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August 15, 2012: I didn’t have an epiphany but I was there for the light show. I’ve been hiking – the waterfall loop, down to Sergeant’s Falls, to the “Ems.” Here’s a little loop that I like that goes up the Rynex gorge, checks out Fairy Staircase Falls, then up the hill to the yellow Highland trail and back around. (as shown on the route map, 1.75 miles, a little over an hour)
*** There has been some rain but it’s mostly soaking in, not going over the falls. What else… I forgot my boots the other day and found that you can tramp the waterfall loop just fine in crocs.
*** I’ve recently come upon an article from 2008 in the Schenectady Gazette that has some insights into the preserve. Written by Bill Buell, it has quotes and stories from Almy Coggeshall, history of the preserve development, etc. A great find, thanks to the Gazette for making it available. —Ed
July 8, 2012: I’m learning about the Long Path. According to Schenectady County planner Steve Feeney, one of the benefits of the new trailhead at Lower Gregg Road is that the Long Path can now be routed through the Plotter Kill Preserve.
***The Long Path dates from the 30s and goes from the George Washington Bridge in New Jersey to the Mohawk River. 347 miles long, it strings together various parks and preserves in New York. Loosely defined, and still a work in progress, it will eventually meander from NYC to the ’Dacks.
***For decades the Long Path has bypassed the Plotter Kill just to the west on Gregg Road. The preserve couldn’t be connected because it had no northern outlet. The new Gregg Road trailhead provides northern access, so the Long Path will be re-routed to include 2.5 miles of Plotter Kill Preserve red trail. We may be seeing some LP blazes at the PKP, maybe even some through-hikers. —Ed
July 6, 2012: At the PKP, a waterfall is a sometime thing. Here is the Upper Falls – spring flow compared with summer flow. The picture on the right, taken today, shows the falls dry except for a tiny trickle. —Ed
June 27, 2012: The longest loop at the PKP is 5.5 miles, took me about three hours, not hurrying. It includes the highest point and the lowest point, and goes into the ravine twice, so plenty of vertical.
***The Highland Trail is combined with the Red Trail, the outermost route. You can get back to the trailhead using the orange and blue trails or cross the stream and come back on the Red.
***It’s been dry, so there’s not much mud except for the places where there is always mud, and no mosquitoes, at least when I was there. The creek is low so don’t expect much from the Plotter Kill’s mighty waterfalls (click the thumbnail above to see the falling water). —Ed
June 22, 2012: Because of the new Gregg Road trailhead I’ve been exploring the lower (northeastern) end of the preserve. I’m interested in the names of things at the preserve and Steve Feeney, a Schenectady County planner, told me that the first set of cascades you come to is “Jacob’s Ladder.” Good enough for me.
***There used to be a sign where the yellow trail started that said, “Jacob’s Ladder and Step Falls.” The sign is gone, an old yellow blaze marks where the yellow trail branches off from the red. It’s a short walk to the Jacob’s Ladder cascades, a lovely place.
***Last year, Chris Hunter from the Schenectady Museum gave me some historic PKP photos for the blog and the most spectacular one is Charles Steinmetz and friends at “Cascade Falls.” I’m convinced that “Cascade Falls” is now “Jacob’s Ladder.” 116 years later it looks a lot different from the photo, but this is the spot. The overall formation matches and there are some individual stones that are very similar. —Ed