With the temperatures warming up, it’s a great time to visit Schoharie Crossing.
Featuring: David Brooks, Education Director at Schoharie Crossing
David Brooks is the education director at Schoharie Crossing State Historic Site. The Visitor Center is open seasonally from May to October or by appointment. The historic site grounds are open from sunrise to sunset every day of the year. Find out more and to access a trail map, contact the site SchoharieCrossing@parks.ny.gov or visit: https://www.parks.ny.gov/historic-sites/schohariecrossing
Snowshoeing and cross-country skiing have been very popular events this winter. Schoharie Crossing is a wonderful place to get some fresh air with beautiful scenery. Parking is available at the Visitor Center, on 129 Schoharie Street in Fort Hunter.
The total mileage on this walk was about 5 miles. There are other options – from the Visitor Center there is a mile loop along the Woodchuck Walk and a left (westward) back on the Towpath Trail. Walking just to or from Yankee Hill is about 2.5 miles and can be the same distance as a return on the Towpath Trail or Empire State Trail (Canalway bike path). Folks could also park at Yankee Hill or the Southside of Amsterdam to just walk the Eagle Trail.
David writes- “After checking out the remains of the Schoharie Creek Aqueduct, start your day on the Woodchuck Walk (blue trail) along the towpath of the original Erie Canal “Clinton’s Ditch” from the Visitor Center to Empire Lock 29 –near the center of our historic site. (You can almost hear those mules pulling barges) It is where the original canal eventually (in 1845) became the feeder for the Enlarged Erie Canal. There is quite the noticeable difference to the landscape between those two eras of canal, and in the magnitude of the locks as well. It is THE place to witness those two canal eras so closely side by side. Then cross over Empire Lock by use of footbridges where the gates once operated and head further eastward on the red marked Towpath Trail toward Yankee Hill Lock. During that couple of miles, we’ll pass by a portion of old stone quarry, the Wemps Basin on the canal, and travel directly between the old canal prism and the Mohawk River. If you’re lucky, we may see some seasonal waterfowl or other scurrying little critters along the way.”
Schoharie Creek Aqueduct, located off the Overlook Trail
Once you head eastward-you will find the red marked Towpath Trail toward Yankee Hill Lock.
“When you make your way to Yankee Hill Lock, you will encounter the Putman Canal Store which operated from about 1855 to 1910, servicing canal needs from hay and oats to leather goods, rope, lamp oil, candles, food, and alcohol. Just across the river is Old Fort Johnson, and Yankee Hill has had a long history from the colonial era to the modern day. Stop for a moment and enjoy the rich history and beautiful scenery. The Empire State Trail through Montgomery County used to be the West Shore train line on the southside.”
A couple Friends of Schoharie Crossing on the Towpath Trail at Empire Lock #29.
Sign on the Towpath Trail before reaching Yankee Hill Lock.
Stopping for a few moments at the Putman Canal Store to enjoy the historic locks and listen to the train passing by on the northside of the Mohawk River.
“From Yankee Hill, we’ll head off Schoharie Crossing grounds but onto the Friends of Schoharie Crossing’s Eagle Trail that runs parallel to the Mohawk River and Empire State Trail.” (For more information on this newer trail, check out this article from Canalwaytrailtimes.org https://canalwaytrailtimes.org/2019/10/25/new-eagle-trail-now-open-near-schoharie-crossing-state-historic-site/)
“This two and a half mile extension along the old Erie Canal towpath is a more natural and unpaved walking path then the bike trail, but it provides a closer and better view of the River along the way with a tree canopy for shade on summers sunny days. The Eagle Trail currently hooks up to the Empire State Trail just west of the bocce ball courts and boat launch in South Amsterdam – formerly Port Jackson on the canal.”
Riverside views off the Eagle Trail of today’s canal infrastructure at Lock E11
The southside of Amsterdam is a great place to explore and take a break for a nice lunch or dinner. There are plenty of restaurants to explore. Please visit www.visitmontgomerycountyny.com, or https://www.amsterdamny.gov/our-city/visiting-amsterdam for dining, lodging, and shopping options! It is a good idea to call ahead to ensure tables are available.
Check it out in every season. Looking forward to walking this trail in the summer as well, then walk around the MVGO and Riverlink Park. Spring is around the corner! Wait until the tulips bloom.
Special thanks David Brooks, to the Friends of Schoharie Crossing, and Amsterdam Community and Economic Development team Amanda Bearcroft, and Gina DaBiere-Gibbs for contributing pictures, and participating on this cold, sunny day!