Thursday, October 20, 2016

An Autumn Walk at Saratoga Battlefield

Our weather changed overnight, from sunny and summery-warm to chilly and dark today, with threatened rain.  But lucky for me and my friends in the Thursday Naturalists, that rain held off until we had almost completed our walk among the expansive meadows of the Saratoga Battlefield.  I knew we were in for some spectacular vistas as I approached the entrance to this national historic site along Rte. 32 and was awed by the sight of thick morning fog filling the Hudson River valley between Schuylerville and Stillwater.

The view from the visitor's center at the battlefield  -- now called the Saratoga National Historical Park -- was just as spectacular.  This view shows the trail we would walk portions of today, a 4.2 -mile historic footpath called the Wilkinson Trail, which retraces the same route where Revolutionary War soldiers marched to and from the Battle of Saratoga.  It was here back in 1777 that American forces overwhelmed those of the British in a battle historians now consider the turning point of the American Revolution.

War cannons situated on the heights remind us of the blood that once was shed on these now peaceful lands.

While this park is a wonderful destination for those interested in military history (and we chanced to meet an amazingly informed military historian on our walk today), the site is also a fine place for naturalists to hike.   And here we are, just starting out.

What incredible vistas this trail provides!  From here, we can see  across the river valley to the far-away Green Mountains of Vermont and their foothills in Washington County just across the Hudson.

Although very few flowers remained in bloom, we still enjoyed examining the seedheads and other remains of the plants that thrive in these expansive meadows. As Ed is doing here.

Mostly, though, we simply let our eyes gaze across these rolling meadows, awed by the amazing variations of splendid color.

Among the plants we DID stop to identify were patches of Panicled Dogwood, clad now in the rosiest red we had ever seen this shrub assume.  None of the dogwood shrubs were more than knee high, since the park mows and burns these fields to maintain the appearance of the farm fields that existed at the time of the Revolution.

I recognized these puffy gray seedheads as those of Narrow-leaved Mountain Mint, set off so beautifully by the pinks and purples and yellows and greens of the surrounding plants.

Although the rain held off until we had started our return to the visitors' center,  it did start to come down hard before we reached that destination.  But that rain could not dampen our enjoyment of this gorgeous landscape.  We simply donned our raingear and enjoyed the rest of the hike.


The Furry Gnome said...

Interesting to find a place that is actually a meadow with trails to walk.

Unknown said...

Did you see the goats? They were a pleasant surprise on my visit this past Sunday.