I walked hurriedly along, trying to get out of the woods before the darkness really set in.  In my haste, I almost missed a racoon walking only a few feet away from me.  When I slowed down to get a look, he quickly scurried away, trying to get away from me as fast as he could.
At the end of the SAY trail I picked up the white trail again, heading generally west towards the car, with a tiny break on an orange trail before arriving back onto the white again.  This lead me straight out to my car.  As I emerged from the darkening woods, I noticed a nice view of the moon under crystal clear skies.
Felt fantastic getting out for about an hour on these fabulous trails.  As stated earlier, some of these trails(especially the SAY trail) have some short, but steep sections with tricky footing, so please be careful.  A trail map is found on the kiosk, and paper versions are available to take along as well.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Petticoat Hill(Pioneer Valley-Massachsuetts)

Woke up to shivering cold temperatures below zero this morning but had the day off so I ventured out anyway. 
 Drove east to explore some of the Pioneer Valley region of Western Massachusetts and visited 60 acre Petticoat Hill Reservation, located in the quaint town of Williamsburg.  Parking is available in a small pull off on Petticoat Hill Road, just south of Williamsburg Center, with room for about three cars.
 The trail begins climbing immediately after passing a kiosk with trail map and soon arrives at the first loop.  I turned right where stone steps and a sign for the summit greet you.
 Looking back down towards the car from the first loop junction.
 The trail is marked in green blazes and climbs continuously with screened views down to the valley.
 Passing a snow covered stone wall.
 The lower loop eventually meets up with Locke's Loop at the 1,034 foot summit of Scott's Hill.
Locke's Loop winds through diverse woods and eventually drops steeply north back towards the lower loop.  The church spire down in the village center can be barely seen through an opening in the trees.
 Views north towards homes along Petticoat Lane.
 As I neared the car, snow showers began to move in.
Snow covered needles along the trail.
Completed a quiet 1.5 mile hike on a very cold Monday morning.