Statue of Liberty, live webcam, click to enlarge
Windham Mountain, live webcam, click to enlarge
Awesome Butterfly Kit
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New York State Hiking Trail Finder
This site is designed to provide quick, organized access to informative New York hiking trail websites. Private hiking enthusiasts like you have created excellent web pages on New York hiking trails -- then posted those pages on free web servers -- only to be ignored by search engines. The purpose of this site is to provide a way to find these personal hiking pages, and make your research easier.
- Adirondacks Adirondack Expedition site lists 40+ trail descriptions with photos and topo maps. Some of the descriptions are brief, but this is really a great site. Includes High Peaks Region, Lake Placid Area, more. Covers all the key hikes in the Adirondacks.
- Adirondacks high peaks, links, photos, & descriptions. Excellent site, bilingual French/English. Includes list of the 47 highest peaks in the Adirondack. Each mountain has a link to a page with pictures, information and trails suggestion. Site by "Jacques & Johanne."
- Adirondack Mountain Club this site is mostly about politics, but has valuable resources after you cut through the clutter.
- Adirondacks photos & trail descriptions from Al's Hiking & Climbing page.
- Adirondacks - General NY Adirondacks Page by the Westchester-Putnam Council of the BSA excellent, excellent page. Lots of hiking trail info, maps, links to camping and other backcountry info. Merit badges too!
- Adirondacks - Vanderwhacker Region Nice laundry list with brief descriptions of the key hikes in this section of the Adirondacks. All the usual suspects; Hoffman Notch, Goodnow Mountain, Snowy Mountain, Stony Pond, Vanderwhacker Mt. and others. This is a page on the FallsBrookYurts.com website, who run a neat "hike in and camp in a yurt" operation.
- Algonquin Peak This is a terrific trip report, with a great photo log of the journey. Gives a real sense of what to expect on an Algonquin trip. It's on the "Adventures of Mike and Teena" website. Mike and Teena are a cute, smiling, thin, attractive young couple, who recently became parents of a lovely baby daughter. I'm curious to see if they will still be cute & smiling after a few years of parenthood. Anyway, it's a great website, with some terrific hike reports.
- Allegheny Outdoor Club Members of the AOC gather weekly for the enjoyment of the outdoors in Northwestern Pennsylvania and Southwestern New York. Generally activities are planned for Sunday afternoons so as not to interfere with family, work or church events.
- Appalachian Trail journal of a through-hiker named "Free Spirit" doing the NY section of the trail as a southbounder. Starts with the day he entered NY from CT, then you can click the "next day" button to follow his progress and learn what he noticed or encountered on the NY section. Worth a look.
- Burroughs Range in the Catskills. Also features Devil's Path. Personal site with photos, descriptions, links.
- Catskills -- General Clickable map zones in on specific hiking areas, which are segmented as follows: Escarpment Trail, Belleayre, North Lake/Kaaterskill Falls, Burroughs Range, Hunter Mountain/West Kill, Peekamoose, Devil's Path/Overlook Mountain. Clicking on any of these gives a more detailed map, with dashed trails that you then click on for individual trail data. Outstanding hiker site by Tim Mallery; I've personally used this site numerous times. Good source for general Catskills info as well.
- Catskills -- General The Catskill 3500 Club is an organization dedicated to climbing and protecting those Catskill peaks over 3500 feet. Good site includes peak lists, photos, descriptions, climbing tips; excellent site.
- Catskills -- Miscellaneous This is the Crazed Catskills Ultramarathon website by the "climbing dogs" or some such thing. They just happen to hold the speed climbing record for the "Catskills 35." Current Catskills 35 record is 2 days, 15 hours, 24 minutes September 11, 2002, at 6:00 am to September 13, 2002, at 9:24 pm. Yikes! Just the logistics are enough to make your head spin. Theoretically, you might call this "extreme slackpacking." One thing for certain: I pose no threat to their record.
- Catskills -- Miscellaneous Here's a general Catskills site by a guy named Pete Beck who appears to organize weekends, trips, that sort of thing...Normally we don't link to this type of site BUT Mr. Beck has assembled a tremendous (if not eclectic) fountain of information for the Catskill or Shawangunk-bound hiker, just scroll down and you'll find it. His choice of text colors and page make-up is a bit odd, but this guy knows his way down the trail.
- Devil's Path in the Catskills. Also features Burroughs Range. Personal site with photos, descriptions, links.
- Eastern Summits Trail here's your chance to pre-hike a trail, if only in bits and pieces. Starting on Lake George's Tongue Mountain Range, this proposed 80-ish mile trail plans to piece together the wildest spots in the Eastern Adirondacks. Story, background, and basic trail info is available on this site by adirondackexplorer.org (we regret you have to dig to find it since it moved around on their site.)
- Finger Lakes National Forest US Forest Service site; confusing because it also includes Green Mt. (VT) NF. A good place to start.
- Finger Lakes Region listing of a half dozen or so popular trails, including Backbone Trail, No-Tan-Takto Trail, Finger Lakes Trail, and others. Provides directions and a short-but-sweet description on the NYHiking.com site.
- General -- Western NY State this is a very well done website, page features a drop down menu with about two dozen of the more popular hiking destinations, such as Letchworth, Shale Creek (see below), Little Rock City, etc. Another really nice feature of this site is a special section on hikes suitable for parents with infants and toddlers. Usually that subject is an afterthought on most websites, but this webmaster (and mother of two) gives it a number of pages, lots of ideas, suggestions and info. All-around great site by Jennifer B. Weir.
- General -- Central & Western NY This is the home website for Footprint Press authors Rich and Sue Freeman, who've penned a number of hiking and related books, primarily on Central & Western NY State. Now we don't link to book sites in this section of the page if they're merely storefronts, so it's safe to conclude that you will indeed find some useful information here in addition to the usual "buy our books." You may have to click around a bit, but it's there...lots of maps, trail descriptions, and some critical info on trail closures, detours, that sort of thing. Plus a newsletter archive with loads of hiking articles. As Sue says herself, "It's an informative site - not just a storefront." I thoroughly recommend clicking on the "Trail Updates" link in the left hand menu.
- Harriman State Park -- Dog-Friendly Hiking Group This is a link to a Yahoo! Groups page for those who enjoy hiking with dogs and walking in NY and NJ, primarily in Harriman Park and wish to arrange informal hikes with others. All hikes are dog hikes. Group has a regular Friday hike. Hikers in greater New York/New Jersey area are welcome. Hikes extend beyond Harriman to include the Appalachian Trail, Sterling Forest, Hewitt, Ringwood, Ramapo and other neighboring parks within easy distance of Rockland, Westchester, NYC, NY state and NJ. Dog not required, but you don't want to participate unless you're a hiker and you enjoy it doggy style. Wait, that's not what I meant. Anyway, nice people, nice dogs, woof woof woof.
- Hudson Valley good roster of key hiking trails in the Hudson Valley region on TheOutdoorForum.com website. Includes Spruce Bog Trail, Bish Bash Falls, Pine Meadow Lake Loop & Breakneck Ridge. With basic descriptions and directions.
- Minnewaska State Park & Preserve here's the official hiking pamphlet and map, online at LakeMinnewaska.org. Good resource, here's the link to the group's main page.
- Northville-Lake Placid Trail One of the most interesting and perhaps least known features of the Adirondack Mountain Region is the 133-mile continuous wilderness footpath, the trail from Northville to Lake Placid founded in 1922. This is the "official" website.
- Phelps Mountain Site describes a hike to the summit of Phelps Mountain (4,161') from the Adirondack Loj. Great photos & narrative, on the "Adventures of Mike and Teena" website.
- Shale Creek Gorge on the Western New York Hikes pages, wnyhikes.com. Sort of a miniature Watkins Glen in Orchard Park, NY. Site features numerous photos, hike description...fun. The main page is a great gateway to numerous hikes in the region. Site by Jennifer B. Weir.
- Slide Mountain Very good informational page on this highest of Catskill Peaks. Includes background, history, trail description, elevation graph, topo map, photos...sheesh! Really good page, wish there were more from Footprint Press of
Fishers, NY; guess we'll have to buy the book.
- Thousand Island Region here's a laundry list of key hikes, including Stone Valley Trail, Wellesley Island State Park, Chaumont Barrens Preserve, and Inman Gulf. Good source of info, directions & descriptions on the NYHiking.com website.
- Thousand Island Region -- Wellesley Island State Park Site primarily about the nature center preserve, part of the 2600 acre Wellesley Island State Park. Nature Center is home to 8 miles of hiking and skiing trails, including a 1/8 mile universally accessible trail, 4 glacial potholes, numerous wetlands, vistas of the thousand islands, fern and herb gardens; great place to start an orientation for the 1,000 Islands region.
- Watkins Glen State Park -- Gorge Trail Good webpage with photos, description, directions to this classic Finger Lakes hike. Gorge Trail is 1.5 miles each way, and is an easy up-and-down roundtrip even for us slackpackers. If you run out of gas, however, a shuttle bus is available for a small fee. This webpage, by Jon Binder, is quite informative.
- Wellsville Ridgewalk This isn't a hiking trail, exactly, rather a fundraising hike along the highest ridge in western New York.
Ridgewalk & Run offers walking distances of 6, 9, or 14 miles, or a
casual 2 mile road walk. All events finish on a horse farm with festivities including refreshments, music, kids'activities, health clinics, and wine & cheese tasting at the Jones
Memorial Hospital "Finish Line Arena". Entrants are then bused back to registration/parking area in Wellsville. Annual event sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Western New York. All proceeds benefit Allegany Co. United Way and Wellsville Area Chamber of Commerce.
- Westchester County Hiking Trails technically, WestchesterTrails.com is a "running" site, but we've yet to find a hiking site that better outlines the major footpaths in Westchester County. Yes, it has a runner's slant, but common sense dictates that if you read their stuff (highly informative) use their maps (well done) and use their suggestions -- with hiking shoes instead of running shoes -- you'll agree that this is a great site. And we don't have to tell them that our joints don't hurt as much as theirs do. Anyway, lots of stuff here, good info on Hutch Trail, Leatherstocking Trail, Nature Study Woods in New Rochelle, lots and lots on the Old Croton Aqueduct and all its locations, Pound Ridge, Putnam Trail, Rockefeller Trails, Saxon Woods Trail, Twin Lakes and more. Excellent site by Joe Garland. (He's the guy passing you on the trail, chugging away, probably in really good shape. Hey, at least he's not on a bicycle.)
Slacking around New York
Little needs to be said about hiking opportunities in the Empire State. From the Long Island Beaches to the Hudson Highlands to the Thousand Islands, it offers thousands of opportunities to lose touch with civilization. Probably the best-kept secret is the Finger Lakes; specifically, the gorges or "glens" as they are known. These scenic defiles receive a fraction of the visitors they deserve, which is OK I guess, but the world might be a little kinder and gentler if more people spent some reflective time in one of these spots.
The area that needs no additional promotion is the Adirondacks. But to really make the most of the trail opportunities, I don't mind admitting that I've resorted to purchasing a few maps and guidebooks over the years. The granddaddy of Adirondack guidebooks is 50 Hikes in the Adirondacks by Barbara McMartin. Now, it is not without a few caveats that I recommend this. The trail descriptions are excellent, as are the evaluations. But the details & directions are sketchy, and the photographs are downright dreadful. When I try to convince my daughters that we should tackle such-and-such peak, I never show them the photos in this book. But these shortcomings are far outweighed by the fact that McMartin's book hones in on the "best of the best" trails, providing recommendations for every level of ability and timeframe. And to reiterate, the descriptions are spot-on. The photos are just spotty.
One of the hikes I found in McMartin's book is Severence Hill, which is just north of Schroon...the trail has its own tunnel under the Northway...a great "intro" to the Adirondacks. Did this with my daughters when they were 3 years old based on the description in the book, and they just loved it. It's barely a mile to the summit, which provides sweeping views of Schroon. Back off from the view point, turn the other way, and you'll catch fleeting glimpses of the Hoffman Notch wilderness and some of the High Peaks. There are better views, of course, but few show the "total" Adirondacks -- Lakes, villages, gentle hills, bogs, Northway traffic and 5,000' peaks -- the way Severence Hill does after a fairly easy 25 minute climb. So I stood there in 1994 with twin 3-year olds, and never thought the day would come when we could tackle the High Peaks. How quickly time passes.
Just as the Adirondacks have their "hidden" trails, Western New York has its well-kept secrets. While many of us are familiar with the obvious gems like Letchworth, there are numerous others, equally spectacular in their own right. The undisputed king of guidebooks for this region is William P. Ehling's Fifty Hikes in Western New York: Walks and Day Hikes from the Cattaraugus Hills to the Genesee Valley. By the way, when you use these Amazon links, I suggest looking to see if a used copy is available. I buy my trail guides that way, even though the publishers don't like it. Unfortunately, the really good trail guides (like Ehling's) are seldom available "used."
Just Added Two other areas that you really ought to consult a guidebook for are climbing in the Catskills and the Gunks (Shawangunks, that is) which happen to be separated by a narrow valley (Ellenville and the Rt. 209 Corridor) and many, many people assume the Gunks are part of the Catskills. (Try to tell a Nevele regular that they aren't in the Catskills and they'll tell you that you're crazy). Anyway, my pick for the Catskills is
Catskill Trails: A Ranger's Guide to the High Peaks by Edward G. Henry and Jack Sencabaugh. If ever a book burning were held by Catskills locals, this one would be in it. It really gives you the "inside" info, including some hikes that involve private land, which is cause for all the uproar. But if you really want the best, this is it. As for the Gunks, I'm still reviewing, and will post a link here as soon as I determine which book represents the best value.
-- Rick Bolger
Please click here for the Slackpacker web site
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Got kids? Recently caught this guy, Brady Rymer, at a show in the northeast (he lives on Long Island). Infectious to say the least, a fun, energetic sing-along type thing had the audience singing and grinning from ear to ear. Now don't ask why, but I bought the CD (my own kids are teenagers) and now I can't get these tunes out of my head. If you've got kids between the ages of 2 and 7 or thereabouts, you'll just love this music. So much better musically and lyrically than the usual drivel recorded for kids, that mind-numbing stuff that drives you nuts. If you don't have kids, you'll have to think up some other excuse for buying it. And when you do, let me know, because my daughters think I'm crazy. Not sure where'd you find it in stores, so here's a direct link to Amazon.com for I Found It! and again, the singer's name is Brady Rymer. Just great stuff, excellent gift for pre-K kids.