Friday, April 6, 2012

Hiking - Plotterkill Preserve

Today was a very nice sunny day in the 50s, a perfect day to get outside.  I joined some friends from the Schenectady Wintersports Club on a hike in the nearby Plotterkill Preserve, a Schenectady County property with miles of trails, a deep gorge, and many waterfalls.

We mostly hiked the red trail clockwise from the parking area at lower left, with a steep shortcut at the end.
We hiked along the north rim of the gorge to the northeast end of the preserve, and crossed the stream near the New York State Thruway.  Finding a lunch log with seating for a party of 8 was somewhat challenging, but we found one shortly after the stream crossing.  After lunch, and before taking on the biggest climb of the day, up to the south rim from the stream, we paused beside one of my favorite cascades here.

Cascades near our lunch log
On the long climb now up to the south rim, we found many red trillium ready to burst forth, and even a few already in bloom.  At the top of the climb, we found this hepatica blooming beside the trail.

Hepatica, an early harbinger of spring
Winding our way along the south rim, we reached a point where we could take a shortcut to the blue trail on the south rim near our cars, so opted for that route instead of recrossing the stream and returning on the longer red trail the way we'd come.  The newly marked orange trail (not on the above map) climbed steeply at first, but then levelled off before joining the blue trail near an overlook of one of the larger waterfalls here.  From here it was a short distance back to the cars, and an ice cream stop on the way home after about 6 miles on the trail.

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