Last weekend we decided to revisit Randall Pond in Ridge to see if there were any improvements to the Red Trail, located near the western end of the preserve. When we attempted this trail two years ago we had to bail out due to the mass of brambles that had overgrown the path. On the chance that maintenance of the park takes place in the Spring and we had gone in October our visit was filled with the expectation of a better experience. Alas! That was not meant to be.
Randall Pond consists of two trails marked with red and blue trail markers. The Blue Trail is actually quite pleasant as it wanders around the pond and through woods where the ground cover transitions from pine needles underfoot to blueberry bushes to grass. On our previous visit we found a small snake making its way across the path.
Where the Blue Trail circles the pond, there are a few piers leading out over the pond. Here we found several types of dragonflies flitting about. A rather large red bodied fellow paused on the pier for a time. Later a blue bodied friend buzzed just above the water. This pond has been designated as a catch and release fishing pond, stocked by the DEC (Department of Environmental Conservation). Unfortunately, during this visit, the pond was so overrun with water lilies and other invasive plants that we found several dead fish. We did hear a bullfrog and saw a late stage tadpole jump out of the water from time to time, so the pond was still able to support some life.
We continued on the Blue Trail with no difficulty, since there was very little ground cover here. There were posts along the way designating stops on an interpretive trail. Many of the markers were faded to the extent that the numbers were barely visible and we found no pamphlet at the kiosk to enlighten us as to what we should be observing at each station. Along the way, there were several instances where fallen trees (probably from Super Storm Sandy) leaned precariously across the path. We took the wiser course of going off trail to walk around this obstacle.
Our original intent for this hike was to bail out on to a wooded road that cuts through the middle of the park, just before the Red Trail. Somehow we missed the road and found ourselves on the infamous Red Trail. Here we found Thistle, blooming on the side of the path. We should have taken this as a warning; “abandon all hope, ye who enter here”, but whether it was optimism or stupidity, we decided to continue on.
Now, we had to cross through meadows with thigh high grass and no tramped down area designating a trail. We knew we were headed in the right direction by the trail marker on the opposite side of the meadow. We found a blue marker, leading into a thicket. Back with the red markers, we finally we had to pass through another meadow, filled with tall grass and blueberry bushes. After fighting our way through this, we found the red marker and no way to cut through to follow the trail. We went back through the blueberry bushes to walk around the obstruction, found another red marker only to have it dead end in another overgrown area. Finally giving up, we fought our way toward where we knew the old road ran through the park.
As we continued down the road, we found a young rabbit sitting in a mowed section near another meadow. This indicated to us that there was some maintenance going on but not on the trails. I would have to say that this walk was not worth the Lone Star Tick and other tick nymphs we had to deal with despite the permethrin treated clothes.
We had battled for 2 hours, walking 3 miles.