February 24, 2016

North Country Trail: Art Park

My normal work schedule is four days a week, so I occasionally have part of a day to myself when Frankie is at school.  Between appointments and errands, snow days and school vacations, it doesn't happen every week -- not even close.  But every now and then, things line up perfectly for me.  I am excruciatingly prone to cabin fever this time of year, so when I realized I'd have such a day to myself this week, I was determined to get out for a hike.  It was a no brainer.   

I've been hiking at the Stone Quarry Art Park many times over the years.  A section of the North Country National Scenic Trail (NCT) passes through the property, and I have often wondered where it goes once it leaves the Art Park.  I decided I'd find out today.  I left my car at the trailhead along Chenango Street just south of the village of Cazenovia, and hiked the cross-country portion of the trail to Stone Quarry Road, then turned around and re-traced my path back to my car.  I used the MapMyRide app to track my mileage at 4.9 miles round trip. 

When I hike with Frankie, I generally look for favorable atmospheric conditions; we're fair weather hikers for the most part.  Luckily I am not bound to such conventions for solo hikes, because the weather today was practically foul.  It was pouring rain when I woke up, and still raining when I took Frankie to school.  It was 31 degrees, so my car was nicely coated with ice, but the roads were not slippery so I continued on my way.  It rained for the entire drive to Cazenovia, and was still raining when I got to the trail head.  I donned my rain gear and headed out.  When I got back to my car afterwards, it was still raining, but had warmed up to 32 degrees.  I didn't see another human the entire hike. 

I didn't even bring my camera because of the rain, but did take a bunch of pictures with my phone.  Between the trail I hadn't been on before and the different installations at the Art Park, I couldn't just couldn't resist.  The first part of the trail passes quite close to a residential subdivision, skirting a few backyards.  However, the trail is a super narrow single track (the best!) and moves away from the houses quickly.  It winds through stream valleys and squeezes through hedgerows along the edge of farm fields.  There are a lot of welcome improvements in the way of plank bridges.  The trail is extremely well signed, with lots of blue markers evident. 

There is no signage indicating the Art Park boundary, but the petrified stump exhibit is a give away that one has arrived!  The Art Park has a lot of trails I did not walk on today (and a lot of additional installations); I stuck to the NCT and followed the markers all the way across the property.  Stone Quarry Road was my turn around point for the day.  Despite the cold rain, I really enjoyed myself out there.  I don't have enough solitude in this phase of my life, and just hearing my own thoughts in my head was a real treat.  And I found the trail to be charming and lovely, as well.

The shingles are a nice touch on the bridges -- they significantly reduce slipperiness in wet conditions.
white pine (Pinus strobus)

In south-facing areas, the snow had mostly melted except a spine along the trail.

Rest in peace, Mike.  Thank you for sharing your property and waterfall! 
Mike's Falls

The petrified stumps serve as notice that the trail has crossed into the Stone Quarry Art Park.

I guess it's maple season already.
The sap is flowing.

My favorite installation is still here!

My turn around point: Stone Quarry Road.
The blue NCT markers are visible on the telephone poles down the road. 
I left the trail briefly to get a closer look at the horse sculptures.
The ski slopes are barely visible through the rain to the southwest.

beechdrops (Epifagus virginiana)

1 comment:

  1. Wish I could have been there, too, love seeing the pix and coming along. I may never be able to take long hikes again . . . :(