The Saturday after the elections, to get away from all the stress, Yang and I took a four-mile hike on the Keystone Arch Bridges Trail. It was something! The trail leads through woods in Chester to one of the oldest set of stone railroad bridges in the country. And some of these bridges are still in use! Here is the first of these arched granite bridges that we saw, one that is still used. We just missed the train going over it.
To get to the other arch bridges, you have to do some hiking through the forests. The paths run along the river and then up and down some semi-tough slopes. However, the work is certainly worth it. There were some cool views of woods, streams, and rock formations.
Before we got to the other bridges, we came across some interesting abandoned or ruined structures. We could see this tower piercing through the denuded trees not too far off to the right of the trail as we started. I’m not sure what it is, so if anyone has an idea, let me know. We would have investigated on the way back – there was a drive off the trail – but we were really bushed.
I don’t know what this rock wall was originally. A foundation? A pen? A border demarcation? Can’t tell you. Cool, though, isn’t it?
We were able to check out two of the abandoned bridges. These were built around 1840, using blue-stone granite. This part of the line was eventually abandoned along with the bridges because in following the river, the rails had to take too sharp a curve for the speed of the trains. Disaster prevailed. To get to this bridge, we walked along where the old rail bed was, between high walls of rock that had been blasted and dug out in the early/mid-1800s. At the bridge, the tunnel of rock opened into a beautiful view of the surrounding mountains. There was still some color in the trees, so I could just imagine how gorgeous the vista would have been even a week earlier.
In this shot, you can see the handsome Yang sitting near the edge-I made sure his insurance was paid up before the hike. Click on the picture and look below him to the right to see the river. Above that, note the rest of the mountains to get an idea of how high up we are. To the left, you can see the path that came out of the rail bed we walked up between walls of rock.
This picture can give you an even better idea of how high up the bridge is. It’s taken on the same side of the bridge as the shot of Yang above, but from the other end of the bridge. Click on the picture and notice the tiny patches of blue at the bottom, on the river bank. Those tiny things are two people! Pretty far down, huh? The acoustics are darned good, though. We could hear those two girls laughing and joking as if they were right there on the bridge with us.
Here’s a shot of the other abandoned bridge, also on the same line. Though I didn’t get a picture of the surrounding hills, the view of them from here was also impressive, even with fall’s glory of color having passed. This trail is certainly worth a return trip at almost any time of year-well, maybe not through winter snows!
Click here for more information on the Keystone Arch Bridges Trail.
Yang and I have some specially favorite rail trails to ride, and one of these is the Pittsfield to Adams line. Even if we do it once in the spring, we have to do it again in the fall because the colors are so gorgeous! This year, we made our trip around the Columbus Day Weekend, on Tuesday. We thought we’d try something different by not going straight from Pittsfield to Adams, but by parking at the dam in the middle and first going down to Adams. Then we’d come back and having lunch at a restaurant near where we’d parked before continuing on to Pittsfield and returning. As you can see I was able to take some beautiful shots of hill full of colorful trees across the river from the parking area.
It was a gorgeous day, a little colder than the weather had been before, but the sun was out and the air was crisp. A warmer fall jacket did just nicely and the foliage was superb. I had to stop here, not only to enjoy the surrounding hills but to inspect what I thought might be a beaver’s dam.
I couldn’t help stopping to take pictures of some of the most wonderful flaming maples. It was so cool to see colors that went from crimson flame to soft orange all in one tree! I noticed that there weren’t too many scarlet leaves to see as we’d experienced in our first fall ride here. My guess is that those leaves had either lightened in color or fallen.
We ultimately cruised down the hill leading into Adams. I wished I could have taken shots of the dusky green woods and glacier-abandoned boulders on my right or the tumbling river on my left, but there was no stopping on that race down the hill. Just before we entered the town, we stopped to take some shots, with the gold, orange, flame hills shot with evergreen surrounding the town. The pale azure sky forms a complement of color. And here’s a most handsome guy in the foreground!
On the other side of the town, the trail runs along where the river has been channeled into a canal. Again, the hills embracing the town’s valley make you think that it must be glorious to wake up in the morning or return from work in late afternoon to such gorgeous colors surrounding you.
We may have raced down a hill to get into town, but we had to labor up it when we left. I may not be as young as I used to be, but I made it, albeit panting a bit at the end. I didn’t need a sign to tell me to Stop! Luckily, there ‘s a lovely little bridge where you can rest. Nice view, isn’t it?
You can tell by the look on my face that it was a loooong ride up. Thank God for water!
Wouldn’t you know that when we finally got back to the parking lot, it turned out that the restaurant was closed on the only day of the week we were there! We ended up having to forego the rest of the ride and scout out a place to eat in Pittsfield. That’s okay, though. We’d actually conquered the toughest part of the ride. Even better, we found this great little (literally) Italian restaurant in town, Brooklyn’s Best. Later, we took some fun pictures while walking off dinner. We discovered this neat little gargoyle above. I even made a new friend. Do you think Rosie and ‘Tasha will share their litter boxes with him?
A few weeks back, Yang and I had the pleasure of a stroll along the cliff walk in Nyack by the Hudson river. My friend and author Mya O’Malley had told me about this beautiful hike the day before when we went to see her at the West Nyack Free Library Book Fair. The walk runs along the bottom of these magnificent cliffs, just above the Hudson. Here’s a view of river and the trail as we started off. Even the area near where we started was really neat, check out the stone walls above.
While we strolled along, we were preceded by this charming fellow for the first 10 minutes of so. Does anyone know if this is a dragonfly or a damsel fly? Is this guy a particular breed of either? He was certainly a pleasant companion. Speaking of pleasant companions, there were plenty of people of all ages and backgrounds bicycling or walking (often with a dog or two), though not so many to make you feel crowded. Everyone had a friendly hello or smile or was happy to chat about the gorgeous day and the magnificent surroundings – such as the cliffs you saw if you turned to your left and looked straight up.
For much of the trail, woods rose up and obscured views of the striking rock wall, but frequently they cleared to show you these inspiring cliffs. Yang pointed out that you can also walk trails along the top of the cliffs – and walking along the river trail, you could see some trails leading upwards through the woods. I think a return in the fall, when autumn colors are blooming is clearly in order!
We didn’t see a much wildlife, but I was curious about these berries. They look a great deal like black caps, but they are much bigger and the pod left over after the fruit is gone is definitely larger and a different color from that of black caps. Anyone have any conjectures on identity?
Something else we saw that I found fascinating were curious rock formations. Now look at this one. Isn’t it much like a monstrous head? Note the circles of lichen that are shaped like and located where you’d expect to see eyes. Then there are the indentations between those circles, evoking the image of a nose. How can you miss the giant, horizontally elongated mouth with crooked teeth of rock?
Right here is one of the most interesting formations in the cliff. Can you pick out the skull in the upper part of the cliff, just to the right of center, with almost square indentations for eyes sockets and an upturned nose with the slash of tiny mouth beneath?
No? How about in this close up? Seems like an inspiration for a story of horror or fantasy, doesn’t it? Maybe more fantasy than horror, since the skull seems to be a bit on the cheery side – or is it delighted at the prospect of perpetrating hideous havoc?.
The towering cliffs certainly inspire an intimidating, eerie grandeur, don’t they? I wonder if they inspired Mya O’Malley when she wrote her supernatural mystery/romance Maggie? I could see them when I was reading her novel.
Still, the hike was not entirely eerie. As I said, we met and talked with many nice people – some of whom suggested different roads we might take along the trail. This was my favorite sight on the trail, the handsome guy who accompanied me!