|West side of Shaver Pond|
Today's post is a bit closer to home than some of the previous ones, as in I live a mere 20 minutes away. But being close to the heart of the Capital District doesn't mean that Grafton Lakes State Park isn't a place worth visiting. There are plenty of easy to moderate hiking trails, most of which can be accessed without paying the summer parking fee, as well as a fire tower at the eastern edge of the park. I'm not here to do the fire tower, though (I did hike to it last spring). We had 6 inches of snow a few days prior, so I wanted to snowshoe.
I didn't want to do anything too crazy, so I settled on a hike around Shaver Pond. I parked at the Deerfield picnic area, strapped on the snowshoes, and was on my way.
|That's the trail. From the parking lot.|
|Confirming that I indeed was on a trail. "More difficult" is relative.|
After a short distance, we get to the Shaver Pond trail. This trail loops around the pond and, including the spur to/from the parking lot, makes for a hike of 2.1 miles.
|Junction sign. Most junctions in this park are signed.|
I turned left to make a clockwise loop and was on my way. The trail was generally pretty broken in, with plenty of ski and snowshoe tracks. The Shaver Pond Trail is blazed with RED NY State Parks and Historic Preservation markers and an occasional sign indicating the difficulty level.
The Shaver Pond trail doesn't have much in the way of elevation change, but the trail rolls gently. The trail hooks around the south end of the pond and I began hiking north along the west shore.
|Shaver Pond from the southern end|
|Crossing the south inlet|
This next section of the trail is right along the shore, soon reaching the signed junction with the Scout Trail.
|Looking down the Scout Trail|
Continue straight and we reach a bridge just downstream of a small dam. Shaver Pond, along with the other ponds and lakes in this area, was part of Troy's water supply system prior to the construction of the Tomhannock Reservoir.
A short distance after the bridge, there's an unsigned junction. Bear right here to continue along the pond.
|Junction. Trail bears right here.|
|Junction number, located past the junction|
|Trail bears left here (note the marker)|
Go another 1/4 mile and there's a T-junction. Turn right to continue following the Shaver Pond Trail.
|Snow-covered picnic area|
|Old trail marker. DEC used a similar style in the past as well.|
Eventually, we reach the end of the trail along the west side of the pond. A snowmobile trail runs east-west from Shaver Pond Rd to the area of the beach, turn right to start heading back to the parking lot.
The wide trail goes downhill and crosses the marsh at the north end of Shaver Pond
|Marsh observation deck on north side of snowmobile trail|
Immediately past an observation deck, the Shaver Pond Trail departs to the south.
The trail skirts the north side of the beach's wastewater facility and heads south along the east shore.
Near the middle of the pond, there were several groups ice fishing.
|Ice fishing shelter|
|Bench and boat wash station|
Eventually, all good things must come to an end and I was back where I started the loop.
|Turn left here to get back to the parking lot|
|This didn't feel like a hill when I was hiking away from the car...|
A little over an hour after I left my car, I was back. While Grafton may not offer the hiking opportunities of other nearby parks, it still has quite a few sights and you can't beat how close it is to civilization.
Grafton Lakes State Park is located on NY Route 2, 14 miles east of Troy. The main road has an entrance fee during the summer, but entry is free at other times.