Outward bound with the Hudson Valley Ramble

Remember when the Hudson River Valley Ramble used to last only one weekend? Nowadays it runs for three, beginning September 10 to 11, so it’s time to start checking out the schedule and marking up your calendar with the don’t-miss outdoor offerings on your personal wish list.

The Hudson River Valley Ramble celebrates the trails, the river and the hiQstoric and cultural resources of the Hudson River Valley Greenway and National Heritage Area. That spans quite a broad geographic area: Albany, Columbia, Dutchess, Greene, Orange, Putnam, Rensselaer, Rockland, Saratoga, Ulster, Washington, Westchester and those portions of New York and Bronx Counties adjacent to the Hudson River, as well as New York City’s Waterfront Revitalization Program area. So you have many choices of guided hikes, bike rides, paddles and other organized outdoor events both close to home and far afield. Labor Day may be past now, and the kids back to school; but summer doesn’t end astronomically until Friday of the final Ramble weekend, so it’s not too late to squeeze in just a little more warm-weather staycation fun.

What follows is a selection of just a few among the hundreds of Ramble events that Alm@nac readers may find appealing. You can find links to descriptions of lots more at www.hudsonrivervalleyramble.com/Events.aspx. Just bear in mind the fact that Hurricane Irene has damaged many popular outdoor recreation areas in our region, and even made access impossible to many of them. The New York/New Jersey Trail Conference posts detailed status updates about local trails at www.nynjtc.org/news/postirene-message-hikers-trail-maintainers. Ramble organizers also recommend that you contact the designated leader for the event that you wish to attend for additional information.


Sundays, September 11, 18 & 25:

Kingston Sailing Club Fall

Racing Series

This is a weekly event for wannabe sailors, extending even beyond the official three weeks of the Ramble, so you may find an ongoing obsession if you attend one of these. Each Sunday at 10 a.m., the Hudson River Maritime Museum hosts a “skippers’ meeting” where both experienced and novice sailors are welcome. No boat? The Club will find you a boat and a skipper who could use a new crewmember. New to racing? Club members would be happy to come out and coach you on your own boat.

The group races for about four hours beginning at 12 noon on the Hudson just off Port Ewen, with courses dependent on the wind each week. You must call ahead to reserve a spot if coming to crew on a boat. Bring clothing appropriate to the weather, beverages and non-marking footwear. If bringing your own boat to race, please call or e-mail for specifics. Contact Ian Westergren at ian@spw.com or (845) 331-1264, and visit www.kingstonsailingclub.org to find out more.

Saturday, September 17 (rain date

September 24): John Burroughs

Slabsides Ramble

Slabsides, the rustic West Park retreat of 19th-century superstar naturalist John Burroughs, is a true treasure of the mid-Hudson region that is unfortunately only open to the public a few weekends out of the year. This guided hike sets out at 10 a.m. on September 17 from Slabsides itself, and afterwards you’ll enjoy the rare privilege of touring the interior of the cabin, furnished as it was during the great man’s lifetime. But first you get to experience a newly completed system of well-developed trails through the pristine woodlands of the John Burroughs Sanctuary.

This is an intermediate-level interpretive walk of less than a mile, featuring readings from Burroughs’ works. The route will include talus piles and some rough terrain requiring above-the-ankle boots, but few steep ascents. For more information, contact Jason Dempsey at the John Burroughs Association by phone at (845) 332-6808 or via e-mail at Inarcadiai@yahoo.com.

Friday, September 9:

Harvest MoonWalk

Normally, the Hudson Valley Rail Trail passing through the Town of Lloyd is not open to the public after dark. The sole exception is the annual Harvest MoonWalk, suitable for all ages (with little ones in strollers). It sets out at 7:30 p.m. this Friday evening (the Moon won’t actually be full until Monday) from the Hudson Valley Rail Trail Depot at 101 New Paltz Road in Highland, heading westward to Tony Williams Park at South Riverside Road. The walk is an easy two-and-a-half miles round-trip on a 12-foot-wide, level paved surface.

Bring flashlights, but leave dogs, pets, bikes, scooters, rollerblades and skateboards at home. The evening’s festivities will include a bonfire and storyteller, and donuts, popcorn and cider will be served. Admission is $5; children age 6 and under can come along for free. For more info contact Claire Costantino at the Hudson Valley Rail Trail Association by calling (845) 691-2066 or e-mailing rebena1@aol.com.

Sunday, September 18:

What You See

and What You Don’t See

When was the last time that you had the opportunity to take a Magical Mystery Tour? In 1895, Staatsburgh’s landscape architect designed a glorious landscape that showcases the good life in the Gilded Age while deliberately hiding the technology and labor that make a turn-of-the-century estate run. Next Saturday at 1 p.m., you can enjoy a leisurely guided stroll through the grounds at the Staatsburgh State Historic Site, a/k/a Mills Mansion in Staatsburg, exploring what you see…and what you don’t see.

You can complete your day’s outing with a house tour costing $8 for adults, $6 for seniors. Children under 12 get in free, but the one-and-a-half-hour walk is not recommended for children under the age of 8. For more information contact the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation at (845) 889-8851, extension 338, or e-mail donald.fraser@oprhp.state.ny.us.

Sunday, September 18:

Springside Site Guided Tour

Surprisingly situated just off the commercial wasteland that is Route 9 on the south side of Poughkeepsie, Springside National Historic Landmark is the 20-acre landscape remaining from the original “ornamental farm” designed in 1850 for Matthew Vassar by Andrew Jackson Downing, America’s first landscape designer. At 2 p.m. next Sunday, a one-hour guided tour of Springside will follow the site’s carriageways and illustrate the beautiful and picturesque in landscape design.

Participants are advised to wear “sensible shoes” – which one would think would be a no-brainer for anyone going hiking, but you’d be amazed at how many people (teenage girls especially) you’ll find these day out there on the trails courting blisters in flip-flops, designer sandals or even heels. To find out more about the tour, contact Virginia Hancock of Springside Landscape Restoration at (845) 454-2060 or info@springsidelandmark.org.

Saturday, September 24:

Visit a Large Quarry on Trail

from Woodstock to Platte Clove

Learning obscure bits of local history can be so much fun. On September 24 at 10:30 a.m., you can ingest some quirky lore by hiking the Old Overlook Road between Platte Clove and Woodstock to a large quarry overlooking the Hudson Valley known as Codfish Point, where workers were stranded for days during an extended snowstorm and subsisted on canned codfish!

This is a moderate ascent that features typical Catskill rocky trail conditions requiring above-the-ankle boots, not recommended for children under the age of 10. The route is 3.9 miles and the hike is expected to last four to five hours, with a lunch break (bring your own lunch). David and Carol White of the Catskill 3500 Club are the trip leaders; please register by September 22 at ccswhite@juno.com or call (315) 853-1070.

Saturdays, September 10, 17 & 24:

The Walls that Talk Tour

Actually, any Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. you can get a free guided tour of the Matthewis Persen House in Kingston’s 1658 Stockade National Historic District and walk through an architectural time tunnel spanning four centuries. Why not use the Ramble as an excuse?

Begun in the 1660s, the limestone house has stood as a witness to nearly all of the city’s history. See how the house evolved as you look through layers of different wall materials down to the bare bones. View some of the more than 20,000 artifacts – some dating back to 1,230 BC – that were unearthed at the site during a recent restoration.

Only the ground floor of the Persen House is wheelchair-accessible. For information contact Nina Postupack at the Ulster County Clerk’s Office at (845) 340-3040 or npos@co.ulster.ny.us.


Saturday, September 17:

Trains, Trains, Trains

Did you known that there’s only one historic train station still open to the public on the western side of the Hudson River? (By that we mean stations still in their original format – not repurposed buildings like La Stazione restaurant in New Paltz.) Built in 1883 for the West Shore Railway, the Milton-on-Hudson Train Station in Marlboro is a work-in-progress for restoration and use as a community center for culture and recreation. Next Saturday at 1 p.m., you can learn about the connections among history, agriculture and the Hudson River. And of course, there will be trains!

This event will last about three hours. The station is wheelchair-accessible. The train station suffered some damage during Hurricane Irene, so please make sure everything’s a go by the 17th with Cindy Lanzetta of Friends of Milton-on-Hudson Train Station at (845) 236-7288 or cinpackback@gmail.com.

Saturday & Sunday, September 17 & 18:

Honoria Livingston McVitty

Memorial Croquet Tournament

In this era of precipitously declining civility, maybe what we all need to restore our sense of an ordered universe is a nice calm game of croquet. Next weekend from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Clermont State Historic Site in Germantown will host a two-day croquet tournament with both novice and advanced divisions. The fee is $20 per person to enter, which includes lunch on Saturday.

Players in the advanced division may bring their own mallets if desired. This wheelchair-accessible event is not recommended for children under the age of 12. Advance registration is required; call (518) 537-4240 for details, or e-mail kjirsten.gustavson@oprhp.state.ny.us. House tours will also be available from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. for a fee of $5 per adult, $4 per senior or student; children age 12 and under get in free.

Saturday, September 17:

Sunset Seining and Song

What better way to bid summer farewell than to wade into the tide as the western sky turns pink and gold and purple – and maybe even catch some fish? Next Saturday beginning at 5:30 p.m., at Esopus Meadows Preserve just outside Port Ewen, Clearwater educators will take you into the water to catch fish in the “magic hour” of sunset. Enjoy the light and the coolness of the water, and find out what’s in the river at this time of year.

Esopus Meadows beach is a great place to catch young-of-the-year fish, blue crabs and maybe even an eel. The leaders will discuss how the river gets ready for winter and why fishing at dusk is one of the best times of day. Bring a picnic for dinner afterwards and a musical instrument if you want to join the singalong afterwards. The seining program is expected to last one hour, with music to follow.

This event is wheelchair-accessible but not recommended for children under the age of 3. For info contact Eli Schloss at the Hudson River Sloop Clearwater at (845) 797-2847 or eli@clearwater.org.