TROY — An annual alternative transportation festival, the Collar City Ramble, returns to Troy Saturday, Sept. 24 with a full day of tours and events. This year’s theme is urban trails.
“Most people think of trails being in a park or forest, in nature, and we have those trails in cities as well, but an urban trail is a route that takes you from where you live to where you work or play or shop,” said Karl Beard, upstate project director for the National Park Service’s Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance (RTCA) program in New York state. “An urban trail is just like a trail in the woods — it’s marked and shows you where to go — but it may start closer to home than a trail that you have to drive to. These trails can be transportation routes or recreation routes. They can also be storytelling trails that may highlight things of particular interest — stories of our neighborhoods, our waterfront.”
The RTCA program works to provide National Parks Service resources and expertise to communities throughout America. Transport Troy, organizers of the Collar City Ramble, requested assistance from RTCA to help them articulate a vision for a citywide system of interlock trails and complete streets.
“We are especially interested in bringing the health, environment and economic benefits of trails to places where most people live,” Beard said. “People shouldn’t have to drive to a state park or national park to derive these kinds of benefits. They should have access to them in their own neighborhoods.”
Organizers of the Collar City Ramble festival encourage people of all ages to explore Troy’s urban trails by foot, bicycle, wheelchair, kayak, or any number of other means of getting around in this celebration of people moving under their own power.
The day is filled with walking and biking group tours, self-guided tours, kayak rides, bike safety classes and a geocaching expedition. Even life-long residents of Troy may discover places they’ve never seen in their own city. Events are free unless otherwise indicated.
“This year’s Ramble is most inline with the goals of Transport Troy and the City of Troy in terms of offering as many different opportunities for alternative transportation as possible. Whether you’re walking or biking, whether you are a citizen with disabilities or are really engaged in water sports like kayaking, there are opportunities for all of those elements,” said Will Malcolm, food access manager for Capital Roots and Transport Troy co-chairperson. “That’s really what we have been working toward, as an organization and as a city.”
Several varieties of urban trails star in this year’s Ramble, from the wild hiking trails of South Troy’s Burden Pond Environmental Park which will include a pre hike historical talk by Michael Barrett director of the Burden Ironworks Gateway Museum, to The Uncle Sam Bikeway, a three mile paved bike-hike trail in the North Central and Lansingburgh neighborhoods, to the “water trail” on the Hudson River below the Troy Federal Lock and Dam, to the natural and landscaped trails in Frear Park. Each trail provides a different experience, but all are located within the context of the city.
Bikeway Trail Wants You
The Uncle Sam Bikeway trail will be a big focus of this year’s Ramble activities.
“Most cities are knocking themselves out to get a trail as good as this one within their city limits,” Beard said. “We are working to make tangible on-the-ground improvements to the Uncle Sam trail and trying to find ways to get people more actively using it, maintaining it and making it better known.”
Accessible and kid friendly events include a historical tour of the trail with Historian Kathy Sheehan of the Rensselaer County Historical Society and a nature walk with Erica Schwabach from Five Rivers Environmental Education Center. Additionally, Troy-based Marquise Productions, a Montreal-trained circus, will perform four numbers along the Uncle Sam Bikeway trail throughout the day — with circus artists doing animation/ambient work to create an atmosphere in between shows.
Perhaps one of the most familiar and yet least used urban trail in Troy is the Hudson River.
Ramblers can bring their own kayaks or canoes to the Ingalls Avenue boat launch just below the Troy Federal Dam and Lock, or rent on-site from Upstate Kayak Rentals. There will be guided one-mile and three-mile paddles for beginners and intermediate paddlers. There will be a few free kayaks available for early bird attendees.
“Most people don’t see Troy from the river,” said Pam Bentien, Collar City Ramble water trail coordinator. “One thing I’ve noticed about kayaking and boating is that it gives you a whole new perspective of the landscape. Kayaking in particular is suited for this kind of exploration because you get to poke into places that larger boats can’t get to. You get a duck’s eye view of the world.”
The Hudson River Water Trail Association will have a representative at the Ramble information booth during the Troy Waterfront Farmers Market. The Collar City Ramble will be promoting Troy as a gateway to the Hudson River Water Trail.
CDTA Bus Service
This year, the Collar City Ramble continues its partnership with CDTA, which will provide free shuttle service every 15 minutes between Ramble locations, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., doing a complete loop of all major points that have scheduled activities.
The shuttle loop will head north to the Ingalls Avenue boat launch, then east to the Uncle Sam Bikeway, then south the Burden Ironworks Gateway Museum and back north all day long so that that Ramblers can get on and off at any point of interest. At 11:15 a.m. there will be a special bus to take Ramblers to hiking opportunities in Frear Park.
In addition to a 30-foot CDTA shuttle, which has wheelchair access, there will be an additional STAR bus for those with special needs, ensuring that everyone who wants to ramble will have the ability to do so.
“The Independent Living Center of the Hudson Valley is excited to be part of this community event because it recognizes that people with disabilities are an integral part of the community and want to enjoy everything there is to offer in Troy,” said Denise A. Figueroa, executive director of the Independent Living Center of the Hudson Valley located in Troy. “This event encourages everyone to participate by walking, rolling, hiking, cycling and kayaking.”
The center advised the committee on accessibility needs and although not all parts of the Ramble will be accessible, people with mobility impairments will be able to participate in many of the events.
“Our overall goal at the Center is to ensure that people with disabilities are included and can fully participate in all aspects of the community,” Figueroa said. “The Collar City Ramble is just one of many ways to make that a reality.”
The Collar City Ramble is one of the events of the Hudson River Valley Ramble and can be found in their listings. The Albany Bicycle Coalition has created a Bike Your Park (Adventure Cycling Association) event and will be riding from Albany to participate in the cycling portions of the Ramble. CDTA will be providing shuttle service from the Farmers’ Market to the outlying sites.
Or for a full event schedule of events and locations, visit: www.collarcityramble.com.
— Duncan Crary