38. Featherstonhaugh State Forest to the Mohawk River

Section 38: Featherstonhaugh State Forest to the Mohawk River

Quick Facts

Distance: 9.7 miles
Parks: Featherstonhaugh State Forest, Plotter Kill Preserve, Empire State Trail, Lock 9 State Canal Park
Maps: Interactive Map
Print-Friendly Version: Link

General Description 

This section is mostly road walking through scenic farm country. In the beginning there are several vistas of the Rotterdam Hills and the Helderbergs. During the first half of this route there are great views to the south and east of the Catskills, Berkshires, and confluence of the Mohawk and Hudson River valleys. The only off-road section the trail passes through is in the Plotter Kill Nature Preserve in the Town of Rotterdam, where a short side trip will lead to some pretty falls. Toward the end of this section the trail follows the Mohawk-Hudson bike path along the old Erie Canal for a while. Section 38 ends in the Canal Park at Lock #9 (currently closed), immediately after crossing the Mohawk River. The blazing on this section is sporadic.


From I-87 N/NYS Thruway, keep straight onto I-90 W/NYS Thruway. In 4.7 mi take exit 25; take ramp on right for I-890 toward Schenectady. At exit 2A, take ramp on right for Route 337 toward Campbell Road, then bear right onto Route 337 (Rice Road). In 0.8 mi bear right onto Putnam Road (County Route 54), and in 1.8 mi turn right onto Route 159 (Mariaville Road). Continue 5.5 mi, then turn left onto Lake Road (County Route 88). In 0.3 mi bear right onto Judith Lane, and in 0.2 mi arrive at the parking area of Featherstonhaugh.


0.00  Featherstonhaugh Boat Launch Parking lot on Judith Lane. (42.81148°, -74.11646°)
6.40  Plotter Kill Preserve parking lot off Gregg Road. (42.84646°, -74.02944°)
9.70  Lock #9CanalPark. (42.87962°, -74.04102°)


Camping in Featherstonhaugh State Forest is allowed, but subject to the standard DEC rules and regulations.

Trail Description

0.00  Continue straight (east) on Judith Lane.

0.20  Turn left on Lake Road.

0.50  Turn right on Route 159 (Mariaville Road), and continue east.

2.70  Turn left onto Rynex Corners Road and in 100 feet turn right onto Gifford Road and driveway (#132 Rynex Corners Road).

3.00  The blazed LP trail leaves the town maintained road/driveway to the right, by the unmaintained section of the old town road, and descends toward the creek.

3.20  A few feet before reaching the site where the road crossed on a bridge many years ago, the trail heads left through the woods and parallels the creek. Just upstream from the bridge there was once a grist mill on this side of the creek and a saw mill on the other.


Plotter Kill. 2014 [JAKOB FRANKE]

3.40  The LP leaves the creek bank and climb a side-hill slope to the left.

3.50  Emerge at a T intersection of a well maintained pathway and turn right.

3.60  Turn right from the pathway and descend to the creek again. The trail passes a small foundation hole which was the site of a “spinney”, a little shack where a spinster lived for many years back in the early 1800s. Follow along the creek, then turning to the left, climb up to the ridge and reconnect to the pathway.

3.70  Turn right and continue on this pathway.

3.80  Cross two foot bridges to reach a stone wall which is the Gifford-Plotter Kill Preserve’s boundary. (The LP blazes end here and we now follow preserve blazing which is maintained by Schenectady County.)

3.90  Continue straight ahead to the intersection with the preserve’s Highland Trail and continue straight on the yellow blazed trail.

4.00  Following a zigzag, the trail turns left to reach the end of the yellow-blazed at the junction with the red blazed North Rim Trail. Continue straight on this red trail, heading NNE.

4.10  Pass the large waterfalls on the right. Use extreme caution in this area as many visitors have been injured here.

4.30  Reach another junction with the yellow trail. Continue on the red trail which swings to the left and ascends the rim of Rynex Creek. Start to descend by way of switchbacks to the creek. Follow the creek downstream to a shallow crossing just above the waterfalls. (There is no bridge here and the crossing may be impassible during high water events, use extreme caution here.)

4.40  Cross Rynex Creek and climb steeply on old steps to the ridge top and then start a steady descent.

4.60  Reach a trail junction from the right. Stay straight on the rim trail.

4.80  After a quick left-right jog, the trail crosses under power lines.

5.00  Continue to descend, cross an access road and follow the trail along the rim again.

5.10  Pass by a trail junction from the right which crosses the gorge to the south rim.

5.20  Pass by a yellow blazed trail on the right.

5.30  The trail bears left and crosses two small streams.

5.70  Pass under another power line.

5.90  Reach a trail junction on the left where a #7 sign is nailed to a tree on the right; leave the red trail, turning left onto a trail marked with red disks over white paint.

6.10  The trail swings left and in 200 feet swings back right to cross a foot bridge.


Plotterkill Preserve trailhead on Gregg Road. 2013 [MARK TRAVER]

6.40  Reach another foot bridge and the Gregg Road trailhead parking area. Continue north by once again following LP blazes on Gregg Road past the intersection with Crawford Road, under the NYS Thruway and over the railroad tracks to a T intersection.

6.90  Turn left and continue west for a short distance on NYS Route 5S.

7.10  The trail turns left to join the Mohawk-Hudson Bike Path, which runs just south of the Mohawk River along sections of the old Erie Canal.


Erie Canalway. 2013 [MARK TRAVER]

7.55  Turn right onto a paved road (Mabie Lane), which will lead the LP back to Route 5S.

7.75  Turn left onto Route 5S and cross railroad tracks.

8.20  On the right is the historic Jan Mabie House built in 1705, with two styles of early Dutch architecture. Enter the Hamlet of Rotterdam Junction.

9.10  Turn right on Spruce Street and left on Leonard Street to reach Bridge Street, NYS Rte. 103. Go right and cross over the Mohawk River/Erie Canal with the destroyed Lock 9 State Canal Park on the right.

9.25  Turn left on Riverside Drive.

9.35  Turn right onto Bridge Street (NY Route 103) and cross the Barge Canal Lock #9 Bridge over the Mohawk River.

9.70  Turn right into the parking lot and picnic area of Canal Park at Lock #9. This is the end of this section, and the starting point for the description of the Long Path in northern Schenectady County. It is also one of Vincent Schaefer’s original Long Path landmarks. (The park is currently closed because of construction. Instead proceed to the junction of Routes 3 and 5. On the other side of the junction is a Stewart's and the section temporarily ends there.)


Route 103 bridge across Mohawk River. 2013 [MARK TRAVER]


Previous Section: Section 37
Next Section: Section 39