Sunday, August 30, 2009

Pilot Knob Ridge Trail

Today was my first time up this trail. In fact, I didn't even know I was going up it until 10 minutes after waking up today, and was thus not prepared for the steepness and rockiness I would encounter (and am now suffering from a mild rolled ankle, oops). But it was fantastic. It is habitat similar to that of the side of Moreau Lake State Park facing the river, with uphill forest habitat and uphill habitat with shorter trees (most bearing nuts of some sort), so having a lower canopy. There's also a great lookout with a gazebo containing a flat, meadow-y area with plenty of goldenrod. You can sit at the gazebo or the nearby bench and look out over a large portion of southern Lake George. I spotted one of the little cruise ships (I believe it was The Mohican) the Lake George Steamboat company has for rides.

Also at the Pilot Knob Ridge if you keep going on a second trail past the gazebo is a pretty waterfall with very cool water (yes, I stuck my hand in). Totally worth the long trek out. Also, if you're birding, keep an eye to the sky on this trail - I had a hawk flyover. It was too brief to ID, but I was still excited.

Very quiet on these trails this time of year - I'm not sure if migration is simply in full-swing or is dying down now, but either way it has definitely affected birding.

- Downy Woodpecker (1)
- Blue Jay (2)
- Mourning Dove (1)
- American Goldfinch (1)
- Black-capped Chickadee (about 40! I did not count birds on the way back, either)
- American Crow (1)
- Eastern Wood-Pewee (3)
- White-breasted Nuthatch (1)
- Cedar Waxwing (4 - only near the gazebo)
- Pileated Woodpecker (1 - heard off in distance)
- Red-eyed Vireo (2)
- Common Raven (2)

Also spotted a red eft and a cool little snail with a pale yellow shell. There was also plenty of mushrooms/fungi I could not ID, MANY white corals near the beginning of the blue trail, and you can spot a lot of trees with lightning damage up there. My favorite was a tree snapped in half with rust-colored wood.

Pilot Knob Ridge has an interesting story behind how it came to be a preserve. You can read a little bit about it here:

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