By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant
Need more motivation to get out and walk? Scenic places to walk on a winter’s day abound in Upstate New York.
“I believe in the regenerating power of walks in nature,” said Wayne County-based freelance nature photographer Chris Kenyon.
The following are just a small sample of the many places to walk this winter:
The Empire State Trail combines trail networks to connect New York City through the Hudson River Valley, west to Buffalo along the Erie Canal, and north to the Champlain Valley and Adirondacks. All told, the trails include750 miles of walking pleasure, representing vast diversity of New York’s cities, towns and rural areas. Wherever you travel in these regions, find a piece of the Empire State Trail to enjoy.
Catskill Scenic Trail provides mountain vistas from its well-groomed trail. While hiking in the Catskills sounds challenging, this trail has only gentle inclines for an easy hike.
Glimmerglass State Park overlooks Otsego Lake and includes a historic covered bridge, thought to be the oldest example in the US.
Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge offers winter birders plenty of opportunities to view feathered friends on its 9,000 acres of protected lands and managed wetlands for wildlife. Some trails close in mid-December, so check the website before heading out.
Sterling Nature Center along Lake Ontario includes 11 trails on 700 acres and an Interpretive Center. A favorite path is the Huron Trail, which includes woodlands, meadows, beaver-created wetland, man-made wetland, vernal pools, streams and Lake Ontario, all within a mile.
Explore history along the Heritage Trail Plattsburgh. If you prefer history over nature, this trail includes walks along the Riverwalk Park, alongside monuments, the Clinton County Historical Museum, and other points of interest along the Saranac River.
Open all winter, Beaver Lake Nature Center offers walkers opportunities to enjoy nine miles of trails and explore several habitats in one park. Bring along your camera to snap images of winter birds. Check the park’s website for a listing of educational programming and special events.
Cornell’s Mullestein Winter Garden defies the stereotype that gardens are only interesting in summertime. The trees and plantings at Mullestein were selected for their intriguing coloring, bark textures, shapes and cones and berries. See the colorful blood red dogwood, numerous evergreen species, and the twisted, white limbs of Harry Lauder’s walking stick, among many more. The one-acre garden includes 700 trees and plantings to view.
Get back to nature at Reinstein Woods Nature Preserve where trails lace 292 acres of forest, ponds, wetlands and the occasional covered bridge. The Beech Tree Trail boasts the largest beech in New York.
At almost 65,000 acres, Allegany State Park includes a few easy trails, including the Red Jacket Loop, that’s under a mile and flat terrain. The Red House area has five miles of paved trails.
Enjoy six miles of rugged trails at Grand Lake Reserve. Five of those are shoreline, so hikers can take in picturesque views of the lake.
Check a venue’s website before heading out, as a trail or the entire venue may be closed. Depending upon the snow and the location, snowshoes may be helpful. Wear appropriate footwear and especially if you will be on a longer nature trail, let someone else know where you are going and how long you expect to be gone. Taking a cell phone with you is also a good idea; however, not every area has adequate coverage.