Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Hiking - A short walk in the Plotterkill Preserve

After getting in some yard work this morning, and with winds gusting in the 30s, I decided against biking today, and instead went for a short walk in the Plotterkill Preserve, west of Schenectady.  A week or so ago, Ed Atkeson posted an interesting loop on his Hiking the Plotterkill blog, a new possibility since the opening of an additional trailhead on Lower Gregg Road. 

This new trailhead allows easy access to the lower end of the Preserve, a big plus for rescuers, but also makes possible a short hike to some nice cascades and falls a long way from the other trailheads.  I was the only one here today, but there's room for 4-5 cars.

The new loop follows the new trail to the North Rim, where it picks up the existing red trail.  Turning downstream toward the Thruway and descending to cross the Plotterkill, a junction with a yellow trail is reached at the point where the red trail begins to ascend to the South Rim.  Following the yellow trail through some recent blowdowns, a nice cascade is reached in just a few minutes.  The yellow trail ends here.

From here, the loop follows the stream, and quite easily today because of very low water.  Just above this initial cascade is Jacob's Ladder Falls, with many small steps over the layers of rock.

Continuing up the stream bed, and crossing back and forth when necessary,  a series of 3 smaller cascades, Step Falls, is reached.

From here, some careful searching and terrain awareness reveals another yellow trail leading back up to the North Rim and the red trail. I had to search a little for the bottom end of this one, but it was clear once I found it.  Turning right and reaching the junction with the new trail from Lower Gregg Road, I was back to the car in less than an hour, and about two miles, from when I started.

This is a great short getaway when there isn't time for a longer walk here, and these lower cascades are some of my favorites.  Thanks, Ed!


  1. Hi Rich, thanks for the link. You seem to have a good idea of where "Jacob's Ladder" ends and "Step Falls" begins. That's always been confusing to me. I've been thinking that Jacobs Ladder was the whole series of 5 or 6 little cascades.

  2. Ed, honestly, I've never heard these places named before reading about them in your blog, so I'm sure you know better than I. Calling all 5-6 cascades "Jacob's Ladder" makes as much sense, or more, to me than just the one with all the tiny ledges in my picture. Is there any historical precedent for these names documented anywhere? You mentioned the County guy, and the now missing signs, but is there more? What did Steinmetz call them, for instance? Or Almy? THAT would be interesting!

  3. I would love to have met Almy Coggeshall. There must be someone who really knows the preserve and names of things, but so far I haven't met him or her. I'll let you know if I do.

    1. That's funny - I'd been thinking maybe it was you! :)

    2. And I was thinking, Rich seems to know!

  4. Nah, I'm definitely fakin' it.