The Albany Pine Bush Preserve covers 3,200 acres, including several sections between Schenectady and Albany. As the remnants of pine barrens that once spread over a wider portion of the region, the land has been preserved, along with an extensive system of trails for visitors to enjoy. All trails are easy, with minimal climbs to high points in places but no major elevation gain.
If you've never been to the preserve, starting at the Visitor's Center on New Karner Road will provide a good introduction. You'll learn about the surrounding ecosystem, as well as the history of the preserve. You'll also read about the Karner Blue butterfly, an endangered species that thrives in the preserve.
From the center, you can venture onto the trail system in multiple directions, including an accessible trail right next to the center and others that venture off into the barrens. Taking the blue trail will lead you to the top of a hill where you can see the Helderberg Escarpment in the distance.
Other sections start at various spots in Albany, Guilderland, and Schenectady, leading you over a variety of terrain. In the Blueberry Hill section, you'll encounter almost desert-like land as you walk over sandy dunes. Other ares will take you into thicker forest areas, although for the most part controlled burning keeps trees and bushes thinned down.
While you're never far from the sounds of traffic, you'll still be able to encounter some nice views and peaceful outdoor experiences relatively close to the city. Be sure to check out the Pine Bush Preserve if you're in the area and have never visited!
This map shows entrances for each section of the Preserve. Find detailed maps of all preserve trails on the official Pine Bush website.