Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Crystal Shores - a Splash of Autumnal Color

Over the last couple of days we have hiked in our own back yard on some trails where I used to ride my horse when I was a kid: the Crystal Shores, Crystal Point, and Crystal Gorge Conservation Areas - easy day hikes, but providing some splendid scenery and, at this time, a splash of autumnal color.

Crystal Point - A goose forages amid the glowing reflections of Autumn. See Gallery
The first day we did a short hike in the Crystal Gorge Area - some variegated terrain, but, nevertheless, an easy hike. The trails were well-marked, and, even without a map, we managed to make a nice little loop for ourselves. The gorge itself is a small stream between two ridges - fun to negotiate, but far from the breathtaking experience of Ausable Chasm or Quechee Gorge.

Crystal Gorge - We had a nice hike on well-marked trails around and through the gorge.

Crystal Gorge - on the trail to the gorge See Gallery

The next day we hiked the trails of Crystal Shores and Crystal Point. The trails are easy and well-marked, with many jog-offs to scenic views of the lake and inlets. Crystal shores trails, sadly, dead end on private property, but we were able to make a nice loop otherwise.

Crystal Shores - on the trail See Gallery

Crystal shores - Scenic View See Gallery

Map of Crystal Shores and Crystal Point Trails

From the parking lot at Crystal Gorge, we walked westward down Crystal Street to the entrance of Crystal Shores, followed the well-marked trails with side trips to take pictures, then walked eastward on Crystal Street to the entrance of Crystal Point for another nice loop and splendid scenery.

Crystal Point - Judy enjoys a scenic view See Gallery

It's been a long time since I've revisited this old haunt. It's nice to see the trails so well-maintained, and heartwarming to be treated to this all-but-forgotten scenery. We will definitely visit more often.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Winnekenni - Return to Birchbrow

A few days ago we were hiking on trails from Winnekenni Park to Plug pond, an area we had previously ignored, and discovered and explored some interesting ruins. Upon doing some research we learned these were the remains of the Birchbrow Estate which presided on this hill over plug pond. The centerpiece of this estate was the 30-room Birchbrow Mansion, a grand mansion which was the summer cottage of the Sanders family. More Here and Here.  It became apparent that we had only explored the stable, carriage house, guest cottage, cistern, assorted outbuildings and other structures, but had missed the mansion and its grand entry stairs, so we went back and did another hike of Winnekenni with the object of finding the mansion.

Judy knocking on the great door of the Birchbrow Mansion - See Gallery
 We started with a 3 1/2 mile hike around the shores of Kenoza lake, and then followed the Castle Trail to the trails that head down to Plug Pond.

Just below the cistern we stayed to the right, a section we had not previously explored, and there she was.

From the site we could still glimpse the shimmering waters of Plug Pond through the trees. It must have been quite a vista back when these were open fields. We explored a little and took some pictures. See Gallery

We returned again the next day for just a short jaunt from Plug Pond with friend, Wanda. We explored some more and took more pictures. 

Judy and Wanda atop the back staircase - See Gallery
It's quite a feeling to explore among such echoes - a hike through time...

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Winnekenni - Exploring Ruins

Well, it was a quiet summer for us; spent the spring and early summer cutting and stacking firewood, and just couldn't seem to get away the rest of the summer. Here it is, October, now, and we are on vacation. I have acquired some new gear, which I may review later, and took it for a shakedown hike at Winnekenni Park. This time we hiked a section that we had never done before, between Kenoza Lake and Plug Pond, which included exploring some interesting ruins along the way.

Exploring the ruins of the Birchbrow Estate see Gallery
Judy has researched the history and origins of these ruins, and here is what she writes:
"These ruins were once the Sander's Estate more here.  I didn't know it at the time, but we were wandering through the foot print of the 33 room mansion.  What a feeling to be walking through lives that came before, and though there have been events that overlay history like layers of wall paper, the original spirit of the land comes though. How I enjoyed that hike.  It reminded my of my childhood with my cousins, and the adventures we had through the woods and along the lake, pond and streams near our homes.  I was 10 years old again with my team of explorers... "
cistern ruins see Gallery

Our hike started in the dirt parking lot on the right of the Castle Road. We took the trail at the south end of the lot, an easy walk to Plug Pond and along its shores. We went straight up to the Plug Pond parking lot and took a trail on the left, uphill, but still easy. It's on a loop at the top of this hill that we discovered the ruins. We explored the ruins for a while, and took some pictures before heading downhill towards the lake. When we reached the Castle Trail, we took a right and headed down to the lake shore, where we turned left on Dudley Porter Trail. We walked along the shore until we reached the clearing across from the Basin. We went left across the clearing, and were back at the car.

see Gallery
Another nice and interesting walk at Winnekenni Park.