Geyser Creek Trail, Saratoga Spa State Park Hike

Persistence is key for success. I associate some serious confusion with the Geyser Trail [Intersection of Geyser Loop Road and Picnic Lane, Saratoga Springs, keep heading on G.L. Rd until you see the Geyser Picnic Area] in Saratoga Spa State Park.

saratoga_spa_state_parkFor years I have known about the incredible trail with the springs, spouting water, interesting rocks, and strangely colored remnants – but I couldn’t never quite pin down its location. For years I have unsuccessfully walked around the grounds of the park near SPAC looking for something I had only seen in pictures. Recently I went on a quest to find the trail, once and for all! You want to know something else that is key for success? Doing your homework. Instead of wandering around uninformed, I gathered all of the information I could on this trail and made my dream a reality. It’s surprising how much confusion surrounds such a spectacular sight. There should be blinking signs ushering you into the Geyser Picnic Area parking lot! And then to the trail itself! So, now informed, we made it to the lot after minimal confusion. We got out of the car only mildly bewildered. I had looked at the trail map before setting out, but couldn’t make out any major signs pointing us in the right direction. So we walked towards the Geyser Creek beside us. Flowing strong and beautiful, the namesake trail must walk hand and hand with the creek.

saratoga_spa_state_park_geyserWe set out with eyes wide open looking for signs. We crossed a bridge to check out the Karista Spring.

karista_spring_saratoga_We have seen other springs within the park, and Saratoga, this one wasn’t so different. Reading up a bit we learned that this naturally carbonated spring has a lot of iron in it, which explains the rich rusty color. After a healthy cringe worthy slurp, we continued walking up the creek. Within just a few moments we saw a pavilion and a big red sign, we had made it to the Vale of the Springs trail. This half mile loop is where the most impressive natural sights are, and also where you can pick up the red blazed three mile Geyser Trail loop. Just across from the pavilion the first thing you will notice sitting in the middle of the creek is a small island, spouting a thin fountain of water 15 feet high.

saratoga_spa_state_park_The island spouter spring is a highlight of the trail, it’s a pretty insane sight to behold. Saratoga Springs is the only place you’ll find an active spouting geyser east of the Mississippi River, so take a real good gander. More common, but nonetheless more beautiful, we loved the rapids and the mini waterfall in Geyser Creek.

geyser_creek_saratogaI was so happy to see a little display of icicles, a rare and welcomed sight this winter.

vale_of_the_springs_saratogaContinuing on we noticed what is probably the most bizarre sight, a huge carbonate mineral build up known as a tufa.

tufa_saratogaThis odd and colorful monstrosity was unlike anything I’ve even seen before, extra beautiful with an icy contrast. The sign at the beginning of the trail says it’s okay to touch, so go for it. Jeff and I both agreed this looks like something you would see in a national park! The obscure nature is a must see for anyone who lives, or is traveling, in the vicinity of Saratoga Springs. Walking down to the end of the road, the Vale of the Springs trail takes you up a staircase. From the ridge you can visit the Orenda Spring, which waters are known to have laxative and antacid effects.

orenda_spring_This spring is where that enormous tufa came from! Walk back towards the creek and you can step out on top of it.

vale_of_the_springs_You can decide to complete the half mile loop here by continuing down the road, or you can spot the red marker (often seen with yellow) and continue on to the Geyser Creek trail. This trail was a bit peculiar to me as the mood was ever changing. One moment you are in the woods, then you are next to a street. Another moment you are beside a wetland, then you are by SPAC. I understand that the park is very diverse, including pools, golf courses, and Spas, but I couldn’t get a sense of peaceful nature on the Geyser Creek trail that I find in the dense woods. However, that isn’t to say the natural parts of the trail weren’t stunning. I loved watching the creek bend,

geyser_creek_trail_3geyser_creek_trail_2the smell of the pines,

geyser_creek_trailand spotting pretty ice patterns along the way.

geyser_creek_trail_1So enjoy the little things on the rest of the hike! It’s just important to know that the Geyser Creek trail takes you in and out of a nature setting, which is totally understandable for this particular park setting. My favorite surprise was when we were just about to finish the loop on the opposite side of the creek from where we started, and we got a different view of the island spouter spring. I’m not sure if it was just the lighting in late afternoon, but I feel the view over on this side was much better!

saratoga_geyserI could see the tufa, it’s deposits, and spouting stream with a new clarity.

island_spouter_spring_saratogaSo the mysterious Geyser Creek trail was discovered, and all the confusion around it debunked. After a great hike it was time to go into town and grab a bit to eat!

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