Finding the Best Hike for You

0419 Hiking Article-Roger in Woods SMby Roger Dubin

April is when we celebrate Earth Day, so I was not surprised to see two great articles related to the outdoors, nature and hiking in this month’s Natural Awakenings—“Loving Nature: Outdoor Adventures for Kids” and “Into the Woods: Hiking for Health and Happiness.” 

         So how do you find the best hike for you? This is not a recommendation for a particular hike or to a magnificent place. There are simply too many in our area to list. Instead, this article will provide you with tools to find the perfect hiking experience given what you and your group are looking for.

Here are a few things to consider before searching:

1. What kind of shape are you in? Do you exercise regularly? Are you a runner, a rock climber or a casual walker?

2. Who will be hiking with you? If it’s anyone particularly young or with physical limitations, you will want to fit your hike to that person’s abilities or the mismatch can potentially ruin the hike for everyone.

3. How much time do you have? (Remember to consider both travel time and hiking time.) Are you willing to stay overnight? 

4. What type of terrain do you want to experience? Would you prefer well-worn, easily identified trails, or something off the beaten path? Are you afraid of heights or of walking near cliffs or downhill slopes?

5. What do you want to see? Among other features, there are vistas, lakes, waterfalls, historic landmarks and wildlife.

Once you have answered these questions, you’re ready to start your search. 

         There are many great sources of information online. For a quick and easy answer, simply google “hikes near me.” Chances are you’ll find at least a few local options that you’ve never thought or heard of. There may even be trail ratings and links to maps and more information. If that search doesn’t get you good results, then google “parks near me.” 

         My favorite website for finding hikes in this area is nyntc.org. The New York-New Jersey Trail Conference maintains 2,150 miles of trails and has been doing this since 1920. Simply click on “Find Hikes” or “Find Parks” and you will be able to set the parameters of your preferred hike, based on the above questions.

         Once you hit search, you’ll see a choice of hikes on a map, together with descriptions of each one, including difficulty level and driving directions to the trailhead, as well as any public transportation options.  

         There are also books and guides that you can buy or borrow from the library. My favorite book is Circuit Hikes in Harriman, by Don Weise. Harriman Bear Mountain State Park is 52,000 acres with more than 225 miles of marked trails. The area is steeped in beauty and history. It’s less than an hour’s drive from the city and accessible from public transportation. Circuit Hikes in Harriman covers 37 loop hikes, with complete descriptions and a map for each hike.

         Now that you have the tools, it’s up to you to put them to use. You won’t be disappointed. Happy trails!

Roger Dubin is marketing director for Natural Awakenings Hudson County and NYC and a volunteer trail supervisor for the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference, managing trails in South Eastern Harriman State Park. Contact him at MrNaturalNYC@gmail.com or on Instagram @MrNaturalNYC.

 

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