by Sandra Hutchinson
I’m always looking for interesting places to walk our dogs that don’t involve being close to road traffic. Our younger dog, Maggie, is particularly sensitive to the low rumble of certain vehicles, like those little mail vans and the brown UPS trucks. When they pass, she turns into a whirling dervish dog, sometimes levitated, and only constrained by our firm grip on the leash attached to her harness. It’s not fun.
There are some enticing paths and byways in our region that provide a nice change to your basic around-the-neighborhood walk with your dog, and which actually welcome people with dogs. Some of them even offer dog waste bags and receptacles to encourage proper clean up and disposal. (Please remember that dogs are not allowed on the Warren County Bikeway that runs from Glens Falls to Lake George!)
Here are several of our top dog-friendly walks/hikes:
- Moreau Lake State Park, Moreau
- Betar Byway, South Glens Falls
- Meadowbrook Preserve, Queensbury
- Rush Pond Trail, Queensbury
Our family favorite? The trails at Moreau Lake State Park.
The park is located close to Exit 17 of the Adirondack Northway— exiting the Northway, go south on Route 9, and a few hundred yards off the Northway, turn onto Old Saratoga Road. The park entrance is about a half mile up that road, on your right. For mapping purposes: 605 Old Saratoga Road, Gansevoort, N. Y.
Be aware there’s a per vehicle entrance fee that is collected weekends and holidays beginning in early May ($6), and then daily beginning Memorial Day weekend ($8), then back to weekends and holidays the week following Labor Day to the week after Columbus Day ($6). These are 2016 prices. Empire Passport holders pay no additional fee, and seniors (62 and older) get free admission weekdays except holidays by showing proof of age, through New York’s Golden Park Program. There is no entrance fee post-season, and the park is open year-round.
The park’s centerpiece is Moreau Lake, which has a large sandy beach, nice playground, and picnic areas with pavilion. People canoe and kayak. There’s a great nature center near the beach, with natural history exhibits and programs. The park also includes many campsites (where well-controlled dogs are welcome). In the winter, visitors hike, snowshoe and cross-country ski, and on most days the park keeps the fire going inside the cozy warming building.
There’s an extensive trail system with some rugged terrain that heads over ridges towards the Hudson River, which cuts through the northwest quadrant of the park.
Some of the trails have nicely marked signs describing the tree species and natural history topics like wetlands and beaver activity. (There’s a lot of visible beaver activity in the park!)
Our preference with our dogs is to walk a large loop around the lake. The terrain and surfaces vary. After starting out from the parking lot on a paved road, we veer off through campsite areas onto wooded trails with views of the lake and other wetland areas, until reemerging on the far side of the lake near the footbridge over the water. We estimate the loop we hike is about 2.6 miles, and it typically takes us a little over an hour.
You can download a trail map (click here) or purchase one at the park.
Betar Byway, Village of South Glens Falls
This paved, flat path follows the shoreline of the Hudson River in South Glens Falls for about .6 mile. The main parking area is adjacent to the South Glens Falls Historical Park (look for the gazebo), at the end of First Street. If approaching from Glens Falls, proceed south on Route 9 over the bridge into South Glens Falls and take your first right onto First Street.
There are a number of locations along the path where biodegradable dog waste bags are available, as well as trash receptacles. The path is heavily used by walkers and runners and provides an interesting view of Glens Falls from the south side of the Hudson. When you reach the end of the Byway, you can bear to the right and continue down a road for approximately an additional quarter mile to the Sand Bar Beach, boat launch and picnic area on the river. If you instead bear left at the end of the Byway, up a hill and around the Village’s DPW garage, you can proceed onto watershed land and walk on a wooded gravel road in watershed property.
Meadowbrook Preserve, Queensbury
Meadowbrook Preserve is just one in the Town of Queensbury’s collection of parks and recreation centers. It’s located on the east side of Meadowbrook Road, east of SUNY Adirondack, approximately halfway between the intersection of Meadowbrook Road with Haviland Road to the north and Cronin Road to the south.
The 44-acre preserve has several fairly short, level trails that run through a meadow, into woods, and back through the meadow. Find a printable trail map here. Nicely done, colorful interpretive signs educate walkers about habitats and animals, and the trails are well-marked with trail markers.
The trails that lead from the parking area at Meadowbrook Preserve run through a meadow before entering the woods.
I enjoy the diversity of the habitat within the preserve— the meadow has some boggy areas where you’ll find wetland species; there are wildflowers, of course; and the wooded area is shady and serene with a combination of deciduous and coniferous trees.
Rush Pond Trails, Queensbury
This trail has a couple of parking areas and access points—the southern one on Fox Farm Road, next to the SEMO building, and the northern one at the intersection of West Mountain Road and Gurney Lane. Find the brochure here and printable trail map here.
The length of the main trail is 2.6 miles from one end to the other. There are dog waste bags at either end, and waste receptacles. Most of the path is gravel, and about the width of one car lane (although no motorized vehicles are allowed.) It’s a popular spot for mountain biking, as well as walking and running. It is largely shaded.
The trail runs through the Rush Pond wetland area, and there are several attractive hand-built bridges over streams, and natural history signage similar to what is found at the Meadowbrook Preserve. There are some unmarked trails off the main gravel trail that lead to Rush Pond itself.
Along the way, you might spot this vintage car, which apparently had an unfortunate demise in the woods. Or, is it possibly an art installation?
Make sure to check out the other Queensbury Town parks and trails! Here’s a link to the Town Website that provides an overview. Feel free to comment on this post and describe your favorite!