Hike Distance: 7.99 Miles
Trails: Perimeter, Yellow, Blue, Orange
I did this hike clockwise. I was the third car in the parking lot (at the visitors center parking lot) but there were many more cars when I finished. Just as I parked it started snowing out, really, just flurries. It would flurry a couple of times on the hike; though there was no accumulation. There were plenty of printed trail maps at the kiosk which I haven’t seen in quite a while.
From the visitors center lot, I walked down to the boat ramp. One boat was on the water fishing. There is a bulletin board of all the large fish taken from the reservoir.
If you are hiking clockwise, the path will be wide, flat, and mostly crushed stone. For this whole portion of the hike there are great views of the reservoir – for much of the time you are no further than 20 yards from the water’s edge.
While walking the Perimeter trail, there are convenient markers that tell you how far you have walked.
The first dike I came to was the SE Dike. I was not prepared for crossing the dikes and dams. All of the hiking is in the woods, except for the dikes and dams. While crossing the dikes and dams you will be exposed to the wind, and it was pretty cold. And because of that, I typically just kept crossing and didn’t stop for too long. I did take this picture looking across the reservoir.
After taking this picture, a shadow started covering me. I looked up to see a bald eagle heading towards me. It was the first bald eagle I would see (I saw a second about an hour later) and those birds are big. He flew off into the trees. I didn’t know it at the time, there are numerous eagle nesting areas throughout the reservoir.
The dam is much larger than the dikes, and looking down the land-side of the dam, it drops pretty far. There was a stairway that headed down, but it was closed off – and I doubt I would have tried it – it is a steep stairwell.
Here’s a view off the dam looking southwest.
A little further down the dam I could see something swimming towards the rocks. I thought it was a beaver, but the tail was too skinny. It came to the edge, scrambled up some of the rocks, then saw me. He would dart in and out of the rocks playing hide and seek. I finally got a picture. It’s zoomed in, so not the best. But you can see an otter in front of a horizontal log.
After crossing the dam, the trail heads off into the woods and becomes more of a traditional trail. The trail moves further away from the reservoir but at times comes close to a road. Fortunately, there are not many cars zooming along.
There’s a nice “beach” to stop at.
After you pass the parking lot that connects to Fox Farm Road, the Perimeter trail joins with the Warren Highlands Trail. You will stay on this trail until the parking lot for the Inlet / Outlet Tower.
Just before I took the next picture I would see another eagle flying off towards the center of the reservoir.
There are numerous areas throughout the reservoir where there are stands of pine trees.
After crossing a footbridge I decided to veer away from the reservoir and explore some of the other trails and ruins. When you get to the “colored” trails, you will find signs and maps at every trail junction. You shouldn’t get lost in this area of the park.
I veered off on the orange trail that parallels the Upper Merrill Creek.
This section of the park is very damp and muddy. Further, the little bridges over the wetter sections were treacherously slippery. I thank the Girl Scout and Boy Scout troops that installed the bridges, but they were treacherous today.
Here’s a picture of the ruins of the Upper Beers Farm.
Further down the Blue trail, are ruins of the Lime Kiln.
As I traveled down the Blue trail, I came across ruins of the Spring House.
Finally, as I got closer to the Visitors Center, I came across a stand of real large pine trees. It was dark and really quiet and had a great view of the water.
This is a great park to hike. There are a couple of hills, but nothing terribly steep or for too long. The northwest section of the park has more traditional trails and it is in this section that you will find more rocks. I thoroughly loved seeing the eagles and to see an otter, I’ve read that snow geese migrate here and are a great site to see as well.