Saturday, April 10, 2010

Walking - Exploring 4 local state forests

The warm temps of earlier in the week are a thing of the past, but today was a bright sunny day. So despite temps around 50 and gusty winds, Holly and I set out to explore some places we hadn't been before in all our years of living here. New York State has pockets of state forest all over the state, and we chose a few close to home to see what they were like, always with future XC skiing in mind as well. Since I'm on the committee that's updating the ECOS publication "Ski Tips", it was also a good opportunity for some "boots on the ground" trail map verification.

First was Petersburgh State Forest, south of Cobleskill. This forest used to have a fire tower atop Petersburgh Mountain, and the roads leading to the tower were unplowed in the winter. The area was listed in an old copy of "Nordic Skiing Trails in New York State", published by NYSDEC. We arrived to find the road driveable all the way to the summit, and the fire tower gone, replaced by a couple of communications towers. Not a great place for a walk today, and not great for skiing anymore either. So we moved on.

Next was Charleston State Forest to the north. Though we'd skied here several times this past winter, we'd hardly put a dent into its 20 miles of trails. Since we weren't sure what awaited us in terms of trails at the next two stops, we stopped here and walked some unfamiliar trails for an hour or two. The sun through the tall pines made for great scenery even though we were deep in the woods.

Moving on, we next headed for Rural Grove State Forest, to the north and west. The map for this one didn't hold a lot of promise, showing just one unplowed road running a couple of miles through the length of the parcel. As we drove by, we saw that the road was wide and driveable, and was no doubt a major snowmobile corridor in the winter. So we didn't even stop.

Finally, we continued a little further north to Yatesville Falls State Forest, actually a sub-unit of Rural Grove. Again, we found a driveable 1.2-mile road all the way to a turnaround near a stream passing through a gorge. Though there was really nowhere else to walk, we were expecting to find "Yatesville Falls" here based on the name, and we were not disappointed. It was hard to believe that we'd never heard even one word about this place, though there were (trashy) indications that it's popular with the locals. We'll need to return here sometime when it's REALLY running.

It was a cool but beautiful day, and we covered a lot of ground, and also made good progress on verifying some trails we hadn't seen before. So many places, so little time...

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