Since the beginning of the COVID-19 school and business closures, Saratogians have taken to the outdoors—so much so that some area trails (see: the Schumann Preserve at Pilot Knob), as well as playgrounds and basketball courts, have been shut down due to overcrowding. Thankfully, Saratoga Preserving Land and Nature (PLAN) is in the process of producing new paths in the Palmertown Range, thanks to a $500,000 gift courtesy of the Sarah B. Foulke Charitable Fund of the Community Foundation for the Greater Capital Region.
Since 2003, Saratoga PLAN has dedicated itself to protecting the farmlands and woodlands of Saratoga County. Over the last 17 years, the organization has provided Saratogians with 10 public preserves and 22 miles of trails to explore, and the $500,000 gift is the largest private cash gift that Saratoga PLAN has ever received. The donation will be used for the planning, design and stewardship of more than 20 miles of publicly accessible, permanently conserved trails in the 40,500-acre Southern Palmertown Range that stretches north from Skidmore College to the Hudson River, and is bordered by Routes 9 and 9N, on the east and west, respectively. In a statement, Saratoga PLAN Executive Director Maria Trabka says PLAN expects to “have a master plan for the overall network completed this year.” But, due to current restrictions on public gatherings, she says, it’s difficult to predict when the first trails will open.
As a thank you to their beneficiary, the Palmertown trails will be named the Sarah B. Foulke Friendship Trails. Foulke, who passed away in 2016, was a Skidmore graduate, a Saratoga County attorney and an active member of both the Soroptimists International of Saratoga County and the Saratoga Workhorses. Anthony J. Izzo, one of three donor-advisors to the Sarah B. Foulke Charitable Fund, said in a statement that he believes the the project “embodies Sarah’s enduring love of Saratoga Springs, nature, dogs, horses, and the power of friendship.” He went on to say that he and the other advisors are “confident that this gift to the community will bring pleasure to many and benefit all forever.”
While Saratoga PLAN works on bringing the Sarah B. Foulke Friendship Trails to life, there are many other PLAN trails and preserves ready and waiting to be explored. The Palmertown Range hosts a number of existing paths, such as those in Moreau Lake State Park, Lincoln Mountain State Forest and Daniels Road State Forest, all of which remain open to the public. Trabka’s favorite trails include those at the Hennig Preserve in the Town of Providence and the Coldbrook Preserve in the Town of Northumberland. For a full list of Saratoga PLAN preserves and trails, click here. “Even when there is no crisis,” says Trabka, “spending time outdoors with the sun and wind on my face…relishing the colors and shapes and sounds of nature, just makes me feel nourished.”