Thursday, November 17, 2011

Walk - Niskayuna's new John Brown Trail System

Late this morning, I set out for a walk in the Lisha Kill Preserve, on Rosendale Road in Niskayuna. But when I got there, I saw a school group and leader in the parking lot, so thought better of it. Instead, I headed up the road a piece to Mohawk River State Park, aka the Schenectady Museum Preserve, off Whitmyer Drive. I was hoping to explore some new trails I'd heard about adjacent to this park, called the John Brown Trail System. John Brown, a local resident, has apparently been instrumental in their creation and maintenance, in cooperation with the Town of Niskayuna.

Across the end of Whitmyer Drive from the parking area is a trail map and the beginning of the trails. I photographed the map to carry with me in case I needed it, and set off along the fence following blue markers. The blue trail led me to a yellow trail in the area of Shaker Gorge, which the yellow trail loops around coming back to the blue again at the end. The yellow loop was pretty rugged, with lots of steep twists and turns and sharp dropoffs alongside the trail. I'd originally thought about skiing in this area, but I think snowshoeing would be a much better, and safer, idea.

A sign at the start of the loop advises that some bridges over side gorges are not yet in place, and I had a steep scramble across one of these. But more importantly, I found the marking of the trails confusing. Several times, I came to a point where a sharp turn needed to be made, but saw no obvious markers showing where the trail went next. Other times, a marker seemed to just be on the wrong tree, hinting at a direction change that wasn't really intended. The color scheme of the trails may also need to be refined, or at the very least, a better map produced. Otherwise, people are likely to be getting temporarily misplaced in here.

It was an interesting outing, about 2 miles altogether. The trails are new, and bugs like the above will surely be worked out. Meanwhile, it's just nice to have yet another place to go without driving very far.

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