The Town of Berne was very fortunate recently to be able to purchase this property with the assistance of The Open Space Institute. It is now publicly available park land, with no fees. There are many wonderful sections of open woods, with good visibility, making it easy to see the surrounding terrain of cliffs, streams, gullies, etc. As with much of the land in this area, there are steep slopes, but also intermittent terraces, where there is easy walking or running. There are open fields (periodically cut for hay) making it easy to see for miles all around the area (it is nearly, but not quite the highest point in Albany county; but the actual highest point in the county is wooded, with no surrounding views). There is a trail system; it is modest at this time, but there are plans to expand it. There are good facilities for parking, shelter, bathrooms.
The town is working hard (within its limited financial resources) to turn this into a recreational site worth the travel from anywhere in the Capital District, and beyond.
This is a brand new orienteering map, and as such has not had any review or coverage by others. Pro mapper Mark Dominie did include this area in the much large scale map which was used for the 2014 “Snowgaine” event, but little of that was usable at this completely different scale. So, it is just my best cut at representing the area, using the available NYS and Albany County LIDAR and orthophoto data, and a whole-lotta time hiking around with my GPS unit. There are undoubtedly features out there which are not shown on the map. But I believe that everything I have depicted is indeed there. Let me know if you see things which should be added, or if you discover that something I show is not really there, or is perhaps off somewhat from how/where it is shown.
I have paid particular attention to carefully mapping the areas around Control locations, and the likely routes between them. Carefully note that while the best routes between controls don’t cross them, there are many significant cliffs, primarily over the main north-south creek. These are dangerous, and should definitely be avoided.
One further point: while I have tried to accurately map the many remaining old/ruined fences, there are still places where you may find some fencing or barbed wire which are unmapped. In particular, any ruined wall, or line of stones, or hedgerow, or field boundary, may have hard to see wire strands.
Non-Standard or Unusual Map Symbols
These are shown in the Legend (not on the map, but available separately):
- Blue O = a well head
- Blue X = a water faucet (non-functional)
[Note that it can be hard to distinguish between the blue X’s and O’s, and the green X’s and O’s which are used for distinct trees]
Further explanation about Boundaries:
- The red boundary line represents the difference between public and private lands.
- The light green line represents the difference between the areas owned by the Town of Berne and State of New York (both are accessible to all).
- The orange line represents a private property boundary which you are allowed to cross.
- Areas into which you are not allowed are shown by:
- Black vertical lines (general out-of-bounds), and
- Purple vertical lines, showing in-holdings which you may not enter or cross.
If the boundary symbols and rules are not clear to you, please ask for clarification.
Special Kids Event
We will be trying something new in conjunction with the regular orienteering courses:
There will be a special short course for kids, which will use orange traffic cones as the control locations (which will be readily visible), complete with SI timing units set atop each cone. There will be a very blown up and simple map, and the kids can mostly just run from cone-to-cone, punch at each one, and finish. All entrants can get an SI “stick” to use the electronic timing system, and there will be no charge for entry or stick rental.
As noted, this is something new, and is thus an experiment. Please let us know if your kids enjoyed it.
Besides the special course noted above, there will be the usual compliment of courses, spanning a range of distances and complexities. The complexity designations and approximate lengths are:
- Beginner – “White” course: 1.4 kilometers, with all controls along trails or open areas.
- Advance Beginner – “Yellow” course: 2.3 kilometers, with all controls visible from trails or open areas, but perhaps somewhat off the trail.
- Intermediate – “Orange” course: 3.3 kilometers; most controls are in the woods and not immediately visible; the course does not go “deep” into the woods, and there are more available “bail-out” options than with the “Advanced” courses.
- Advanced – “Green” and “Red” courses: both use all of the available terrain, and try to avoid easy trail-following possibilities. Green is 3.7 kilometers, with 110 meters of climb and 12 controls; and Red is 4.7 kilometers, with 165 meters of climb and 16 controls. Both courses cross the boundary into the Cole Hill State Forest land. We have permission to do this, so you may cross as needed.
- Safety Note 1 – While there is no hunting of any sort allowed in the Town’s Switzkill Farm property, it is bow hunting season on the State Forest land. There has never been an accidental death due to a bow hunting incident; but still, bright clothing is advised for Green and Red course participants.
- Safety Note 2 – The Orange-Green-Red courses involve some steep ups & downs. Footware appropriate for steep slopes is strongly recommended.
- Control Descriptions (aka “Clues”) will be printed on the front side of the map for all courses. White-Yellow-Orange will have the “clues” in both orienteering symbol format and in English. Green-Red course maps will have the “clues” in symbols only. There will be separate clue sheets available for Green & Red.
-Phil & Sue