Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Walk - Charleston State Forest Ski Trail Exploration

Yeah, I know - it's only October. But deer (bow) season starts shortly, and I wanted to get this in while it was safe.

I remembered reading something about a so-called "Overlook Trail" at Charleston State Forest, and needed to find out what that meant. Most of the ski trails there are in deep woods, with no chance of a distant view anywhere. Google turned up an old Times-Union article with the following intriguing reference:

"A bit further west, there are a number of great cross-country ski and hiking trails in the Charleston State Forest in Montgomery County. More than 20 miles of trails loop among several roads. From Route 30A, the trails can be accessed from Hughes Road, Burtonville Road, Gordon Road and Gidley Road. The trails are divided such that several trips are possible. The trails off of Gordon Road are interesting, winding through the swamps and beaver ponds. From Gidley Road, the Overlook Trail winds around a hardwood ridge that offers a great view of the Schoharie Valley. The terrain on this trail is a bit steep, though."

The article was from 2001, and 10 years of growth might mean there was no longer any overlook. I needed to find out.

I let my GPS get me to a parking area on Gidley Road that I assumed was where I wanted to start. This was some distance from the main parking area and kiosk on NY-30A, circled on the map below. Click on the map to enlarge it.



This was a delightful loop, about 2.6 miles long, which I walked CCW. The climbs and descents were long and gradual, not as steep as exaggerated above, but more rolling than some other trails we've skied here. And, at the far northeastern end of the loop, there might have even once been a view. In winter with the leaves down, it's likely there still is. In fact, the stretch of trail immediately NW of that point should also have something of a view.

This loop begs for a return trip on skis this winter. The only problem is that it may not get enough traffic to count on this trail being broken. And this forest gets a LOT of snow, which could mean a tough slog for a too-small group. I'll have to recruit some willing sloggers and get back in here to check it out.

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