Friday, July 20, 2012

Headwaters Trails in Stamford

One of the great things about the Headwaters Trails system in Stamford is that it’s connected directly with the village. From Main Street in downtown, you can walk onto Academy Street, go one block north, and enter this 26-mile network of multi-use trails. There are quiet wooded paths, challenging uphills, and open views from the many fields and from the summit of Bald Mountain (2720’). Other access points include Archibald Field (on Route 10 North across from the NYSDEC offices) and from the Catskill Scenic Trail, on the eastern edge of the village at Crestline Drive. Although a trail map is still in the works, the trails can be easily be explored by those with a good sense of direction and a few hikes in their legs.

To get more information, you can access the Headwaters Trails website (, where a Google map is included; log onto Headwaters Trails Facebook page; or visit the Headwaters Trails office, which is located in the historic Stamford railroad station at the junction of Railroad Avenue and the Catskill Scenic Trail. Office hours are not given on the website, but you can contact the trail master through the website or call (607) 287-7169. Headwaters Trails is made possible by the generosity of 18 landowners and is a project of the Greater Stamford Area Trust. Headwaters’ goal is to encourage education and recreational use of the Catskills that is ecologically sensitive while promoting the natural beauty of the region. In doing so, Headwaters’ hopes to develop a trail system for mountain biking, roughly modeled after Kingdom Trails in East Burke, VT, where more than 40 private property owners and community stakeholders joined efforts to revitalize their rural community. Now, Kingdom Trails and East Burke are major economic drivers in the region.

The trails at Headwaters are used by primarily by hikers, mountain bikers, and hunters (during hunting season). The views from the many open meadows are excellent, looking for many miles in three directions. To the south, Mount Utsayantha and Churchill Mountains are prominent, and the look down the valley of the West Branch of the Delaware is striking. To the east, several higher summits in Greene County dot the horizon, while the westerly views take in the softer hills in Harpersfield and beyond. From downtown, the hike to the summit of Bald Mountain is just over two miles one way and about 900’ in elevation gain, with the steepest sections near the top. There are great lookouts all around the mountain, especially near the old ski lift of the former Scotch Valley Ski Area.  

Remember, a visit to Headwaters is also a visit to historic Stamford. Hikers will likely want to stop for a meal in one of the many eateries or visit some of the shops and cultural attractions. And both the village and Headwaters have a lot to offer, so you may very well want to return for some more exploring.