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Monday, February 27, 2023

Hand Hollow Conservation Area(Town of New Lebanon, Columbia County)

Had a small window to get out into the local woods today, so took advantage by hitting the Columbia Land Conservancy's Hand Hollow Conservation Area.  Got started from the parking area along CR9 and headed into the woods, soon crossing over Hand Hollow Brook.  There was only about an inch or so of snow on the ground so it was an easy bare boot hike.

Took the green trail through the heart of the Area, all the way to the other parking area along Gale Hill Road before turning back.  Paused briefly to check out Meizenger Pond from the east shore.

Since my last visit here, the trail signage has vastly improved, with maps at each junction as well.
Nice stonework along the green blazed trail. 
Felt good to finally get out for a bit, albeit brief.  Thankfully the weather was beautiful ahead of our winter storm tonight.  Covered 3.5 miles for the day.


Monday, February 6, 2023

Moose Hill & King's Chamber(California Hill State Forest & Clarence Fahnestock State Park, Putnam County)

It has been quite a while since I've been able to get out and do any hiking, but I finally had a chance Monday so decided to take advantage. I checked out a seldom visited area of Fahnestock State Park on the east side of the Taconic State Parkway, where no formal trails exist.  The main barrier to this area is access, which can be quite difficult due to the Parkway itself, as well as private property.  My starting point today was from a small corner of California Hill State Forest at the very end of Wayayanda Court(Elevation 935 feet), right beside Wayayanda Lake(Pudding Street Pond).  I stopped briefly to check out the lake, which was partially frozen, looking north.


The trickiest part of this hike is as mentioned-access-which can be difficult.  At the end of the driveable part of the road, between a private home with posted signs and the lake, is a continuation of the road which quickly leads to state land. This section of road is rough but easy to follow and provides a ROW to state land. 


The road continues south past power lines and into the Fahnestock State Park.  Once firmly onto state land, I left the road and bushwhacked up towards a false summit of Moose Hill.  The top of this bump was open and quite nice, but didn't really offer any views.

It didn't matter that  there were no views on the false summit, because there were great views less than 2/10 of mile further along from the true summit.  On the wide open SW slopes below the summit was a beautiful view SW over the Parkway and towards the nearby hills. There were a couple of open rock slab areas, with similar SW facing views.

A few yards above the vista, sits the true 1083 foot summit of Moose Hill.

From the summit area, I dropped down the steep south slopes, quickly picking up an obvious woods road, which lead past many, many stone walls.

Heading back west now, far below the summit and in a deep cirque, I found a maze of woods roads heading off in various directions.  Just then, through the bare trees, I spotted an old fireplace chimney..and then another...and then more remnants of an old encampment.  This, as well as the road I was on, was all actually part of an old Civilian Construction Corps camp.

A rotting Lean To, giving in to the hands of time.

Everywhere I looked, I found interesting stone work scattered all over throughout these woods.

The most interesting thing I found all day was the Kings Chamber-a very large stone structure built into the side of a hill.  There really is no firm information on what it actually was, but it is quite impressive!
I couldn't see how far back it went, but it looked very deep.  Not sure if this was simply a shelter of some kind..or a shaft...perhaps a root cellar....maybe even built by aliens??
Further down on the main woods road, I found more CCC remnants, such as this covered pavilion and fireplace.

Yet another fireplace standing solitary deep in the woods.

Continuing on the old road, I crossed this small tributary of Roaring Brook, flowing down towards the Parkway.
The road walk was pretty straightforward, although a bit rugged in spots.  I made one small pit stop back near the car, where I saw a herd path heading north.  This lead me to a small firepit and campsite near the lake.  A handsome spot for sure.

From there, just over the small knoll, I arrived back at the car, with a stiff NW wind now kicking in.  A nice and easy 3.3 miles RT and about 700 feet of ascent for the day.

Map below.  Blue=Parking Blue X=Vista