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Thursday, April 27, 2017

Phelps Trail(Taconics)

Did a nice hike in the Northern Taconics near the New York/Massachusetts state line in the town of Williamstown.  The game plan was to hike up the Phelps Trail, which heads steeply up to the Taconic Crest Trail, running along one of Misery Mountain's ridge line.
Here is a nice perspective of the section of Misery Mountain from the east in South Williamstown. 
Parking is available in a designated parking lot on the west side of Oblong Road. Elevation at the trail head was 1150 feet.
The trail heads west out of the parking lot, and soon passes through an old apple orchard.
 Just beyond the apple orchard, the trail enters a hardwood forest and begins climbing steadily.  Soon you will pick up a woods road and continue the ascent.  A very interesting aspect of hiking this time of year, is the difference in the sprouting vegetation from lowland elevations compared to higher up.
 The trail zig-zags its way up the slopes following woods roads part of the way and then foot trails others.
 As the trail gains elevation, screened views through the growing vegetation.
 A look up a typical steep section of the trail.
 Passing several stone walls along the way.
After a third stone wall crossing, the trail hits the top of a small hill with more screened views.
As the trail begins climbing up a long ridge line that juts out, better views begin to open up to the north and east.
 Looking north towards the main ridge line.
 I skirted the edge of the ridge where fallen trees provided an opening and pleasant views towards Williamstown, which can be seen just beyond another ridge.
I was quite surprised to find some very nice east facing views from another opening in the treeline.  Here is a great view above South Williamstown's rural farmland towards Greylock's Hopper.
The clearing east from the trail.
The Phelps Trail climbs up to 2450 feet in 1.9 miles to the Taconic Crest Trail, gaining 1300 feet in elevation. 
 Trail signage along the Phelps Trail at its junction with the Taconic Crest Trail.
 I turned south on the Taconic Crest Trail from here.
The Taconic Crest Trail soon climbs up and over a cleared peak, also the high point for the day at about 2485 feet elevation.
 As I continued south, clearing skies to the north provided a nice view back towards the high bump I had just came off of.
 Bright sunny skies really began to warm the day up as I hiked one mile along the trail.
 Coming down off another bump.
 As I approached the Mills Hollow Trail, the slopes of the mountain began to drop off significantly, where views of Misery Mountain's southern bumps began to open up.
A filtered view all the way down towards Jiminy Peak's ski slopes. 
As I dropped into a high saddle at about 2100, I arrived at the trail junction for Mills Hollow Trail to the east and Southeast Hollow Trail to the west.  Just a few yards off the trail is an old stone state border, dated 1898.
 I turned east here, following the Mills Hollow Trail back down towards Oblong Road.
 Mills Hollow Trail is an old road which drops gently down, offering up great views down into the hollow.
The trail descends 1.6 miles all the way down towards Oblong Road.  Just prior to arriving at a large meadow, the trail crosses a small stream with a makeshift bridge.
 Mills Hollow Trail ends at Oblong Road at what appears to be a private drive.
I walked north along Oblong Road the last .4 miles back to the car in the parking lot.  Total mileage for the day was 4.9 miles RT.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Schoharie Creek Preserve(Charleston)

Cloudy, rainy conditions were forecast for much of the day, so I decided to do a small hike in rural Montgomery County at the 198 acre Schoharie Creek Preserve.  The preserve is a Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy property and located in the town of Charleston.
Directions from the Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy's website: From the intersection of Routes 20 and 30 in Duanesburg, drive 1.7 miles north on Route 30. Turn left onto Eaton Corners Road. After another 1.7 miles, turn left onto Bramans Corners Road. Cross over the Schoharie Creek and turn right (note firehouse on the left) onto Burtonsville Road. Proceed 1 mile to the intersection of Burtonsville and Butler Roads. Turn right onto Butler Road for about 50 yards and turn left into the parking area.
A small man made pond can be seen directly beside the parking area.
Stone walls bordering a farm property to the west.
 Meadow views from the west boundary of the preserve.
 Morning rains meant wet and muddy trails.
 As I continued along the trail, a light mist fell.  Luckily, it never picked up to anything more than a sprinkle.
 The blue loop trail begins to drop down towards Wilsey Creek.  The trail itself doesn't actually go down to the creek, so you must be careful dropping down the steep banks towards the water.
 There are several picturesque cascades and falls along this section of the creek.
 A beautiful, larger set of falls just downstream.
 If you so choose, you can wander around a bit down by the creek, getting better perspectives of the falls.
 One of several of the small, ledge cascades.
 I explored Wilsey Creek downstream for a little bit.  The moss covered rocks along the creek are very slick, so be sure to use caution if walking here.
 Eventually, I left the creek, pulling myself back up out of the steep ravine to the main trail.  A bit further along the trail crosses Butler Road.
 Once on the east side of Butler Road, the trail begins to drop down through an evergreen stand down towards the Schoharie Creek. At a bend in the trail, an informal path heads north on a badly eroding sliver of land that separates Wilsey Creek and Schoharie Creek.  From here, there is a screened view back towards Butler Falls on Wilsey Creek(the largest of all the waterfalls at the preserve), but it is nearly impossible to safely get a better perspective
 If you do choose to walk this eroded sliver of land, use extreme caution, as there is a drop off of nearly 40 feet on each side.  Eventually it comes to a steeper point where I chose to turn back.
 The Preserve offers about 2000 feet of water frontage on the Schoharie Creek, and part of the trail closely follows the creek's edge.
 Heading south along the floodplain section of trail.
The climb up away from the Schoharie Creek is quite steep and muddy in spots, with help from stone steps in some areas.
 New buds with rain droplets.
 The spring season can be very interesting and highly changeable day to day.  The greening up of the landscape is taking hold here, from the bottom up.
Enjoyed a 1.5 mile RT hike on a bit of a dreary spring day.  One word of caution:  I had to pick off five ticks along the way, so do yourself a favor and make sure you spray yourself and then check yourself.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Kinderhook Creek Preserve(East Nassau)

Got out for a short evening hike on a beautiful spring day, just down the road from my house, at the Kinderhook Creek Preserve in East Nassau.  Started along the yellow blazed Stone Wall Trail along the western edge of the property.
 Beautiful stone walls.
 I stuck to the perimeter trails at first, hugging the southern edge of the Preserve along the yellow and red trails before meeting up with the black blazed SAY Trail.  Passing over a high point on the SAY Trail, complete with bench, just before dropping down into the steep gorge of the creek.
 Descended all the way down to the gorgeous Kinderhook Creek.
 Followed fisherman paths along the shoreline, offering up plenty of nice views.
 Fisherman path skirting the Creek.
 After coming to a bend in the creek, I headed back into the woods, regaining the SAY trail and followed it back south beneath some incredible rock cliffs.
 Enormous rock cliffs tower above the trail.
 I kind of zig-zagged my way through the preserve from here, following a brown marked Ridge Bottom Trail north back up to the SAY trail again, then following a red blazed Ridge Top Trail south.  I explored some of the ledges just off trail along the ridge top, finding some screened views of the surrounding hills.
 The late day sun shining beyond the west slopes of the ridge top.
Finally met back up with the white blazed woods road, following it north all the way back to the car.  Hiked about 2.3 miles total on a mild, spring evening.  As I headed back home, I paused to enjoy the late April sunset that is fast approaching 8pm.