Franny Reese State Park is my go-to if I want to get in a little outdoor exercise but I don’t have a lot of time. The morning of my best friend’s birthday party presented just such a situation. I considered taking a pass and just sleeping in, but I made the mistake of checking my email when my alarm went off. Late the night before I’d received an email from Wildland Trekking notifying me that my trip is just two months away (woo hoo!) and gently reminding me thus:
…[F]or your safety and enjoyment we recommend training for your hike. A three-part program focusing on cardiovascular fitness, muscular strength, and flexibility is best for hiking and backpacking … Of course hiking in hilly terrain while carrying a backpack is the best training for your trip.
Okay, Wildland Trekking, fine. I get the hint. I grabbed my weighted pack and headed out to hit the trail.
I managed to get an early start for once. From the parking lot at Johnson-Iorio Memorial Park I descended about 40 stairs and crossed under the Mid-Hudson Bridge. The loop route starts with a moderately steep 5 minutes uphill on the Yellow Trail, which is laid with logs here to prevent water erosion, creating natural wide “steps.” Shortly after a sharp switchback the Yellow Trail intersects with the Blue Trail, a steep little quarter-mile side loop to an overlook directly above the Mid-Hudson Bridge. The lovely view up there added a touch of drama to my breakfast of a bagel and cream cheese before I headed back down. The Blue loop dumps out onto a dirt access road for the power lines that pass over this part of the ridge. I hung a left and followed the signs to the White Trail.
The White Trail accounts for the majority of the 2.6 miles on this route. After a brief, moderate climb the trail levels out and meanders south through the young forest over flat terrain. In about 3/4-mile the trail turns 180° to head north along the ridge overlooking the Hudson River. This part of the trail is prettier in early spring and late fall when the trees aren’t so leafy and the river views open up. It’s still a nice walk in May, though, especially because our cool wet weather has made everything so very green.
About one mile from the turn the White Trail passes the feature that elevates this route above a plain old walk in the woods: The ruins of Cedar Glen, the abandoned estate of dentist and inventor Charles Roberts. Scenic Hudson has put up some split-rail fencing and signage to the effect that the building ruins are off limits to visitors, but some scofflaws might still see fit to explore beyond the fence (not that I’d advocate or encourage such a thing, let alone participate myself). After I snapped a few pics and meditated briefly on the fleeting nature of wealth and property, I continued along the White Trail until it re-joined the Yellow Trail. From there, I simply turned right to retrace my steps down the hill, under the Mid-Hudson Bridge, and up the approximately 40 stairs to where I’d parked.
I enjoy hiking Franny Reese. It’s admittedly not much of a challenge, but it sure beats trudging on the stepmill when I’m pinched for time.
Length: 2.6 miles
Total Elevation Gain: ~350 ft
Hiking Time: 1 hour
Training Grade: C
Enjoyment Grade: A