Tag Archives: fahnestock state park

Get out and explore … the Taconic Region of State parks

With more than 2,000 miles of marked trails across New York, the State Parks have something for hikers of every ability. That includes the beautiful Taconic Region, located on the east side of the Hudson River and stretching through Columbia, Dutchess, Putnam and Westchester counties.

Palatial estates, highland trails, Hudson River vistas and woodland campgrounds define some of the exceptional treasures to be found in a region with 14 parks and eight historic sites.

If you are new to hiking or have not yet explored hikes in this region, named for the Taconic Mountain range that runs north-to-south along the state border with Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont, here are some suggestions to start you out.

As with all hikes, there are few things to remember beyond carrying a mobile phone. Wear sturdy yet comfortable shoes or boots, bring water and snacks, and perhaps carry a camera, to capture what you see. Be mindful of hikes on steep terrain or that go near cliff tops. Having a small first-aid kit available in case of emergency is never a bad idea.

Hiking poles are useful, and can transfer some of the stress of hiking from your knees and legs to your arms and back. And use a trail map, which is available online at each park website at https://parks.ny.gov/ and at the main office at each park. Check the park’s individual website to see if its maps can be downloaded to your iOS Apple or Android device.

These maps include Park facilities such as parking, park offices, nature centers, campsites, and boat launches in addition to the location, name and distance of each designated trail in the park. For some facilities, data is available as a Google Earth KML file or a map is available to download to your iOS Apple and Android mobile devices in the free PDF-Maps app. Learn more

It never hurts to know how long a trail is and how long it ought to take to finish it. Since daylight is not an unlimited resource, tossing a flashlight or headlamp into your backpack is a good form of insurance, should you unexpectedly find yourself on the trail as dusk approaches.

Westchester County

Rockefeller State Park Preserve, 125 Phelps Way, Pleasantville,  (914) 631-1470: With 55 miles of crushed stone carriage roads that crisscross the former country estates of petroleum tycoons John D. Rockefeller and William Rockefeller, the preserve offers a wide variety of hikes for any ability, with the carriage trails offering a consistent, predictable surface. After parking at the preserve office, follow the markers for Brother’s Path, a 1.1-mile loop around scenic Swan Lake. Heading south on the Brother’s Path, there a connection on the right to the .9-mile Overlook Path, a gentle climb and a good place to spot Eastern Bluebirds and get a beautiful view of Swan Lake. The preserve is home to more than 180 different species of birds and 120 different species of native bees.

Maps here

Rockefeller State Park Preserve in Pleasantville.

Franklin D. Roosevelt State Park, 2957 Crompond Road, Yorktown Heights, (914) 245-4434 : This is a short hike in the woods on level terrain leaving to a small pond. From the parking lot for the swimming pool, take the white-marked trail, turning onto the blue-marked, 1.2-mile trail for Crom Pond. At the end, turn around, or continue on the orange-marked, .7-mile Mohansic Trailway through more woods before turning around.

Maps here

Franklin D. Roosevelt State Park in Yorktown Heights.

Putnam County

Fahnestock State Park, 1498 Route 301, Carmel,  (845) 225-7207: Hike, sunbathe and swim all at one location. Start at the Canopus Beach Parking Lot, where you can pick up the blue blazed AT Connector Trail from the north corner of Canopus Beach. A short 0.3-mile hike passing along the edge of Canopus lake will lead you to the famous Appalachian Trail. Turn right and take the white blazed AT trail northbound. A steep section of trail will lead you to a beautiful viewpoint over Upper and Lower Canopus lakes. Continue north and after one mile on the AT turn right and head south onto another blue blazed AT connector trail. A rolling 0.75-mile hike will lead you back to the Canopus Beach Parking Lot and all the other activities.

Maps here

The view from the South Taconic Trail, looking toward Mount Brace, at Fahnestock State Park in Millerton/Copake Falls.

Mills Norrie State Park, 9 Old Post Road, Staatsburg, (845) 889-4646: This park has a very scenic hike along the Hudson River. Turn onto Norrie Point Way and follow signs for the Marina, where you find signs for the White Trail. If you brought a kayak or canoe, you can put it into the river there. The White Trail is approximately two miles long and and leads to Staatsburgh State Historic Site, the elegant 65-room country mansion of Ogden Mills and his wife Ruth Livingston Mills. You can choose to take the White Trail back along the river, or the Blue Trail. Along this wooded trail you can view the historic Hoyt House and Carriage Barns. While at Staatsburgh, catch a view of the 148-year-old Esopus Meadows Lighthouse on the river. If you plan to visit by boat, the Mills Norrie State Park marina has 145 boat slips.

Maps here

Kayaking on the Hudson River in Mills Norrie State Park.

Columbia County

Lake Taghkanic State Park, 1528 Route 82, Ancram, (518) 851-3631: Start at the parking lot at the swimming beach, and pick up the white-marked Lakeview Trail, which goes about 5 miles around the lake but is not a loop. It can be hiked as an out-and-back by going either north or south on the trail, which is mostly level and good for all abilities.

Maps here

Picnic tables along the trail at Lake Taghkanic State Park.

There is a full list of activities this month at State Parks and Historic Sites in the Taconic Region. It can be found here

Keep an eye on the NY Parks Blog in coming weeks as we explore hikes in the ten other State Parks regions… Do you have a favorite to share?

Busy Beavers and Awesome Osprey; a Canoeing Adventure on Canopus Lake

It is a lovely day in the early summertime, 80o and sunny, with a gentle breeze.  Outdoor educators Daniel Marshall and Ursula Svoboda from the Taconic Outdoor Education Center are preparing to guide weekend canoe tours on beautiful Canopus Lake located in sprawling Clarence Fahnestock Memorial State Park in Putnam County.

“What a gorgeous day to be out on the water!” proclaims a very eager Marshall.

“I hope we see a bald eagle like last time!” replies Svoboda.

No matter the canoe tour guide, a visitor is in for a treat, as all of the educators (guides) from the nearby Taconic Outdoor Education Center.  These guides are friendly, knowledgeable, and bring their own unique perspective on the natural history and ecology of the region.  The hour and a half tour circles the shoreline of the 65-acre lower portion of the man-made lake, weaving in and out of numerous small islands.

The lake, built by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in the 1930s, is both a recreational and ecological jewel in the park.  In summer, you can find people swimming and sunbathing, paddling in kayaks, and fishing for largemouth bass and yellow perch along the shoreline.  Chain pickerel, brown bullhead catfish, and black crappie also lurk through the aquatic plants below the surface.  A lake such as Canopus, although made by humans, provides a very rich ecosystem.  Other critters that spend most of their time in the water include painted turtles and water snakes such as northern water snake and black rat snake.  There are even predacious water beetles in the lake; beetles are large enough to eat small fish!

Predaceous Diving Beetle_by cotinis
Predaceous Diving Beetle, photo by cotinis

Canopus Lake also attracts animals from the forest ecosystem that may be looking for a drink of water or a place to hunt along the water’s edge.  Beaver activity is evident with toppled trees along the shoreline and a large wood/mud dam near the CCC dam.  Osprey (state special concern species), bald eagles (state threatened) and other birds of prey soar overhead.  Osprey are excellent at fishing, plunging into the water and, more often than not, emerge with a fish in their talons. What makes this canoe trip so exciting is that one really never knows what they might be lucky enough to observe when out on the water!

Osprey
North osprey grabs a yellow perch

Canoe tours cost $5 per person and leave from the park’s boat launch along Route 301 just south of the park office.  Some of the boats can accommodate four people (two paddlers and two passengers.)  Reservations are encouraged by calling (845) 265-3773.  Come experience this fun summertime activity for yourself!

Post by Aaron Donato, State Parks

Aaron Donato and canoeing group
Fun times canoeing on Canopus Lake, photo by Aaron Donato

Working With Beavers to Minimize Negative Impacts

Beavers are native to New York State and play an important role in the natural landscape. They are ecosystem engineers – altering water levels by building strong dams using branches and mud; and creating wetland habitat where many plants and animals thrive. However in the wrong place, their dams can cause flooding and property damage. In 2016 a project was developed to minimize beaver impacts by building and installing Beaver Deceivers/ Flood Control Devices. Beaver deceivers stop the flooding caused by beavers, while continuing to allow beavers to live in State Park wetlands and other water bodies.

What is a beaver deceiver?

There are typically two kinds of beaver deceivers; a Trapezoidal-shaped Exclusion Fence (or Trapezoidal Fence for short) and a Pond Leveling Device. Let’s learn the purpose for each:

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graphic by Lilly Schelling

The Trapezoidal Fence is intended for situations where the beavers’ dam is clogging a culvert and may cause damage to the culvert itself.  The fence is placed in front of the culvert, extending out at least 12 feet out from shore with a closed floor so the beaver can’t dig under it. Beavers usually then build their dams along the sides of the fence but not the back – allowing water to flow through the fence into the culvert.

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graphic by Lilly Schelling

A Pond Leveling Device is made using an existing beaver dam. The dam is dug out (notched) to drop the water body to a desired water level and a corrugated pipe is placed through the dam and then covered back up with dam materials. Both ends are caged off to ensure water flow. The pond leveling device allows the beavers to continue building their dam around the pipe without raising water levels. Thus it prevents flooding of nearby roads and other use areas.

Installation

Materials for this project included 12″ corrugated pipe sections, 6 gauge epoxy coated fencing, copper hog rings to hold the fence together, and cinder blocks to sink structures and pipe.

Here’s a project where we dug out the beaver dam. It was fascinating to see how fast the water level  dropped. Beavers are extremely efficient! We also saw about 20 trout swim upstream over the dam to the beaver pond, taking advantage of the new access to the habitat. Naturally, the trout would persist below the dam until the dam fell apart after the beavers moved to a new home – which they do periodically. But in this case, we saw how our deceivers are also able to benefit other native animals.

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Occasionally, with very persistent beavers, the two deceiver methods may need to be combined (i.e. a Trapezoidal Fence with a Pond Leveling Device attached). This picture is the installation of the combined devices at the culvert under Route 301 on Canopus Lake in Clarence Fahnestock State Park. A boat was needed to move the dome and pipe around in the deep water.  Photo by Lilly Schelling

Finished Product

A pond leveling device installed at the bridge on the School Rd. Trail. The objective of this device was to decrease water levels so the trail would stop flooding. The line on the tree was the water level prior to installation.

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Trapezoidal Fence after installation on Beaver Pond Trail at Glimmer Glass State Park, photo by Lilly Schelling.

State Parks wildlife staff will monitor these beaver deceivers to ensure they continue to functioning properly and that they are still in place. Freezing and thawing during seasonal change may shift the placement of the device. Overall these devices have proven to be highly successful in solving beaver related flooding issues. It is great to solve human wildlife conflict in such a way that both human and wildlife can remain in the same area and neither is pushed out.

Post by Lilly Schelling, State Park Wildlife staff