Monday, June 1, 2015

Celebrating National Trails Day

Posted on Mon, Jun 1, 2015 at 9:00 AM

click to enlarge Families hike up Burger Hill in Rhinebeck - HILLARY HARVEY
  • Hillary Harvey
  • Families hike up Burger Hill in Rhinebeck

If you’ve lived in the Hudson Valley for even one season, you know that every day is sort of National Trails Day around here. People enjoy everything from the tiniest, unofficial trail cut by many happy feet through the woods or meadows to the funded ones with regular rangers. With our families, we hike to our ice skating spots, go horseback riding, discover the best kayak launch, and hunt for clues and treasure while geocaching. But on Saturday, June 6th, it’s officially National Trails Day when the American Hiking Society encourages events across the country to celebrate our local trails with hiking, biking, paddling, and birdwatching. And that’s a bandwagon you just gotta love.

The official National Trails Day event happening locally is at Bear Mountain State Park, where from 9a-3p, there are guided hikes on the Appalachian Trail and around the Bear Mountain Trailside Zoo, yoga in the park, and opportunities to volunteer in trash pick-ups and invasive species mitigation efforts. They even provide snacks from Whole Foods Market Yonkers. Sign up online.

Or celebrate the day by exploring on your own. Families with little ones might like the mostly flat Poets’ Walk in Rhinebeck, with rolling fields, a handcrafted gazebo, and an eventual river view.

Go fairy hunting at Magic Meadow in Woodstock, which is a little treasure hunt to find, in and of itself. Head up Meads Mountain Road in Woodstock. Just beyond the parking area for Overlook Mountain, there’s a little parking turn-off near an entrance into the woods. As you walk down the trail, cross a stream, and enter the meadow.

For a little more challenge, try Falling Waters Preserve in Saugerties where some spots have small, but steep ledges. Take the blue trail for your place by the water.

Scale the grassy, steep Burger Hill in Rhinebeck for a 360 view of the Valley. Go in late in the afternoon, and your kids will think they can touch the moon.

Families with older kids might like shorter distances with a little more hiking reward. Black Creek Forest Preserve is a two-mile loop with bridges to cross, eels in the streams, and highpoints overlooking the Hudson. Tell them, it’s where the Sisterhood of the Night was filmed!
click to enlarge Still from "Sisterhood of the Night", with scenes filmed at Black Creek Forest Preserve in Esopus
  • Still from "Sisterhood of the Night", with scenes filmed at Black Creek Forest Preserve in Esopus

There’s history settled into the 3.5-mile Peach Hill Park in Poughkeepsie. Situated on a former orchard, there’s hidden geocaches and five different trails to explore.

A family of seasoned hikers will appreciate the climb up Overlook Mountain in Woodstock where they can discover the crumbling remains of an old hotel, a fire tower to scale, and views of the valley from a rocky cliff.

Make a day of Beacon, as Scenic Hudson’s Director of Public Affairs, Andy Bicking, suggests: “If you want to find a real challenging adventure in Beacon for older kids, visit Scenic Hudson’s Mount Beacon Park, which is a 20 minute walk from the train station, and resplendent with a downtown adventure, to boot!”

June 6th might just be the day to pack up the snacks, stainless steel water bottles, backpack carriers, and bugspray, and celebrate trails the old fashioned way – by exploring them.
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