Schenectady County

Readers plan book-inspired hike across Schenectady County

A dozen hardy readers will walk across Schenectady County on Saturday in what may be their book club
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A dozen hardy readers will walk across Schenectady County on Saturday in what may be their book club’s most physically strenuous outing so far.

Members of the Muddy Boots Book Club routinely discuss their book club pick on long hikes, although they usually call it a day long before the 21-mile mark. But for their current book discussion, they will walk from Pattersonville to the far end of Niskayuna as they discuss elephants, circuses, trains and the Great Depression.

Their book this time is “Water for Elephants,” the One County One Book choice that many county residents read this spring. Much of the book revolves around long train journeys amid Schenectady-like vistas, and club organizer Herb Terns was inspired. He plotted a trail along the river next to the old Erie Canal.

“It’s like we’ll be walking the rails,” he said.

The members decided the event would also be a perfect way to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the county, which is being celebrated all year.

They will start on Route 5S, walking past the Mabee Farm, and then follow the bike path through Rotterdam, Schenectady and Niskayuna. They plan to stop at every tasty bakery along the way.

“There’s a lot of bakeries along the way,” Terns said, before quickly returning to his nature-loving persona. “Also, there’s a lot of good spots along the river. We’ll probably stop at Lock 23. And Arthur’s. And who can skip Villa Italia?”

With a laugh, he summed it up: “It’s kind of like an eating tour.”

Although most of his book-discussion hikes take place on mountainous terrain, Terns leads “urban treks” through Schenectady every year. This year’s trip began at Central Park, wound through the GE Realty Plot and Union neighborhoods, made stops at Ambition and Villa Italia and then circled back to Central Park.

The trips are attractive to members of the Schenectady Chapter of the Adirondack Mountain Club who don’t feel up to a mountain hike. But many serious hikers love the walks, too.

“Some people like the buildings — they like the architecture,” Terns said.

The hikers will each donate $10 to the Schenectady County Library.

“The two great things the county has going for it are the library and the bike path,” Terns said.

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