Wednesday, April 3, 2013

A Battenkill Afternoon

Chilly today, with a wind that drove that chill right into your bones.  But the sun was high and the sky was blue from horizon to horizon.  A good day for a walk along the old canal towpath in Schuylerville, offering possible sightings of migrating waterfowl or emerging turtles.  My son Philip, who lives in Schuylerville, met me there, and we started out along the canal, the sun sparkling like diamonds on the wind-riffled water.

 As we walked, I asked my son if he knew of a waterfall on the Battenkill over near Greenwich in Washington County, just across the river. I had seen a photo in the New York State Conservationist magazine and that waterfall looked impressive.   Turns out, he knew exactly where it was, and we decided to cut short our walk along the canal and drive over to see the waterfall, called Dionondahowa Falls.

A short walk through a beautiful woods on a well-maintained trail followed the Battenkill as it fell impressive heights through a gorge.  There were several platforms along the trail that allowed us clear views of this truly spectacular waterfall.

Here's another view of the Battenkill as it flows through the gorge below the falls.

The day was still young, so we decided to continue our adventures along the Battenkill and drive to the Rexleigh covered bridge near Salem, a spot in the river my son considers his favorite swimming hole.  Our route to the bridge took us through the rolling hills and expansive farmland that Washington County is famous for.

No swimming today, but the covered bridge was a beautiful sight nonetheless.  Originally built in 1874, the bridge was completely restored and rebuilt in recent decades to support modern traffic.

Make sure you slow down when you cross this bridge!

Better yet, stroll across it on foot, crossing the Battenkill to get a better view of the old mill on the opposite bank.  Although the building is completely derelict, the marble blocks with which it was built still shine bright white in the sun.

At first, I thought the balls dangling from a bough overhanging the water were snagged fishing bobbers.  But then I looked up and found a whole tree full of them.  A Sycamore tree, still holding last years fruits!   This is a tree I rarely see in Saratoga County, except where they've been planted in city parks.

We didn't expect to see any wildflowers in the woods today, but we did see some other sure signs of spring, both of them along the wooded trail to Dionondahowa Falls.   Both the Eastern Garter Snake and the Mourning Cloak Butterfly were basking in the sun on this chilly day, absorbing the warmth that called them out of hibernation.  Although they didn't hold still long enough for me to get a clear photo, I luckily had photos of each taken on other occasions, so I could show you the beautiful creatures I saw in the woods today.


Raining Iguanas said...

You've provided yet another summer have-to destination for me. Since I will be visiting Bedlam Farm this weekend I may try to pencil in a pit stop to Dionondahowa Falls. It is supposed to be a lot warmer. Thanks for the tip.

Benj said...

I found that waterfall by accident one day a few years ago when I was driving around Greenwich and Schuylerville and saw a car parked near the trailhead. It is very impressive - really big, hidden but not a far walk to get to.