By Sandy Tomcho, Times Herald-Record, link to original post
With warm weather approaching, it’s natural for our thoughts to turn to the great outdoors. Lucky for us, we’re surrounded by picturesque mountains, lakes and forests, courtesy of our own Hudson Valley landscape.
Go! asked several local oudoors experts to recommend some walking trails to get us up and outside, which resulted in two suggestions from each of the surrounding five counties. So you can either stay close to home or see what your neighboring counties have to offer. To help you decide, visit Hudson Valley Hikes at www.recordonline.com/hike
Expert: Justin Timmers, Pocono Environmental Education Center’s weekend manager
Recommendation: Two Ponds Trail at PEEC
Why: For beginners and hikers who want to enjoy a leisurely walk in the woods. “The Two Ponds Trail is a wonderful little trail for families with young children. It’s a relatively easy 45-minute walk and full of good things to see.”
Information: At Route 209 between mile markers 8 and 9 in Dingmans Ferry, Pa., 12 miles south of Milford, Pa. Trails are open daily from dawn to dusk and there is no fee to use the trails. Dogs are welcome as long as they’re leashed. Call 570-828-2319 or visit www.peec.org.
Recommendation: Tumbling Waters at PEEC
Why: PEEC’s most popular trail is Tumbling Waters, for obvious reasons. Timmers recommends Tumbling Waters for “folks interested in taking a moderate hike for a couple of hours.” It’s a three-mile trail, boasting two waterfalls, with views of the Delaware Valley and the Kittatinny Mountains.
Information: See Two Ponds Trail information.
Expert: Susan Hawvermale-Cayea, director of Orange County Tourism
Recommendation: Heritage Trail
Why: It’s “a great place to quiet fussy babies in a stroller, bike for several miles or just walk along enjoying the scenery,” Hawvermale-Cayea said. The trail allows access at various entry points, with many residential and commercial areas nearby for rest. The 1915 Arts & Crafts Erie Depot stands along the trail. “The nice thing about being on the Heritage Trail is that invariably I meet someone I know,” Hawvermale-Cayea said.
Information: Access to Heritage Trail is in Goshen, Chester and Monroe. The trail is free and open during daylight hours. Dogs are allowed, but must be on a leash no longer than 6 feet. Call 294-8886 or visit www.orangepathways.org.
Recommendation: Sterling Forest State Park
Why: For a “real getaway,” she likes the four-mile trail around Sterling Lake. “The scenery is beautiful, and the occasional glimpses of wildlife make it entertaining.”
Information: Sterling Forest State Park is at 115 Old Forge Road, Tuxedo. The trail is free and open during daylight hours. Dogs are allowed, but must be on a leash no longer than 6 feet. Call 351-5907 or visit www.palisadesparksconservancy.org.
Expert: Lisa M. Lyons, outdoor author and owner of Morgan Outdoors
Recommendation: Russell Brook Waterfall.
Why: Lyons said a series of hidden waterfalls is “a great choice for your first outing.” Near the waterfall lay old stone structures. “Were they part of an old mill? What did they make here? It’s fun to sit and ponder these things — looking for clues that might tell you more,” Lyons said.
Information: Morton Hill Road to Russell Brook Road in Roscoe. There is no street sign, but one that says “Seasonal Limited Use Highway.” Take left and follow the single lane dirt road one-half mile down to park. Trailhead kiosk has map of all marked trails. Call 439-5507 and visit www.catskillhikes.com.
Expert: Allen Frishman, Fallsburg Rails to Trails Committee chairman
Recommendation: Fallsburg Rail Trail
Why: The rail trail consists of a converted O&W rail bed, and has several interesting viewing points, including mini parks and Sandburg Creek. “This is an excellent spot for a photo op from the top of the bridge,” Frishman said. You might find beaver, duck, geese and other local wildlife on the trail, as well.
Information: Access points are in Mountaindale (across the street from the Mountaindale Post Office on Post Hill Road) and Woodridge. Call 434-8811, ext. 301, or visit www.oandwrailtrail.org.
Expert: Lisa Berger, director of marketing for Ulster County Tourism
Recommendation: Vernooy Kill Falls
Why: It’s “a series of picturesque little waterfalls with pools, dropping about 30 feet in four stages,” Berger said. A tall stone wall along the walk is a remnant of the Vernooy Mill, which Berger said was a major meeting place for farmers bringing their grain for milling.
Information: In the Town of Rochester. From Upper Cherrytown Road, go 3.1 miles to a parking area on the right. It’s open dawn to dusk and dogs are allowed, but must be on a leash no longer than 6 feet.
Recommendation: Minnewaska State Park
Why: The park is on the Shawangunk Mountain Ridge, which rises more than 2,000 feet above sea level. The park itself boasts more than 35 miles of carriageways and 25 miles of footpaths. The easiest walk is a 1.5-mile loop around the lake.
Information: It’s open 9 a.m.-7 p.m. seven days a week and the fee is $6 per car. Dogs are allowed, but must be on a leash no longer than 6 feet. Call 255-0752 or visit http://nysparks.state.ny.us/parks/info.asp?parkID=78.
Expert: Nancy Lutz, communications director for Dutchess County Tourism
Recommendation: Harlem Valley Rail Trail
Why: The trail consists of two paved sections totaling 15 miles throughout Dutchess County. It’s broken up into six sections consisting of 45.2 miles of paved, open terrain. The trail “provides ideal terrain for walkers, runners, bicyclists, cross-country skiers, wheelchair users, hikers and anyone who wants to enjoy the beautiful landscapes in the Harlem Valley area,” Lutz said.
Information: The trail is open from dawn to dusk and there is no usage fee. Access points are in Millerton and Amenia and dogs are OK as long as they’re leashed. No horses. Call 518-789-9591 or visit www.hvrt.org.