David insisted he had to go into Cooperstown to Schneider’s Bakery on our last day here. We are there so early the dew is still on the windows. Bakeries are one thing David will definitely get up early for.
Of course they have baseball themed cookies. They don’t have much in the way of Danish, but then from the name they appear to be a German Bakery. Much to his dismay, no chocolate croissants or cheese danish. But they do have lots of other yummy things.
The village of Cooperstown is sweet with its face in parking, center island and recycling bins on the sidewalk. I love the bins. Wish every town had both trash and recycling bins. The banner is advertising Sheep Dog Trials next week-end.
On Sunday we are on our way to Winhall Brook COE in South Londonderry Vermont. We’ve been there before and had planned to be here last summer but his treatment would not allow it so we are looking forward to this return. We are especially looking forward to cooler temperatures. This has been an uncharacteristically hot summer in the Finger Lakes of New York.
Although Cooperstown bills itself as a mountain valley resort in the foothills of the Adirondacks and the Catskills, we know it when we hit the bigger Green Mountains of Vermont. Makes me want to sing “The Hills are Alive”.
Winhall Brook has two campgrounds. One without electricity and for which you do not need to cross this bridge. There are a total of 111 campsites on both sides of Winhall Brook. The 23 electric sites all have 30 amp service, water and require you to cross this tight fit bridge. Among these 23 are 18 sites which are 40, 45 or 50’ in size. Makes no sense to me why the electric sites are across the brook and more difficult to get to. Both sides have a dumpsite.
As before, David threads Winnona right through with no damage to the mirrors.
Our site #18 is great although #20 is my favorite. Many of the sites look very level but when you actually get in there, sometimes you’ve been deceived. Glad we had the mats to put under Winnona’s passenger side front tire.
The electric sites are in a circle. This is the view of part of that circle and the bathhouse opposite us.
I’m anxious to get out for a hike today. The West River Trail is a 36-mile scenic former railbed trail through the West River Valley. It is currently not completed but when fully connected, sections of the trail will link Brattleboro, Dummerston, Newfane, Townshend, Jamaica and South Londonderry. Luckily for us, 16 miles along the upper section of this valley route link the villages of South Londonderry, Jamaica and Townsend going right through Winhall Brook.
When I look up the history of the trail I read that “The West River Trail may well be Vermont’s oldest transportation path. Native Americans called the West River ‘Wantastiquet’ or “waters of the lonely way,’ The Wantastiquet path was an important connection from the West River valley and Fort Dummer in Brattleboro over the Green Mountains to Otter Creek and Lake Champlain.”
In 1879, this path was developed into the West River Railroad, originating in Brattleboro and terminating at the South Londonderry Depot. However, not long after the railroad opened, people began to call it “36 miles of trouble.” Its narrow gauge and winding route led to undependable, if not dangerous, service. A 1903 editorial called the trains “trydaily-they go down in the morning and try to get back at night.” Eventually they just gave it up.
Now there are two trailheads here, one on each side of the river. Today we are taking the one on the south side where our campsite is located and going to Angel Falls and perhaps beyond. The trail head we are using is marked in purple on the map just below the Campground name.
The first mile of the hike takes us along the brook to the end of the campground road.
The paved road stops at the trailhead, becomes gravel and an even more lovely wide lane along the brook.
The gravel road leads to a small easily missed trail off the right. That’s the turn you need to make but we are easily lured beyond when the gravel road turns into a wide mowed path.
We find a lovely bench whose view of the brook turned river is blocked by a piece of fence. Across the river we can see what appears to be the supports for a bridge, probably the railroad bridge. We suspect we are standing on the other support.
After enjoying the view, we backtrack and find the little path.
Before heading back, we are serenaded by a local resident and enjoy the blooming colors.
Not sure what this lovely is. Does anyone know?
Shortly after finding the not so obvious path it turns much wider and UP hill.
After a steep uphill climb, it flattens out and crosses a bridge over a lovely little stream hurrying down hill to meet the bigger waters.
All types of fungi line the path which eventually takes us back over to the river side and high above it.
From this bench we can look back and see the one on which we were recently sitting before climbing up hill
There is more up hill and it is quite rocky. David is glad he brought is hiking stick. Wish I had too.
The hike from the end of the paved road at the small trail is about a mile to Angel Falls. We have done this hike on previous visits and this time find the falls light on water but still very lovely.
Looking away from the falls we can see where the water flows to.
We aren’t the only ones enjoying the water. There are several frogs as well as 3 women and two dogs here when we arrive.
We swap picture taking with the ladies and then David heads back and I go on to potentially hike to the West River dam and on to Buttermilk Falls
This is the view over my left shoulder as I hike away from the falls. It couldn’t be a more beautiful day.
Another bridge, another stream, more up hill.
I have now reached the Ball Mountain Dam which is part of Ball Mountain Recreation Area. The West Lake Trail continues on to and past the dam headed for Buttermilk Falls. I wonder if every state has a Buttermilk Falls?
I walk down the road and beyond the automotive barrier.
The dam was completed in 1961 at a cost of $10,300,000. It is 915 feet in length and 265 feet high. I assume this is a “watch tower” of some sort. Since I don’t usually do dams, I don’t know much about them. But this one is necessary if you want to follow the West River Trail. There are no more trail markers after the one at the sign for the dam so I don’t really know where I’m going. My only choice here is to walk under the walkway to the tower and up the dirt road.
Still no signs so I walk across the top of the dam. There is a great view from atop the dam looking in the direction I’ve come.
This is the looking beyond the dam. I can’t tell how the water flows under/through the dam but clearly the river is smaller there. There’s no West River Trail here. Where is it?
Not sure how this dam works, but here it is. Of course there is a barrier so you can’t walk out there.
From the dam, as I turn around, I can see that little path snaking down the far side of the dam. No doubt that is the West River Trail
Using my camera I can see that at the bottom it goes into the woods and someone is down there with a young boy. The adult is talking on the phone. He is the first person I’ve seen since I left Angel Falls. That trail heading into the woods is really pulling me.
However, at this point I’ve already done 15000 steps and according to my information it is another 2 miles to Buttermilk Falls. That’s no problem but I’m not sure I want the return trip. If I head back now my total miles will be over 10 miles, if I go on it will be closer to 15. So in spite of my ever present desire to follow the trail, I turn back.
Once I climb back up the road to the dam and am back in the woods, the trail is really lovely in this direction as well with more beautiful fungi that I hadn’t noticed coming the other way. Or perhaps I’m more leisurely walking back not being in search of anything in particular.
When I reach Angel Falls this time folks are actually in the water swimming. They tell me they have hiked over from the Ball Mountain Recreation area. Clearly they are local Vermonters who think this water temperature – pretty darn cold if you ask me – is just fine.
The path is still rocky but I do fine without my hiking pole. When I reach the lovely stream, which I know is not far from the steep downhill and the gravel road by the brook, I stop and stay for a while. I’m in no hurry. Since I didn’t push the hike too far, it’s not late
The gravel path is another mile long before you reach the paved campground road. It’s very pleasant being able to see and hear the brook as I walk along. Life is good!
And then here I am at the campground road. At this point I’ve hiked over 10 miles and it’s 5:00. What a great day. I’m crossing my fingers that someone is working on dinner! I’ve definitely worked up an appetite.