Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Riding out the back door: May 2014

The trails out my back door - several hundred acres of Saratoga County forest and adjacent public lands.

The Saratoga Skier and Hiker, first-hand accounts of adventures in the Adirondacks and beyond, and Gore Mountain ski blog.

After a slow start to my mountain biking season, May has turned out to be a pretty good month. I’ve been getting out two or even three times a week all month, mostly on the trails out my back door. I’ve logged a couple rides on the Luther Forest trails (three actually), but haven’t hit Spier Falls or SMBA yet (that should change this week).


A big reason the home trails have captured the bulk of my interest so far this season is because they’re just so damn convenient. But convenience is only part of the story. We’ve been working on expanding the single track mileage, linking up with adjacent rideable trails, and generally upgrading the quality of the network. So the riding is better than ever and there’s more of it. When I say “we’ve been working,” I’m referring to my neighbor Kevin who’s really put in the bulk of the work. I’ve done a bit of raking and clipping too, so I’ve got some of my own sweat equity invested in the trails.

May is a pretty dramatic time to be in the woods. My rides have gone from gray and chilly in the early part of the month to almost summer-like this past weekend. Compare the photo below, taken this past weekend, with the short video clip directly below it, taken just three weeks earlier:



I’ll admit to being something of a nature nerd. A big part of the enjoyment I get from my rides out the back door is just being out in the woods. At this time of year there are lots of flashes of color to catch your eye:

Marsh marigolds

Fiddleheads

Violets

One of the larger ponds along my ride

Same pond, a week later and much greener

I don’t usually ride the marked trails of the Wilton Wildlife Preserve and Park, but two of their trailheads are less than a mile from home, so I guess that counts as out-the-backdoor too. The blue lupine there is just coming into bloom, so I took a ride through to check it out on a damp morning when there would be few hikers and the sandy trails would be damp and packed for better riding.

The lupine just started blooming in the last week or so

Lupine on the WWPP trails

Lupine and grasses

Quite a bit of WWPP’s trail mileage (here's a map) passes through areas that have been restored as habitat for the endangered Karner blue butterfly. These are open, savannah-like areas of pitch pine and oak, grasses, blue lupine and other wild flowers. Blue lupine is the sole food source for the butterflies, and it grows in abundance in these areas.



It's always cool to see lupine - or any other wildflower - growing wild, but the huge expanses of it at WWPP are truly spectacular. The lupine should be in bloom for the next month or so, so a ride (or run) through WWPP’s trails is highly recommended.

2 comments:

  1. Nice shots, have been ironing out a small loop in our backyard as well, the sandy/loamy soil is great for trail building. Having something in your backyard to get the heart pumping between work and dinner is such a treat.
    Took a pedal up Parkhurst last night and poked around the Orra Phelps preserve trails for the first time, what a beautiful spot.

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    1. Thanks for reading! And thanks for the reminder: I've been meaning to get up to the Orra Phelps preserve, it's one of the local preserves I've never visited.

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