Archive for the ‘Capital Region’ Category

NY State Parks has begun offering a longer-term camping option at Max V Shaul State Park in Schoharie County.

In the 179 NY State Park system, this is only the third Park that offers this opportunity.  This is the first park in the Saratoga / Capital / Hudson Valley and Taconic regions that this is being offered.

For campers interested in spending several weeks – or more – at a time, a number of campsites are being made available for this special option. This will save campers time and reservation fees because they only need to make a single reservation for their extended stays.  (Typically at most state park campgrounds, campers are limited to a maximum of 14 continuous nights.)

Seasonal camping reservations must be made with the park directly at 518.827.4711.

The only other state park locations in the state that offer longer term camping are in our Central Region – Bowman Lake and Oquaga Lake.

If you are unfamiliar – Max V. Shaul is a quiet setting with wooded sites. Highlights at the park include fishing in the Schoharie Creek, hiking the park’s nature trails, enjoying shady picnic grounds, open playing fields and a playground.  Additionally, campers have free vehicle access to nearby Mine Kill State Park which offers an Olympic size swimming pool, multi-use trails, boating by permit and views of the scenic 80-foot Mine Kill Falls.

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By GLENN GRIFFITH, CNweekly, link to original post

Historic Erie Canal Lock 19 footbridge in Vischer Ferry NY

Historic Erie Canal Lock 19 footbridge in Vischer Ferry NY

The president and CEO of the Chamber of Southern Saratoga County joined with representatives of a variety of public and private entities April 29 to open a footbridge over the Erie Canal’s historic Lock 19.

The wooden and steel span allows visitors access to the middle section of the canal’s 1842 historic double lock. More than a dozen private businesses partnered with the Chamber, the town and the Shenendehowa Central School District on the footbridge project. The site, which is in the hamlet of Vischer Ferry, is accessed from Ferry Park, at the end of Ferry Drive.

The idea for the project began with Chamber President Pete Bardunias. In the spring of 2012 he posed the project as a partnership between public and private entities as a way of putting the old lock site back into passive recreational use. The idea expanded from simply clearing brush and debris away to giving private business mentoring to 80 Shen students.

In addition to helping clear the brush, the students formed teams that were mentored by volunteer engineers to compete on a bridge design and its marketing campaign. The final design for the footbridge was chosen last June.

More than 1,700 volunteer hours and tens of thousands of dollars of donated materials and labor went into the construction, which was completed in December. The footbridge project will serve as a template for several more partnership projects on the Chamber’s agenda.

On Monday, representatives from the businesses and the public sector organizations joined Bardunias, Clifton Park Town Supervisor Philip Barrett, Shen Superintendent L. Oliver Robinson and New York State Canal Corporation Director Brian Stratton to officially open the facility for public use.

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(the following is excerpted from a blog post by Pat Rush. Clikc here to read her full bolg post http://www.dailygazette.com/weblogs/biking-across-america/2013/mar/01/fundraising-ride-ecos/)

Founded in Schenectady in 1972, ECOS (The Environmental Clearinghouse) is a non-profit membership organization. Its mission is to provide environmental information and educational programs that enhance appreciation of the natural world, and to advocate for the preservation of our natural resources.

When I moved to Schenectady I discovered the marvelous bike path system, and I also discovered the little pamphlet, “Along the Bike Hike Trail.” It was published by ECOS, written and illustrated by ECOS members, and designed to fit in a handlebar bag. I was smitten. I fell in love. I learned that two ECOS members had been highly instrumental in causing the path through Schenectady County to be built.

I’ve been involved with ECOS ever since. After I retired, I became its president for a couple of years, and in the years since then have watched it grow and prosper. ECOS presents or participates in over 50 environmental programs each year, including festivals, lecture series, guest speakers, nature walks, ski and snowshoe trips, and youth programs. These events are designed and presented by almost 100 ECOS volunteers working in partnership with other local environmental groups, and with schools and colleges.

ECOS has always had a core group of writers and artists to assist with its very active publication program, including the Natural Areas series, the bike trail books, the ski and snowshoe guide, a field guide to the Karner Blue butterfly, and a field guide to wildflowers. Many of these publications have gone into second editions.

ECOS also publishes a monthly newsletter and a regional environmental program calendar which lists events for more than 40 organizations in the Capital Region. Free publications on its website include the “Walking Green Schenectady” map and “Landscaping With Native Trees.”

Each year, ECOS holds a celebration to honor the efforts of Rachel Carson. A local environmental hero is also recognized with the Rachel Carson Award.

Pat Rush is biking across America to raise funds for ECOS. Click here to donate to her efforts. 

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Construction has been completed on a new trail head for the Plotterkill Preserve at Lower Gregg Road in Rotterdam.
The half-mile trail will tie into the more than 6 miles of existing trails and will provide much-needed access for emergency personnel to enter the 645-acre preserve to aid lost or injured hikers.
State funding — a $75,840 grant through the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation — helped purchase 12 acres for the preserve and complete the new entrance.
The new portion of the preserve will allow emergency personnel to more rapidly reach lost or injured hikers trapped deep in Plotterkill. Previously, first responders had to hike for more than an hour to reach stranded hikers, particularly those who become trapped in the lower portion of the preserve.
Area fire companies are called to the preserve as many as 15 times a year. Rescues are especially common during the spring, when darkness falls quickly and lingering ice can cause hikers to tumble down some of the preserve’s steeper embankments.
The entry point provides an access point at the northern end of the Plotterkill and connects 2.5 miles of the preserve trails to the Long Path.
The Long Path currently extends from the George Washington Bridge in Manhattan to John Boyd Thacher Park in Albany County and was designed as New York’s version of the Long Trail in Vermont. Future plans are in the works to extend the trail to the Mohawk River and eventually into the Adirondacks.

source: Daily Gazette

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Gov. Cuomo called for an “energy highway” between Montreal and NYC/downstate in his address last week. Now the Regional Plan Association has called for expanding the idea to include higher speed rail and broadband service in a multi-use corridor (see http://www.rpa.org/2012/01/an-energy-rail-broadband-expressway-to-quebec.html). Good idea.

Now we should propose including a multi-use trail/bike path in the corridor, also. Pieces of such a trail already exist, the cost would be small compared to the other elements, and, given the popularity of bicycle tourism, the economic benefits could be large. For information on bicycle tourism, refer to Parks & Trails New York’s Bicyclists Bring Business at http://www.ptny.org/pdfs/canalway_trail/b3/Bicyclists_bring_business.pdf.

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Richard Harpham will kayak ~ 500 miles across NYS

British adventurer Richard Harpham and fellow explorer Glenn Charles are set to embark on a 500-mile kayak journey showcasing the sights and scenery of New York State.

The trip is being arranged in association with the New York State Division of Tourism and is due to begin in April, 2012.

It will focus on the heritage, culture and wildlife found in the region, as well as famous locations such as Niagara Falls, which will be the starting point for the itinerary. The pair will then kayak along the Erie Canal, a Unesco World Heritage site with 36 locks, before arriving in Albany and joining the Hudson river.

After paddling south towards Manhattan, the adventurers will finish their tour at the Statue of Liberty.

Mr Harpham, whose previous achievements include kayaking the Inside Passage from Seattle to Alaska and completing a combined kayak and cycle trip from London to Marrakech, said the aim of next year’s expedition is to inspire people to explore the dreams and possibilities in their lives.

“It will also be a fantastic journey across some of New York State’s most beautiful scenery and both Glenn and I are looking forward to the challenge,” he added.

More information about the project and details of a competition to join the adventure for five days is available on thespareseat.com.

source: Travelbite.co.uk

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By TIM O’BRIEN, Times Union, link to original post

A walking and biking path will allow people to travel anywhere along the Moe Road trail system to the Exit 9 commercial area.

A nearly 1,000-foot addition to the trail opened Tuesday linking the Clifton Park-Halfmoon Public Library to the Arongen and Shatekon elementary schools and to Wall Street near the Southern Saratoga Y. “It’s just another part of improving the connectivity in the Exit 9 area,” said Clifton Park Supervisor Phil Barrett. “It’s just a wonderful connection for the kids to use.”

The construction of the trail was a cooperative effort among the library, the town and the Shenendehowa school district. It took a wooded path that was overgrown and often flooded from a culvert and created a paved trail with a pedestrian bridge over a tributary from Stony Creek.

For some 1,200 students, that will mean easy access for field trips to the library. While the Clifton Park-Halfmoon Public Library is a short walk away from the two schools, the lack of a proper path made it difficult to make a field trip on foot. “From a practical perspective, it’s an easier route for children to take advantage of the programs they offer at the library,” said Shenendehowa Superintendent L. Oliver Robinson. “When we collaborate, we can do some really positive things.”

Arongen Principal Benjamin Roberts said the new path will make it much easier for students. “It’s a tremendous resource to have next door,” he said. “The programs the library offers extends the curriculum for our schools.” “It’s truly an example of maximizing our resources,” Shatekon Principal Elizabeth Wood added.

The new path was designed by Paul Olund of Environmental Design Partnership. “We took advantage of the fact this was on an old farm road grade,” he said. The original path was overgrown and a culvert made it difficult to cross, he said.

The town contributed $28,500 toward the project, the library paid $17,000 and the Shenendehowa schools paved 720 feet of the path using some of the money from a $400,000 Safe Routes to School grant.

Over the past 11 years, Clifton Park has added 18 miles of trails through the town. “We’re in the very preliminary stages of extending the trail down Moe Road,” Barrett said.

The town is also working with the town of Halfmoon for a trail now being designed on Crescent Road. “The goal is a contiguous trail so people can go from Exit 10 to Exit 8,” said Town Board member Scott Hughes. “Even now during a downturn in the economy, we are still trying to invest in trails and open-space preservation because they are quality of life issues.”

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By Tim Kane, Times Union, link to original post

About 30 miles from Albany, Berlin Mountain is the tallest peak in the four-county region(The

Peak Experiences

11th highest county high point according to the guidebook “Peak Experiences – Hiking the Highest Summits in NY, County by County”). At nearly 3,000 feet, most of the 4-mile ascent is at a 10-percent grade or more, a tough aerobic workout seemingly so far away yet only 45 minutes by car from the stairs of New York’s capitol.

Imagine moving up and down on a Stairmaster and balancing on a stability plank for a few hours at the gym and you’ll get a sense of what the trail is like. At the bald top, a panorama of Greylock Mountain — Massachusetts’ highest peak — the Hudson River Valley and the lower Adirondacks, is a sweet bonus.

The Berlin Mountain trail is a part of the Taconic Crest Trail, which weaves its way along the border of New York, Massachusetts and Vermont, from Pittsfield to Pownal, offering an enticing range of hiking experiences often overlooked by those heading north or south to the Adirondacks or Catskills.

You might find longer trails and higher peaks in those ranges, but it’s hard to beat the Taconic trail’s proximity, accessibility and solitude. When the days are the longest you can leave work in the late afternoon, traverse Petersburgh Pass en route to the noteworthy “snow hole” and be back before sunset.

While the 35-mile trail is relatively flat, since it’s on the ridge of the bulbous north-to-south mountains, it’s noted for its short, sharp grades connecting access points to the higher elevations. But there are plenty of easier sections, too. With a little planning, you’ll find what you’re looking for.

New this year is a set of colorful topographical maps that make researching often difficult-to-find access points much easier. A trail guide has been available for several years. Both can be purchased at The Bookhouse at Stuyvesant Plaza or by contacting the Taconic Hiking Club.

“It’s so close and really quiet,” said Colin Campbell, a longtime member of the club. “One of the reasons it’s been under the radar is that its jurisdiction is covered by three states. During the past several years there has been a concerted effort by us and state officials to maintain the trails, improve access and provide better marking.”

The trail has been around for years, but its modern life began when advocates whacked overgrown sections decades ago. With more attention these days, trail conditions are generally very good, particularly with the state Department of Environmental Conservation strictly enforcing rules against illegal ATV use.

“They can dig up ruts and keep the trail wet and muddy,” Campbell said of the motorized vehicles. “So it’s been a priority.” Five trips this year and last revealed very little damage, or obstacles, like downed trees. With all the rain this year, there were some muddy spots, but that’s probably due to the trail’s heavy shade, one of its attributes. Off the Potter Mountain Road access, a blistering hot summer day last year was at least 10 degrees cooler.

The Taconic’s heavy overgrowth makes it feel more secluded than its distance from area cities would suggest. Some of its trails are quite remote, with moose and bear sightings reported lately now that more registries are at trail heads for Mattison and Robison Hollows along Misery Mountain, a more southern portion straddling New York and Massachusetts. It’s the most remote of all.

The most popular and easiest trail head to find is the “snow hole” at the Petersburg Pass. On Route 2 at the pass’ apex, parking is plentiful and there’s hardly any steepness since you drive the climb. With thick cover, views are limited with a just a handful of openings, but the real attraction is the unique geological feature. Given its cover and descent into a small, cave-like crevice, snow often survives the entire year. While you can venture down its shaft, it’s a rather steep decline that needs careful attention.

For an easy hike, intersect the northern reaches of the trail moving west from Williamstown, or continue north several miles from the “snow hole” and walk the Hopkins Memorial Forest, a former farming area now preserved as open space serving as an “experimental” ecological outpost stewarded by Williams College.

Here an abundance of plants and wildlife like the black-throated blue warbler and the rare pileated woodpecker, thrive. The flat walk is enhanced by Buxton Farm, an interpretive site illustrating the 2,400 acres’ transition from cultivation to classroom. Another neat feature about the trail is how a daytime trek can be augmented by nighttime culture. Depending on what section you chose, you can comfortably cover miles outdoors and then take in the symphony at Tanglewood, a play at the Williamstown Theater Festival, or an art exhibit at the Clark Art Institute with accommodations for a change of clothes.

Often overshadowed by other area mountain ranges, the Taconic Crest Trail is a perfect little getaway spot for outdoor enthusiasts looking for nature in less strenuous terms not far from home.

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By Josh Tuper, Yahoo! Sports, link to original post

When one thinks about the Albany/Schenectady/Troy area of Upstate New York, thoughts of great hiking spots usually are not the first that come to mind. However the great thing about living Upstate, even the Metro area, is a vast array of surrounding wilderness. With the great Adirondacks to the north, the Catskills going south, and everything in between, there are endless possibilities for a beautiful summer day hike. Here is a list of, in my opinion, some of the best areas to hike close to the Capital Region.

Hopkins Memorial Forest
Located in North Hoosick, less than an hour away from Albany, right on the border of New York and Massachusetts, and perfect for the whole family. The trail is referred to as “out and back”, meaning you can go as far as you want and turn around whenever you’re ready. This would be ideal for young children who might get tired on a longer, more intense hike. If you do want to do the whole trail, it’s a 5.5 mile round trip and takes about three hours. Overall, it’s a very easy trail with great views; perfect for a nice warm day when you want to take it easy outdoors.

Thacher State Park
Another easy hike, great for the whole family, and right outside of Albany in Voorheesville. I’ve been to this state park several times and have hiked the trail more than any other in the area. The park itself is great for picnics or just relaxing on a nice day, and the trail has gorgeous views of the capitol region, waterfalls, caves, and an underground stream. It’s a 3.5 mile roundtrip hike, taking two hours, and another out and back trail.

Indian Head & Twin Mountain
Finally, if those other two are too “boring” or “easy” for the more advanced hikers, then check out this one. A little further away, Indian Head and Twin Mountain is located in the Catskills near Tannesrville, NY. This is not one for the kids; it’s an eight mile round trip hike, taking between four to five hours, and is a “loop” type of hike. There are some difficult climbs throughout the trail and I would suggest some experience hiking before taking this on. Once you do get past the harsh climb, the breathtaking views become worth it.

For more information about these trails, and many more near the Capital Region, visit www.localhikes.com

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Albany County Rail Trail Opens

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