New York State’s recent acquisition of 200 acres adjoining Moreau State Park was highlighted last week in both the Saratogian and the Times Union as an important link in an eventual long-distance Palmertown Ridge Trail that would link Moreau State Park and Saratoga Springs. That trail could ultimately connect to the Zim Smith, creating an “alternative Northway” spanning Saratoga County north to south. Very cool. Here’s a look at two more recently opened trails that enhance another long-distance trail network just outside of Saratoga Springs.
Wilton Wildlife Preserve and Park, Frawley Trail. Last summer and fall, volunteer trail crews marked and cleared more than a mile of trail connecting WWPP’s Fox parcel trailhead on Route 50 (see accompanying map or click here) to Ruggles Road. The new trail traverses land (the Frawley parcel) that was added to WWPP in 2011 and represents a key linkage that could ultimately be made between WWPP’s core parcels (Fox, Old Gick Farm, Camp Saratoga and Opdahl Farm) and additional protected parcels south of King Road (the Neilmann and Kalabus-Perry parcels and other adjoining protected lands).
The Frawley trailhead can be found on Ruggles Road just north of the intersection with King Road. At the present time there is no designated parking area, sign or trail register – just look for the trail markers indicating the start of the trail on the west side of Ruggles Road. From Ruggles Road, the new trail passes through pine forest before eventually emerging onto restored Karner blue butterfly habitat on the Fox parcel. There, it connects with more than a dozen miles of trails suitable for hiking, trail running and cross-country skiing that extend north and west to Ballard Road.
Saratoga PLAN’s Coldbrook Preserve. Opened on Earth Day just last month, the Coldbrook Preserve provides a buffer to critical Blanding’s Turtle habitat on adjacent WWPP lands and contains almost 2 miles of marked trails. Although the Coldbrook Preserve is not shown on the WWPP Protected Lands map above, it is located directly south of the residential development marked on the map as Queens Court, bordering the brown-shaded New York State lands to its west. The preserve is well worth exploring on its own, but it has even greater potential when you consider the possibility of connecting its trails to the adjoining WWPP parcels and the county-owned Kalabus-Perry trail (the figure-eight shaped trail in the southeast portion of the Protected Lands map).
Eventually linking the Coldbrook Preserve, Kalabus-Perry trail, Neilmann and other WWPP parcels located south of King Road with WWPP’s existing trail network to the north and west would create an impressive network of trails for non-motorized recreation. In fact, informal unmarked trails already exist within these protected parcels. The biggest missing link is across King Road, in the vicinity of Ruggles Road.
Also, the issue of illegal ATV use will have to be addressed on the Kalabus-Perry parcel and adjacent New York State and Nature Conservancy parcels. WWPP and PLAN properties that currently have marked trails appear to have no illegal ATV use, it seems reasonable to expect that the establishment of new marked trails on other parcels, along with sufficient signage and education, should eliminate the illegal ATV use there. In a handful of locations barriers may be necessary, but only as a last resort.
WWPP, Saratoga PLAN and their partners have both done an incredible job protecting open space, preserving habitat and providing recreational and educational opportunities. WWPP has protected 2,400 acres in Wilton and PLAN has protected more than 3,000 additional acres throughout Saratoga County. “Connecting the dots” should help both WWPP and PLAN to not only enhance recreational opportunities but also expand their bases of user-advocates.