The June schedule for Moreau Lake State Park, located off exit 17S of the Adirondack Northway, provided my son and I with a fabulous opportunity. We arrived at the lodge after paying the park entry fee and $3 for both of us to hike for a 10 am departure for the Red Oak Ridge Trail Hike. We were a small group, consisting of Gary, our naturalist guide, a nice woman, and us. We were lucky, as Gary informed us after the hike that he was expecting 90 school children for the next day’s event.
Gary, an amazing guide, provided us with a wealth of knowledge about many aspects of nature during our hike. We took our time on the 2-mile trek as he stopped often to point out and explain things, including how to tell a pitch pine from a white pine, how to identify a beech tree, ferns and mosses, and breaking off samples of black birch for us to taste and compare to birch beer pop.
The hike got more exciting as he took us off the main trail, onto a side trail, which I would never be able to find and follow without a guide who knew it well. On this part of the journey, we found newts, and learned that they live on moist land before returning to water, where they began their life. Although my son badly wanted to bring one home, Gary convinced him they would be better off there in the woodland forest.
Also along this route, he led us to porcupine dens! My son was a bit fearful when Gary climbed down to one cave opening and handed us a quill to explore. The lesson here was to show that where quills littered the ground, there would be a cave, or den. He also added that they fed off hemlock trees, which of course, he had us identify and later quizzed us as we walked on.
After heading down the trail to the parking lot near the beach, he treated us to a visit to their nature center. He later informed us that one can call for an appointment to see it anytime if there isn’t a scheduled program going on there. Inside, there are plentiful “stuffed” birds and animals native to the area, as well as pelts of several animals that my son could feel. The loon, at least, was stuffed after found not alive at the lake. I didn’t inquire as to the background of the rest of them. There was also a “hands on” box with items such as bones, feathers, and honeycombs for kids to check out during their programs and a turtle tank which my son was allowed to help him add food (worms) to. He pulled out some “noisemakers” which made different calls and asked us to identify which birds and animals may have made them.
The trail continues around the lake, where we saw thousands of polliwogs and Gary pointed out the marshy area near invasive species of reeds where they originated from.
We were grateful for this fabulous local resource with knowledgeable personnel and knowing that one does not need to travel far into the Adirondacks for a “nature museum” experience. Also note that the NYS Parks and Recreation site has calendars of activities for all of their locations, including an Intro to fishing for families on June 26 at Grafton Lakes State Park.
Upcoming Family Friendly Events at Moreau Lake State Park:
- June 7, 2010 – Short Nature Hike – 11:30a.m.-12:30p.m. Join a naturalist on a fun and informative hike that will be sure to spark everyone’s interest.
- June 8, 2010 – Turtle Tracks – 9:00a.m.-9:45a.m. This is the time of the year that female turtles go on shore to lay their eggs, sometimes as many as 40. We will go on a hike and search for turtle tracks as well as signs of nesting activity.
- June 13, 2010 – Casting Clinic – 11:00a.m.-12:00p.m. Come to the nature center and learn the basics of casting. A seasoned fisherman will be available to give some useful pointers as well as help with the basics.
- June 19, 2010 – Twilight Kayak – 7:00p.m.-9:00p.m. Join the park naturalist for an informative and beautiful twilight kayak on Moreau Lake. Kayak rentals are available on a first come first serve basis, please call to make reservations.
- June 20, 2010 – Beaver Adventure – 10:30 a.m.-11:30a.m. Did you know that Beavers are mainly nocturnal? Beavers perform most of their dam building at night. Join one of our park naturalists as you check existing beaver dams for recent activity.
- June 21, 2010 – Back Pond Hike – 10:00 a.m.-11:30 a.m. Enjoy a hike along the nature trail and around a wetlands area. A naturalist will point out some of our beautiful wetland birds, wildlife and plants.
- June 22, 2010 – Scavenger Hunt – 10:30a.m.-11:30a.m. Meet down at the nature center for a nature scavenger hunt. Participants will be given a list of natural items to find around the park. Don’t worry if you don’t know what everything is, a naturalist will be there to help!
- June 23, 2010 – Spring Overlook Hike – 10:00a.m.-12:00p.m. This short, moderate hike has a few steep sections, which will take participants to the top of the Palmertown Range. This overlook presents spectacular views of the Luzerne Mountains and Hudson River.
- June 24, 2010 – Lake Ann Hike – 10:00a.m.-2:00p.m. – This special hike will take hikers to a rare community found in New York State; a high bush blueberry bog thicket. If you think you know Moreau like the back of your hand, think again! We will be eating lunch on the trail so make sure to bring a bagged lunch or a few snacks. This is a moderate level hike, call for more details.
- June 25, 2010 – Potters Point Hike – 12:00p.m.-2:00p.m. We will be taking a beautiful hike at Potter’s Point where we will examine the coves as well as the spring time flora and fauna. We will also keep a look out for signs of otters, beaver and other wildlife associated with wet habitat.
- June 26,2010 – Full Moon Hike – 7:00p.m.-9:00p.m. Join the Park Naturalist on a full moon hike around Moreau Lake. Participants will learn about the Full Moon of June and spring wildlife.
- June 27, 2010 – Scavenger Hunt – 11:00a.m.-12:00p.m. Meet down at the nature center for a nature scavenger hunt. Participants will be giving a list of natural items to find around the park. Don’t worry if you don’t know what everything is, a naturalist will be there to help!
- June 28, 2010 – Learn How to Use a Compass – 10:30a.m.-11:30a.m. Come down to the Nature Center and lean the basics of using a compass and then try your new skill out with some fun games.
- June 29, 2010 – Easy Nature Hike – 10:30a.m.-11:30a.m. Join a naturalist on a fun and informative family friendly hike that will be sure to spark everyone’s interest.
- June 30, 2010 – Red Oak Ridge Hike – 10:00a.m.-12:00p.m. This is a moderate hike with some short steep sections. Participants will learn about the unique Appalachian community found along this ridge.
Programs are weather permitting and are subject to change. Please call the
park office to confirm event date, time and location. Participants should be
prepared to spend time outside and are encouraged to wear adequate clothing
and footwear. There is a program fee of $2 adults and children and $1 for
Moreau Lake State Park
605 Old Saratoga Road
Gansevoort, NY 12831
Phone: (518) 793-0511
Moreau Lake State Park is located off of exit 17 S of I-87, the Adirondack
Northway. For additional information or to register for programs, please
call the park office at (518) 793-0511. For more information about New York
State Parks, please visit www.nysparks.com.