Time outdoors is a vital part of life for all people, of all ages, everywhere. I'm passionate about getting kids to be outdoors and encounter nature, and about ensuring that there will always be a wild outdoors for the children of the future. This blog will be about our experiences camping as a family, the growing movement to get kids outdoors, finding nature in the city (there's a lot more than you might think!), and taking action to protect the earth. I hope you enjoy it and find it useful.

The Fall Issue of Outdoors in NYC is Here!

The fall issue of the Urban Park Rangers' Outdoors in New York City is available—the link is to the PDF. It contains a smorgasbord of "Weekend Adventure" activities with something for everyone, including astronomy, orienteering, wilderness survival, wildlife viewing, and kids & family programs. All of the programs are free, so get out there and enjoy!

Brooklyn Botanic Garden Teen Program

The Brooklyn Botanic garden is now accepting applications for their Garden apprentice Program—a great way for students to learn about urban agriculture and the environment while working in one of the world's most exciting public gardens!

BBG’s Garden Apprentices:

  • Work with children, visitors, and behind-the-scenes with staff
  • Learn about botany, environmentalism, and protecting the earth
  • Grow, harvest, and cook their own fruits, vegetables, and herbs

Appalachian Trail, Day 7

Our last day on the trail was a beautiful day and a really nice hike, mostly pretty easy but with a couple of difficult rock-scrambling bits. We had a somewhat light breakfast and started out at the stepping stones across the inlet of Little Dam Lake, then climbed to a viewpoint on Buchanan Mountain. Then came a steep section with jumbled rocks and several small, dried-up streams to cross, another viewpoint, and a section along the edge of an escarpment with treetops at eye level. Then more jumbled rocks on another steep section, crossing a paved road and crossing a swampy field on puncheon.

Appalachian Trail, Day 6

We got a nice early start and somehow ended up thinking of doing a much longer distance again. I was a little skeptical and we ended up changing our destination both for the day and for the trip as a whole the next day. We started by hiking the third of a mile back to the AT. This section was one of the earliest parts of the AT to be completed, although parts of it have been relocated since then. The trail starts with a steep descent, but soon proceeds to high points on a series of mountains ranging from 1180 to 1300 feet.

Appalachian Trail, Day 5

We got up later than we planned and got a later start, but Top Kid set a brisk pace since we were headed for swimming. The hike was only about 4.2 miles and not terribly difficult. It was also not too hot and I realized that some of the difficulty I felt on previous days was probably due as much to the heat as to pack weight. It might be wise to plan future trips more in the spring and fall than in August.

Appalachian Trail, Day 4


We woke to a beautiful day. First we spread out a few damp things to dry on the rocks in the sun and took in the amazing view, with mist rising from the hills below and the city skyline in the distance. We had a big breakfast and the kids and I went down to the AT a bit ahead where there is a stream and pumped to fill all our water. (The West Mountain shelter is on a side trail about half a mile from the AT itself.) We saw deer on the way.

Appalachian Trail, Day 3

The third day was our biggest hike—both the longest at 9 miles, and some of the hardest, including climbing Bear Mountain and West Mountain. The kids again did great, although at times I wondered if I'd be able to make it.

We began with switchbacks through a steep section over "Anthony's Nose," crossed a dirt road, and descended steeply again. Next we had to follow Route 9D to and across the Bear Mountain Bridge over the Hudson. We enjoyed the views over the river and chatted with some of the bridge maintenance crew who were working.

Appalachian Trail, Day 2

We woke to a beautiful day, but had to sort out the stuff we'd hung to dry, move it into the sun and wait for some of it to finish drying out so we didn't get an early start. Luckily we had a relatively short day of hiking planned, so that wasn't a problem. It was also nice to have running water available for breakfast and to fill all our bottles.