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Winter complicates hiking. I don’t like to wear spikes or snowshoes unless I have to, so the winter months are the ideal time to explore some of the simpler nature trails in the Lake George Area. After another March snowstorm narrowly missed the region, and with spring about to bloom, I decided to head out for one more winter walk before mud season begins. When I arrived at the Warren County Nature Trails, I discovered that in the woods, winter is still hanging on.
The Warren County Nature Trail & Nordic Ski System is located in Warrensburg, next to Cronin’s Golf Resort and on the banks of the Hudson River. They consist of 3.5 miles of easy, stress-free walking trails and short, moderate hills that are perfect for hiking, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing. I pulled into the enormous parking lot, grabbed the camera, and began on the blue trail.
The blue trail is about three feet wide, lined with tall pines and still covered with inches of snow. This trail system is obviously popular for walking and snowshoeing because the snow was tamped down with recent tracks. The weather was stellar. The sun blazed warm rays on my face. I had to reach into my bag for sunglasses.
The trail runs on a straight line deep into the woods. Blue trail markers are common and easy to locate, though the trail is so obvious that you don’t need the blue spheres. I could hear cars behind me on Golf Course Road, birds chirping in the dripping trees, and in the distance the faint sound of the rushing Hudson. After only a few minutes of walking the Hudson River was in sight. I bypassed a fork towards the yellow trail and headed for the water.
The Hudson River is beautiful in the wintertime. The middle was wide open and flowing, and the banks on both sides were covered in ten or twelve feet of ice and snow. Huge pieces of ice had fallen off the main freeze, lying precariously close to the river. I walked to the bank and snapped a few photos, but I didn’t follow the anonymous footprints onto the chunks of ice. Deep crevasses from ice ramming into ice was convincing enough to keep me off.
I took a right turn on the blue trail and kept walking with the river to my left. The trees on this trail are huge. Mile-high pines lined both sides of the path, towering into the blue sky like skyscrapers in a metropolis. It was warm enough for me to take off my jacket.
The blue trail leads to a clearing at the end of the lengthy avenue of pines. I scampered down to the riverbank again to take some pictures of the water from a different perspective. The amount of piled-up ice was staggering.
Finally, I came to a fork in the trail, and I had to make a decision. To the left was the yellow trail, rated difficult, and the blue trail continued to the right. I opted for the blue route knowing I would have another chance to hop trails in a few minutes. The blue trail, used by fewer people on this portion, narrowed and took a meandering path through the woods. More tall pines blocked out the sun in some spots, but I’d worked up a sweat earlier while walking through the sun.
A few minutes later I jumped to the yellow trail and found my first hill of the hike. The trail here was narrow, like a single-lane highway through the woods. The hill was gradual but short, and soon enough I was back on flat ground. Several more ups and downs added some variety to the hike, but I still hadn’t found anything difficult. After an intersection with the red trail, there was a steep hill, softened by the sun, which had me slipping and sliding in my boots. At the bottom of that hill, I’d finished the most difficult part of the system.
At the bottom of the hill, I found myself back on the blue trail, having completed a loop. I retraced my steps with the Hudson now on my right. Before hanging a left to continue back towards the parking lot I walked down a little herd path to see a snowman someone had built. It was slowly dripping onto the dirt, another sign that spring was approaching. His head was gone and his sticks-for-arms were going to fall out next.
I decided to explore the yellow trail I bypassed on my way in before I left the trails behind. I followed it to a strip of power lines behind the cabins and parking lot at Cronin’s Golf Resort. This portion of the yellow trail was barely used. I found myself trudging through deeper snow than I had previously stumbled on. Those who brought their Nordic gear could continue onto the trail at Cronin’s. I was in hiking boots so I followed the yellow trail and ducked back into the woods, eventually meeting up with the parking lot.
The Warren County Nature Trail and Nordic System is a unique and gorgeous set of trails, with the Hudson River starring in the show. I’d like to explore the trails in the warmer months to see the river without the tons of ice on the banks. Hikers looking for a challenge can skip these trails, as they’re more suited for dog-walkers and cross-country skiers. If you’re searching for a simple ski or a walk in the sun before the snow melts, these are the trails for you.