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 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 email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
Current Trail Condition: May 2019
This time of year, spring ephemeral plants are beginning to bloom across the landscape. Plants like these are triggered to begin growing at the first indication of warmer weather and prolonged daylight. You’ll find trout lily, trillium, rue anemone, bloodroot, and marsh marigold at varying stages of growth all across our streambed and woodland preserves. Come warmer weather as the tree canopy high above closes in and the sunlight is less available, their roots continue to grow and live underground for many years to come.
As vegetation starts to fill in from top to bottom across MHLC preserves, it will not be uncommon you to see our volunteer and staff work crews out on the trails weed-whacking, mowing, and removing downed trees. If you see us out on the trails, please say hello!
Construction on the bridge along Cranes Hollow Road has created a detour for the Strawberry Fields Nature Preserve – please follow the signs for the exact route. The preserve will remain open as usual.
Muddy trails are still common at higher elevations in the Helderberg Escarpment. Preserves like Bennett Hill, Holt, Keleher, and Wolf Creek Falls will still have stretches of mud and water. As mud season continues until mid-May, please practice Leave No Trace principles as you hike and wear durable shoes to walk through the mud.
Mosher Marsh: Much of this trail is wet with standing water due to beaver activity. As the beavers continue to the damn the creek, water levels rise and our bog bridges and boardwalks do not provide the same reprieve from wet feet that they used to. Wear your galoshes if continuing on after this point.
Current Trail Conditions: April 2019
In our area, mud season occurs from mid-March until mid-May. As the ground thaws from the top down, snow and ice melt on the surface while the layers below are still frozen and impermeable – thus mud, and lot of it. In order to protect the fragile soil tread of our trails, it is always our goal to have hikers minimize their impact during mud season. If you are hiking this spring, it is incredibly important that you walk through mud instead of around it to prevent trail erosion and the expansion of muddy areas. Muddy boots are a symbol of pride! We at MHLC encourage you to wear them proudly.
Preserves with clay soils and steep slopes like Bennett Hill, Van Dyke, Bozen Kill, and Normans Kill West will be slicker, muddier, and more challenging during this season. Shadier preserves like Keleher, Ashford Glen, and Holt, or trails with harder surfaces like the Albany County Helderberg Hudson Rail Trail are a great alternative.
Recent high winds have created widow makers (hanging, detached tree limbs) and blowdown, please use caution, look up and around, and report blowdown to email@example.com