Wow, there is a tremendous amount to catch up on over the past month! Between a mountain bike trip for my birthday, Charleston for a bachelorette party and successfully defending my thesis I have a lot to talk about! But before I get to backtracking, I am just coming off of a week-long hiking trip in New York which I would like to recap first! Last Saturday I forced all of my favorite people to come together for my all day graduation party and then by 6 am Sunday morning I was out the door and on my way North.
My “tree-hugging” (awesome) Aunt and Uncle rented a place in New Paltz, New York for us to make our base camp for all of our hikes. My Uncle is route master extraordinaire and each day planned with at least a 10-mile hike.
New Paltz is a small town, seemingly dominated by the local SUNY campus. There were a lot of interesting bars and restaurants filled with college kids who probably should have been studying for exams, in addition to several really neat independent bookstores – always a win! There also seemed to be a large number of coffee shop options that I would have liked to try out but the Village Grind became our morning stop ritual as it was pretty easy to get in and out of on our way to the trails. I wanted to provide a very brief overview of each of the hikes we did; Although, I could really go on for paragraphs about each of them!
Minnewaska State Park Preserve
I have to say, I was completely stunned by the trails in the Northeast. I have done zero hiking on the east coast North of Virginia and I really had no expectations. We spent two days hiking in Minnewaska State Park Preserve and it was a really great way to kick off the trip. It was $10 per car to enter the park which is completely worth it – the trails are extremely well maintained and clearly marked with maps everywhere. We started out on the Mossy Glen trail and it wasn’t long until we got to the creek and I turned into a complete little kid; I jumped up and across the river on rocks and fallen trees and was just amazed at how beautiful the trail along the river was.
We then connected to Jenny Lane and the Blueberry Trail where there are, in fact, blueberries growing! It was around the point shortly afterward that we got to Awosting Lake and it actually started snowing – I thought that was crazy! I had just come from 90 degree North Carolina weather and now it’s snowing??? I didn’t really mind though – less than ideal weather means fewer people which I am all in favor of when I am hiking.
The second day in Minnewaska we went the opposite way on the High Peters Kill trail. Again, when we finally got down to the river, the rushing water had not lost its appeal in the slightest. We took a little detour further down the river on an unofficial trail.
After, we ended up making our way to the High Peters Kill parking lot where I was practically drooling over the rock climbing spots we passed. Turns out the area is better known as the Gunks which offers some world class rock climbing. Next time. We crossed over the road to some of the carriage trails to make our way to the stunning Awosting Falls and a loop around Minnewaska Lake.
Harriman State Park
On our third day, we set out to tackle some of the AT. An important note here: my 70-year-old Uncle broke his hand a few weeks ago, so did all of our hikes without a right hand! I actually tried to not use both hands on this hike and it got a little too sketchy for me so I returned to two-handed rock scrambling.
From the AT we took the A-SB trail where we stumbled upon Times Square! After that we took the R-D trail that led to some really awesome old mining caves; I took off running around trying to find them along the hillsides. My Aunt and Uncle thought it was hilarious that I acted the exact same way around waterfalls and caves that I did when I was a kid too.
We also came across a stone shelter which I thought was really neat – I had only ever seen wooden lean-tos. I would really recommend checking out this area, there is a lot of hidden gems all around I think we then took White Bar to Dunning but I really am unsure of our route towards the end of the day; All I know is that we finished walking along yet another beautiful river. New York, you are killing it.
No trip to this area of New York would be complete without a trip to the Catskills and this is certainly one part that I want to go back and explore further. We parked at the Scutt Road trail head to go see the Katterskill Falls. More running on my behalf ensued – I don’t really think my excitement for waterfalls can be dampened no matter how many I see!
We also hiked up to Sunset Rock and around the North and South Lakes. Beautiful views were plenty at the Katterskill and Catskill Mountain houses; It was really great to have my Uncle around who has an incredible memory and knowledge for all the history surrounding the trails. It made me want to research more for future trails I go on.
Deleware Water Gap
We generally had perfect weather for our trip aside from our drive back yesterday. However, that didn’t stop us from our plan to stop by some easy to access and incredible waterfalls on our way back to D.C. Our first stop was at the George W. Childs Park Trail where there was a well-marked 1 2-mileile loop of tons of waterfalls.
We then stopped further down the river at the stunning Dingwell Falls which was about a 1 mile hike as well. Due to the accessability of these two trails, both of these places would have been swarming with people had it not been raining. PLUS, waterfall pictures always come out better on rainy/cloudy days.
Oh, what’s that you say? The hikes I mentioned don’t add up for all the days that I was in New York (Because, of course, you noticed)? We had one day where we didn’t do “serious” hiking but instead toured Roosevelt’s estate in Hyde Park. When I was younger, I used to really hate being dragged along to all of these historic sites (probably as most kids do), but now I really appreciate learning a lot more about history in a way that will allow it to stick with me better. One of the most poignant parts of the visit was the special exhibit on the Japanese internment camps that took place during FDR’s time. I think EVERYONE should go see this – especially in our current political climate. This was an aspect of American History that I absolutely DO NOT remember covering in school when we talked about WWII. I’m sure we did, but it must have been extremely glossed over. I had since gained a bit more awareness, but I really hadn’t thought very much of the scope and the unjustness of this period of history.
As someone who considers themselves very highly educated yet had a limited understanding of the internment camps, I really believe we need to do a better job of not sweeping the uncomfortable and embarrassing periods of history under the rug.
We also stopped to see Innisfree Garden. This is apparently somewhat of a masterpiece amongst gardens, and I must say that I preferred over the typical extremely immaculate gardens that are usually for tours. It took about an hour to walk around the whole thing.
There are so many other hikes I would really like to go back and do but this was certainly a really great introduction to what the Northeast has to offer. I can’t wait to go back and explore some more!