Ioka Valley Farm in nearby Massachusetts, is known for its seasonal agricultural activities. Once a working dairy farm, it now sports “Farm Family Fun” including maple syrup making demonstrations, strawberry and pumpkin picking, an animal petting farm, hayrides, an extensive playground for children and adults, and numerous special events and you can even have breakfast with Santa before cutting or choosing your Christmas Tree!
Ioka Valley Farm, Route 43, Hancock, MA. (413) 738-5915
Goold Orchards is a family owned farm with fresh baked goods and pick-your-own apples and now includes Brookview Station Winery. Columbus Day weekend they hold an Apple Festival, a fun filled two day family event celebrating fall. There’s apple and pumpkin picking, vendors, music, dancing and more. www.goold.com
1297 Brookview Station Road, Castleton 12033. 518-732-7317
Liberty Ridge Farms has the Capital Region’s largest corn maze with plenty of outdoor family activities. Open September 1 to November 4. www.libertyridgefarmmaze.com. Call about picking strawberries and blueberries in season.
29 Bevis Road, Schaghticoke 12154. 664-1515.
The Tri-City Valley Cats, a minor league affiliate of the Houston Astros, play at Joe Bruno Stadium from mid-June through mid-September. It’s great baseball for the whole family. 80 Vandenburgh Ave., Troy 12180, near Hudson Valley Community College. www.tcvalleycats.com
Very little ground in this part of the world is level. Rt. 22 from Stephentown to Cambridge has wide shoulders ( except through the Village of Hoosick Falls ) and offers a smooth, though hilly, ride. Most of the best roads for bike-riding are not paved, so a mountain bike is more suitable than a road bike. The back roads in any of the towns in eastern Rensselaer County provide pleasant mountain-bike routes. Grafton Lakes State Park has 20 miles of trails; some smooth, some rocky with roots. If you’re extremely fit, another good ride is the Taconic Crest Trail from Petersburgh Pass to Berlin Mountain. Tibbits State Forest, Rts. 2 & 7 in Hoosick, is also popular with cyclists.
Eastern Rensselaer County has several beautiful lakes available to the public for boating. There are put-ins for non-motorized boats at Cherry Plain State Park, on all five lakes at Grafton Lakes State Park (electric motors allowed on Long Pond and Dunham Reservoir), and at the Dyken Pond Center.
From Memorial Day to Labor Day, row boats, pedal boats and canoes are available for rent at the main beach at Grafton Lakes State Park and Cherry Plain State Park ($7 per car admission to either park, $5-$8 per hour boat rental)
Cherry Plain State Park, 19 miles southeast of Grafton and 7 miles north of Stephentown, off NYS Rt. 22 on CCC Dam Road (518) 733-5400 / (518) 279-1155
Grafton Lakes State Park, off Rt. 2, Long Pond Road, Grafton, between Petersburgh and (518) 279-1155
Dyken Pond Environmental Center, 475 Dyken Pond Road, Cropseyville, NY (518) 658-2055, www.dykenpond.org
Tubing, kayaking and canoeing on the Hoosic River are also popular pastimes, but don’t do it alone. There is a put-in just off Route 22, north of the Route 7 intersection in Hoosick, known locally as the “Rock Cuts.” There is a public put-in just below the power plant dam in Hoosick Falls as well. Other places used for put-ins in the section between the Pownal Tannery dam and the cataracts at Hoosick Falls are not formal public access points.
There are public put-ins in Williamstown, MA, Pownal, VT, Buskirk, and Johnsonville. There’s also a put-in in North Adams off Route 2 on Ashton Ave.
For more information about where to put in, call the Hoosic River Watershed Association at (413) 458-2742 or log onto their website: firstname.lastname@example.org
For a different boating experience, try the Albany AquaDucks. They offer amphibious tours of historic Albany. Leaves from Quackenbush Square. Call 262-DUCKS. www.AlbanyAquaDucks.com
Closed for the summer months, Barbecue Recreation at 21303 State Route 22 in Hoosick is one of the busiest places around from September to April. There’s League bowling and some free time bowling. Call 686-9971.
From backcountry to RV camping, you’ll find a suitable accomodation in beautiful eastern Rensselaer County. Some campgrounds have a surprising list of amenities, and websites containing photos, directions and other useful information.
Cherry Plain State Park (see Boating) has 10 trailer sites and 10 lakeside tent sites available for overnight camping from early May until mid-October. Reservations may be made through Reserve America. The park has 175 acres and features a sandy beach on Black River Pond, with bathhouse and comfort station nearby. Picnic grounds and a boat launch are adjacent to the beach. The park also has bridle paths and hiking, biking and nature trails that serve for cross-country skiing in winter. Fishing year round. Household pets only; caged or on leash.
Broken Wheel Campground in Petersburgh has facilities that include 70 sites, all with water and some with electric, a Rec Hall containing bathroom facilities and free hot showers, convenience store, ping pong, pool table, library, arcade, fireplace and more. An attached pavilion is available for meetings and activities with public phone. LP Gas fill-station on site. Souvenir shop, inground pool, stream, playgrounds. Pets ok.
61 Broken Wheel Rd., Petersburgh, NY. 658-2925
Aqua Vista Campground, also in Petersburgh, is located along the Little Hoosic River, a Class A trout fishing river. It’s 61 acres contain 156 sites. 30 amp and 50 amp electric and water sites available. Onsite amenities include inground pool, laundry, free hot showers, convenience store, playground, RecRoom, arcade, fishing, hay rides, dancing, biking, billiards, propane, club/meeting room, modem hookup, pets allowed.
82 Armsby Road,Petersburgh, NY 12138 Toll Free: (877) 646-0653 or 658-3659 www.aquavistacampground.com
Backcountry Camping is allowed in State Forest areas such as the Taconic Crest, but not in the Capital District Wildlife Management Area in the southwest part of Berlin.
Backcountry campers must stay 150 feet away from roads, trails, lakes, ponds, streams or other bodies of water, unless the spot is marked by a “Camp Here” disk.
Groups of ten or more persons, or stays of more than three days in one place require a permit from the NYS Forest Ranger responsible for the area. Joe Hess is the Ranger for our area. He can be contacted by phone at 686-5317 or by email at email@example.com
Here are some rules for backcountry campers:
Do not use soap to wash yourself, clothing or dishes within 150 ft of water. Carry out what you carry in. Practice “leave no trace” camping and hiking.
Cross Country Skiing & Snowshoeing
The area’s scenic nature and hiking trails do double duty as cross-country and snowshoeing trails in the wintertime.
Cherry Plain State Park (see Boating) offers cross-country skiing and snowmobiling on bridle paths, hiking, biking and nature trails on some of its 175 acres.
Dyken Pond Environmental Education Center (see Boating) in Grafton has 6 miles of trails and occasionally offers group skiing excursions led by the Center’s staff. Call for conditions, directions, and schedule of outings, 658-2055.
Grafton Lakes State Park has 10 miles of beautiful cross-country skiing trails. There is no admission fee in winter. The Park Interpreter leads group skiing excursions. Snowshoe rentals are available. 279-1155 (see Boating)
Pineridge Cross Country Ski Area, in the foothills of the Taconic and Berkshire Mountains, is the largest cross-country ski area in the Capital District, offering hundreds of acres of unspoiled wilderness. Trails wind through forests of hardwoods and evergreens shared with deer, fox, turkey, beaver and otter. 35 Km of groomed and track set woodland trails for skiing. 15 Km ungroomed trails for snowshoeing and skiing. 20 Km skating trails. Night skiing on 4 Km of lighted trails. Professional ski instructors, ski rentals. Group programs. Complete retail shop. Lodge with fireplace, refreshments. All ages and abilities.
County Rt. 40 (Plank Road), E. Poestenkill, 6 miles west of Rt. 22. Open daily 9 am-4:15 pm. Night skiing available by reservation. Call 283-3652. www.pineridgeexc.com
Jiminy Peak, located in Hancock, Mass., calls itself “The Mountain Resort”. Last season’s lift ticket prices ranged from $15 for toddlers in the Novice area, to $52 for an 8-hour adult on weekends and/or holidays. Skiing, twilight skiing, tubing, lessons, rentals, events, lodging. Open 8:30 or 9 to 10:30 pm most days. Snowphone: (413) 888-4-jiminy. 37 Corey Rd., Hancock, MA (413) 738-5500 www.jiminypeak.com
The Hoosick River is a wild trout fishery and there’s good fishing to be found on the river along Route 346 from North Petersburgh to the VT line. Homewaters Chapter of Trout Unlimited (TU), in conjunction with the Rensselaer County Conservation Alliance and the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, stocks several local streams three times a year. These are the Walloomsac, which is good fishing along Rt. 67 to the VT line; the Kinderhook, good from Stephentown to the Columbia County line, and the Poestenkill, good from East Poestenkill to Rt. 2. The Hoosic River and Walloomsac have plenty of water all season. The Kinderhook and Poestenkill may be low in summer unless there’s a lot of rain. None of these waters is designated catch and release, but TU encourages the practice. Fishing licenses are required and can be purchased from your Town Clerk.
Grafton Lakes State Park has excellent fishing on several lakes, and has a handicapped accessible trail that leads to a handicapped accessible fishing pier on Long Pond. The park is open daily from 8 am to dusk.(See Boating)
Cherry Plain State Park also has areas popular for fishing. (See Boating)
Brunswick Greens features a pro shop, lessons, weekday and senior reduced rates as well as golf carts, pull carts and a clubhouse with banquet room available for meetings and social functions. Also a limited number of season passes, and various leagues that sometimes have openings. 1004 Hoosick Rd., Troy, NY. Call 279-3848. www.brunswickgreens.com
Burden Lake Country Club is an 18-hole, par 71 course of 6200 yards that is open to the public. It is recommended that you call 2 days in advance for tee times. Clubs and carts are available for rent. There is food at an outdoor pavilion, a golf pro available for lessons. 104 Totem Lodge Road, Averill Park, NY . Call 674-1770. www.burdenlakecc.com
Dutchaven Golf Course is a par 35, nine-hole course. The public is welcome. Refreshments and snacks are available, but there is no restaurant. Clubs can be rented. Greens fees: Weekdays: $10 for 9 holes; $13 for 18 holes. Weekends: $12 for 9 holes; $15 for 18. Carts: $8 per rider. State Route 67, Buskirk, NY. Call 753-7533 or 733-3167 .
Hoosick Falls Country Club has a 9-hole, semi-private course opened in 1928, to which the public is welcome. Tee times are not a requirement, but it’s a good idea to call ahead. Clubs and carts available for rent. Full-service bar and food available. Tuesday evening is Ladies League, Thursday evening, Men’s League. There is also a Wednesday evening league. Main office: 686-4210; Pro shop: 686-1967. 67 Richmond Ave., Hoosick Falls, NY
Ondawa Greens Golf Course and Driving Range has an Executive 9 hole golf course and picturesque driving range. Pull carts and golf carts available for rent. Open to the public. $8 per 9 holes; $14 per 18 holes. Range balls $5. Scotch Hill Road, Cambridge, NY, just North of Cambridge and just South of Routes 29 and 22; South of Salem. Call 854-3047.
Waubeeka Golf Course in south Williamstown, Massachusetts, is approximately 15 minutes’ drive east on Rt. 43 from Stephentown. There is an 18-hole course, a pro shop, paved cart paths, a grass driving range and clubhouse restaurant. Disabled accessible. The public is welcome and clubs can be rented. Tee times highly recommended. 137 New Ashford Rd., Williamstown, MA (413) 458-5869. waubeeka.com
One of the nicest trails in our area is the Taconic Crest Trail. Begun in 1948, the 35-mile trail generally runs on the state line between NY, MA and VT. It begins near Pittsfield, MA and ends off Rt. 346 in North Petersburgh, NY, (close to the border with Vermont) traversing mountain ridges, crossing the highest point in the county (Berlin Mountain at 2818 ft., 859 m), passing the highest lake in Massachusetts (Mt. Everett’s Guilder Pond), as well as the locally famous “Snow Hole”.
There are several road access points, allowing hikers to choose sections that match their abilities. One of the best places to start is from the parking area on Rt. 2 at Petersburgh Pass. From here you can either hike south to Berlin Mountain or north to the Snow Hole.
It’s a three-mile walk to the Snow Hole, a geologic anomaly famous for keeping snow well into the summer. Come see snow in July and ponder why it is so slow to melt here. Hikers note the location is incorrectly marked on the USGS topograpical maps.
Another good place to start is from the northern end. There is a small parking lot on Route 346, just on the New York side of the Vermont border, where Route 346 crosses the Hoosic River.
Much of the trail is within the Taconic Ridge State Forest, and provides hiking, mountain biking, x-country skiing and horseback riding in a relatively quiet area of abundant bird and wildlife and beautiful forests. Motorized vehicles are not permitted on the trail. The Taconic Trail provides a spectatular display of Pinksters (mountain azaleas) in early June. A trail guide is available from Taconic Hiking Club, 58 Irving St., Albany, NY 12202. The Club maintains the length of the trail in cooperation with NY and MA authorities.
Grafton Lakes State Park
On the forested mountain ridge between the Taconic and Hudson Valleys, this park includes 2,357 acres with 20 miles of hiking trails. Some trails are shared, some restricted for specific uses. Most trails are relatively level. The Dunham area of the parks is undeveloped and provides solitude and the opportunity to view birds, wildlife and rare plants. The fall is spectacular, with intermixed hardwoods and pine that provide stunning views and lake reflections. Open all year from 8 am to dusk. Cost: $7 per car Memorial Day to Labor Day. Rt. 2, Grafton. Call 279-1155.
Dyken Pond Environmental Education Center
The park has five miles of trail on county owned lands and two miles of trail on privately owned conservation lands. These trails are continuous and range from shorter, self-guiding trails to the Dyken Pond Long Trail. No motorized vehicles are allowed on the trails. No mountain biking or horseback riding on conservation lands. Self-guiding trails include the Abbot Farm Trail (History and Change); Cherry Trace (Woodland Management); and Witchhobble Wander (Plant Ecology). Open during daylight hours every day of the year. Call 658-2055 for directions and more information. dykenpond.org
Located in Poestenkill, NY, Barberville Falls, aside from a spectacular, 90-ft. waterfall and gorge beyond, has Ridge and Creek trails in the valley known for its display of wildflowers and mix of hemlock and hardwoods such as yellow birch, white ash and sugar and red maples. The 117-acre site is owned by the Nature Conservancy.The three trails leading around the falls are also known for being extremely slippery and dangerous in wet weather. Take care.
At Poestenkill (NY Rt. 351) turn onto County Route 40 (Plank Road). Continue 1.4 miles to parking area across from Broadside Cemetery.
There is also extensive State Forest Land in the eastern part of the county that provides hiking opportunities:
Cherry Plain State Park (see boating)
Tibbits State Forest – Located on NY Rt. 7 and Rt.22. Some 880 acres of woodland. Free and open to the public.
Pittstown State Forest – North of Grafton Lakes State Park, 1181 acres accessible from Ward Hollow Road off Tamarac Rd.
Berlin State Forest – 691 acres east of Berlin, accessible from Cowdry Hollow Rd.
Capital District Wildlife Management Area – 4,144 acres of upland with hiking trails, parking lot, and picnic area. Suitable for birdwatching, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, hunting, fishing and trapping. This area is located in the towns of Berlin and Stephentown on land surrounding Cherry Plain State Park. For more information call 357-2070.
Black River Stable – Trail rides, day camps, lessons, pony rides. Plan an extra special pony party for your youngster. 939 Black River Rd., Cherry Plain, 733-0080. BlackRiver Stable@aol.com. www.blackriverstable.com
Valley View Horses & Tack Shop – Valley View Farms, Pownal, VT. Horse sales and boarding. Extensive tack shop (also mobile) offering new and used tack. Call for appointment (802) 823-4649. Ask for Shelley or Jill.
Barbecue Recreation, Route 22, Hoosick. League begins the end of May. For infomation call Don Donisthorpe at 686-9079 or Jack Fitzsimmons at 686-5751.
Eastern Rensselaer County has an overpopulation of white tailed deer. The area is also a flyway for ducks and geese. There are ruffed grouse in the woods, and turkeys are regularly seen from the roadways. Many private properties are posted and owners are not willing to open their land to hunters. There is plenty of public land in the area that is open for hunting, however. These include:
Tibbits State Forest, portions of Grafton Lakes State Park, the Capital District Wildlife Management Area. During the season bucks go high and deep into the woods, which makes the ridges and trails on the Massachusetts and New York border and the New York/Vermont border popular hunting spots.
Hunting is encouraged on almost all DEC lands. Those in Rensselaer County are open to public hunting, subject to Environmental Conservation Law rules & regulations. dec.state.ny.us
Frear Park – Frear Ave. & Lavin Ct. Troy, NY – 270-4553
Grafton Lakes State Park – An area on North Long Pond is cleared for ice skating (weather conditions permitting). Open during daylight weekdays, lighted weekends for evening skating. Call 279-1155 for more information.
Town of Hoosick Skating Rink in the Town Park in Hoosick Falls has public skating most afternoons and some evenings. The rink has a Zamboni, but no refrigeration equipment, so as long as the weather is cold the surface is excellent. Small fee. Lessons, hockey and skate rentals avaailable. Call 686-4833 for schedule and conditions. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) – Ice Arena features public skating. RPI reserves the right to cancel without notice due to ice maintenance or at the management’s discretion. No hockey sticks, pucks, roughing or horseplay. Small fee. Call for available times.
Houston Field House at RPI
1900 Peoples Ave., Troy, N.Y. (518) 276-6262
You can pick your own apples, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, pumpkins and Christmas trees in season in eastern Rensselaer County and western Mass.
The Berry Patch Rt. 22, Stephentown, 733-1234
Ioka Valley Farm Rt. 43, Hancock, MA (413) 738-5915
Goold Orchards, Brookview Sta. Rd, Castleton, 732-7317.
Both Cherry Plain State Park and Grafton Lakes State Park have swimming beaches with lifeguards. Beaches are open Memorial Day to Labor Day, 10 am-7 pm. Lifeguards on duty weekends only until late June, daily thereafter. At Grafton Lakes, there is a lap lane for experienced swimmers. Entrance fee $7 per car.
Town of Hoosick Pool is open 1-6 pm daily in season. Night swim sessions from 6 to 8 pm. Swimming lessons for kids offered in four 2-week sessions. Small admission fee, lesson fees.
The Sand Bar on lower John Street in Hoosick Falls has two sand Volleyball Courts. They have a Spring/Summer League with 12 teams. The teams play Mon. from 6:30-9:30 pm and Weds and Thurs. from 6:30-8:30 pm. Mon. is a six person coed Fun League. Wed. is Four Woman and Four Man teams; very competitive, as is the Thurs. four person Coed League.
The Fall League starts in August. There’s sponsored teams. Call 686-0181 anytime to give it a try. The Leagues are always looking for subs, 18 and over.
St. Mary’s Academy holds a one week Summer Volleyball Camp at the Sand Bar.