John Naple walks through the thigh-high brush along the North Chuctanunda Creek behind the Mohasco Mills so he can get a better view of the waterfall over the Maxwell Dam.
Naple, who looks like a hiker in his sandals and cargo pants made out of windbreaker material, is a member of the Montgomery County Water Conservation Committee, which has produced a walking guide brochure complete with historical, geological and ecological information about a four-mile walking trail the committee hopes to complete.
The trail begins at the Route 30 bridge and continues down East Main Street to the old Key Bank branch building. There the North Chuctanunda Creek runs under 31 E. Main St., under the road and under the Key Bank building before spilling into the Mohawk River.
The trail continues up along the creek through Kirk Douglas Park, then onto the road up Forest Avenue. At the middle of Forest Avenue walkers have the opportunity to get off the road and onto a path that leads to an open field behind the Mohasco Mill site near the old power plant.
The trail then continues to Shuttleworth Park.
Naple said the point of the trail is to highlight the North Chuctanunda Creek’s value in the city.
“We want to tell people to take care of the resource that we have,” he said. “We have used and abused this creek, but look how resilient it is.”
Besides drawing attention to the importance of preserving the creek’s vitality, the trail would provide a recreational and historical asset to the city.
Naple, a retired earth science teacher, notes historical information as he points out places along the creek where old railroad tracks brought coal to the Mohasco Power Plant or where old mill buildings once stood.
“This whole area was once full of old mills,” Naple said pointing out the vacant land surrounding the Mohasco Mill buildings.
A portion of the trail runs along an old, worn down road where cobblestones are now visible.
Naple said the county’s Water Conservation Committee is hoping to print and distribute copies of the walking trail guide this summer. He said the committee is now looking for input and ideas from local government or organizations on how to proceed with the trail.
Most of the trail that is off-road is covered with brush, which would need to be cut back and the paths then maintained.
Mayor Ann Thane said the city is looking for money to develop the trail.
She said the city could help erect signs indicating plant life and historical aspects of the trail.
Thane said she likes that the trail connects downtown with the rest of the city and also would link with the South Side’s proposed Via Ponte multi-use development, once a pedestrian bridge crossing the Mohawk River is built. The trail could also link with the Mohawk Hudson Bike-Hike Trail that goes to Albany.
“It all adds to quality of life and it fits perfectly into our master plan,” Thane said.
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Categories: Schenectady County