Today we take the bikes around the park to see what there is to see. There’s the boat launch into the creek. It’s very close to the campground.
We follow the creek away from Otsego Lake.
From the car bridge that leads down to the beach we see two kayakers headed up stream. Not sure how far they can go but I want to get out there myself and find out..
We see we can go at least as far as the historic Covered Bridge.
The Hyde Hall covered bridge was bult in 1825 as part of the 1817-1835 construction of the Hyde Hall Mansion, George Clark’s country estate. This is not George Rogers Clark of Lewis & Clark fame. More on who he is later. The bridge is 53 feet long, still stands in its original location and in 2006 was recognized as not ony the oldest existing covered bridge in New York state but in the entire United States. Who knew?
I love these old pictures of it. This one is from 1883.
This one appears to be in fall or winter. The time period is hard to tell but notice the land around the bridge now and in the other photographs. It’s possible this was taken from the other direction and the children are coming from the forested land.
This one is from 1958.
I was really sorry to see all the graffiti carvings inside this beautiful structure. Carving one’s name seems to have been going on for quite some time. Since someone took pains to point out this 1897 signature I guess everyone feels entitled to add theirs.
The Burr Arch design is clear as you come through the bridge. The Burr Arch is a combination an arch and a multiple kingpost trust design. It was invented in 1804 by Theodore Burr and patented in 1817.
David rides through. Just to his left is a beautiful patch of wildflowers on a bend in the river bank.
We leave the bikes at this point to walk what is called the Beaver Pond Trail.
These are the highlights of our efforts to follow the trail to the Beaver Pond.
When I see this little pond, it looks like a beaver pond but the one with that name looks much larger on the map. The trail is very poorly marked.
Lots of mowed trails crossing each other. No signs.
I’m sure he knows where he is going.
When we reach the graveled path we know we must be headed toward something.
It takes us to what we assume is the correct pond. Pretty good size for a Beaver Pond.
There is one lone fisherman on an island in the center.
From two legs to one leg and hunkered down. Does that mean he’s cold?
We sit down on this great bench overlooiking the pond to watch him for a while.
He decides to get in the water and walk around. He strikes at several things but I’m not sure he gets anything. He’s so fast, it’s hard to tell from the edge of the water. But he’s fun to watch just the same. Pretty shallow pond as you can see.
Eventually we head back stopping by the dry camping campground called Beaver Pond Campground of course. It’s next to the pond. It’s really lovely and has huge sites. Number 24 is my favorite. It is a little secluded site with its own long driveway and enough sun for solar.
Not sure they take reservations for this one on line. I didn’t check not knowing what the temperatures would be. Sure wish I had enough solar panels to run one AC. I’d boondock all the time. At least in New York State Parks, they seem to be the nicest campsites.
Walking through the campsites we hear both of these guys up in the trees. I get a sort of shot of this flitting chickadee
and a better shot of the Cedar Wax Wing. It is really helpful if you can recognize birds by sound so you know they are in the trees and what to look for. There aren’t many I can do that with but these two are pretty easy. I think the Cedar Wax Wing is so striking. I’m surprised to see him alone. They usually travel in groups and fly used to fly in to pick our Mulberry Trees clean.
We walk back to the bikes and head down to the beach to check it out. Otsego Lake is 7.8 miles long with the campground at one end of the oval and Cooperstown New York at the other end. The lake is 4,046 acres and the source of the Susquehanna River the major source for the Chesapeake Bay.
There’s a nice bath house with a small grille. I imagine this is a very popular place with the locals on the week-ends.
Today we take the bikes past the beach area and up the hill to hike the Sleeping Lion trail. Supposedly this ridge looks like a sleeping lion. I guess you’d have to see it from the air or from a distance. The hike is billed on the information they gave us as “an uphill trail through a scenic forest for a view of Otsego Lake”. Sounds good. We park the bikes by the information sign and study the map. We see Hyde Hall in the background. That’s the Clark Estate Mansion. Its grounds are the park but it is owned by a separate non profit foundation. More on it later.
The trail is in red. Looks up hill of course but without topography we don’t know. The campground is the yellow star at the bottom. You can see the beach on the water between them.
We find the trail head and off we go. Up hill.
And up hill.
We’re being watched.
The grade slacks off a bit but its still up hill. It is a nice forest with a soft pine needle floor.
I love these wonderful shelf mushrooms.
Still going up.
And then we aren’t, we are going down. If there was a view point for the lake up there we sure didn’t see it and neither did another couple we spoke to as we passed.
When we get to the bottom of the trail we find ourselves on the lane that goes to Hyde Hall so since we’ve parked our bikes on the other side of it, the closest way to them is through the estate. We hope they will let us walk through the grounds without paying.
Tin Top is the name given to the Gatehouse for the Hyde Hall Estate becasue of its distinctive tin covered dome. The gatekeeper and his family lived here and controlled traffic entering and exiting the main gate which then was located ,from 1821 to 1974, just north of the current entrance to Glimmerglass State Park
In 1974 it was moved to this location. It is built in the style of of the first toll houses on New York’s western turnpikes.
Today the left side is a small museum with information about the history of the estate. On the right is the book shop where you can buy tour tickets.
We stop to look in the museum and I find this old photo of Tin Top which must have been taken after its heyday and before restoration. It looks like a down trodden version of the way it looks today. I do love old photos. I wonder what will happen to all of our gazillions of digital photos in years to come.
In the tiny one room museum, in addition to information boards and pictures, they are running a slide show of pictures of the estate. This one shows the placement of the home in relation to the lake. For sure I’ll never have this view of from the air. You can see the road passing in front of the house and the very farthest piece of it you can see is where our bikes are.
I had never heard of this Clark. Being from Virginia, it’s all about George Rogers Clark. But this one is a big deal around here and the little museum corrects my ignorance. Hope you find the history as interesting as I do.
The first George Clark was an Englishman who was the British Secretary of New York and Lieutenant Governor from 1703 to 1743. Sounds like today’s career politicians to me.
He married well to Anne Hyde daughter of the Governor of North Carolina and cousin to Queens Mary II and Anne of England. By the time he returned to England in 1745 he owned 120,000 acres of land. Ultimately that land passed into the hands of his son George who married a local widow Ann Cary Cooper some distant relative of James Fenimore no doubt and of the founder of Cooperstown.
In 1817 son George retained a prominent Albany Architect Philip Hooker, who is apparently also well known as designer of the New York State Capitol Building, to design the grand house of 50 rooms. The house was finally finished in 1833. Ultimately his son George inherited the estate at age 21. By 1843 and for reasons too numerous to recount son George went bankrupt in 1887. All his property including Hyde Hall was sold at sheriff’s auction. The information did not indicate how the estate got back into the family but we met the bulding’s historian who told us another member of the family bought it and thus it remained in the Clarke family until 1963 when it was acquired by New York State for the development of Glimmerglass Lake State Park.
From May 8 to October 31, tours of the mansion are given on the hour from 10am to 4pm. The cost is $12 for adults and $10 for seniors and children 6-17. We have just missed a tour and dodn’t feel like waiting nearly an hour for another so we walk on past the front of the mansion. You can visit the Hyde Hall website by clicking here.
As you could see in the arial photo, the road in front of the house goes beyond it to where we parked our bikes. In the first picture I posted the mansion is behind the bikes.
On the way we see the side porch which has the only view of the lake we found all day. It’s a nice one and there are rocking chairs to we sit for a spell and enjoy the view. Can you see David sitting on the porch?
To clear up some apparent confusion from my last post on the park, the name Glimmerglass comes from one of James Fenimore Cooper’s Leatherstocking tales. It was the name of the lake in that book but the real lake is Otsego and the closest town is Cooperstown. There is no Glimmerglass Lake or town.
Pretty nice family “country house”. Just like the one my family had, how about yours?