December 1, 2018 – Hyde Park, NY
Length: Approximately 1.5 miles
Max elevation: 247 ft.– total elevation gain 53 ft.
Route type: Circuit
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 begins just to the left of the kiosk in the back of the parking area.
We proceeded on a woods road, past the two metal posts with a chain across it.
Just beyond is the start of the red-blazed Colonel Rogers Loop Trail.
We veered right and began following the red blazes.
The Colonel Rogers Loop Trail travels northeast along a woods road.
In about 465 yards, the red blazed trail come to a junction with the green-blazed Old carriage Trail where we turned right.
The Old Carriage Trail heads north on another woods road.
The trail passes some interesting looking rock formations.
This preserve is criss-crossed with unmarked woods roads, going in different directions. Keeping a close eye on the blazes is imperative.
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.
We turned left onto the Spicebush Path, now following the orange blazes.
The Spicebush Path also follows a woods road as it heads in a westerly direction.
In about 550 feet, we turned right on the blue-blazed 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.
The Beech Trail descends and passes some more rock formations.
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.
The trail, as its name implies, follows along the edge of a creek and heads east.
In about 600 feet, the Creek Trail ends at a T-intersection with the red-blazed Colonel Rogers Loop Trail, where we turned right.
The Colonel Rogers Loop Trail heads south on a woods road.
In about 460 feet, the trail comes to the fork we encountered at the start of the hike and turned right.
We then retraced our steps a short distance back to the parking area, where the hike began.
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:
- Eleanor’s Walk
- Top Cottage Trail
- Winnakee Nature Preserve
- Hackett Hill Park
- 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!