If you’re like me, you probably come across the same problem every nice day out: I want to be outside but I don’t know exactly what to do. Recently, I decided to visit somewhere that I pass by multiple times in a single week but never experienced for myself, the Albany Pine Bush. I bet that many of you are in the same boat or if you have already visited (I hope you have), you may not know the history.
According to their website, many of the geographic features seen today at the Pine Bush were the work of great masses of ice that existed thousands of years ago, the end of the last Ice Age! The Albany Pine Bush is one of the largest of only about 20 other inland pine barrens worldwide. A pine barren is a plant community that occurs on mostly infertile, dry soils which makes in rare globally. At one time, water from a glacial lake that stretched from Lake George to Newburgh drained and allowed what we now enjoy as the Pine Bush though only a fraction of the original size exists today.
One would think that fires would be detrimental to an environment like this but what I found incredibly interesting is that this ecosystem depends on fire to exist. The Pine Bush requires reoccurring controlled fired to rejuvenate the plants by driving out exotic species and create more space for food and habitat for insects and other animals.
My first experience at the Albany Pine Bush was at Rapp Barrens & Rensselaer Lake Preserve and Park (Trailhead 2 & 3). We followed the red trail which was only a little over a mile (1.17mi). Right at the beginning of the trail is a place to get a map, I picked it up and it not only outlined the Pine Bush area but some of the native species that we may find. We first crossed Patroon Creek and got to experience first-hand the native skunk cabbage but according to the description, you can also find false hellebore and marsh marigolds. The rest of the trail is pretty flat and there aren’t any particular memorable sites but I really enjoyed a simple walk through local nature. They do warn of deer ticks and say that they are most common from April-October but can be found in the Pine Bush anytime of the year so be sure to check yourself for ticks on your way out and wear sneakers instead of sandals. There are plenty of other trails to check out- have you been on any others? Which?