Hollyhock Hollow Sanctuary

In my previous post, I spoke about the fantastic work that the Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy is doing so now I would like to begin showcasing some of these beautiful areas.

A short 10-15 minute drive from downtown Albany, nestled in the town of Selkirk, lies the Hollyhock Hollow Sanctuary. This lovely 134 acre parcel of land was previously owned by University at Albany Professor Dr. Robert Rienow and his wife Leona Train Rienow.

This 134-acre sanctuary was the former estate of University at Albany Professor Dr. Robert Rienow and his wife Leona Train Rienow, an accomplished writer. Passionate about nature, the Rienows allowed the forest on this once open farmland property to regenerate. Upon Dr. Rienow’s death in 1988, the sanctuary was bequeathed to Audubon International for use as a public preserve and served as the organization’s headquarters until 2013. In January of 2020, Audubon International transferred ownership of Hollyhock Hollow Sanctuary to the Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy.“*

Well thank you Professor and Mrs. Rienow!

The trail length is listed as 3.5 miles, so relatively short. But what it lacks in length it more than makes up for in beauty. I hiked this in March, which is a relatively “gray” time of year, but even so this preserve openly bragged about its potential beauty when “things green up.”

This is a very kid friendly trail in my opinion however there are a few hazards, so you will want to keep an eye on your children. First is obviously the water. Second, the trail(s) do cross the road at certain points. Lastly, when you are into the wooded areas, there are some “pits” that could cause a fall, but these are not right on the trails so if you watch out for them, you should be ok.

There are a couple of ways to hike this preserve, but I chose to start at the Creek Trail trailhead. This would bring me along one of my favorite streams, The Onesquethaw Creek. This little stream has been one of my favorite Trout Streams for longer than I can remember (although I never fished this stretch). But more on that in another post.

Interestingly, the MHLC website mentions fishing in this preserve. However there was this sign. It may be just this particular stretch of water (Beyond the sign) as it is very rocky and therefore could create a danger for those who are not familiar with and adept at “pocket” fishing.

The first leg creek trail meanders alongside the “Thaw” for a hundred yards or so before exiting on the road. Then up the road a bit it continues to the left and back along the creek. Then you cross the road to head onto the main trail that heads into the woods.

From here, the trail is relatively easy. The path is easily followed (as a result of being well used) and wanders very gently through the property. It begins moving through mixed Hemlock and hardwoods and as you move up in elevation you find yourself mostly in hardwoods.

There are lots of rocks too, including New England “fencing” which really adds to the charm of this area. If you are not familiar with New England Fencing, basically when this land was farmed, every spring you would need to pick out rocks that were brought to the surface due to frost. These rocks were then used to make “fencing” or boundary lines of the property.

I should mention that Hollyhock also has Geocaches. (As do others of these preserves) If you are not familiar with these, think of it as high tech treasure hunt that can be a fun way to spend the day if you have children. (Or you can channel your inner “nerd” and go after them yourself.)

If you are not familiar with Geocaching you can find out more here – https://www.geocaching.com/play

So if you are looking for a nice day hike, someplace you can just mosey through the forest, then give Hollyhock a try.

Also check out the Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy website. They have 22 preserves to visit and I think you will enjoy them all.

Sources: * https://www.mohawkhudson.org/preserves/hollyhock-hollow-sanctuary

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