Hike on Bennett Hill


Bennett Hill is a charming 155-acre nature preserve south of Albany near the Helderbergs. It rises 400 feet above the village of Clarksville below for a total elevation of about 1120 feet. In 1998 it was donated by veterinarian Dr. Jeremy Bilinski. It was a part of the original Bennett Hill Farm settled in the 1790s.


Driving in to Clarkesville, NY is a little treat for the eyes. Old town buildings dot the road. Once you turn and make your way out into the woods, you are transported even farther back.

Old ranch houses and barns show you that yes, this land knows history. Ancient apple trees look across fields of Goldenrod and Queen Ann’s Lace to young little trees too weak to hold the heavy fruit upon their branches. They almost seem to chuckle and wave in the wind…

Once you reach and from the kiosk of wildflowers, follow the yellow trail along the edge of woods  and cross over a small bridge to glance at two small limestone sinkholes.

As you walk higher along the trail we saw cattle grazing in the fields to the right. It was a beautiful day with low summer temperatures and a gentle breeze.

As you walk, you can see how fast rain waters erode the steep hillside, as well as a sadness that fills dying trees that have fallen or are being eaten by termites. However, as you continue on, you notice that the woods is changing. There is more life, as the woods seems to show you what it once was as the sand trail turns to flag-stone.

Blackberries and raspberries dot the sides near twisted limbs, butterflies flit, and hazelnuts and acorns are in the pricess of being gathered, and then an impromptu mud spring tub allows you a cool refreshment for tired feet.

The higher you go, you notice pine trees and blueberries! Rock cairns from hikers who have been here before. Chickadees peak out and talk to you, spirit-to-spirit.

Once you circle and reach the summit overlook, you can see Albany in the distance, fields merging with woods and then towns to where the towers at the SUNY University stand.

On the way down the steepest red trail, yet again you are shown a different wood. A younger wood where the wild is reclaiming old farm land with white birch and maple.

Overall, it is a sight to be hold and to experience! Four different terrains of wood on a single hill overlooking apples.



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