No, I didn’t forget an s. After months of cold, brown surroundings, the spring season is beginning to breathe new life into our little town. I’m not talking sundresses and flip-flops just yet. No, the subtle signs of spring are what you and your kids are after. Tiny harbingers that chip away at the dirty parking lot snow and melt your wintery heart drip by drip. This time of year, if you’re watching closely, they seem to appear daily. There are many family-friendly places for you to visit and experience early spring in the capital region, and we can tell you where to start!
Have you ever driven past a pond on a warm evening in April or May? The next time you do, roll your windows down. The chilly breeze will carry a chorus of peepers into your car and surround you with spring. The tiny animal that makes this huge noise is called a Spring Peeper. It is a frog the size of a postage stamp! In Saratoga Spa State Park, the sound of peepers is the first true sign that spring is around the corner. For a special glimpse of this frog, join Spa Park’s FrogWatch. On the last Thursday evening of April, a Park Naturalist will guide visitors through a special wetland where they get a chance to hear and see the little frog with a huge voice!
Another of Saratoga’s spring sounds comes from a sharply dressed male bird called the Red Wing Blackbird. These birds fly south to escape the snow and ice, but they are one of the first to arrive back from their winter vacation. Smaller than a crow but just as loud, the blackbirds congregate in tall grasses and proclaim their territory with a raucous “okalacheeee!”. To hear them yourself, visit Moreau Lake State Park on a sunny day and bring your binoculars to see their wings flash red!
After all of this peeping and proclaiming, perhaps your family would enjoy a quiet walk to enjoy a silent sign of spring. Visit Saratoga Spa State Park’s Hemlock Trail for a short, flat walk to see the first spring plant, the Skunk Cabbage. This magenta and green flower unfurls from the swampy sections of Saratoga. It gets its name from the acrid odor it releases when it is crushed. Later in the spring, the strange looking flower will be replaced by large, showy green leaves. To see and smell this plant for yourself, go to the Hemlock Trail entrance on Crescent Avenue in Saratoga Springs. You’ll find the plants about half way around the mile-long loop.
We hope you enjoy your outings in our state parks, and everywhere spring is sprouting. Each day of this special season provides a new opportunity for you and your family to explore the outside world!
For more information regarding outings at Saratoga Spa State Park, please call the Environmental Educator at (518) 584-2000 Ext. 116.
Check out these additional spring-themed events that are happening across the state:
Vernal Pool Exploration for Families @ Minnewaska State Park Preserve, April 25
Family Adventure: Night of the Frogs @ Connetquot River State Park Preserve, May 30
Family Fun: Tadpole Expedition @ Caleb Smith State Park Preserve, May 31
Pre-registration is required for most programs.
Post by Alli Schweizer, Saratoga Spa State Park.