I was looking for a short hike near the restaurant I was grabbing dinner at, and Orra Phelps Nature Preserve in Wilton fit the bill perfectly. We had a little bit of trouble finding the place because I tried using GPS intersection of the two streets last in the directions, Ballard Rd and Parkhurst, but Parkhurst (the road where the park lies) is split into two sections. My GPS took us to the wrong area! So make sure you follow the directions closely:
Take the Northway (I-87) to Exit 16. Turn west (left if coming from south, right if coming from north) on Ballard road. After 2 miles, cross Route 9, then turn south (left) on Parkhurst Road. Go one more mile to the preserve parking lot on the left. The trailhead is just beyond the public parking lot. [From Saratoga PLAN website]
We finally got there are parked in the little lot which was still covered in ice, and cautiously made our way to the trail map. The trail system is only 1.5 miles, but it felt like more of a work out as the snow was pretty deep in some areas. We decided to keep turning left to check out all of the trails. Our first left led us downhill on a trail on a bridge over the Little Snook Kill.
We continued back uphill and were directly adjacent to some houses. Dogs barking, people about, and it sounded like someone was doing some target practice. We kept on and enjoyed the view of the kill now down below us. The Little Snook is really the highlight of this preserve and as our path crossed it again we walked along it.
Fast flowing through the snow banks, at times it disappeared under the snow and popped back out, the kill has personality. It was great to watch the designs of melting ice.
Apparently in the summer it is nice to walk in because the bed is made of slate and therefore not slippery. Some of the trails are false trails leading nowhere and we weren’t sure exactly where they stopped. The trails are marked well, but there are no signs saying that ‘the property ends here’ and paths although unmarked look continually trodden. In some cases we kept walking on what looked like a trail, but the markers ceased to exist, and we may have been on someone’s property. No one seemed to care and we didn’t see any houses nearby, but we decided not to go on too much further even though the land was quite lovely. Lots of deer tracks in these woods. All in all it was a nice little preserve and we enjoyed a bit of nature and exercise before dinner in a little area we had never been to before.