Take a Hike, Moms
By Jana Seitz
<“Dust if you must, but there’s not much time,
With rivers to swim and mountains to climb …”>
- Rose Milligan
Mothers’ Day is the one day of the year my family willingly seeks adventure with me. I can nag them into it on my birthday sometimes, but that’s so close to Mothers’ Day that they’re usually still in a recovery position (on the couch clutching an electronic unit). Hiking is never at the top of their list, so it’s something I do alone on weekdays, quite happily. I understand their hesitation. I do. I get it. The thought of hiking can be daunting. Gearing up, thinking about snakes and coyotes and bears (oh my!), figuring out trail maps and getting lost are just a few reasons the brain tends to shut down at the thought of a “hike.”
But if you think of it as just a walk in the woods, it’s much more approachable. Yes, there are huge forests and preserves waiting to swallow you up, more easily navigated by the experienced. But there are plenty of gorgeous places on which to cut your hiking teeth, smaller acreage with well-marked trails on which you can’t get lost, maimed or eaten. Okay maybe you can, but you’d hit a river or a power line or a neighborhood pretty quickly and find your way back to the car within minutes. They all have great maps online and are well marked, the perfect Hiking 101 course: “Reading Trailmaps — Learn to navigate your way out of the woods while actually enjoying it. On-site classroom. Locations may vary.”
As in all things worthwhile, success begins with baby steps. You can’t hike until you walk.
Research the location before you go. It’s amazing how well-documented trails are these days on the internet, with videos of flyovers, photographs, step-by-step trail guide, and great maps.
- Print out or download the trail map to your phone and look at it before, during and after your walk. Makes notes.
- Many places have maps on site, but don’t depend on it as brochure kiosks empty out. Take a cell phone photo of the map at the trailhead if that’s all you’ve got.
- Trail markers: most trails are marked on trees by “blazes,” color-coordinated signs or paint blotches. One marker on top of another of the same color means the trail is turning (toward the direction of the top blaze)…two markers on same tree in different colors mean two separate trails converge.
- Keep your eyes a few markers ahead, not on your feet.
- The return trip is always shorter.
- Bring more water than you think you’ll need. Leave a cold bottle and flip-flops in the car for the ride home.
- Have a backup plan for pickup, just in case.
Former home and woodland gardens of designer Russell Wright, who for 35 years shaped his patch of the world to his vision of “intertwined human and natural worlds.” Magical, like a fairyland.
<<Turkey Mountain Nature Preserve>>, Yorktown
Awesome summit views (at 831 feet) of the Hudson Highlands and River, Croton Reservoir and New York City. Ascent beats the heck out of the Stairmaster.
<<Cranberry Lake Preserve>>, North White Plains
The stone for the Kensico Dam was quarried here (1913-1917) and the scars and train tracks remain. Walk the dam after for an awesome before/after scenario. Amazing what man can do. Stonework details like Trevi Fountain.
<<Mianus River Park>>, Cos Cob
So close yet seems so far away. A river runs through it, and you follow. Fly fishermen on site. Sublime.
<<Teatown, >> Ossining
Has it all. A thousand acres, boardwalk over the lake, a wildflower island, an awesome nature center and shop, and an outdoor injured wildlife “zoo.” Awesome for a family adventure.
Stonework at Kensico Dam
Top of Turkey Mountain