Recreational Intrinsic Value

Riverside Park Bike Hub
Biking in Schenectady
May 8, 2018
Last Chance to Register
May 24, 2018
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Recreational Intrinsic Value

Regroup on Nott Terrace.

Regroup on Nott Terrace. Note the new bike lane on the right side of the photo.

The Mohawk Towpath Byway is rich in recreational assets.  When asked about the Byway I use my elevator speech, “The Byway is a driving route between Waterford and Cohoes and Schenectady that follows the historic waterway west, the Erie Canal and the Mohawk River.”  My passion is to have visitors park their cars and discover our recreational assets.

Mohawk Hudson Bikeway

Cyclists pause at the historic Niskayuna Station in Lions Park on the Mohawk Hudson Bikeway

Perhaps the most heavily used recreational resources include the Mohawk Hudson Bikeway between Colonie and Niskayuna and the Vischer Ferry Nature and Historic Preserve just across the Mohawk River between Crescent and the Vischer Ferry Dam.  Peebles Island State Park in Waterford is the best kept secret in the Capital district.  Located within the confluence of the Mohawk and Hudson Rivers it offers a maize of foot and mountain bike trails that overlook water including white water and quiet wetland refuges visible from water level and high cliffs.  Recent trail improvements have extended the recreational possibilities south along the Hudson into Green Island and west into the City of Cohoes.

Riverside Park Bike Hub

The Stockade’s Riverside Park has one of 13 bike hubs in the City of Schenectady and more to be added this summer.

On the western end of the Byway the City of Schenectady has improved the connections to the Mohawk Hudson Bikeway within the city.  CCPHP has partnered with a bike rental company so a visitor or resident can rent a bike in Riverside Park (and several other sites in the city) to connect with Vale Park using lower trafficked, residential streets.  Work is underway to connect further with Central Park not to distant from the Town of Niskayuna.

Each of our municipalities has local parks many of which are strung together on these recreational and commuter trails.  Each of these parks is unique in that they have different topography and geology, diverse natural communities, various recreational amenities, and different historical significance.

  • Cohoes Parks – there is a string of pocket parks though the city that follow the route of the Terrible Sixteen, the locks that carried canal traffic though the city from what is now Alexandria Street Park to Sunset Park, Craner Park, and the Falls overlook Park.
  • The Mohawk Hudson Bikeway lies just up slope from this string of parks following the historic Troy – Schenectady railroad right-of-way.
  • The Flight of Locks in Waterford is a similar string of parks that follow the current Erie Canal (still sometimes referred to as the Barge Canal although traffic today is predominantly recreational).
  • The area just down stream of the New York Power Authority generating station on Crescent Cohoes Road is a popular stopping point along the Mohawk.  Fishing in the aerated water is excellent and there are some well defined but short hiking paths along the river.  Some feel intimidated by the large generating station, but picnic tables and an interpretive sign explain the importance of the old military crossing and the power of falling water.
  • Freddies Park along side the Route 9 bridge over the Mohawk River is a popular fishing spot and boat launch for car top boats.  It’s also the southern end of what once was the longest aqueduct on the Erie Canal.
  • Further up river is the Colonie Town Mohawk Park.  Accessible from Schermerhorn Road and the Mohawk Hudson Bikeway the park has many amenities including and hiking and mountain biking trails into a mature forested area, an Olympic size pool, boat launch, tennis courts, team sports fields and a covered bridge.
  • Across the river the Town of Halfmoon has a linear Crescent Park.  Another popular fishing spot and car-top boat launch, this park stretches more than a mile along the river adjacent to Canal Road which until 1918 was the Erie Canal. The stone dust trail makes an inviting hike or bike wide along the water and winds around a wet land near its terminus at Beach Road.
  • Rail fencing draws the passer-by into and defines the site. Photo by Ronsvalle.

    Photo by Ronsvalle.

    Dunsbach Ferry Site is the eastern terminus of the Towpath Community Connecting Trail that proceeds west over 7 miles through the Vischer Ferry Nature and Historic Preserve to the Lock 7 Dam overlook.  During the early spring and warm late fall days this makes a great car top boat launch.  It’s also right across the road from the newly opened Clam’r Pub.

Bald Eagle nest west of the hamlet of Vischer Ferry - Photo by Terry Olmstead

Bald Eagle nest west of the hamlet of Vischer Ferry – Photo by Terry Olmstead

 

 

  • Vischer Ferry Nature and Historic Preserve is a 600 acre preserve and internationally recognized Important Birding Area. It includes the Clutes Dry Dock, Towpath Trail mentioned above, the historic Whipple Bridge, historic Lock 19, remnants of three historic generations of the Erie Canal  and many more historical and archeological features.  Keep your eye open for a flyover by a bald eagle or an majestic blue heron.
  • Lions Park in Niskayuna is one the most used access to the Mohawk Hudson Bikeway (pictured above).  A nicely maintained historic rail station is one of the major features of the park.  Picnic tables, a small gazebo and public restrooms offer much for a relaxing or active recreational user.
  • Steinmetz Retreat is a recently acquired 38 acre parcel owned by the Town of Clifton Park.  This unsigned, undeveloped park includes a pond that filled a shallow clay pit where bricks were made for a number of local houses and foundations.  The property also contains some unique natural communities and lies between Riverview Road and and the Mohawk River west of Robinson Road and Sunset Street in Rexford.
  • Wild Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis)

    Wild Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis) emerging from the shale escarpment along the Mohawk River. Photo (c) David Behm 2011.

    Mohawk Landing is a six acre Town of Clifton Preserve on Riverview Road just west of Brian Drive.  It features access to the river over a boardwalk that traverses unique perched wetland habitat.  It is also the site where vacationers could rent cabins on the river in the early to mid twentieth century. This is a good place to observe native Columbine beautiful and protected wildflower in mid May.

  • Lock 7 Park off Rosendale Road in Niskayuna includes a town maintained picnic area and boat launch.  The Mohawk Hudson Bikeway passes through this site.  The state recently purchased a large upland area with extensive hiking trails through mature forests.
  • Aqueduct Park is a small park with docks for launching rowing skiffs and access to the Mohawk Hudson Bikeway.  An interpretive kiosk describing the “upper aqueduct” and rail history is currently being installed.  This park is soon to be expanded with restrooms and additional amenities offered by the Town of Niskayuna.
  • Collins Park and Freedom Park are popular parks adjacent to a local favorite family friendly Jumping Jacks food, ice cream, and beverage concession open during late spring into the fall.  These areas occupy a historic early farming community that blossomed into a suburban community in the early twentieth century.
  • Riverside Park in Schenectady’s Stockade section.  (Mentioned above with a photo.)

These are only a few of the recreational assets offered along the Mohawk Towpath Byway.  As I write this I remember a wonderful blog post by Ed Brown where he described his favorite Golf venues.  There is also an interactive map of all the public fishing asses spots within the Byway corridor.  These also double as excellent car top boat launch sites.  Come and discover your favorite recreation and favorite venues.  For those familiar with other recreational possibilities in the corridor and ones I may have overlooked please ad a comment.

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