DELMAR — Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy will be offering 11 guided outings showcasing nine different Capital District areas protected by the organization on Saturday, July 22, during its third annual Summer Hike-a-thon, a special event also celebrating MHLC’s 25th year.
The outings will be led by naturalists and experts versed in the history, flora, and fauna of each trail. This year’s event goes beyond hiking to include other recreational opportunities such as cycling, mountain biking, yoga, treasure hunting, and more. All activities are located within the Capital District, three of which will be different hike/bike events on the Albany County Helderberg-Hudson Rail Trail, including a wheelchair-accessible hike along the paved trail.
“We are thrilled to highlight these preserves for the Summer Hike-a-thon,” said MHLC Executive Director Mark King. “The nine locations which we have chosen represent a sampling of our 18 public preserves covering 2,500 acres that are located across the Capital Region. Last year, these preserves hosted over 15,000 visitors, with many people returning again and again for a rewarding nature experience. Visitors can enjoy outdoor recreation such as hiking and trail running, and many also enjoy painting, photography, reflection, and birding in our preserves.”
The Summer Hike-a-thon provides unique, guided opportunities to learn more about the preserves: frequent users of these trails will be able to gain insider information about their favorite spots from MHLC staff and volunteers, and those visiting the preserves for the first time can discover new hiking spots across the Capital Region.
The event is free, but donations are welcome, and is open to the public. Free t-shirts will be given to the first 100 hikers. To sign up, visit mohawkhudson.org.
Most hikers will meet at 9:30 a.m. in the municipal parking lot at 125 Adams Street in Delmar, which is located directly behind the Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy’s main office. At that time, participants will receive their t-shirts and carpool to their respective hike locations. Detailed instructions will be provided upon registration. Outings this year range from easy to moderate in difficulty. Below is a comprehensive list of hike options.
The following hikes take place on the Albany County Helderberg-Hudson Rail Trail in Delmar:
Botany and History Accessible Hike
This wheelchair accessible, flat course is on the railroad bed of the original Delaware and Hudson railroad line which brought travelers into Albany in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. We will explore the botany and history of the trail with Miles Garfinkel, local science teacher and Friends of the Rail Trail volunteer. Starts at 10 a.m. at Adams Street and Hudson Avenue, Delmar, heading westbound; Distance: 0.25 miles round trip; Difficulty: Easy)
Fun Ride (Bikes, skates, boards & more)
The Albany County Helderberg-Hudson Rail Trail has become a popular venue for walking, jogging, bicycling, and more. Bring your favorite set of wheels and helmet and join your community for a family fun ride where you set your own distance and pace. This fun ride will start at 11 a.m. and includes coupons for the whole family for free ice cream cones at Stewart’s Shops (while supplies last).
Starting point: Adams Street and Hudson Avenue, Delmar, heading eastbound; Distance: You decide; Difficulty: Easy, wheelchair accessible)
This guided Bike-Hike will encompass the entire length of the Rail Trail, officially stopping at the end of the pavement, and providing the opportunity for participants (with appropriate bikes and tires) to continue to the Voorheesville Pavilion. The pavement ends at the Slingerlands parking lot (a five-mile ride), and the Pavilion is at nine miles. (In future months, as Albany County continues to pave the Rail Trail, the actual length of the official ride will be somewhere between five and nine miles.) There will be numerous stops to learn about the history and structure of the Rail Trail and riders are invited to explore the many sights along the trail as they return to South Pearl Street. This Bike-Hike is appropriate for ages 16+. Starts at 9:30 a.m; at the Downtown Albany trail head (722 S. Pearl Street, Albany, NY); Distance: 10+ miles round trip; Difficulty: Moderate)
Other hikes include:
Bennett Hill Preserve, Clarksville
One of MHLC’s most popular preserves, Bennett Hill offers moderately challenging trails with mostly steep hills. A guide will speak about the history of this trail, which offers views of the Helderbergs from its summit and beautiful wildflowers along the trail. Trekking poles and hiking boots recommended. Starts at 10 a.m. Bennett Hill Road, Clarksville; Distance: 2.77 miles round trip; Difficulty: Moderate
Bozen Kill Preserve, Altamont
This self-guided hike is great for kids of all ages! Pick up your Bozen Kill Treasure Map at the kiosk and head off to explore the fields, forests, and streams of this beautiful preserve at your own pace. From 10 a.m. to noon, hikers are invited to explore the preserve. Along the way, interact with Preserve Docents who will share preserve “treasures” with you while you complete the activities listed on your treasure map. Complete the map and return to the kiosk to receive your prize. Starts at 10 a.m. at Westfall Road, Altamont; Distance: 1.5 miles; Difficulty: Easy)
Huyck Preserve, Rensselaerville
The Huyck Preserve and Biological Research Station is a non-profit partner of MHLC. Located in the hamlet of Rensselaerville, the Huyck Preserve has been connecting people to nature for more than 80 years. Enjoy a guided wildlife hike on a portion of the 12 miles of trails which ramble through 2,000 acres of forest, field, and wetlands, and past the 120+ ft. Rensselaerville Falls.
After your hike, stay for the afternoon and enjoy Lake Myosotis, which is open to the public for kayaking and canoeing as well as fishing.
Starts at 10 a.m. at 5052 Delaware Turnpike; Rensselaerville; Distance: 2 miles; Difficulty: Easy)
Keleher Preserve Voorheesville
Join mountain bikers from across the Capital Region to explore the Conservancy’s first preserve open to mountain biking. The varied terrain, perfect for all riders, offers something for everyone. From 10 a.m. until 11 a.m., advanced bikers can enjoy the loop at a faster pace. Casual bikers are invited to begin at 11 a.m.
Starting point for both rides is Gulf Hill Road, Voorheesville; Distance: 4 miles of trails; Difficulty: Moderate)
Normans Kill West Preserve, Delmar
Dave Muska of Ondatra Adventures will lead a family-friendly workshop in Wilderness Crafts at the Normanskill West Preserve in Delmar. In this class, make a small melon basket from local and wild-harvested vines, learn the art of making cordage from natural fibers, and how to make stone necklaces. Hear stories, learn natural history, and have fun outdoors.
Starting time: 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.; Starting point: Normanskill Boulevard, Delmar; Distance: 1 mile round trip; Difficulty: Easy)
Swift Preserve, Delmar
This hike is great for children. Explore a wetland with a guide who will talk about the indigenous animals who make this site their home, and how their bodies have adapted to thrive in a wet, wild environment! Waterproof footwear recommended.
Starts at 10:30 a.m.; t the end of Evelyn Drive, Delmar; Distance: 1 mile round trip; Difficulty: Easy)
Van Dyke Preserve, Delmar
This Watercolor Plein Air Painting Workshop with art educator Kevin Kuhne will take place along the Phillipin Kill stream. This session includes a short hike, demonstration and individual sketching and watercolor with instruction and critique. Any level of experience is welcome, but some basic, previous use of watercolor is needed. The workshop will focus on design and composition in a woodland interior, making a value plan in your sketchbook, basic watercolor techniques, and executing one or two small watercolor sketches. The four-hour workshop will include a 30-minute break for lunch.
Participants are required to supply and carry their own folding chair or stool, backpack, portable easel, painting supplies and a bag lunch. A more formal supply list will be emailed upon registration. Limited to 10 participants. Register at mohawkhudson.org.
Starts at 10 a.m.; on Van Dyke Road, Delmar; Distance: 1 mile round trip; Difficulty: Easy)