This blog highlights some of my adventures with the focus on railroad history. Originally intended as a blog of my rail trail rides, it now also includes hikes, railroad trips and even stop-and-go car trips if they are railroad history related...

Monday, November 11, 2013

Vischer Ferry Nature & Historic Preserve

November 11th, 2013
Approximately 5 miles of hiking and riding

The morning was beautiful but cold so I ventured out to explore the Vischer Ferry Nature & Historic Preserve.

Clutes' Dry Dock

Coming westward on Riverview Road, the first spot of interest is Clutes' Dry Dock. The trails DID NOT look road bike friendly so I explored it by foot.

Incredibly, a dry dock for canal boat repair and a small village existed here until 1907. The dry dock area is now used for a canoe/kayak boat launch and the old canal looks enticing to explore via the water.

I hiked the dry dock area taking photos and then hiked westward on the tow path trail. It seemed to go on forever. 

I certainly will return next year with my fat-tired mountain bike and check out this two-mile-plus trail - it looks like an easy but fun ride!  :-)

Whipple Bridge - Main Entrance

I drove further westward and found the main entrance to the Preserve via Whipple Bridge.

The parking lot was completely full - this is a popular spot for those who know about it! The kiosks were very informative...

View of the Erie Canal from the bridge...

I rode in and wished again for my mountain bike as the trails weren't really appropriate for a road bike. I kept it slow the whole time and marveled at the sturdiness of the Secteur Bike I was riding!! It held up the whole time :-)
It is a fascinating place, alternating between marshy scrub and mossy forests. It kinda reminded me of the Bayou I visited while in Louisiana.

 Down by the river's edge I encountered deer tracks...
and then rode thru an mossy tree-lined area...

and came across this mysterious looking edifice: two orange poles - with a plaque...

I have no idea what it is. If any visitors know more about this, please comment below!  

The Trails

I strung together this movie based on a series of hand-held movie clips I took while riding to give a better idea of the trails and variety of trees and plants I encountered. The section of the park with all of the downed trees is probably the restricted area I inadvertantly rode thru (or skirted the edge of). [It is marked on the kiosk map as a restricted area where canal dredging spoils are deposited.]

view on YouTube >

Lock 19

The sun was shining nicely by the time I reached the old Canal Lock.
Watch a video of this spot...

Tow Path on out..
From there I headed straight back out  along the tow path. It was a bit rooty for the road bike but nothing popped :-). All along the way, vestiges of the old canal days crept out from under the brush: retaining walls, farmer's bridge abutments, etc.

This 1898 map indicates the farmer's roads that traversed the flat land.

The last stretch was especially charming as the sun came out again full blast and glistened off the water on both sides....

Watch the video of this section


This was definitely a trek with more history and nature than exercise and riding but nevertheless an interesting couple of hours for sure. I'll be back with fat tires and next time and plan on bombing (riding high speed) on all the trails!

Further Info about the Park

Vischer Ferry Nature & Historic Preserve >
NY Heritage Historic Photos >

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