Lifelong Learning, The Ticketless Traveler
The Ticketless Traveler: Into the Woods
"We just passed two huge black bears on the trail. They're not cute."
My hike in Harriman State Park started off with the only concern being the chance of rain and ticks. I had packed my 99 cent rain poncho and doused myself in OFF bug spray to the amusement of my friends. I could handle seeing snakes, bucks, and other wild animals, but ticks were the last thing I wanted to find on my body or in my hair. My fears soon changed when we passed a father and daughter who mentioned the two black bears they had come upon, which unfortunately happened to be in the direction we were headed. On we pressed, clapping our hands and serenading the hiding bears with today's greatest hits and a new song we named "We Love Bears." Fortunately for us, we did not run into the uncuddly bears.
I live within driving distance of many great trails and parks, but have never taken advantage of the free activities that are available. A few years ago, a friend and I decided to take a walk at the Ramapo Reservation on a beautiful spring day. After strolling around for an hour, we realized that we had no idea where we were, but managed to back track to our starting point. It was during that scary moment of feeling lost that I realized there's a lot more to hiking then just throwing on a pair of sneakers and walking around aimlessly. Soon after, I became obsessed wtih this outdoor activity.
Hiking is a great way to clear your mind and is usually an inexpensive getaway. But don't let living in New York City stop you from escaping this urban jungle and finding the great outdoors. Listed below are some great resources and tips to get you out on the trails.
Hiking readling list:
- AMC's Best Day Hikes Near New York City: Four-Season Guide to 50 of the Best Trails in New York, Connecticut, and New Jersey by Dan Case
- Appalachian Trail Guide to New York-New Jersey by Daniel Chazin
- The Hiking Companion by Michael W. Robbins
- Hiking the Road to Ruins: Day Trips and Camping Adventures to Iron Mines, Old Military Sites, and Things Abandoned in the New York City Area—And Beyond by David A. Steinberg.
- A Journey North: One Woman's Story of Hiking the Appalachian Trail by Adrienne Hall
- A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail by Bill Bryson
- The Appalachian Mountain Club-New York/New Jersey Chapter
- The New York/New Jersey Trail Conference (be sure to read their article "You Don't Need a Car")
- The New York City Department of Parks and Recreation
- New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation
- The Meadowlands
A few of my favorite hikes:
Appalachian Trail / Major Welch Trail (strenuous but amazing views!). These directions suggest that you start at the Major Welch Trail, which is very steep and challenging. As an alternate suggestion, you can also start at the Appalachian Trail, take in the view at the top of Bear Mountain, and come back down the way you came up. For the non-hikers, you can also drive up to Perkins Tower.
1777 E Doodletown Bridal Loop from Route 9W (easy to moderate). I just love saying Doodletown. Doodletown was an old mining community and you can still see remains of the foundations. If you see a sign for the waterfall, be sure to take a quick detour and check it out!
The Great Stairs (challenging). Like all hikes, but most importantly this particular hike, it is very important that you wear very good hiking boots. The Palisades are very steep when climbing up and down. The rock scrambles and stairs can be very slippery, especially during the fall season.
Shore Trail / Long Path Loop via Carpenters Trail (moderate). Walk along the Hudson River on a beautiful day! The Carpenters Trail is very easy to miss, but even if you decide to just walk along the Shore Trail it will be a really great experience. If you're looking for a good workout, the Carpenters Trail will lead you to the top of the Palisades' cliffs.
Wild things are out there:
- Black bears
- Poison ivy, oak, and sumac
- Ticks and other creepy crawlers
- Smithsonian Wild (Hidden camera shots of animals in the wild, includes the Adirondacks of New York)
Be sure to check out some of these suggested books and websites so you know what to bring and what to wear. Just remember to be prepared, be aware of your surroundings, stay hydrated, and have lots of fun! It's the same advice my mother gave me when I started working in the city.