How glorious a greeting the sun gives the mountains!
It's doable! Read about a trip from the Metro North AT stop on the Harlem Line to the Metro North station at Garrison, and the trail in between.
The Tarpmaster had back-to-back business travel upstate and to Long Island over the past and coming week, so we had a rental car over the weekend. We decided to take advantage of the opportunity to go upstate for some outdoor adventure. We planned an excursion to New Paltz, with a hike in Minnewaska State Park Preserve, a visit to Adair Vineyards, and dinner at Rock Da Pasta in town, which offers gluten-free options.
I decided that since we didn't go camping this weekend, we'd at least do a hike in the city. I've been wanting to go to Marine Park for some time, since I keep reading about birding there in other NYC nature blogs. However, it's a longish ride by public transit, so I hadn't gotten myself organized to get there before now; this weekend we had access to a car.
I normally wouldn't go on an organized hike with an outfitter because in general, we have our own expertise. We don't have our own car, however, in which to escape the city heat. I've always wanted to do a yoga or meditation retreat, but they've always seemed too expensive and time-consuming. I happened to spot an Amazon Local deal for a one-day yoga hike with Destination Backcountry Adventures, and one of the dates was July 16, while all my boys are away at Scout camp or the National Jamboree, so it seemed perfect.
The Tarpmaster said he wanted to go on a hike for Fathers' Day, so we planned an excursion with his parents. I did some research into places to go and settled on Conetquot River State Park, in Suffolk County. I figured my father-in-law wouldn't want to spend the whole day driving, and the park is only about 45 minutes from their house. It's kind of surprising that after 20 years living with a native of Long Island, I haven't seen more of its natural areas.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.