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Monday, October 4, 2021

Saratoga Spa State Park - Saratoga, New York

Saratoga Spa State Park

Once in a while, I stumble on a somewhat hidden gem, a place that leaves me totally surprised and a bit stunned. Surprises are rare on Katie Wanders adventures. I usually do a lot of research before I head to a new spot to try to get a lay of the land and plan my adventures (chronic over-planner). Having a baby has forced me to be a bit more flexible in my normally over-scheduled travel plans.

We were on our way to Lake George, New York for the weekend, about a 3.5-hour drive from the central Connecticut coast. Whitney had napped for nearly two hours on the ride and had been up for an hour. Even though we were only a half-hour away, he had lost his sense of humor and needed out of his car seat - immediately. 

I quickly looked at the map and opened up AllTrails to see if there was somewhere we could stretch our legs . The number one rated hike in the area was the Geyser Loop at Saratoga Spa State Park. I had been to Saratoga several times for a horseshow (and it's famous for its race track) but had never heard of this park or this hike and never knew how Saratoga Springs got its name. We got off the highway, pulled into the park, and I was instantly blown away.  

Saratoga Spa State Park

Saratoga Spa State Park

Saratoga Spa State Park

Saratoga Spa State Park

f i r s t  i m p r e s s i o n s 

This park is insanely beautiful and oh so extra - like natural beauty, wooded hike along the river and by spouting geysers, multiple swimming pools (with water slides), two golf courses/pro shops, playgrounds, disc golf, ice skating, a nature center, a coffee shop/food vendor, a performing arts center, tennis courts, and beautiful buildings that look like mansions (modeled after European spas). This park has everything and I had truly never seen a State Park this fancy or beautiful. 

We pulled up to the ticket booth and noticed it was a $10 entry per vehicle. We debated the entry fee for a minute (we just wanted a chance to stretch our legs) and instantly. It was the best decision we made that weekend as we parked the car in an area of the park that looked like the green of a fancy elite college. Gorgeous buildings loomed around us, kids rode their bikes, teens at a cross country meet zipped through the woods, and happy dogs and their owners headed out on the trails. We were here for a few hours to hike but I have big plans to be back in the different seasons to snowshoe, bike, swim, and hang out in the park.

Saratoga Spa State Park

Saratoga Spa State Park Hiking Trails Map

Saratoga Spa State Park Osprey Poco Plus

Saratoga Spa State Park Geyser Loop Trail

h i k i n g

There are two popular trails around the park. The Geysir Loop is a 2.9-mile loop around the park that takes you to the geysers and through the wooded areas of the park.  The five-mile trail is a 5-mile loop around the park, following along the geyser loop with an extra 2-mile section on the western portion of the park. We followed the Geysir Loop Trail (red blazes) which was a little confusing at first as it follows the same route as the Five Mile trail (yellow blazes).  Follow the red (and yellow blazes where the overlap is) around the park. The trail does come in and out of different areas (picnic areas, roads, etc) so you do have to pay attention to the blazes. The trail is very well marked and as long as you keep looking for the red blazes (often paired with yellow), you are on route. 

We hiked the loop in a clockwise direction which meant we started our hike in the wooded areas dipping in and out of different areas of the park, before ending along Geyser Brook. We were both amazed at the history behind the park as an actual spa and harvesting carbonated water. We walked along the river where mineral deposits piled under flowing water. The brook was so scenic and we spotted the geysers as we made our way along the path. 

The trails were very dog, kid, and "kid-in-pack" friendly (we love the Osprey Poco Plus for hiking with a babe).

Saratoga Spa State Park

Saratoga Spa State Park

h i s t o r y 

Saratoga Spa State Park has a lot of history (this is a quip recap from the awesome mineral springs guide). The Saratoga area was home to the Mohawk tribes and was known for its prime hunting grounds. The Mohawks soon discovered the mineral waters and protected the water as they believed the springs had special healing powers. Settlers began to move into the area in the 1700s and by the mid-1800s, the area was a popular health retreat for bathing and drinking mineral water. Saratoga became the seasonal spot for the wealthy and earned the name  “The Queen of Spas”. The springs soon became a hot spot for extraction of carbonic acid used in fountain soda. By 1880, over 200 mineral wells were in operation in the area and this process stopped the flow in some of the springs. By 1908, the state of New York worked to protect the springs, passing anti-pumping legislation. Franklin D. Roosevelt became governor in 1929 and pushed for the re-development of the Saratoga Reservation. The new Saratoga Spa was the first major project finished under the New Deal and by 1935, the new facility was built. The structures and outdoor areas were modeled after the spas of Europe and were popular between 1936 and 1950. In the 1960s, the property expanded to a second swimming pool, picnic sites a redesigned golf course, and the Saratoga Performing Arts Center. 

Saratoga Spa State Park Orenda Spring

Saratoga Spa State Park

s o a k  /  s p a 

Mineral Springs Today - To enjoy a soak in the mineral water, you have to book an appointment at the mineral baths at Roosevelt Baths & Spa. 

a d m i s s i o n

19 Roosevelt Drive
Saratoga Springs, NY 12866

$10 per vehicle 
Fee collected:
5/1 - 5/30, weekends
5/30 - 9/7, daily, 8:30am - 4:30pm (Except for special events)
9/7 - 10/11, weekends and holidays

Information about the other fee area at the park (pools, spa, golf, etc) can be found here 

Saratoga Spa State Park

a c t i v i t i e s

Disc Golf
Equestrian Trails
Gift Shop
Hiking trail map 
Ice Skating
Nature Center
Pavilions and Shelter Rentals
Snowshoeing/X-Country Skiing
Swimming Pool
Visitor Center

Saratoga Spa State Park

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