A neglected trail that will link up Clifton Park and Halfmoon is being brought back to life. The renovation will lengthen the 4.4-mile Vischer Ferry Nature Preserve by a 10th of a mile – while that may not seem like much, it’s actually an extensive and necessary project.
Not only will hikers be excited about this new route, but bird watchers in particular will want to give this trail a try!
The $2.1 million project consists of a $1.6 million grant from the Transportation Enhancement Program (TEP) which was awarded to both Clifton Park and Halfmoon, with the remaining $500,000 coming from the two towns.
Plans for the route include a new pedestrian bridge and elevated boardwalk over Wager’s Pond, and the restoration of a broken trail. The trail will be 10 feet wide, lined with crushed stone dust, and will include entry signs. Up until now, the route has been overgrown, broken, and impossible to get through. The project is expected to be complete by the end of the year, at which time hikers and others will be able to travel from Rexford’s Ferry Drive to Halfmoon’s Clamsteam Road through this path.
Birders in particular are excited about this new development – many sought-after bird species, like the American bittern and least bittern, live in the marsh this trail goes through. While they don’t often come out into the open, this new path will allow bird watchers to at least hear the birds as they’re passing through; listening for bird sounds is a significant component of birdwatching.
“For me as a birder, the importance of the [connecting trail] will be opening up birding areas because they were mostly inaccessible for birding, except by boat,” John Hershey, a member of the Hudson-Mohawk Bird Club, told the Times Union.
Although hikers, birders, and other outdoor enthusiasts will certainly be thrilled to experience this new trail, the project truly benefits the entirety of the two towns it’s connecting, and the county at large. Plans for this extended trail have been in the works for years, and the project is part of a larger goal of expanding and preserving open spaces in Saratoga County.
Since 2000, public parks have been a large priority in Clifton Park specifically, with the town aggressively opening up these spaces. In the past 16 years, more than 13 miles of trails have been added and more than 1,300 acres preserved. With this new trail being restored and expanded upon, we can only expect more outdoor recreational spaces and opportunities to continue to blossom in Southern Saratoga County.
Even more plans are already in place for 2017: a Mohawk River scenic outlook, a kayak and canoe access at Ferry Drive, and a pedestrian bridge at Clute’s Dry Dock.
- Times Union: Clifton park, Halfmoon to connect with trail restoration