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NATURE WALKS IN SARATOGA COUNTY

BOG MEADOW TRAIL

  • City of Saratoga Springs
  • Length: 2 miles
  • Scenery: Wetland
  • Terrain: Old Railroad Bed, Boardwalk
  • Trip Tip: Great Birding

This trail was once a passenger railroad line that went from downtown Saratoga Springs to Saratoga Lake. With the help of volunteers, the Saratoga Open Space Project converted the railroad bed to a nature trail in 1993.  The trail connects Route 29 and Meadow brook Road, cutting through three distinct wetland systems.  This trail is a mellow walk just east of Downtown Saratoga Springs.  This destination is an excellent spot for bird watching, jogging and great for the kids.  There are benches along the trail.  Interpretive signs provide history about the old railroad and the environment.  Closer to the Meadow brook Road trailhead there is a boardwalk and viewing platform built through the wetland, although the access can be flooded.  Numerous wild flowers and plants flourish along the trail, which include: May Apple, Marsh Marigold, Early Meadow Rue, Red Trillium, Trout Lily, Strawberry, Partridge Berry, Spotted Wintergreen and American Elm. 

Directions: ROUTE 29

Drive east from Saratoga Springs on Lake Ave (Rte 29) past Walton’s Sport Shop and the Party Glass. Continue under the Northway (I-87) past Weibel Ave. The trailhead parking area is less than a mile on the right.

Directions: MEADOWBROOK ROAD

From the Route 29 trailhead: Continue east on Route 29 to the first traffic light; make a right onto Stafford’s Bridge Rd. Take your first right onto Meadowbrook Rd; the parking area is a quarter mile on the right. Park here and walk up the road about 50 yards to the trailhead on the right.


BURL TRAIL

  • City of Saratoga Springs
  • Length: One mile
  • Scenery: Kayaderosseras Creek
  • Terrain: Wood Chips
  • Trip Tip: New as of April 2005

Thanks to a collaborated effort between the local "grass-roots" organization, Friends of the Kayaderosseras, and New York State Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation this trail now exists.  A highly energetic and dedicated group of volunteers successfully constructed a level, wood chip trail on a rainy day in late April 2005.  The group trimmed back trees, tall grass and shoveled load after load of wood chips into wheelbarrows, despite the muddy conditions. 

Named for the knotty growth on a tree at the trailhead, The Burl Trail is a one-mile loop along the Kayaderosseras Creek.  The 345-acre parcel of land that the trial is on was recently acquired by New York State and is now part of Saratoga Spa State Park.  A new access point, Gray’s Crossing, to the Kayaderosseras Creek is located at this destination. 

Join Friends of the Kayaderosseras, and get involved in future events and programs.

Directions: NORTHLINE ROAD

Travel south from Saratoga Springs on Route 50. Make a left at the traffic light onto Northline Road.  Continue under the railroad bridge for about one half mile to the trailhead parking area in the field on the right.


SARATOGA NATIONAL GOLF CLUB TRAILS

City of Saratoga Springs

  • South Trail
  • Length:  1/2 mile
  • Scenery: Lake
  • Terrain: Wood Chips
  • Trip Tip: Viewing Platform

The South Trail leads you to a viewing platform on the northern shoreline of Lake Lonely.  From the parking area the trail goes to the left and has a bridge over Bog Meadow Brook.  The platform is a great spot for a picnic or to sit and enjoy the view of the lake.

  • West Trail
  • Length: 2 miles
  • Scenery: Golf Course, Trees
  • Terrain: Wet
  • Trip Tip: Wear boots/heavy shoes

The West trail starts out on the paved path along the access road to the clubhouse.  When the paved path veers away from the road look for the small nature trail signs straight ahead.  Follow the signs along the road and back onto the paved path about a half-mile ahead.  Continue to follow the nature trail signs through the golf course and into the woods on the northwest edge of the golf course.  The trail ends as you approach I-87.

These trails were developed cooperatively between the Open Space Project, The Land Trust of Saratoga and Saratoga National Golf Club.  The Open Space Project and The Land Trust of Saratoga have combined efforts and are now one organization, called Saratoga PLAN - preserving land and nature. Both trails are a pleasant walk through surrounding wetlands with sounds of nature. A map of the trail system can be found at the trailhead parking area off of Rte 9P.  Be careful not to pinch your fingers when opening the gate to access the trails. Go to www.saratogaplan.org for more information on preserving open space in our community.

Directions: ROUTE 9P

Drive east from Saratoga Springs for 2.5 miles on Union Ave.  Continue over the Northway at exit 14. The trailhead parking area is on the right immediately past the entrance to Saratoga National Golf Course.


SARATOGA NATIONAL BATTLEFIELD HISTORIC PARK

  • Town of Saratoga
  • The Wilkinson Trail
  • Length: 4.2 miles
  • Scenery: Rolling Farmland, Wooded
  • Terrain: Dirt, Grass
  • Trip Tip: Historically significant

This destination is where the Battles of Saratoga took place during the Revolutionary War.  General Burgoyne of the British Army was defeated during the second battle, which is one of the most significant battles in American and world history.  As a result of the victory at Saratoga, the American Colonies became recognized as a force not to be reckoned with.  Visit Saratoga National Historic Park and learn more about this decisive point in history and why Benedict Arnold is considered an American hero. 

The battlefield is located in Stillwater, only 25 minutes southeast of Saratoga Springs.  The park was established first as a state park in 1927 and then became a National Park in 1958. The park has three separate units, the Battlefield in Stillwater, General Philip Schuyler’s House in Schuylerville, and the 154 1/2 foot Saratoga Monument in Victory.  The battlefield is 4 square miles and has many opportunities for walking and picnicking.  The main visitor center and parking area are located in the northwest corner of the Battlefield.

The Wilkinson Trail, starting out form the visitor center is popular and well marked.  Even though the Wilkinson Trail is 4.2 miles long it covers less than a quarter of battlefield.  There is a nine-mile tour road around the perimeter of the park that can be followed for a more extensive historical tour.

Directions: ROUTE 32

From downtown Saratoga Springs, follow Union Avenue (Rte 9P) out of town past the Saratoga Race Course.  Continue on Rte 9P over the Northway toward Saratoga Lake. You will pass Longfellows Inn and Restaurant.  Continue over the Fish Creek Bridge, past Saratoga Tackle.  Drive along Saratoga Lake shoreline and make a left onto Rte 423 east (Battlefield Road).  Follow Rte 423 east.  Make a left onto Rte 32 north.  The main entrance to the park is on the right.


ORA PHELPS NATURE PRESERVE

  • Town of Wilton
  • Size: 18 Acres
  • Scenery: Forest, Streams
  • Terrain: Natural, Boardwalk
  • Trip Tip: Saratoga P.L.A.N.

Although a small parcel of open space, this land is a plant and animal sanctuary at the confluence of Little Snook Kill and Pippenbeck Brook.  It is also part of the former homestead of the renowned Adirondack Naturalist Dr. Orra Phelps.  Dr. Phelps (1895 – 1986) was a medical doctor by trade, who moved to Wilton in 1918.  Dr. Phelps was an active member of the Adirondack Mountain Club, a twice over 46er, (someone who climbed all 46 peaks over 4000 feet in the Adirondacks) educator and author of several ADK guidebooks.  On this land along with her mother, Orra Almira Parker Phelps, she cultivated a variety of native and foreign plants to the region.  The Phelps particularly concentrated on nurturing a diverse fern garden.  Make sure to bring various field guides in order to identify the ferns and wildflowers that now thrive along the two streams.  After a strong rainfall or during spring runoff the sound of water running over the exposed rock streambed fills the air as you leisurely walk under the canopy of white pines and hemlock trees.  Saratoga P.L.A.N. maintains the trails and signage at this destination. 

The trial heads east from the parking area and is well marked with white diamonds. It then divides several times through out the 18-acre parcel.  One section has a wooden bridge and continues up and along the west ridge.  The other section meanders along the east side of the stream.  There are a couple of benches along the way, as well as several boardwalks through the wetland areas.

Directions: PARKHURST ROAD

Travel north from Saratoga Springs on Rte 9.  Make a left onto Parkhurst Road, which is 4 miles north of Rte 50.  Continue on Parkhurst Road for an additional 1.7 miles to the trailhead/parking area on the right.  A blue historic sign marks the entrance into the parking area. 


WOODS HOLLOW PRESERVE

  • Town of Milton
  • Size: 130 acres
  • Scenery: Lake, Woods, and Wetland
  • Terrain: Natural
  • Trip Tip: Educational

Take a break one afternoon and discover a diverse eco-system that supports an array of flora and fauna.  There are several, well-maintained trails to choose from, with the majority of them consisting of former logging roads that meander over rolling terrain and sandy soils.  The extensive trails are well marked with colored, plastic discs with interpretative signs along the way, which provide interesting and concise information on the area’s history and ecology. 

As you journey further toward the center of this 130-acre parcel you’ll discover a placid lake that was once used as a water supply for the local community.  The wooden dock next to the dilapidated pump house extends from the eastern shoreline and provides a stable platform for bird watching or basking in the warm sun.

The upland that surrounds this watering hole supports vegetation that includes White Pine, Red Oak, Quaking Aspen and Gray Birch.  Sandy soils outside of the wetland area have a variety of wildflowers, such as Purple Lustrife and Pink Lady Slipper, which can be identified by referencing the signs alongside the paths. 

The main entrance off of Northline Road has ample space for parking.  There is a trailhead kiosk displaying a map of the preserve.  Remember, as you venture about, staying on marked trails will help reduce needless erosion and trespassing on private property.

Directions: NORTHLINE ROAD

From Saratoga Springs travel 5 miles south on Route 50 to the traffic light at the intersection with Northline Road.  Make a right and continue for a short distance to the parking area on the right.


OLD GICK FARM

  • Town of Wilton
  • Length: 1.6 miles of trails
  • Scenery: Pitch pine and oak
  • Terrain: sandy, gentle rolling dune like terrain
  • Trip Tip: Be on the look out for the Eastern Spadefoot Toad and the Karner Blue Butterfly

Since 1998 The Wilton Wildlife Preserve and Park has protected and maintained the Old Gick Farm as a nature preserve. Close to town, this once operating farm is an easy walk through a beautiful and diverse environment. Once an open area, pitch pine and oak have encroached the open fields over the years. There is one main trail that is 0.85 miles long and fairly flat. There are three secondary trials that spur off of the main trail. The trailhead has a kiosk with trail maps and information about the natural environment.

Directions: ROUTE 50

Follow Rte 50 northeast out of Saratoga Springs toward I-87, Exit 15. The trailhead is 4 miles on the left past the Wilton Mall.


SKIDMORE NORTH WOODS

  • City of Saratoga Springs
  • Size: 250 acres
  • Scenery: Forest, ponds and swamps
  • Trail conditions: Dirt roads
  • Trip Tip: Popular local nature trails.

At the north end of town there is 250 acres with a great trail system for mini- adventures. This area includes swamps, ponds, trees and fields. An easy walk from town up North Broadway will give you access to miles of trails. The trails start out on top of the hill and descend into the valley. There are railroad tracks that border the Northwoods on the north side. Parking is available on campus. Walking from town is preferred.

Directions: NORTH BROADWAY

From downtown follow Broadway north through the intersection of Routes 50 and 9, toward Skidmore College. The trailhead is at the end of North Broadway where the pavement turns into a dirt road. Parking is available on the Skidmore campus at the Northwoods lot.


NEILMAN PARCEL

  • Town of Wilton
  • Length: 1.89 miles
  • Scenery: Wooded
  • Terrain: Forest Floor
  • Trip Tip: On warm and sunny days keep your eyes out for the eastern hognose snake, also known as the puff adder.

This area encompasses part of the largest wetland in the Town of Wilton, the Miller swamp. Developed and maintained by the Wilton Wildlife Preserve and Park, the Neilman Parcel adds to the open space in Saratoga County. The trailhead has a kiosk with trail maps and information about the natural environment. The trails are flat and are great for an easy nature walk with the kids. See how many invertebrates and amphibians you can spot. This area is home to deer, piliated woodpeckers, red fox and the Eastern Spadefoot Toad.

Directions: RUGGLES ROAD

Directions: Head out of town on Rte 50 north over the Northway. Continue 45 miles and make a right onto King Rd. After 0.8 miles turn right onto Ruggles Rd, the trailhead parking area is on the right.


OPDAHL FARM TRAIL 

  • Town of Wilton
  • Length: 0.6 miles
  • Scenery: Wooded
  • Terrain: Flat, natural
  • Trip Tip: Connects to Camp Saratoga

The Opdahl family donated this farm to The Nature Conservancy in 1997. The land was farmed from 1936 to 1972. The old barn from 1946 and silo that still exist on the land are reminders of the area's past. This area has been planted with native flower species, which include blue lupine and horsemint. The leaves of the blue lupine are a necessary part of the Karner Blue Butterfly's life cycle. Horsemint is also another plant that provides food fro a variety of butterfly species. Though the trail here is less than a mile in length, it connects tot he Camp Saratoga trails fro a more extended adventure. There is a kiosk at the trailhead with maps and environmental information about the area that have been provided and maintained by the Wilton Wildlife Preserve and Park. As you walk through the field behind the church, notice the prairie grass. Little Bluestem Grass is a drought tolerant prairie grass that grown in clumps in upland areas.

Directions: ROUTE 50

Drive north on I-87 to Exit 16. Make a right off the exit and continue for approximately 1/2 mile. The trailhead and parking area are on the right by the old barn.


CAMP SARATOGA

  • Town of Wilton
  • Size: 310 acres with five miles of trails
  • Scenery: Forested
  • Terrain: Forested and field floor. Some sand.
  • Trip Tip: Try to spot the endangered Karner Blue Butterfly

Camp Saratoga was operated as a Boy Scout camp from 1930 to 2001, and then it became part of the Wilton Wildlife Preserve and Park. The preserve is 310 acres and located only 8 miles from downtown. This park encompasses a variety of ecosystems including woodlands, wetlands, open areas and streams. This habitat supports the endangered Karner Blue Butterfly. There are trail maps and environmental information available at the trailhead parking area.

For more trail details and activity schedule check out Wilton Wildlife Preserve.

Directions: SCOUT ROAD

Follow Route 50 north through the Wilton shopping area for 6 miles. Turn left onto Edie Road, proceed 1.5 miles and turn right onto Scout Road. The parking area and trailheads are 0.7 miles on the left.


VISCHER FERRY NATURE PRESERVE

  • Town of Clifton Park
  • Length: 10 miles
  • Scenery: Mohawk River Floodplain
  • Terrain: Crusted Stone
  • Trip Tip: Dog Walkers

This nature preserve is located in southern Saratoga County along the Mohawk River. The trail system is well maintained and integrates sections of the Old Erie Canal and Towpath. As you stroll along the Mohawk River there are historical markers providing information dating back to the early 1900’s. This area is a floodplain and during high water some of the trails are flooded. This wetland provides an excellent habitat for many species of birds and plants - Great Blue Herons (GBH) are often spotted.

The restored historic Whipple Bridge connects the trailhead/parking area along Riverview Rd to the preserve. Once over the footbridge, walk west along the river about 3 miles to reach the power plant on the Mohawk River. From this spot you can look across the river and see the Erie Canal Lock 7. As you walk along the river you will pass Old Lock 19 and the site of a past operating ferry, used to cross the Mohawk River.

Walking less than a mile east from the footbridge, the trail ends at Clute’s Dry Dock. The trail heading directly south from the bridge will take you to the river’s edge and will provide beautiful scenery of the Mohawk River. There is access here for launching a canoe or kayak. This nature preserve is popular among dog walkers and joggers.

Directions: VAN VRANKEN RD/RIVERVIEW RD

Take Exit 8 off of the Northway (I-87). Drive west on Crescent Rd (Rte. 92) for 2.5 miles. Turn left onto Van Vranken Rd and continue until it ends at Riverview Rd. Make a right onto Riverview Rd and you will see the main entrance to the preserve on the left. There are additional trailhead/parking areas to the west at Ferry Drive and east along Riverview Rd.


STARK’S KNOB HISTORIC PARK

  • Town of Northumberland
  • Size: Few acres
  • Scenery: Farmland
  • Terrain: Steep to the top.
  • Trip Tip: Historic Site

Visit Stark's Knob and brush up on your American history while learning some geology of the local area.  This has been a natural history site of the NYS museum since 1916.  Since then Stark's Knob has seen much controversy and was almost sold to private individuals several times. In 2000 an outdoor exhibit was created and will hopefully be maintained well into the future.  Walking up to the top of the knob is exciting and rewards you with beautiful views of the Hudson River and the Green Mountains of Vermont.

History

This volcanic basalt pillow was a strategic location during the Revolutionary War.  In October of 1777 General John Stark held the position between Stark's Knob and the Hudson River to prevent the British and German forces from retreating north to Fort Ticonderoga, after being defeated at the Battles of Saratoga. “This was the springing of the trap about which General Riedesel had talked, the corking of the bottle which sealed the fate of the British army..." From John Henry Brandow's The Story of Old Saratoga and History of Schuylerville, published in 1919.

Geology

Stark’s Knob was formed 460-440 million years ago during the middle of the Ordovician Age.  A volcanic arc pushed west into Vermont and eastern New York causing the continent to buckle in front of it.  Cracks (vents) opened in the earth’s crust and basalt lava flowed out of the cracks into the shallow sea that covered the area.  Fossils found in the basalt pillows at Stark’s Knob are evidence of this geologic history.

Similar basalt pillows of the same age have been discovered to the north in western Newfoundland and to the south in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.  These discoveries conclude that Stark’s Knob was part of the first orogeny (mountain building episode) in the Appalachian Mountains.

Directions: ROUTE 4

From Saratoga Springs drive east on Rte 29 to Schuylerville.  When you come to the traffic light in Schuylerville, go north one mile on Rte 4. The parking area is on the left.  From the parking area, walk up the hill to the entrance of the park.  To reach the top of the knob, continue up the road a few hundred yards to a path on the right.


LINCOLN MOUNTAIN FOREST

  • Town of Greenfield
  • Size: 933 acres
  • Trail Length: 2 miles
  • Scenery: Mixed Forest
  • Terrain: Hilly, Wetland
  • Trip Tip: Quiet

Enjoy a nature walk through this forest of mixed hardwoods and conifer trees.  The rock walls that are visible throughout the forest are evidence that this land was once farmed.  Selective logging in this forest has created open areas where you will notice ferns and wildflowers.  The main trail in the forest is 2 miles long with some shorter trails spurring off.  At the end of the main trail are some big boulders marking the boundary with private property.  Beavers living in the area have been busy building a dam on Stony Brook.  The road is flooded in some areas as a result of the beavers.  This area was purchased in two sections, one in 1933 and the other in 1963.  Some financing came from State Reforestation funds.  There are three watersheds in this area: Mud Creek which drains into the Kayaderosseras Creek; Stony Brook; and the Snook Kill which both drain into the Hudson River.  The highest elevation in the forest is 960 feet compared to the lowest point of 720 feet.  There are several entrances into the forest, but Cohen Rd trailhead is the most convenient.

Directions: COHEN ROAD

From Saratoga Springs drive northwest on Rte 9N.  Continue over the railroad tracks to the first traffic light.  Make a right onto Locust Grove Rd.  Continue to the end of Locust Grove Rd past Greene Rd to Greenfield Rd (extension of Spier Falls Rd.).  Turn right onto Greenfield Rd and continue 1/2 mile to Cohen Rd on the right.  Drive south on Cohen Rd to the trailhead on the left just before the large gate.  Parking is limited.  Be careful not to block the private driveway off to the right.

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