Off the Northway: Hikers, bikers, skiers can find trails online

Those of us who like to hike, bike and cross-country ski typically have a mental list of our favorit

Those of us who like to hike, bike and cross-country ski typically have a mental list of our favorite places.

For me, short of burning gas to get to the Adirondacks, it could be the Zim Smith Trail north of Round Lake, or Saratoga’s Bog Meadow Trail — genuinely boggy — or perhaps the walking and biking loops through the Saratoga Battlefield national park in Stillwater.

Returning to favorite places is great, but so is exploring. More off-road trails keep opening, as more of the American public seeks fresh air and exercise, natural settings for contemplation, and exposure to sunlight and Vitamin D.

It’s become easier to find new hiking spots in Saratoga County, and less important to keep a mental inventory. With a nod to the Internet, there’s now a central source of information on all the trails in the county.

Saratoga Preserving Land and Nature, the private nonprofit better-known as Saratoga PLAN, has them all listed in a new Web application that, with a few mouse clicks, offers information on almost all the recreation trails in the county.

Altogether, there are more than 200 miles of non-motorized trails in the county, and 124 miles of snowmobile trail. The Web application shows where they are, and what kinds of uses are allowed on them.

The project was backed by county officials and business interests who think having people out and about will also get them to part with their money — to say nothing about what they mean for quality of life, always one of the Capital Region’s big selling points.

“This map will be a great resource as we look to be a vocal and visible promoter of the vibrant trail system,” said Todd Shimkus, president of the county Chamber of Commerce.

The new maps were developed over the summer by University at Albany grad student Chris Ferraro, interning at PLAN. The chamber provided a grant to support the work. Ferraro collected information he entered into a geographic information system (GIS) format.

For anyone with a high-speed connection, the maps can be reached through the website, by following links there to the Saratoga County website’s mapping system; to Google Earth; or to the New York State GIS Clearinghouse.

Job fair talk

Saratoga County officials are talking about organizing a local job fair that would help GlobalFoundries find local people to work at the enormous computer chip plant it is building in Malta.

GlobalFoundries is now hiring; it has roughly 1,000 employees already, headed for 1,600 by late next year. County officials would like to see Capital Region residents getting solid shots at those jobs. Company officials said they’re not getting as many local applicants as they had hoped for.

Anita Daly, chairwoman of the county Economic Development Committee, said maybe people don’t realize there’s hiring going on because the factory is well-hidden in the Luther Forest woods, not readily visible to people casually driving through Malta and Stillwater.

“The reality of the whole thing is still abstract to a lot of people,” Daly said.

GlobalFoundries spokesman Travis Bullard said the company is working with the county on plans for the fair.

“We’ve always been recruiting locally since breaking ground on

the project and we’ve worked with the state Department of Labor and other local partners to host career fairs,” he said. “While we recruit the best and brightest from around the world, nothing makes us happier than finding a qualified candidate locally.”

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