Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Walk/Hike - John Boyd Thacher State Park

Today was warmer than yesterday by just a bit, but it was still pretty windy.  So instead of getting out the bike and cursing the wind, I chose to do some more local exploring on foot.  John Boyd Thacher State Park, atop the Helderberg Escarpment in nearby Altamont, has some relatively new trails at the northern end of the park that I haven't fully explored.  There are several viewpoints marked on the trail map, so I set out to visit them all.

J. B. Thacher Park North hiking trails.  My route is highlighted.
The first view was just north of the hang glider takeoff ramp, so I continued on to the more open view there.  This is marked as the easternmost star on the above map.  It was a very clear day, and views ranged far and wide.

Panorama from hang glider ramp.  High Point Cliff is at the left, and I'd be heading there next.
But buried in those distant views were some more interesting closeups using  some amount of camera zoom.

Albany skyline

Village of Altamont

Altamont Fairgrounds
The only wildflower I saw in bloom today, and they were all struggling to open, was hepatica, scattered here and there in small clumps.

Hepatica was the only flower in bloom today
Continuing along the escarpment northbound to High Point Cliff, the views there were similar, but with more craggy rocks and cliffs in the foreground.
View from High Point Cliff
In the distance, I could see the other two viewpoints I'd just visited.  The big grassy area is the hang glider ramp, and the rock to its right the other view.

The first two viewpoints, with the hang glider ramp at the left
Heading back to the car, I found that my map was out of date and didn't match the trail signs at some of the intersections.  I was navigating by the sun and the terrain at this point and got a bit turned around, but eventually made it back to the car.  I downloaded a newer map when I got home, and will use it next time I come here.  It's a nice place to get some high-elevation views less than an hour from home, and these northern trails will certainly be less crowded than the drive-in part of the park.

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