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.

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.

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.