|Natural Areas of Rensselaer County, NY - Barberville Falls|
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OWNER:The Nature Conservancy
IN BRIEF: The spectacular ninety-two foot falls of the Poesten Kill at Barberville is one of the most arresting natural features in Rensselaer County. The trail is short and well worth a visit. In addition, there are two longer trails through the woods, one easy and the other more difficult, and both pass through some very beautiful land.
DIRECTIONS: From Troy take State Route 66 southeast through Wynantskill, then turn left on State Route 355 to Poestenkill. Proceed straight at the four-corners onto Plank Road (County Route 40), and proceed for 1.4 miles to Brookside Cemetery. Park on either shoulder of the road, adjacent to the cemetery.
CAUTIONS & PROHIBITIONS: The ninety-two foot falls can be dangerous to climbers. Do not climb on the slippery rocks or lean over the bluffs. Keep a secure hold on children. Be careful when walking along the road as well. No hunting, pets, motor vehicles, bikes, camping, picnics, or fires are allowed. Please do not remove or damage plants, wildlife, or rocks. Please stay on the trails.
DESCRIPTION: The 117 acre area consists mostly of forest and is bisected by the Poesten Kill, including its dramatic waterfall. Parking is not allowed near the falls, so one must park along either side of the road adjacent to the cemetery and walk on about one-quarter mile to the left turn on Ives Corners Road (County Route 79) in Barberville. Cross the bridge over the Poesten Kill, and turn left on a wide path. After a few hundred feet of level trail you come to a steeper section. It is short, and most people can manage it with care. This brings you to an overlook opposite the falls. Either at high or low water it is beautiful. Notice the red shale and the gray Rensselaer grit (graywacke) that forms most of the falls. At low water, notice the glacial pothole. Gray and brown splotches on the rocks are lichens.
The stonework construction at the top is the remains of an old mill. Only the mill foundation, footings for a dam, part of a spillway and one bridge abutment were ever completed. According to local folklore, the project was abandoned because one of the partners in this venture absconded with the unspent funds. Just before the steep section of the trail there is another path to the right. This leads, very steeply, to another spectacular viewpoint at the base of the falls. The stonework now serves as an overlook platform for viewing the top of the falls.
The ridge trail starts 0.1 mile further along Ives Corners Road about half way up the hill. It is on the left opposite the fourth telephone pole up from the corner (counting the shorter pole at the corner of Banner Hill Lane across from the falls trail entrance as number one.) This entrance may be hidden by grass and shrubs in summer, and The Nature Conservancy sign is often vandalized. The trail is marked with red diamonds. This two-mile trail has steep sections, and roots and rocks in the path. It loops along the ridge, crosses Davitt Pond Brook, and descends to the bank of the Poesten Kill before ascending to the starting point.
An incredible variety of wildflowers are in bloom along the way during the summer, and ferns are special in this rich woods. Among the flowers to look for are Canada mayflower, Indian cucumber- root, dwarf ginseng, wild sarsaparilla, early meadow rue, Solomon's seal, false Solomon's seal, wood anemone, trout lily, wake robin, partridge berry, fringed polygala, blue-bead lily, bishop's cap, foam flower, blue cohosh, wild geranium, and cardinal flower. There are club mosses, lichens, and horsetails as well.
An old logging road parallels the Poesten Kill on its west bank for about a mile. To reach this trail along the creek, walk west from the parking spot along the Plank Road several hundred feet to the beginning of the metal guard rail. A trail heads downhill here. The one hundred foot descent to the stream level is gradual and the trail is in good shape. At the bottom you can follow the old road about one-half mile in either direction. This trail is not marked, so note the trail junction. The forest is roofed with a canopy of tall hemlock and pine needles, and beneath them grows an abundance of wildflowers, shrubs, and ferns. Look for painted trillium, lady slipper, blue-bead lily, fringed polygala, and other treasures. There are at least a dozen different ferns growing along this old road. The boulder-filled stream rushing alongside makes the scene idyllic.
FOR MORE INFORMATION: Eastern New York Chapter, The Nature Conservancy, 251 River Street, Troy, NY 12180. Telephone: (518) 272-0195.