Looking for a fun new hike for this Spring? Look no further. We put together a short list of diverse trails to blaze as the weather turns warmer. After all, Spring in New York is that perfect sweet spot when it’s not too cold and not too hot. In other words, it’s the perfect time of year to put down those phones and go to the park!
WARD POUND RIDGE RESERVATION
This stunning park clocks in at over 4,300 total acres, and is located in Pound Ridge, NY. According to a spokesman for Westchester County Parks, Linda Lovallo, “The Reservation is a mecca for hikers from nearby, as well as communities throughout Westchester, as well as Connecticut, New York City and even Long Island.” Because of the sheer size of the park, hikers have many choices for planning their routes. There are more moderate routes like the Pound Ridge Marsh Loop, a 2.6 mile loop, and there are far more challenging paths more experienced hikers can traverse on their own. Camping is offered at Ward Pound Ridge Reservation as well.
For programming, the reservation has much to offer. A particularly interesting program is called, “Gallery In the Park,” where artists exhibit their work in the beautiful surroundings of the reservation. There are two shows scheduled this spring. The first is, “For Mother Nature,” a multi-artist mixed-medium show that will celebrate Mother Nature, and will coincide with the weekend after Earth Day. There will be an opening reception scheduled for Saturday, April 23, from 1 to 4 p.m. There will be refreshments and live acoustic music. “For Mother Nature” will run through Sunday, June 5. The second show is by renowned wildlife photographer, Dona Tracy. The show will open Saturday and Sunday, June 11 and 12, from 1 to 4 p.m., and will feature live music on Saturday and a live Birds of Prey demonstration on Sunday. The show will run through August 14.
While perhaps a bit of an unconventional choice for a hike, unconventional isn’t necessarily a bad thing. While many trails are flooded with hikers when the nicer weather comes around, the 80-acres Stone Barns (located in Pocantico Hills) has to offer will be all yours (and getting up close to the animals who live there is just a bonus).
Blue Hill is the famous restaurant that Stone Barns serves, but the grounds aren’t just limited to their customers. A parking pass is available for $10 on the weekends (parking is free on weekdays) so that everyone can enjoy its beauty. “In the Stone Barns Center fields, you will see our hard-working teams making the transition from winter cover to spring abundance. The fields are coming alive with new growth of diversified vegetables, grains, herbs and flowers,” said Stone Barns crop director Jason Grauer.
You don’t have to just stay with the fields, either. Stone Barns offers guided tours of their facilities for $25 an adult, and $10 a kid over 5. “When visiting the Stone Barns Center Greenhouse this spring, one can see the propagation space, a warm nursery environment with tens of thousands of plants started from seed and plant tissue culture,” said Grauer. With Stone Barns, it’s not just a hike, it’s an entire agricultural experience.
The programs can get a little bit pricey, but they are top notch. They range from the relatively modest and children-friendly tour mentioned above, to a $75 tour led by a Stone Barns farmer and a Blue Hill chef, to a $95 sheep shearing demonstration. Stone Barns also features an upscale cafeteria that is open from Thursday to Sunday, starting at 10 a.m. The perfect place to end a hike!
CROTON POINT PARK
At 508 acres, it’s right in the middle of Pound Ridge and Stone Barns. Like Pound Ridge, Croton Point has many exciting amenities when you plan your visit. “This park offers year-round events and activities and has facilities for camping, hiking and swimming. Patrons come from Connecticut, all five boroughs of New York City, upstate New York, all parts of Westchester County, and from as far as Alaska and The Netherlands,” said Lovallo. You can go for a serious camping trip, or you can go for a quick three-minute walk or run.
During the summer months, the park is an attraction for swimmers. In the spring, the beautiful river-side park may just be the perfect place for hikes and visits of all types. In addition to camping and swimming, Croton Point Park offers other compelling programming as well. “The Croton Point Nature Center houses exhibits on local flora and fauna including Hudson River specimens, local and Native American history and hands-on activities,” said Lovallo. The park is on land that belonged to Native Americans, and the director of the center tries to reflect that.
Another fun feature of Croton Point Park is the miniature air field that Croton Point Field becomes when members of the Miniature Aircraft Association of Westchester gather. You won’t notice them on your hike, but you’ll pass right by them when on your way to park.
The 3.7 mile Croton Point Park trail is perfect for hikers of every skill level. It features a river view and, like all entries on this list, exemplifies the lush, beautiful greenery that the Hudson Valley is known for. At the end of the trail, you can even walk right up to the cliff overlooking the water (that is very safely protected with barricades). This trail is not to be missed in the spring. Bring the kids, bring the dog, bring the whole family!