“Without new experiences, something inside of us sleeps. The sleeper must awaken.”
“I see my path, but I don’t know where it leads. Not knowing where I’m going is what inspires me to travel it.”
-Rosalia de Castro
“Let me live where I will, on this side is the city, on that the wilderness, and ever I am leaving the city more and more, and withdrawing into the wilderness.”
― Henry David Thoreau
Today was a perfectly glorious day in the Hudson Valley. When I started hiking at 6:45 am, the temperature was a cool and refreshing 58 degrees with absolutely no humidity. The sky was blue and if only for the wisps of white fluffy clouds, the suns brilliance would have been absolute. For an early morning hike on July 20th, you weren’t going to get much better than this. Mornings like this are a rarity in this area for mid to late July, with days usually being much warmer and humid than what I was faced with today. Instead of being confronted with a hazy film and endless bugs that thought I was a good source of protein, the slight breeze that was present made my eventual journey into the woods a positive one
Leaving the house, the sun was slowly rising as I made my way around Lake Mahopac. I was amazed at its brilliance, but with no humidity to hinder its ascent, the warm glow basked everyone who was out shortly after sunrise.
One of the best things about hiking in Fahnestock State Park is its proximity to where I live. Traveling north on the Taconic State Parkway, it only takes 15 minutes to get from my front door to the trail head.
Parking alongside Route 301, the Charcoal Burners Trail makes a hasty retreat into the woods where it meets with the Perkins Trail (Y) about .1 of a mile after you start.
Slowly winding its way uphill, the trail snakes its way further and further away from the heavily traveled route 301.
If you have never done this hike before, you will be pleasantly surprised when you come out of the woods, turn left and begin walking on grass. It is a welcome change from the usual rocks and uneven terrain that are a staple of every trail.
As you walk through the grass, be prepared for your boots to get wet!!!
After a short distance you turn right and in front of you will be a gate. Make sure that as you make your way through this area, you stay on the trail as you will be hiking on private property.
Instead of being confined to a narrow rocky trail, once you pass through the gate the entire world opens in front you. Breathtaking in its scope, a myriad of photographic opportunities await as you take a moment to reel everything in.
As you continue hiking, you will see horses on your left and cows on the right. The trail continues on some really nice terrain, and even though the grass was wet with a cool morning dew, it was somewhat better than the trails we are used to in this area.
This was a great place to get some excellent pictures of the surrounding countryside. Without the summer haze that you would expect in mid July, the mountains in the distance were crystal clear. Even more interesting were the tractors, some dead and some alive, that seemed to inhabit the area. They added some nice character to the pictures that you see here.
Continuing on the grass, follow the trail markings (not hard to miss) and you will make the hard left turn.
After walking for another 10 minutes, you will eventually end up re-entering the woods. As with everything else, all good things must come to an end and the trail picks up exactly where it left off, in the woods.
Once you get back on the trail, you will see that it heads downhill for probably about a mile, ending at a small bridge. If you were to do this hike in reverse, you would have a pretty long climb, so if you decide to do this hike, choose your direction wisely! This is also an excellent place to stop and rest for a little bit because you have a small climb ahead of you.
After crossing Glynwood Road, the trail heads steeply up hill for approximately 1/4 of a mile and then turns on to a dirt where you will stay until it heads deeper into the woods.
As the trail gradually slopes downward, you will see a lake to your right. Now marked by Blue Blazes, this will continue to be the color of the blaze that you will follow for almost the rest of the hike.
As the trail winds around the lake, it begins a slow ascent back to the Charcoal Burners Trail where, one mile from the end of the hike, you can rest for a final time at yet another lake.
After you rest and get some good photos, cross the bridge and follow the blue blazes until they turn left. You will stay on the red Charcoal Burners trail until you reach Route 301.
Overall this hike is 6 miles long. Technically it isn’t a very difficult hike, but it does offer a couple of small climbs that will get your heart pumping. As you can tell by the pictures, it does, however, offer a wide range of scenery that will allow you to get some excellent photos.
Peace and happy hiking!!