Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Hiking Wellesley Island State Park

Hiking the Thousand Islands - Wellesley Island State Park
1000 Islands #1000islands

We are pretty sure that almost every time we hike a new trail it becomes our new favorite.  One of the advantages to hiking at Wellesley Island State Park is that there are enough beautiful trails that one could have a new favorite on every visit.  After hiking on Wellesley Island for several years now, we have hiked almost all of the trails in this beautiful State Park. However, we also learned that the park has purchased some more land and is planning to add several more new trails in the near future. One of the features we appreciate about the trail system in addition to the trails themselves is how detailed the trail maps are, and how well marked the trails are.  

There is a delightful variety of habitats to choose from among the different trails so that one can essentially choose your own adventure on each visit (or choose a lot of adventures on the same visit). There are miles of river shoreline, deep woods, wooded wetlands, boardwalk marshes, granite outcrops, and several other features unique to this park.
There are some fascinating glacial potholes to see on the Eel Bay trail, a seasonal screened Butterfly House, and a seasonal 16 passenger Voyageur Canoe (yes, you read that right - 16 passenger) that offers tours of Eel Bay.   Also note that like the Otter Creek Trail System, Wellesley Island State Park has a quarter-mile accessible trail that includes access to picnic tables and the butterfly house. In addition to the trails, you should make a point to visit the Minna Anthony Common Nature Center which is essentially a nature museum filled with displays and interesting information for nature lovers of all ages.
It is hard to recommend just one favorite place to start but we love the Pond Loop which is accessed from the lovely Middle Trail, and also the breathtaking views along the Narrows.  

One can choose easy and well groomed trails or venture to a little more challenging hikes with moderate climbs.  But regardless of the path chosen, there is always plenty to see, natural beauty and wildlife to experience at Wellesley Island State Park.

Link to trail map:

Be sure to see:
Hiking the Thousand Islands...Introduction.
Hiking the Thousand Islands...The Macsherry Trail.
Hiking the Thousand Islands...Otter Creek.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Hiking Otter Creek

Hiking the Thousand Islands:
Otter Creek
1000 Islands #1000islands

The next Thousand Islands hiking trail that we would like to introduce you to is the network of trails at the Otter Creek Preserve.  Otter Creek is just a short distance outside of Alexandria Bay. The main entrance is located on State Route 26 (or Church Street).  Heading away from town, the Preserve is less than a half mile on the right and is open to the public from dawn to dusk.  

Once again, we have Thousand Islands Land Trust (TILT) to thank for this beautiful preserve.  There are nearly two miles of trails that meander through a variety of terrains ranging from open fields, to deep woods, to rock ledges overlooking the water.  Also of note is that some of the trails were created to be accessible to anyone with a handicap including the trail to the observation deck.  One of the first things that struck us was how beautiful, new, and meticulously cared for the trails are.  When you first enter the preserve there is a large kiosk which has a map showing all of the different trails.  Make sure that at a minimum you take the short hike to the amazing suspension bridge that takes you over Lynch Creek.   This professionally designed cable suspension bridge is a work of art (and engineering).  It connects entire the trail system and also provides the experience of being in the deep woods. 

The story of Otter Creek's 115 acre preserve began when the Butts family donated an island that can be seen from the Northern Loop Trail. In 2000, TILT was then given 25 acres and in 2012, it received a grant to purchase the 75-acre Sweet property .  That same year it received a grant through the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historical Preservation to design and build a trail. In 2015, TILT received a Land Trust Alliance Conservation Partnership Program grant to complete the ADA (American Disabilities Act) sections of the trail, including the accessible lower portion of the observation tower. 

The trail design and engineering was completed by Aubertine and Currier. They are the company also responsible for the pavilion and new yacht house in Clayton. TILT describes the Otter Creek trail as "A beautiful mosaic of 1000 Islands habitats within walking distance of the Village of Alexandria Bay".  How appropriate!

Be sure to see:
Hiking the Thousand Islands: Introduction.

Hiking the Thousand Islands: The Macsherry Trail.
Hiking the Thousand Islands: Wellesley Island State Park.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Hiking Macsherry Trail

Hiking the Thousand Islands:
The Macsherry Trail
1000 Islands #1000islands

Since the Macsherry Trail was our introduction to hiking in the Thousand Islands it seems like an appropriate place to start in introducing trails to our fellow hikers. This intro will be a little longer than others because this trail and its namesake have come to have a special place in our hearts.  The trail is located on the 1,525 acre Crooked Creek Preserve in the town of Hammond.  You can find it by taking Rt. 12 to the Kring Point State Park exit, and turn north toward the river. Take an immediate right onto Indian Point Road, and you will find a parking area in less than a mile on the right.  That is where you will find the trailhead. A short way in, you will also find a kiosk with more trail information. The Macsherry Trail consists of a 1.5 mile and a 3 mile loop through wetlands and woods, passing a beaver pond, crossing several bridges and ending  at Crocked Creek with a magnificent view of Chippewa Bay before looping back to the parking area.

Link to Trail Map (PDF)

The Crooked Creek Preserve is one of the largest Class 1 wetlands along the St. Lawrence River and has been designated as an area of international significance by the US Fish and Wildlife Service. The Macsherry Trail is open year-round to the public for hiking, exploring, and enjoying some inspiringly lovely scenery.  The land is owned by the Thousand Islands Land Trust (TILT).  It was donated to TILT by the children of Dick and Mary Macsherry in honor of their 50th wedding anniversary.
Link to TILT -
The trail was built on the site of an old Boy Scout Camp and was first opened to the public in August, 2000. However, it wasn’t until a few years ago that Bob and I discovered the Macsherry trail for ourselves.  We opted for the full 3-mile trail which took us through what seemed like an unending variety of environments, twists and turns following the well-marked trail.  The prize, for us, came when we suddenly stepped out of the thick woods and arrived at the edge of Crooked Creek. An obvious photo op!

We were curious about who the Macsherrys were since this a name we frequently hear up in the Thousand Islands. We very quickly discovered that the Macsherrys are extremely well known throughout the North Country for their generosity and their life of philanthropy. Richard Macsherry passed away in late 2017 at 99. He and his wife left a legacy of charitable giving that has touched countless lives. Here are a couple of articles that celebrate the life of Richard Macsherry.

Thank you, Mr. and Mrs. Macsherry for your example of generosity to us all.  We hope to meet you one day at the trail’s end.  In the meantime, we’ll be hiking the Macsherry Trail!

Be sure to see:
Hiking the Thousand Islands...Introduction.
Hiking the Thousand Islands: Otter Creek.
Hiking the Thousand Islands: Wellesley Island State Park.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Hiking the Thousand Islands #1000islands

Hiking the Thousand Islands

1000 Islands #1000islands

Happy New Year! For us, January begins the countdown until we return to our summer camp in the Thousand Islands.  Even though we have been spending our summers at the River (the St. Lawrence Seaway) for almost 30 years, it wasn't until a few years ago that we began to discover just how many awesome hiking trails there are, in the area. And just when we think we've discovered them all, we learn of others. We have already had so many breathtakingly beautiful hikes within a relatively short distance that we figured we had better start a list so we could keep track of them all.  Figuring it might be of interest to others, especially those who are new to, or just visiting the area, we thought we would share our list here and then, in subsequent weeks, share pictures and more details of each specific trail. But for starters, here is our most up-to-date list with links, where available, to trail maps and park or site information. The majority of the sites are either State Parks or area Land Trusts (Thousand Islands Land Trust and Indian River Lakes Conservancy).  We are also including a map showing the general location of these trails.

While this list includes all of the trails we have hiked so far, even as we post it, we are aware of new trails being completed, along with a couple of spots we didn't get to yet. We will update this main page as needed and will continue to link to our own photos and details of our adventures on each of the trails. Please feel free to let us know of any corrections or Thousand Islands area trails we might have missed (we’d love to go hike them in addition to passing them on to you)! Stay tuned to this blog for further hiking updates. But for now, grab your walking sticks, bug spray, and hiking shoes, and let's head out to the woods!

Bob and Patty’s Most Excellent Thousand Islands Hiking Trail List

Trail map (PDF)

Wellesley Island State Park  

Trail map (PDF)

- Eel Bay Trail

- Middle Trail/Pond Loop

- Marsh/Cottage Trails

- South Bay Trail

- The Narrows

Chippewa Bay Trail

Redwood Hill Preserve (Overlook Trail, 7 Oaks Trail) 

Trail map (PDF)

Grand Lake Reserve

Trail map (PDF)

- Eagle Marsh Trail

- Butterfield Lake Trail 

- Grass Lake Overlook

- Sugarhouse Trail

- North Ridge Trail

Zenda Farms

Trail map (PDF)

Jacques Cartier  

Trail map (PDF)

- Krooked Kreek Trail

- Freedom Trail

- Old Tote Trail

- Tucker’s Trail

Grass Point StatePark  

Trail map (PDF)

Keewayden StatePark  

Trail map (PDF)

Kring Point State Park -Morgan Island .6 mile loop trail.

Sissy Danforth Rivergate Trail 

Trail map (PDF)

Sissy Danforth Rivergate (Clayton)

Sissy Danforth Rivergate (Redwood)

Sissy Danforth Rivergate (Philadelphia)

Sissy Danforth Rivergate (Rivergate)

Pulpit Rock State Forest (including Paine Lake and Pulpit Rock) -

Includes Payne Lake’s public access (an awesome photo op site).
Note: At first we could not find it for quite some time (we think one of the roads no longer exists) - we’ll include our directions) so we never got to explore the two trails (seems like no one else has, either - maybe next summer). But we did stop at Payne Lake and visited the amazing Pulpit Rock itself (both were worth the trip). 

Coming soon -

Wellesley Island State Park new trails

Gerald Ingerson Preserve 

“When through the woods, and forest glades I wander,

And hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees.

When I look down, from lofty mountain grandeur

And hear the brook, and feel the gentle breeze.

Then sings my soul, My Savior God, to Thee,

How great Thou art! How great Thou art!”

- Carl Gustav Boberg, 1885

Thousand Islands Trail Map (click on it to see it larger):
1. Chippewa Bay Trail
2. Macsherry Trail
3. Sissy Danforth Rivergate Trail (Four Trailheads)
 (Redwood, Clayton, Rivergate, Philadelphia)
4. Otter Creek Trails
5. Jacques Cartier State Park
6. Redwood Hill Preserve
7. Grand Lake Reserve
8. Foster Blake Woods Preserve
9. Zenda Farms Preserve
10. Keewayden State Park
11. Wellesley Island State Park
12. Grass Point State Park
13. Kring Point State Park -Morgan Island  
14. Pulpit Rock (including Pulpit Rock State Forest, Paine Lake and Pulpit Rock)

Be sure to see:
Hiking the Thousand Islands: The Macsherry Trail.
Hiking the Thousand Islands: Otter Creek.
Hiking the Thousand Islands: Wellesley Island State Park.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Update direct from Singer Castle concerning Dark Island.

 First snow on Dark Island for 2017
Photos of Singer Castle on Dark Islands by Jean Papke.

As 2017 comes to a close, we would like to share the latest news from Singer Castle.  In spite of a very rainy beginning to our season, over 23,000 visitors came to Dark Island either for a tour, a stay in our Royal Suite or to attend a wedding or party.  Film crews from French, German, and Chinese travel channels visited and in July the Travel Channel filmed at the castle as part of a program they called “Haunted Hospitality". The October airing of the show resulted in several reservations.
At the beginning of the season, the South Boathouse was flooded with over a foot of water and the south docks were partially under water. Castle staff quickly made adjustments. Floating docks were repositioned from the north side of the island, ramps and bridges were put in place over the hard dock areas covered by high water, and a temporary Gift Shop erected so that all who wanted to were able to access the castle. 
The condition of the dock area and boathouse was assessed when the St. Lawrence River began to return to normal levels in late July.  While the dock area required some repair, the decision was made to totally renovate the interior of the boathouse.  Castle staff started removing damaged walls and decking and in November contractors began the reconstruction.  The interior has been redesigned, moving the location of the office, video room, and access to the rest rooms.  The project is on schedule and should be completed in time for the beginning of the 2018 season in May when we look forward to welcome all to Dark Island. ---  by Jean Papke, Assistant to the president of Singer Castle.
Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year
Tom, Scott, Jean, Judy, Chris and the Castle Staff

Friday, June 30, 2017

Author Patty Mondore to speak at Cornwall Brothers Store Museum, July 6, 2017.

Patty Mondore at the St. Lawrence River,
photo by Bob Mondore

The following article appeared in the Thousand Islands Sun - Vacationer, Alexandria Bay NY:

ATHS Gallery Presentations begin July 6 with Patty Mondore

Alexandria Bay - The 2017 Gallery Presentations hosted by the Alexandria Township Historical Society (ATHS) at the Cornwall Brothers Store Museum will begin Thursday, July 6, 7 p.m.

Author Patty Mondore, who writes the weekly Thousand Islands Sun Vacationer "River-Lations" column will present "River-Lations Revisited: An Evening of Thousand Islands Inspiration." She will re-cap a number of past columns featuring stories, photos and clips from her music videos reflective of her connection with the 1000 Islands and the St. Lawrence River.

Northwind Publishing has released her most recent book, "River-Lations Revisited." An element of mystery will be added to the evening by her invitations to: "Come and find out the link between a castle in the 1000 islands and an outreach to children in Uganda." This will be her third appearance at the Cornwall Brothers Store Museum.

Patty and Bob Mondore live in Jamesville, and summer in the 1000 Islands. Patty Mondore is and award-winning author of several books: "River Reflections, A Bird Lover's Reflections," and "Nature Reflections," "To Love, Honor, and Oh Boy!," "A Good Paddling," and "Proclaim His Praise in the Islands." She and her husband co-authored "Singer Castle" and "Singer Castle Revisited," have produced music videos and "Dark Islands Castle of Mysteries," a documentary DVD. The Mondores are co-owners of Gold-Mountain, a web based, multimedia business that features all of their movies, books and music about the 1000 Islands. She will sign any books purchased at the museum that evening.

When not at the river, she is pediatric residency program coordinator at SUNY Upstate Medical Center University in Syracuse.

Gallery Presentations are held at 7 p.m. on the handicap accessible first floor of the Cornwall Brothers Store Museum on the waterfront at 36 Market St., Alexandria Bay. Admission is free to ATHS members and a $3 donation is suggested for nonmembers.

[Credit: Thousand Islands Sun - Vacationer, newspaper published June 21, 2017]

Monday, June 12, 2017

The Art Showcase - Singer Castle on Dark Island, Summer 2017

This summer there will be four Art Showcases at Singer Castle on Dark Island; June 29th*, July 20th, August 3rd, and August 17th. Each night will feature a Dinner Cruise which will leave the Alexandria Bay docks at 5:30. All food will be provided by Mullin's catering (from Gouverneur NY). *June 29th showcase is cancelled due to forecasted stormy weather.

Once guests arrive on the island, they will be given a brief tour. Then they will be able to interact with the artists and view and purchase the array of unique art on display. The artists being featured on June 29th are David Liddy (piano), Joan Applebaum (paint), and Mary Mitchell (jewelry.) The boat from Uncle Sam Boat Tours will arrive back at Alexandria Bay docks around 8:30pm. 

Tickets are $73 and are now available for purchase. Tickets MUST be purchased in advance. This can be done by calling (315)324-3275 or click on the following link for online reservation sheet: RESERVATION (on a Secure Server).

Above Singer Castle notice provided by Jean Papke/Carrisa Sweet of Dark Island Tours, Inc.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Singer Castle on Dark Island bulletin concerning the 2017 season opening!

Photo of Singer Castle on Dark Island 4/10/17
by Jean Papke, Assistant to the president of Singer Castle.

Opening for tours in 2003, Singer Castle has been increasingly popular with visitors to the 1000 Islands thanks to word of mouth, advertising, news coverage and travel documentaries. The 2016 season saw a marked increase in visitors with a total of over 26,000. The castle will open for a 15th season on Saturday, May 6, 2017. The castle will be open for tours seven days a week. Hours will vary based on boat tour schedules during May, June, September and October. Call the day before you plan to visit to confirm our schedule. During July and August tours will be offered hourly beginning at 10 a.m. with the last tour of the day at 4 p.m. In addition to regularly scheduled tours, we offer extended private tours of the castle and grounds by appointment. Transportation to the castle will again be provided by Uncle Sam Boat Tours, Schermerhorn Harbor, Rockport Boat Lines and 1000 Islands and Seaway Boat Tours and there are over 600' of dockage available for private boaters.

A series of Art Showcase Evenings  will take place over the course of the summer. We will be having a total of 12 guest artists coming to showcase their talents at the castle. The Showcases are planned for four Thursday evenings: June 29, July 13, August 3 and August 17. Three artists will be showcased per night. There will be artisans, musicians, and/or others with special talents.

The evening will begin at the Alex Bay dock at 5:30 p.m. Attendees will board an Uncle Sam tour boat and start their journey to Dark Island. Dinner will be served on the boat and will be included in the ticket price. Once they arrive on the island, guests will be ushered through the castle to see three different artists perform or display their work. The boat will depart Dark Island at about 8:00 p.m. and guests will be served dessert and watch the sunset over the river as they return to Alexandria Bay. If you have any questions about the Art Showcase Evenings contact Carissa Sweet at or (315)663-4105 for more information. We are currently seeking interested artists and more information about the nights will be released later this spring. At that point, tickets will also be available for purchase.

Please visit our webpage or contact us at 1-877-327-5475 or 315-324-3275 with any questions about tours, overnight stays, weddings and special events at Singer Castle.

This bulletin direct from Dark Island by Jean Papke, Assistant to the president of Singer Castle.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Singer Castle Winter Photos & Christmas Ornaments

Winter photos of Singer Castle on Dark Island
by Scott Garris

New Singer Castle ornament:  Ornaments are on sale through 12/13/16 for $13 each or $10 each if two or more are ordered.  Shipped free in US.  Anyone wishing to purchase the ornament should call 1-877-327-5475 (Singer Castle).

Article submitted by Jean Papke, Assistant to the president of Singer Castle.

Note: The above is served up as news only. This blog and blogger receives no compensation whatsoever. We were the first to report on this ornament, see article here.