If you're looking for a quick, dog-friendly nature hike in Schenectady, look no further than the Kings Highway Barrens Trail! Situated on the Albany Pine Bush Preserve, this 1.2-mile loop will take you and your best friend through some of the native and rare habitat types found in New York state.
While the preserve has several access points, you may proceed to the trailhead on Kings Road for this particular trail. Leave your car in the sand lot near the kiosk, but note that this parking area is only open seasonally and can accommodate three to four vehicles at a time. Located adjacent to the historic Kings Highway that connected Schenectady and Albany, this part of the preserve features restored native prairies dotted with wild blue lupine, pitch pine-scrub oak forests, and invasive black locust “jungles.” On the east side of the loop, you'll spot a small and uncommon vernal pond.
As various plants and animals call the preserve home, it's very likely that you and Fido will encounter at least a few of them. These include deer, chipmunks, coyotes, red foxes, spotted turtles, hognose snakes, and the federally endangered Karner blue butterfly. Also listen for great horned owls, woodpeckers, golden-crowned kinglets, and nuthatches.
Kings Highway Barrens is just one of the multiple trails on the preserve, so be sure to check out the others if time permits. The Albany Pine Bush is one of less than 20 remaining inland pitch pine-scrub oak barrens in the world and one of the best examples of this habitat, so don't miss the chance to explore it with your furry pal!
Speaking of doggos, the preserve welcomes four-legged visitors as long as they are leashed and under control at all times. Don't forget to bring waste bags, too, for cleaning up any mess your pup may make. As for human restrooms, these can be found on a couple of the other trails on the site. Enjoy the preserve's diverse natural features and have an unfurgettable time with your pooch on the Kings Highway Barrens Trail!
Watch out for deer ticks! Come prepared and check yourself and Fido thoroughly after your hike. Bring sunscreen or rain gear as well, depending on the season.