Current Trail Conditions and Notable Finds on Your Favorite MHLC Preserves
Before you set out on the trails, check this page for the latest news regarding the conditions at MHLC preserves, as well as trail highlights, hiking tips, and local wildlife notes and sightings! If you’re a regular visitor, we recommend bookmarking this page.
If you have a trail update to report, or would like to volunteer to help make these improvements happen, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Current Trail Condition: Week of November 4, 2019
Autumn foliage has burned bright and fallen, and the spooky winds of Halloween have swept the leaves on the trail. Now is arguably one of the best times to enjoy our preserves – with leaves off the trees revealing great views and cool weather conditions for recreating.
While you are out enjoying the preserves, please be wary as leaves on the trail can hide stumps, divots, and other trip-hazards, and can be incredibly slippery when wet. Additionally, it is always a good idea to let people know when you are going out, check trail markers, and recreate out in daylight hours to avoid getting lost or encountering potential hunters.
Just as a reminder from last month’s trail update, most MHLC Preserves do not allow hunting, though some preserves have existing hunting rights from previous ownership; MHLC has provided orange vests at the kiosks of these preserves for visitors. We recommend hikers in any natural areas to wear blaze orange or pink as a precaution through the month of December. Should you have any concerns, please email email@example.com.
Lastly, ticks are currently finishing their fall feeding! Ticks are most active roughly twice a year, and this time of year they are trying to get in one last meal before the big freeze. Be sure to regularly check yourself for ticks. Trails are in fair condition with minimal wet and muddy areas, so stay on the trail to avoid brushy, shaded areas that ticks favor.
Current Trail Condition: Week of October 1, 2019
Believe it or not, autumn is here! With our stewardship and summer seasons winding down, Trail Updates will now be occurring monthly. But just because the updates are slowing down, it doesn’t mean the excitement has slowed! There is still a bevy of activity around MHLC Preserves and the Capital Region this time of year. The fall is an incredible time to hike our preserves – trails are generally in favorable and dry condition, leaves have vibrant color, and those leaves are also falling to reveal more views of the Capital Region landscape.
October 1st is the beginning of deer hunting season in the Capital Region. This season, MHLC has updated our kiosk signage to recommend hikers in any natural areas to wear blaze orange or pink as a precaution through the month of December. While most MHLC Preserves do not allow hunting, some preserves have existing hunting rights from previous ownership – MHLC has provided orange vests at these preserve kiosks for visitors. Please contact MHLC with any concerns.
Regardless of where you recreate this fall, we recommend staying on trails, wearing blaze orange, and visiting in full daylight hours. Let someone know where you are going to keep in good safety practice, or better yet, bring them with you out on the trails to enjoy all fall provides! Again, please contact Stewardship Coordinator, Kent (firstname.lastname@example.org) with any concerns. Thanks!
Current Trail Condition: Week of August 26, 2019
Throughout the summer, keep an eye out for turtles out on the trails or roads. Box turtles, the eastern painted turtle, and snapping turtles are commonly found in our area. Unfortunately, many interactions with these species happen on roads during the summer.
When you see a turtle in or traveling onto a road, first make sure you can safely park and navigate the traffic around you before helping! Be sure to help the turtle in the direction the turtle is going. Turtles have an incredible compass and instinctively navigate the contours of the landscape. (Some sea turtles even use the stars to help them travel!) If the turtle is moved in a different direction, it will likely continue back on its course of travel—which could mean going right back onto the road.
Most of the road activity for these turtles happens in early June when they are laying eggs in the exposed dirt and sunny areas where they prefer to nest. This is the time of year when baby turtles emerge! Because turtles are such a long-lived species, reaching sexually maturity decades into their life, it is important to drive carefully, help when safe, and make sure to give these babies the best start to their life.
Trails remain in favorable condition, but there may be spots where water, mud, or other issues persist. Please be aware of trail reroutes, new trail sections, and trail features such as bridges or stone steps at Holt, Van Dyke, Keleher, and Bozen Kill. We are currently updating our mapping to reflect these changes!
Please contact email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org with any concerns.
Current Trail Condition: Week of August 5, 2019
One of my favorite parts of late summer is the great food – fresh produce in season and available. However, this extends beyond harvests at your local farmer’s market or CSA, with treats on the trail too! Be on the lookout for a variety of familiar berries this time of year.
Raspberries, black raspberries, and blackberries can be found in thorny stalks extending from 2 to 5 feet high. Some varieties grow their berries earlier, later, or twice a season, including those found out in the wild. They commonly grow in bright, open, and cleared or disturbed areas. Make sure you can identify other plants that thrive in disturbed areas like poison ivy and wild parsnip before you harvest!
Blueberries, America’s native berry, are often lumped generally into high bush and low bush varieties. The high bush variety is more shrub-like, with a larger berry, and the low bush type is smaller in size and low to the ground. Out on trails, low bush are a more common find. These ‘wild’ blueberries are most commonly found in acidic, barren, or mountain top areas. Make sure you can clearly identify what you are picking – there are often other plants found near blueberries that have blue colored berries that should not be eaten! Look carefully, and know plants such as juniper, blue bead lily, and others in these areas.
When you go to harvest these berries, please maintain good trail etiquette by staying on established paths, leaving the plants fully intact, and not disturbing the local area. Large impacts and disruptions are unsightly, can disturb trails’ function, and encourage the spread of invasive species. Being a courteous trail user can ensure the continued use and healthy lives of these plants and areas.
Again, please be aware that there have been trail reroutes or trail additions at Holt, Van Dyke, and Bozen Kill – this includes new trails made or features such as bridges or stone steps put in. We are currently updating trail maps to reflect these changes. Additionally, the majority of our trails are in favorable condition, but there may be sections where water, mud, and other conditions persist. If there are any immediate issues that need attention, (such as downed trees or other occurrences) please let us know at email@example.com!
Current Trail Condition: Week of July 15, 2019
Summer is flying by, and the MHLC Stewardship Team can’t believe we are already in the second half of the season! July and August will have countdowns to school starting, more long and hot days, and plenty of activity outside. The Stewardship Team has been hard at work with a variety of excellent projects, work days, and events taking place across Albany, Schenectady, and Montgomery Counties.
Please be aware that there have been trail reroutes or trail additions at Holt, Van Dyke, Bozen Kill – this includes new trails made or features such as bridges or stone steps. We are currently updating trail maps to reflect these changes. We will put more trail construction projects on your radar as our summer work days continue!
At this point, the majority of our trails have dried significantly, but there may still be mud, water, or other features that persist. Regardless, there remains a lot to be aware of while hiking, recreating, and enjoying our preserves. Hiking, trails, and preserves can come with a lot of concerns and preconceived notions. However, some simple tips can ensure that everyone, regardless of experience level, can enjoy the outdoors fully!
Knowing where you’re going, how long it will take, and what kind of experience you will have is key to both the safety and enjoyment of trails. Understanding terrain, trail condition, and elevation can help ensure a good match for your abilities and expectations. Wearing durable, thicker socks, sturdy footwear, and using hiking poles can support your hiking experience greatly. However, not all trails require specialized and/or expensive equipment and can be explored in a very reasonable amount of time. Reading trail information, and gauging one’s own ability is the best place to start! A safe rule of thumb is one mile usually takes AT LEAST 30 minutes to walk.
Bringing a map and note the landmarks and changes it shows! This will provide security that you are on the right path. Staying on the trail also helps the user avoid ticks (who prefer brushy, dense areas) and hazardous plants (often found in disturbed, unmaintained spots). Keeping a keen eye can also provide great experiences in seeing wildlife, plants, and other notable features that may be passed by!
Eat, drink, and bring a friend!
Drinking plenty of water has enormous health benefits and will keep you feeling fit and focused out on the trail! Bringing snacks is also crucial. Take frequent breaks, and be sure to have fun! Having a cell phone and a friend is excellent for emergency contact, but also for laughter, enjoyment, motivation, and plenty of pictures. We at MHLC love to see excellent pictures from our preserves and experiences had, so feel free to contact Kent (firstname.lastname@example.org) with those images or other concerns.
Current Trail Condition: Week of July 1, 2019
Your stewardship team has been crossing all their fingers for less rain, and hope it’s paying off! With good weather and a variety of work at mud and water mitigation (bridges, water bars, stone crossings, and more!), we are hopeful that those wet spots can dry out! As a reminder, mud and wet spots may still be at Holt, Van Dyke, Bozenkill, Keheler, and other preserves. Thanks for your patience after a historically wet spring, and please walk straight through muddy spots so trails don’t widen further!
An important plant to keep an eye out for on our preserves is Wild Parsnip (Pastinaca sativa). This plant can cause an intense rash and blistering upon contact with its sap. Wild Parsnip has unfortunately been spotted on some of our preserves, such as Wolf Creek, Mosher Marsh, and Bozen Kill. The sap causes a chemical burn by making the skin more sensitive to sunlight, a condition called phytophotodermatitis. In other words, it is “an inflammation (-itis) of the skin (derm) caused by a plant (phyto) with the help of sunlight (photo)” (Quote courtesy Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources).
Wild Parsnip is often out in fields and other more disturbed areas, such as roadsides and edges of mowed areas. As it is currently flowering it should be much easier to spot (and stay away from)! It has a loose compound of yellow flower stalks called an umbel – which can look like the inside of an umbrella or a chandelier. The stem is hollow with vertical grooves running the full length. Please stay on trails, wear appropriate clothing, and respect all flora and fauna! The breaking of the Wild Parsnip, and consequent contact with its sap is more serious than just rubbing against the plant, which usually only causes minor irritation.
We are currently working on management of the Wild Parsnip and other invasive species! Please reach out to email@example.com for other questions or concerns, and check out definitive resources such as the New York Department of Environmental Conservation website, for more information on Wild Parsnip and related noxious members of the carrot family Apiaceae.
Current Trail Condition: Week of June 17, 2019
While summer is heating up and school soon gets out, wet and muddy conditions persist at Bozen Kill, Van Dyke, parts of Holt, and other areas. Please be sure to walk through the mud to prevent further widening of trails and wear appropriate clothing for slips and safety!
With school soon out, there is tons of time for vacations, camps, and family time outside. In that time, one of the largest rising concerns in simply being outdoors is ticks and tick-borne illness. Fortunately, there are some simple habits to encourage to prevent tick interactions and ensure everyone’s enjoyment outside.
Ticks like brushy, shady areas, so stay on trails! Steering clear of brushy grasses, loads of leaf litter, and staying on sunny open paths can help cut down on interactions with ticks. Regularly and consistently checking for ticks is the best method of prevention. Perform a tick check multiple times after going out into the field, checking waistlines, collars, armpits, hairline, and otherwise. Promptly showering or washing clothes gives an extra chance to check, and additionally, hot water and a dryer can wash off or kill ticks that may be on clothes or the body.
Other preventative measures include applying permethrin to clothing. Folks at the MHLC office have used this product on designated ‘field gear’ like pants and boots. The preventative effects of permethrin can last for multiple washes, hence designating ‘field pants’ or ‘field boots’. However, dogs and cats may be susceptible to permethrin, so be sure to follow proper instructions for use. Additionally, permethrin is highly toxic to fish, salamanders, and other moisture-loving friends – so again, it should only be used with the proper direction found on the product.
There are many more tips to limit exposure to ticks when out on the trails. Be proactive and informed, check reliable sources for further preventative care, and have fun outside this summer!
Current Trail Condition: Week of June 3, 2019
Summer continues to ramp up, with the trees, forests, and trails of MHLC Preserves getting lush with green! As we kick off our Stewardship field season, we would like to welcome Kent Harlow, Alec Betancourt, and Bob Frederick to the Stewardship Team. From routine maintenance to helping lead work days, if you see them on our preserves be sure to say hello!
Keep an ear and eye out for weed whackers, brush hogs, and groups of volunteers that may be on the trail–give them appropriate space if power equipment is in use! If you see folks using power equipment, wave and get their attention from a safe distance if you need to flag them down or pass them on the trail. Please report any standing snags (dead trees that are standing or are at risk of falling over) or other immediate care needed as the Stewardship Team makes the first rounds on our preserves! You can reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
As the summer continues, some trails have been drying up – though some spots may look muddy with a bare and brown appearance. Remember, walk straight through muddy areas to prevent trampling vegetation on the sides and expanding the muddy area further. Wet and muddy conditions do remain at the Bozenkill, Van Dyke, and Lower Holt trails.
Lastly, if you are going to Strawberry Fields Preserve, there is still a detour with the bridge construction along Cranes Hollow Road. However, the detour may not be fully marked with signs. To follow the detour, continue west on Rt 5 to the next right, Truax Road. Go up the hill about a mile and make a right on Waterstreet Road. At the T-junction, turn right on McQuade Road (no street sign). Follow to the end, down the steep hill, and turn right at the bottom on Cranes Hollow Road. You can enter Strawberry Fields around the corner on left. Your GPS can be very helpful for this task!
Current Trail Condition: Week of May 20, 2019
As the weather continues to warm, a variety of species in our waters and lands start to emerge. Trilliums, ferns, and other plant species begin to sprout, as well as amphibians making their crawl and call in vernal pools. This evidence of phenology – a fancy way to say the understanding of cyclic and seasonal timing in nature – is everywhere! Sure signs of spring abound, from MHLC volunteers out on the trails to mud on boots. Please remember, walk straight through muddy areas when you encounter them! Going around these muddy spots can trample emerging vegetation and extend the area of mud further.
With high levels of rain recently, preserves such as Bozenkill, Van Dyke, Bennett Hill, and Lower Holt, remain wet and muddy. Please wear appropriate boots and hiking equipment if you are choosing a hike in these more difficult conditions (and go right through those mud puddles!). Keleher, Winn Preserve, Wolf Creek Falls Preserve, or the Rail Trail remain viable alternatives with a sturdier and more secure footing.
As you go out and enjoy the trails this spring, please be aware of more active and emergent tick populations. The key weapons in fighting ticks and tick-carried illnesses are knowledge and diligence! Check yourself for ticks regularly, inspecting crevasses and hard to reach or see places. Being proactive on regular tick checks, in wearing appropriate clothing, and taking precautions such as staying on trails can help prevent interacting with these notorious arachnids.