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Cherry Plain State Park

Ask someone where to go for outdoor summer fun in Rensselaer County, and more than likely the first four words out of their mouth will be “Grafton Lakes State Park.” And for good reason: This ever-popular summer destination, just off of the well-traveled Route 2 connecting Troy with Williamstown, Mass., is an oasis of lovely woods and ponds where visitors can go hiking, biking, horseback riding, fishing or swimming, or just soak up rays on the large sandy beach. Grafton is a crowd pleaser, with the crowds to prove it.

Folks from eastern Rensselaer County might disagree, but Cherry Plain State Park—a mere eight miles from Grafton, though much more secluded—seems more of a well-kept secret. Tucked away in the hills near the Massachusetts border, the park is the sort of place you get lost trying to find, or stumble upon when you’re merely out for a drive. But don’t be discouraged: You will find it, and you’ll be glad you did.

As you approach Cherry Plain on the county’s winding roads-less-traveled, you may already feel a sense of the serenity that awaits you inside the park. The recreational opportunities are similar to those at Grafton—hiking, biking, horseback riding, fishing, swimming—but it’s all on a smaller, quieter scale. A modest-sized sandy beach lines one side of Black River Pond, where families spread out blankets to enjoy an afternoon in the sun. Large grassy areas beckon to teenagers with Frisbees or soccer balls. Nature walks yield interesting discoveries. And the campground, though relatively small, is highly rated.

If you’re coming from the Albany area, find your way to Route 43 east (Exit 8 off of I-90). Just past Averill Park, where 43 veers right to merge with Route 66, avoid that merge and keep going straight on Taborton Road, which you’ll take for another eight miles or so. A right on Dutch Church Road, a quick right on Miller Road, a right on State Camp Road, and a left on State Park Road, and you’re there. Enjoy the scenery, even if you get lost momentarily.

Cherry Plain State Park is open weekends only in June with no swimming; July through Labor Day, the park will be open every day, though swimming may be restricted to five days (most likely Wednesday through Sunday). Call 733-5400 for more information.

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