Tuesday, November 16, 2010

New Trail in Town

It's a good thing I spent those few lovely days outdoors this past weekend. The past two days have been dreary and damp, not exactly the kind of weather that draws me out to the woods. But I did get out between rainshowers yesterday, wanting to check out a multi-purpose walking and biking trail just recently constructed on the northeast edge of Saratoga Springs.

Called the Spring Run Trail, this paved path runs along an old railroad bed that follows a fault line of steep banks and wooded wetlands between East Avenue and the Northway. During the Victorian era, a railroad operated from downtown Saratoga Springs to Saratoga Lake and beyond, and much of this railroad bed was left intact through all those years. Construction of this two-mile stretch of the path took about seven months and was funded by a $1.6 million grant under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. (Thankfully, our federal tax dollars were spent on something nicer than missiles.)

I personally prefer to walk on more rugged and woodsy trails, but I can understand what a pleasure this kind of smooth paving would be for a biker or a mom pushing a stroller or somebody rolling a wheelchair -- or just local folks who want to go for a brisk walk without breathing car exhaust or watching out for traffic. And the woodlands that line the trail do have their charms.

Small streams run along the full length of the trail as it passes below the cliffs that form a geological fault line, the source of many natural springs.

One of the streams was burgeoning with watercress.

Even on this damp dreary day, I found quite a number of folks using the trail for exercise.

With wooded and marshy areas lining the trail on both sides, I imagine this trail would provide a great spot for birdwatchers.

I actually found very little litter along the path, but this trash looks like it has been here for a long, long time. Let's hope a clean-up day is planned for removing it. I imagine the generations of folks who lived atop this bank, using the ravine as their personal dump, never dreamed that anyone would be walking for pleasure down here.

And I'll bet the folks who live in this posh pink house at the end of a dead-end road never dreamed that the public would soon be walking through their backyard. I wonder if the For Sale sign on their front lawn is a sign of their discontent with the trail's construction.

These old crumbling walls reveal that traffic once moved through here in a regular way.

Old stone walls like this create fertile nursery beds for all kind of mosses and liverworts, and even a tiny White Pine.

Here's where the trail ends: right at the edge of Interstate 87, the Northway. I understand that future plans call for the trail to be extended under the Northway to connect with Weibel Road, eventually providing access to city recreational facilities out there, as well as the commercial area surrounding Wilton Mall.
Saratoga city officials will be holding a grand opening ceremony for the Spring Run Trail on Thursday, November 18, at 2pm at the trailhead on the corner of East and Excelsior Avenues.
So check it out. You paid for it.


Ellen Rathbone said...

It looks like a very pleasant walk/ride/run. I hope lots of folks take advantage of it.

You know, a real visionary would buy that pink house and open it as an inn or wayside stop for users of the trail (snack bar, juice bar, coffee bar...).

Woodswalker said...

What a great idea, Ellen! If I had a million dollars I'd do it myself. I'll bet this trail will see lots of use when the spring comes around, or maybe skiers could use it in winter if they don't plow it.

Allan Stellar said...

Every time a new walking path---or anything that doesn't involve an automobile road---opens, I am encouraged. What a wonderful use of tax money...more! more!

Sarah said...

Hello, we'd love for you to post your pix of the trail on the www.TrailLink.com website here: http://www.traillink.com/trail/spring-run-trail.aspx. Feel free to provide a review of the trail, too.