Monday, July 12, 2021

Park Tour

     Ever heard of 'parkour'? Neither had I. But after the word popped up a few times my curiosity was aroused. According to Wikipedia,  parkour is movement thru complex environments in the fastest, most efficient way possible. The discipline views the urban world as an obstacle course to navigate with speed, confidence and grace. It involves lots of climbing, jumping, rolling and running.

    Perhaps a sequence in the 2006 James Bond film Casino Royale was parkour's breakout moment. Bond pursues bad guy Mollaka thru a Madagascar construction site, turning it into a destruction site in the process. They leap from one ledge to another, run along narrow exposed beams and hurdle whatever gets in their way. Mollaka is played by Sebastien Foucan, in real life one of parkour's most skilled practitioners. Despite an amazing series of stunts, any one of which should have killed him, it is left to 007 to finally bring an end to Mollaka's misdeeds. In a Bond film that's the way it goes. 


Practicing parkour stunts on the set of Casino Royale 
web image

     To the best of my knowledge parkour is not a popular pastime in Washington County. In fact, I'ld be surprised if many people here have even heard of it. So let's move on to park tour instead. Specifically, the parks in the Village and Town of Greenwich. For a small, rural area there are a surprising number of them.  

     In the heart of Greenwich the library and municipal offices connect to The Commons, an open space used for farmers markets and other events. There are attractive flower beds and benches for quiet contemplation. That's Zia, our new puppy near the flag pole in The Commons. Note that many of the Village's parks have memorials and plaques.

     Mowry Park is across the street from the library. It's bandstand hosts summer concerts. Zia is always ready to perform. Look up to see the interesting geometry of the bandstands ceiling.

     A short walk up Church Street leads to another small park with monuments to Job Whipple ( founding father ) and World War II veterans. A dam and falls on the Battenkill across Salem Street lends a watery soundtrack to this park.

     Slate sidewalks make walking between parks part of the fun. Yes, they are cracked and a little uneven but they have so much more charm than concrete.

     A small park on Washington Square has memorials to Civil War veterans and to much loved Sophy dog.

     Where Cottage Street joins Main you'll find this restful spot with a fountain surrounded by hostas.

     Across Corliss Avenue from the YMCA is another V-shaped park dedicated to those who have served in the military.

     On Woodlawn Avenue near the schools is Gannon Park with a playground and courts. In winter there's a lighted skating rink here.

     Rock Street Park has grills and tables as well as a dock for fishing or launching on the Battenkill. Other access points under the railroad trestle and at the bend on Elbow Street make it easy for paddlers to explore the river and its park-like shore. There's also the Middle Falls put-in ( in the Town of Easton ) making all of the 'Kill easy to enjoy as it winds around the Village.

     Unfortunately, it's hard to recommend what should be the Towns showcase park. The Greenwich Beach, heading out Rt. 29 towards Salem, certainly has a lovely setting on the river but you can't swim here anymore
 and even though there's a children's playground there are also large flocks of geese and what they leave behind. I can't imagine any parent wanting their kids playing in that. Plus the chain-link fence, no doubt erected for security and liability reasons, still reminds me of a prison yard. Ugh.

      There are several spots that may stretch the definition of 'park' a little but are well-worth visiting. Up North Road a couple of miles from the Village you'll see an obscure dirt lane leading uphill to the right. There isn't a sign and it's easy to miss but if you bravely follow it for a half mile or so you'll be rewarded with the Thunder Mountain Recreation Area. Several loop trails offer 2 to 3 miles of hiking with some nice views of the surrounding hills. Probably of most interest is an abandoned reservoir with a convenient fishing platform and nearby tables. It's like finding a lost world and one of my favorite spots.

     Another gem is the Carter Pond Nature Trails. A small dam on Whittaker Brook creates this body of water. It's part of a larger state wildlife management area. You can launch small boats here and the fishing is good but what makes it extraordinary is the handicapped accessible trails and viewing platform. 

     Near the western edge of town is The Nature Conservancy's Denton Wildlife Sanctuary. Several trails lead to various habitats and up and over those wild shale ridges. Just up Rt. 4 a short ways is a pull-off where you can see a beautifully preserved lock of the old Champlain Canal. Back towards Clarks Mills, the H&V plant has a number of places to access the Battenkill that are popular with fishermen and paddlers alike.

     If we stretch our boundaries just a wee bit a number of other interesting destinations become available.Most of Fort Miller is in the southern end of the Town of Fort Edward. Here you'll find Mill Park and the grounds around Lock 6. Open fields, a small playground and a basketball court are available but fishing in the canal and the Hudson seems to be the most popular pastime. Out along Rt. 4 is a neatly mowed rest area with picnic tables fronting a small pond. People fish here and I've enjoyed a leisurely paddle around its perimeter with lots of flora and fauna to observe.

looking across the Dix Bridge towards Hudson Crossing

image from the park's website

     Hudson Crossing Park, located across the river from the Town of Greenwich, has much to offer including trails, a nature themed playground and places to get on the water with your canoe or kayak. It's a deservedly popular spot. 

     Finally, what was once the areas most visited park is quieter now but no less enchanting. Dionondahowa Falls can be seen by a stroll off Windy Hill Road in the Town of Easton. Many years ago a trolley line brought hordes of sightseers here and the level, wooded area above the falls was open parkland. Now, not a trace of past activity remains.

     We'll finish with two memorials that may not qualify as parks but definitely deserve a few moments of quiet remembrance. Both are dedicated to those who have bravely served. The first is in Thompson where Post Office Lane meets Co 113 and the second is where Co 49 curves around the mill pond in Cossayuna. They're so easy to drive by unnoticed but if you stop you'll be glad you did.
     There's your quick tour of the many parks in the Town and Village of Greenwich. No parkour required.

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