Winnakee Nature Preserve – Hyde Park Trails

December‎ ‎1‎, ‎2018 – Hyde Park, NY

Difficulty: Easy

Length: Approximately 1.5 miles

Max elevation: 247 ft.– total elevation gain 53 ft.

Route type: Circuit

Map: Winnakee Nature Preserve Trail MapHyde Park Walkabout Trail Map

Trailhead parking: Terwilliger Road Extension, Hyde Park, NY 12538

PLEASE BE ADVISED: The Entrance to the Nature Preserve at Route 9 and Van Dam Road is not accessible until further notice. Please use the entrance at Terwilliger Road Extension.

Overview:

The Hyde Park Trails system currently includes about 34 miles of trails, including trails within 3 National Park units, a State Park complex, 3 Town Parks, and a land trust nature preserve, connected in large part by trail easements across private lands, as well as on-road linkages. All trails in the Hyde Park Trail system were designated National Recreation Trails by the U. S. Department of the Interior in 2006, and their formal designation as Hudson River Valley Greenway Trails was underway in 2018.

Hyde Park Trails

Hyde Park Trails

The Hyde Park Healthy Trails Walkabout is an annual program to encourage walking for health. The Walkabout is open to local residents and visitors alike. Participants who complete at least five Hyde Park trails in a given year may earn a free, themed trail patch. The Hyde Park Trail Committee creates a new patch each year, featuring a natural or historical feature that relates to Hyde Park Trails.

Hyde Park Healthy Trails Walkabout 2018 Patch

Hyde Park Healthy Trails Walkabout 2018 Patch

The Winnakee Nature Preserve conserves part of the estate of Colonel Archibald Rogers, a neighbor and close friend of the Roosevelt family. It was on Rogers’ land where FDR learned about forestry and was imbued with a deep love of the land and natural habitats. The historic culverts, canals, and trails within the preserve are artifacts of Rogers’ 19th-century innovations in forest management. The nature preserve consists of 105 acres with extensive public hiking trails, protected forever by Winnakee Land Trust.

Winnakee Nature Preserve

Winnakee Nature Preserve

Come hike the yellow and red trail at Winnakee Nature Preserve to work towards your annual walkabout patch! This easy to moderate hike takes you on dirt-surfaced woods roads with rolling hills for a 1.3 mile hike round trip. You’ll enjoy babbling brooks and a chorus of forest birds as you meander through upland hardwood forests and hemlock groves.

Winnakee Nature Preserve

Winnakee Nature Preserve

The trails required to earn a patch are the yellow-blazed Creek Trail and the red-blazed Colonel Rogers Loop Trail. The parking area on Van Dam Road, where the yellow trail begins was not accessible upon our visit. Since this is a small preserve, we decided to hike sections of all the trails and the blue-blazed Beech Trail in its entirety, creating a slightly larger loop.

The hike:

The hike begins just to the left of the kiosk in the back of the parking area.

Winnakee Nature Preserve trailhead

Winnakee Nature Preserve trailhead

We proceeded on a woods road, past the two metal posts with a chain across it.

Winnakee Nature Preserve trailhead

Winnakee Nature Preserve trailhead

Just beyond is the start of the red-blazed Colonel Rogers Loop Trail.

bear right at the fork

bear right at the fork

We veered right and began following the red blazes.

Colonel Rogers Loop Trail

Colonel Rogers Loop Trail

The Colonel Rogers Loop Trail travels northeast along a woods road.

Colonel Rogers Loop Trail

Colonel Rogers Loop Trail

In about 465 yards, the red blazed trail come to a junction with the green-blazed Old carriage Trail where we turned right.

Old Carriage Trail

Old Carriage Trail

The Old Carriage Trail heads north on another woods road.

Old Carriage Trail

Old Carriage Trail

The trail passes some interesting looking rock formations.

Old Carriage Trail

Old Carriage Trail

This preserve is criss-crossed with unmarked woods roads, going in different directions. Keeping a close eye on the blazes is imperative.

Old Carriage Trail

Old Carriage Trail

The Old Carriage Trail comes to a junction with the orange-blazed Spicebush Path, which begins on the left. The Old Carriage Trail continues ahead for about 300 yards to its terminus on Spruce Road.

Old Carriage Trail

Old Carriage Trail

We turned left onto the Spicebush Path, now following the orange blazes.

Left on Spicebush Path

Left on Spicebush Path

The Spicebush Path also follows a woods road as it heads in a westerly direction.

Spicebush Path

Spicebush Path

In about 550 feet, we turned right on the blue-blazed Beech Trail.

Beech Trail

Beech Trail

The Beech Trail is a footpath that runs along the edge of a ravine. It begins heading northwest at first, then meanders through the woods. After about 430 yards, the trail turns left and begins heading southwest.

Beech Trail

Beech Trail

The Beech Trail descends and passes some more rock formations.

Beech Trail

Beech Trail

Beech Trail

Beech Trail

At the base of the descent, the Beech Trail ends at a T-intersection with the yellow-blazed Creek Trail, where we turned left. To the right, the Creek Trail leads to the closed parking area on Van Dam Road.

terminus of Beech Trail

terminus of Beech Trail

turn left on Creek Trail

turn left on Creek Trail

The trail, as its name implies, follows along the edge of a creek and heads east.

Creek Trail

Creek Trail

In about 600 feet, the Creek Trail ends at a T-intersection with the red-blazed Colonel Rogers Loop Trail, where we turned right.

terminus of Creek Trail

terminus of Creek Trail

turn right on Colonel Rogers Loop Trail

turn right on Colonel Rogers Loop Trail

The Colonel Rogers Loop Trail heads south on a woods road.

Colonel Rogers Loop Trail

Colonel Rogers Loop Trail

In about 460 feet, the trail comes to the fork we encountered at the start of the hike and turned right.

Colonel Rogers Loop Trail

Colonel Rogers Loop Trail

We then retraced our steps a short distance back to the parking area, where the hike began.

Winnakee Nature Preserve trailhead

Winnakee Nature Preserve trailhead

A nice hike through very tranquil woods and we did not encounter any other hikers. In warmer weather, the trails are probably more traveled. This hike took under 40 minutes to complete, stopping briefly along the way to shoot some photographs. We now checked our third hike off the list and headed to Hackett Hill Park.

The hikes completed for the 2018 Hyde Park Healthy Trails Walkabout patch are:

  1. Eleanor’s Walk
  2. Top Cottage Trail
  3. Winnakee Nature Preserve
  4. Hackett Hill Park
  5. Pinewoods Nature Trail Loop

The five hikes totaled about 6.5 miles with approximately 570 ft. of elevation gain. They were done in one day and we picked up our patches at the Vanderbilt Mansion Visitor Center. I called the day before to make sure they had the patches. I called The River Connection, listed on the brochure/map, and was told they no longer stock the patches. No one at the Hyde Park Recreation Dept. at Hackett Hill Park ever answered the phone and returned my call 3 days after I completed the hike. They were closed on the Saturday of the hike.

Pros: Quiet and scenic woods, well marked trails, earn a patch.

Cons: No views.

Take a hike!

Sources:

 

 

 

 

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