New Skete Monastery - Hiking Trail
Welcome to the Hiking Trail at New Skete. Located at the end of New Skete Lane, across from the monastery. A lush trail, worth taking you time to enjoy. Stonewalls, spring runnel, various grades.
1.23 miles, flat to mildly steep grade
Geology: Visible from the village, and the subject of Grandma Moses paintings, "Two Tops" are part of the Taconic Mountains, a massive overturned klippe composed of folded slates, quartzites, and phyllites, with a moderate degree of metamorphism. The complex mountain building has a 500 million year history. Much of the rock outcrops you see on the trail display the sedimentary layers and sever folding at the heart of this process.
Wildlife: White tail deer are abundant. Black bear and coyote, red and grey fox are in the area but they shy from people and are not likely to be seen in the daytime. Porcupine, skunk, opossum, raccoon, cottontail rabbit, weasel, chipmunk, as well as the grey, red and flying squirrel all live here. A wide variety of birds inhabit the woods: ruffled grouse and wild turkey, the barred and the great horned owl. Red tail hawks can be seen enjoying the air currents near the mountaintops.
Flora: Many times more diverse than the rest of New York and New England; you might notice jack-in-the-pulpit, trillium, and the varieties of violet, starflower, woodland orchids, bottle gentian and asters, to cite but a few. Many unusual lichen and mosses, as well as ferns, fungi and ground pine or club moss abound. Be aware of the large variety of hard and soft wood trees: oak, aspen, hickory, beech, maple, birch, hemlock, white pine, hophornbeam and the lovely flowering shadblow.
History: Before colonial times this area was inhabited by the Hoosacs, a tribe of Abenaki or Mahican nation. They had settlement, Pompanuk, a few miles south of the trail. The Dutch acquired land in the 1600's, subsequently taken over and expanded by they English. New Skete sits mainly on the Embury Patent issued in 1765. A crucial skirmish in the Revolutionary War in 1777 was fought on nearby Wallomsac Heights; it is known as The Battle of Bennington. Scots-Irish sheep farmers settled here on Two Tops, cleared the land of trees, building stonewalls that crisscross the fields. The forest did not begin to grow back till the early 1900's. The monks acquired this property in 1968 in what is now Ash Grove in the Town of White Creek.
New Skete is a monastic community of men and women rooted in the tradition of the Christian East.
Through prayer, worship, and the work of our hands, we seek to respond to the mystery of God and the Gospel's power to transform human living.
Welcoming all, we seek to bridge the old with the new and to witness to the sacredness of all creation.