The Saratogian (Saratoga, NY)
OPEN FOR EXPLORATION
Barkersville Trails newest addition to Saratoga PLAN’s public trails
SARATOGA COUNTY, N.Y. » Starting this weekend, Barkersville Trails will open as the newest addition to nonprofit land trust Saratoga PLAN’s growing number of public trails in the county.
Located in the towns of Galway and Providence, these new public trails are set on former dog-sled training grounds on Silcox Road, off of Barkersville Road.
Barkersville Trails features 2.5 miles for trail adventurers to explore, with terrain ranging from relatively flat to hilly. “Hiking paths narrow and expand as they wind to and from babbling brooks. Mosscovered boulders rise from the earth and fields of fern perfume the air. Songbirds and coyotes sing,” a press release from Saratoga PLAN described.
“The Barkersville land has a special feeling about it. Once immersed in the land, one can feel it,” property owner Dolores Arste said in the release. “We hope that it brings joy to thosewho travel the trails.”
Arste and her husband, David Hickey, conserved their 168- acre property in 2019 with the help of Saratoga PLAN. Arste and Hickey entrusted Saratoga PLAN to ensure that the woodlands, wetlands, and streams are protected in perpetuity. A legallyenforceable conservation easement restricts development and uses on the land while it continues to be privately owned and managed by the couple.
As part of the conservation agreement, the own
ers made the decision to allow public access on a portion of the land. Saratoga PLAN has the right to maintain trails and invite the public to use them.
“We had a good time exploring the property over all the seasons for a year or more before deciding where to locate the trails,” Saratoga PLAN executive directorMaria Trabka said in the release. “The property lends itself to a variety of experiences. One unique feature of the Barkersville Trails is that we hope to be able to extend the trails eventually so that they can accommodate equestrian use. Dolores loved riding in these woods, and horseback riding will be a new venture for Saratoga PLAN trails.”
Prior to sharing this land with the public, Arste and Hickey bred and trained Siberians Sleddogs on the property. Their first homebred litter produced several leaders. “Parrish was a super leader. She continued to race into her later years and loved to lead the puppy teams as she got older,” Arste said in the release. Arste was also a professional handler and breeder of Champion Schipperkes. “Derby was a winner in three countries. He won Best of Breed at New York’s prestigious Westminster Kennel Club.”
To commemorate their most beloved dogs, two trails in Barkersville have been dubbed Parrish Trail and Derby Path.
Due to the pandemic’s isolating effects, local residents have been flocking to outdoor spaces for reasons ranging from exercise to fresh air. As a result, parks, preserves, trails and other outdoor areas have grown increasingly important in people’s daily lives.
“We hope that the new Barkersville Trails offer added respite for the public,” Saratoga Plan’s community engagement manager Alex Fylypovych said in the release. “With the trail opening Thanksgiving weekend, individuals have one more reason to stay close to home for this holiday for the sake of everyone’s health and safety.”
Due to the recent spike in COVID-19 cases, Saratoga PLAN canceled a ribboncutting celebration that was for Thanksgiving weekend. However, beginning on Saturday, Nov. 28, the trails will still be ready and open to the public and visitors are encouraged to explore them.
Saratoga PLAN asks that all visitors bring a mask and practice social distancing while enjoying the new trail network. Fourlegged companions must be leashed, and, with hunting season in progress on adjacent properties, blaze orange outerwear is recommended for all.
“While we have been excitedly anticipating the chance to share the experience of opening the trails with everyone who helped make them possible, we thought it prudent to avoid potentially exposing one another by gathering in one place at the same time, even though it is outdoors. Trails provide an important and enjoyable way to support public health and we don’t want to jeopardize the well-being of our community especially at this time,” Trabka said in the release. “We are hoping that people will send us photos from their visits to Barkersville Trails or post them on social media so that our community can at least share our experiences on the trails virtually.”
The Barkersville Trails were made possible by the contributions of Dolores Arste, David Hickey, Dockstader Charitable Trust, Saratoga County, Miller Family Charitable Fund, Town of Galway, Monday Stewards, Death Wish Coffee, andmany more donors and volunteers.
Saratoga PLAN needs to raise an additional $9,000 to cover the costs of conserving the land and constructing the trails. Donations can be made online at saratogaplan.org/ donate, by calling 518587- 5554, or by mailing a check to Saratoga PLAN, 112 Spring Street, Saratoga Springs, NY 12866. Saratoga PLAN is a charitable 501(c)3 organization and all donations are tax deductible to the fullest extent.
More details about the new Barkersville Trails can be found online at www. saratogaplan.org/events/ barkersville-trails-ribboncutting.