By Dan Driscoll
A new half-mile long trail (the easternmost White Trail) was completed at the Hudson and Nancy
Winn Preserve in 2015. This remarkable trail runs along the edge of the Helderberg Escarpment with occasional views to the north, and many other interesting features. The trail was built by Boy Scout Earl Barcomb and his family and friends as his Eagle Scout project. To hear a short explanation of the land donation that permitted construction of the trail, and the purpose of an Eagle Scout project, scan the Quick Response (QR) Code to the right.
By the way, there are QR Codes at ten points throughout the Preserve; each describes important nearby features. If you are not able to scan a QR Code, you can download the text from the MHLC website to carry with you as you hike the Preserve.
Until the Eagle Scout Trail was built, the only place walking fern (Asplenium rhizophyllum) had been found on the Preserve was along the Red Trail (listen to QR-7). Walking fern is a unique fern. It can reproduce by means of spores like other ferns, but each frond has a long tapering tip, like a spear point, which can take root when it touches a suitable spot. You will find more walking fern along the new trail, directly above the Red Trail.
A few hundred feet farther east of the walking fern is an area directly above a continually flowing spring at the base of the talus slope. The Eagle Scout Trail goes through extensive areas of deeply creviced limestone (karst terrain); weakly acidic water creates the crevices by slowly dissolving the limestone over time. Rainwater flowing into the crevices is a source of the spring’s water.
Over thousands of years, limestone blocks along the edge of the Escarpment have separated from the rock wall (along the crevices) and tumbled down the talus slope. You will see some limestone blocks that have separated but have not fallen yet.
Since the land along the new trail is fully wooded, there are only a few spots where you have an unobstructed view to the north. On a clear day you can see the Adirondack Mountains in the distance. Directly below is the hamlet of Township on Route 146 at its intersection with Middle and Street Roads. Street Road, the road furthest to the left, leads to the Winn Preserve parking area. Just before turning onto Street Road, on the north side of Route 146, is the Township Tavern, a good place to stop for dinner on your way home from the Preserve.