Take a Hike!

No one in his right mind would ever refer to us as athletic! That being said, we do like to spend time—especially on weekends— taking short hikes and enjoying natural areas. I recently discovered a website which can help anyone, nationwide, find walks close to home. With this post I’d like to describe some choices for embracing Mother Nature around New York’s Capital District.

Perhaps one of our favorite places to walk whatever the season is Peebles Island State Park in Waterford. We've been there in spring, summer, and fall, even after Thanksgiving dinner. Although there's a parking fee in most of the warm weather months, one can always park in downtown Waterford and walk across the bridge to the island. Located at the confluence of the Hudson and Mohawk, the island has trails which follow the water's edge. While the paths may not be very well marked, it would probably be impossible to get lost in the small location. The big loop around the island, which takes about forty-five minutes to complete, offers beautiful views of the rivers, birds, a small dam, and some falls. Just be careful not to get too near the edge or you may find yourself closer to the water than you planned!

Thacher State Park, in the Helderberg Mountains outside of Voorheesville, is another close-by favorite. The view of the river valleys and the mountains from the parking lot alone is worth the trip! From there, you can take a simple walk along the fenced-in side of the cliff or you can descend a long staircase, passing under a waterfall to admire the scenery. The park has playgrounds, as well as big fields for playing Frisbee or baseball with the kids, and grills and tables for family picnics. In the fall, you can also go by Indian Ladder Farms and get fresh apples and cider.

Then there is Grafton Lakes State Park. Mostly known as a swimming and boating area, Grafton has some lovely trails through the woods around its two lakes as well. We’ve often spotted signs of beavers in the area: tree stumps gnawed to a fine point; intricate dams sitting out in the water. In the winter you can go skating on the frozen lakes.

There are really so many local places to discover. Beebe Hill near Chatham presents a two-mile walk, with a fire tower at the top for the more adventurous to climb. Christman Sanctuary in Schenectady County has a very easy circuit which includes a nice waterfall (pictured left). If you’re willing to travel farther afield, Kaaterskill Falls in the Catskills is well worth the drive. A somewhat challenging trail--steep but short-- goes up Prospect Mountain and offers wonderful views of Lake George.

So there you have a few ideas for hikes in the Albany area, just as the cool and colorful fall days approach. Enjoy!

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