With the nicer weather, I just want to spend time outside. Last weekend, my boyfriend and I decided to explore the Plotter Kill Nature Preserve. It just didn’t go as we planned.
The Almy D. Coggleshall Plotter Kill Preserve is located in Schenectady County. It’s 632 acres of forest along the Mohawk River. It’s a popular hiking spot for people in the area because of the numerous waterfalls but it has some steep slopes and rugged terrain.
You have three options for parking: Mariaville Rd, Lower Gregg Rd, or Coplon Rd. There are three trails to choose from, available from each of the entrances: Red, Blue, and Yellow.
- If you park at the Lower Gregg Rd, you’re in the furthest lot from the waterfalls with access to the Yellow Trail that leads to the Red Trail. Park here if you want to take a long hike to see the falls.
- The Coplon Rd entrance gives you access to the Red Trail with access to the Yellow Trail. This lot will bring you to the middle of the park.
- If you’re looking for the quickest of trails, you’re gonna want to park at the Mariaville Rd entrance. There, you have access to the Red Trail that leads to the Yellow Trail. This entrance is closest to all of the waterfalls as well as access to the Blue Trail, or a quick walk to the waterfall overlook.
Sound confusing? It did to us too. We started at the Mariaville entrance with the intention of taking the red trail about halfway. To start, you walk down a paved path to the stairs that take you to the beginning of the red trail. We were brought to muddy paths, walking over low level water or rocks to cross, and pretty steep climbs at times. I’d love to be able to tell you step-by-step where we went and what we saw but I’m going to be honest- we got lost.
Not only did we get lost this time, we get lost every time. It seems as if each time we go, we get to a point where the trail markers get harder to find. We got to a point where we saw a sign that could have led us to one of the other parking lots but instead decided to turn around and head back. I’ve heard from a bunch of people who end up getting lost on this trail too so don’t get nervous if you do. I recommend downloading something like “All Trails” on your phone if you really want to finish the whole trail.
Overall, it was a nice moderately difficult walk. We walked about an hour, then turned around and came back. The falls are beautiful and it’s great to enjoy this beautiful weather in nature away from screens. If you do end up going here, though, and figure out the red trail, can you let me know? 🙂
3 thoughts on “Plotter Kill Nature Preserve: What You Need to Know”
You ain’t the only one!
We’ve been there at least a dozen times, and each time we had no idea where we were. We did manage to do the entire loop 3x. but they were either by magic or luck.
We’re not novice. We’ve done all the High Peaks and hundreds of others. We know map and compass navigation. But inside Plotter Kill, it’s Twilight Zone!
The posted maps are very unclear. It seems they are made from such a high vantage point that key turns on the trail appear like straight lines. I usually park on Coplon and turn right onto the blue trail. Then, the blue trail crossing Plotter Kill (in two places) where you meet with the red trail is super confusing and feels like you are doubling back. And never mind the steep drop down into the ravine to bring you back across the stream… that doesn’t look like a trail to me, really. It’s more like a controlled fall. And then I missed the exit back to Coplon because I didn’t recognize it coming up.
I will be going back there plenty in the future; it is beautiful… I guess I am just saying the signage could be wayyy clearer. (I think I have the trail colors correct. I haven’t been there since last summer.)
I agree! I always enjoy myself, it’s a beautiful space but I can never find my way around!