It’s an early Sunday afternoon. The sunshine of the morning was now hiding behind thick cloud cover and the breeze brought along chilly air. Must be a perfect day to stay indoors and tackle the mountain of laundry I have hanging about. Of course I chose to ignore the housework again and get outside for a stroll through the woods. My hiking partner and I decided to keep this weekend on more level ground so we pack up our cars and meet at Wickham Marsh.
Wickham Marsh is located south of the City of Plattsburgh near the entrance to Ausable Chasm and the North Star Underground Railroad Museum. There are three parking areas for visitors to gain access to the 862 acre wildlife management area. Today my hiking partner and I chose the access point on state route 373. This parking area is easily accessible and marked by a large DEC sign on the left side of the road. The parking area offers plenty of parking and provides easy access to some of the inner trails as well as one trail that makes a nice long loop which seems perfectly suited for trail running.
This was our first visit to Wickham Marsh so neither of us knew exactly what to expect or which of the trailheads offered the best approach to the Marsh. The area is well-known for bird watching in the warmer months. Wickham Marsh does allow for hunting and this Sunday was the last day of big game season. My hiking partner and I dressed accordingly with our orange gear before heading out. I had printed a map of the trails from the DEC website to give us some barring on direction. From the parking lot on 373 one can access a nice loop to the right or head downhill on the trails to the left. We chose to keep to the left based on the map I had printed off which showed connection to additional trails.
The walk starts off on a clean and wide trail covered by a carpet of leaves through a mixed hardwood and pine forest. The lack of leaves on the trees made for a filtered view out over the Marsh and on further to Lake Champlain. This wide path wound its way through the woods to an area of level ground. we could see the trail back up toward the parking lot on our right, a trail ahead of us, and a third trail to the left. Not quite sure where each one would take us, and unable to make out our exact location on my handy map, we figured we’d try them all!
We had no destination in mind, just a nice walk in the woods, so trying every path seemed like a great idea. We tried the path over the creek. This path brought us up a slight incline and eventually on to the back side of a structure we believe to be a part of the Port Kent Golf Course. deciding that this was not exactly what we had in mind, we turned back to try another trail. The second was a narrow path marked by blue trail markers. This narrow path was flat and lined with trees chewed apart by beavers. They were promising signs that we might find something unique along this trail. One of the beavers felt it necessary to drop a tree in the center of our path. I suppose we should have taken this as a sign that we have chosen another less desirable path, but we carried on. Ending abruptly, at the edge of the marsh, we stopped. This path goes nowhere. We paused for a moment and laughed at our second choice while we take some time for nourishment. Our clothes were now covered in Devils beggar tick ( stick tight) seeds hitching a ride on our clothes. By covered I mean that parts of my orange fleece were completely hidden behind the thick cover of seeds.
Third choice, the loop back toward the car was a very wide and level terrain with barely a pebble to trip over. Signs of trail runners footprints tells me that this may be a great trail running path. The level ground would also have been perfect for a cross-country ski loop. I’m looking forward to the prospect of snow in the near future. My skis, snowshoes, and this body could use a good workout.
getting to Wickham marsh. From interstate 87, take exit 35 (Peru/Port Kent). Turn left on Bear Swamp Rd (442). At the end of the road, turn right. About three miles down, turn left on 373. The first trailhead (one we chose) is located approximately one mile on the left. for more information, visit http://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/24423.html