HikeBeyond: Hudson Highlands State Park

Where: Hudson Highlands State Park (Cold Spring, NY)

What: Hike (trail, unpaved)

Snacks: The Black Cow (Croton-on-Hudson, NY)

Sometimes the best mornings start with a long drive, good coffee and an empty parking lot. To get to the appropriate parking lot for this hike put 41.42659,-73.96534 into your GPS. This will bring you to the Washburn Trail Head – right across from Little Stony Point.

Today, we’re going to summit Bull Hill / Mt. Taurus. Then we’re completing the loop to get to the Cornish Estate Ruins. Ready? Our loops is 5.5-6 miles depending upon the amount of exploration you choose to do around the ruins. This took about three hours to complete but do go at your own pace.

Starting on the Washburn Trail follow the white trail blazes. The trail is well marked but keep an eye out, there are a few places where it is easy to lose – rocky, steep areas that don’t quite look like trail. If you’re a fan of trekking poles, you may want them on this one. Every so often you’ll come up upon a great viewpoint. I would argue, this hike has the best views of the Hudson Valley, surpassing even Storm King. On a clear day, you can see to NYC.

Take the white trail to the end, marked by three blazes in a triangle pattern. From here hook up with the blue trail. The blue trail meanders through forest and stream. It is pleasant but if it is views you’re after you won’t find them here.

Eventually you’ll come to a trail junction – yellow and red. Take the red trail to your left. On this section there will be small stream crossings with loose rocks. Do watch your footing. In dryer weather, you may not encounter them. You’ll eventually come to a fork on the trail. Red to the ruins, back to blue to return to the lot. You didn’t come this far to skip the estate, did you?

Continue on the red trail and explore. Enjoy. Walking passed the ruins you can hook back up with the blue trail back to the parking lot. The connector trail is marked by duplicated red and blue blazes. Keep in mind, this loop is only a small portion of the park.

Want to see the ruins without the hassle? At your first trail junction take the Cornish Trail to your left as opposed to the Washburn. When you’ve had your fill go back the way you came. This avoids any steep rocky sections and cuts the trip down to an estimated 1.5miles.

Prior to the hike we stopped at Black Cow for happy coffee and some zucchini bread.

See you on the trails,

x

Jess

HikeBeyondLI: Ithaca and Such

Where: Ithaca, NY and surrounding

What: Hike (trail, unpaved, stone, staircases)

Snacks: Various

Disclaimer: This post may contain crude language and various negative views of humanity. Please don’t read on if either of those offend you.

General note(s): As of this writing all of the parks had a parking fee of $8.00 from (I think) 8am to 6pm, every day. Lots of parking. All have easy to find address for your GPS. It is all pretty, yes but, proper footwear please – most of these trails are wet after all.

Parks visited: Taughannock Falls State Park – Ulysses, NY

Robert H. Treman State Park – Ithaca, NY

Buttermilk Falls State Park – Ithaca, NY

Watkins Glenn State Park – Watkins Glenn, NY

Places eaten / snacks had: Gimme! Coffee – Trumansburg, NY

Maru Ramen – Ithaca, NY

Glens Dairy Bar – Watkins Glenn, NY

Luna Inspired Street Food. Ithaca, NY

Do you remember being a kid and having a disposable camera? Maybe you only had enough allowance for one or your parents could only get you one. Remember taking way to many photos at the start of a trip then rationing photos for only the coolest stuff toward the end. No? Just me? Am I dating myself? We spent so many summers in PA, ME, VT and NH and for each trip I got my very own camera. I would snap everything I could early in the trip and by the end with five or so precious photos left, I would carefully exam everything to make sure it was photo worthy. Getting the cameras developed was another story. I’m sure some are still buried in drawers or in closets. That’s how I treated this trip. I took too many photos early then, by the last park I just wanted to enjoy.

Each park was similar in that you choose from a gorge trail or a rim trail. The gorge trails follow the falls and the rim trails hover above. For each park, since coming back to the area is difficult, I made sure to take both gorge and rim trails. Essentially, each park was explored in its entirety, which, is no small feat. While I didn’t seek to pair a park with a specific eatery like I do at home, the above list is everywhere I ate during the trip. We camped so for a few days, my diet was mostly s’mores and things you can dip into peanut butter. Maybe, also peanut butter s’mores.

When I checked into the campsite, I was told that Ithaca has more restaurants per capita than NYC. I believe this. Downtown seemed to be 90% restaurants, a handful of thrift / buy Cornell merchandise, more vape / CBD shops than necessary.

A paragraph about food: The ramen shop was wonderful, flavorful and fast (pictured somewhere). Noodles after a big hike day really seem to hit the spot. Luna was not good, if I lived here I wouldn’t go back (not pictured). Everything was covered in cilantro and my rice tasted like dishwater – maybe a cilantro byproduct since it tastes like soap to me. Gimme! Coffee was great – check the size of that biscotti! But the town was small and most everything was closed. The barista mentioned a local festival coming up and how the town shuts down to accommodate this. He was cool. We could be friends. I’ve never lived anywhere so small and it was fascinating new found knowledge. Gimme is a local chain and also has a location in Ithaca. Glen’s Dairy, felt so wasteful. I ordered a small and the photo is what I got. I spent so much time thinking about wasting ice cream that I couldn’t enjoy it. Foolish, I know but I wager, if it were awesome ice cream I wouldn’t have had those thoughts. My favorite ice cream is what I make in my ice cream maker so, I’m a hard sell. But seriously, if you love big portions, go to Glen’s.

Taughannock Falls State Park: This park is incredibly simple to navigate. They have a boat launch, ample concessions and picnic areas. There is a .75 mile trail running through the center and north / south rim trails that connect. The north and south rims together are about three miles. The stream bed was quiet and signs indicated that you were allowed to walk in it. At least, signs with arrows pointed you to the main trial so I assume if it wasn’t allowed the Park was at least very aware.

The falls are impressive at 215 feet. The rim at Taughannock was the best of all of the parks I visited, allowing for multiple view of the falls from above the falls.

Robert H. Treman State Park: This place is cool! It has a giant swimming hole and adorable cabins. The swimming hole was mobbed and there were so many lifeguards on duty that you’d think it was a local community pool. There was so much joy there.

The coup de gras was Lucifer Falls and there were people hanging out at the base of it. There isn’t a trail to the base of it so they must have walked across the stream. Why do something you aren’t supposed to do when there is a giant, safe swimming hole? I get so frustrated with people. Damn.

Buttermilk Falls State Park: There are two very distinct areas of this park. The rim/ gorge trail area and a lake loop. The trail head I took was accessible from the camp ground and led directly to the lake. The loop around the lake is 1.5 miles. There is an overflow lot with direct access to the lake trail head with restrooms.

From there I walked park roads to the bear trail, across to the gorge trail. It was early enough where the trail was quiet. The water looked so welcoming but, signs dictate if you swim in the stream, you’ll get ticketed. This of course didn’t stop people. From this direction, the largest waterfall was my last viewpoint. At the base of the falls is a swimming hole. We’re talkin’ lifeguards, a diving board, a dog wading area and roads to designate deep and shallow ends.

On the way back to camp, park rangers were closing sections of the gorge trail so I felt lucky to see it.

Watkins Glenn State Park: I want to start off by saying how photogenic this park is. It’s gorgeous, truly. But fuck. I hate this park. It was so crowded that there were portions that felt like I was trapped in the middle of a nightclub dance floor. Cameras everywhere. People stopping on wet staircases to take a photo. People falling because the grown was wet and they were in improper footwear. People in the stream. People everywhere. Don’t ask how one of only two photos I’d gotten in the part is void of people. I don’t know how. They were everywhere. I’m in so many photos that I don’t want to be in.

I stumbled upon a cemetery here and it left for an eerie feel. There wasn’t anyone on this part of the trail and I’m not sure if it was actually part of the park.

The trails themselves are short, ranging from 1.5 to 1.8 miles, point – to – point. Staircases connect north and south rim trails to the gorge trail. The gorge trail is of course where the beauty and most of the action is. The further you get from the visitors’ center the quieter it gets but if never truly gets quiet. You do however get to walk under waterfalls, so, I guess that’s pretty cool. Remember folks, one foot in front of the other.

See you on the trails,

x

Jess

HikeBeyondLI: Or 24ish hours in Phoenix

Where: North Mountain and Piestewa Peak (Phoenix Mountain Preserve, Phoenix Arizona)

What: Hiking (trail, unpaved, rocky)

Snacks: Dutch Bros Coffee (Phoenix) and Cartel Coffee Lab (Sky Harbor airport, PHX)

I’m a huge fan of whirlwind travel weekends. You set a plan, fly somewhere, do everything you wanted in your itinerary (or give it the old college try) and head home. It helps me spend less time lounging around trying to figure out what to do. Really capitalizes off of the cliché, ‘time is precious’. Bonus points for friends in the city.

Phoenix is roughly a six hour flight for me. Travel time to airports / waiting in airports meant that I spent a size-able chunk of time in transit. This would make most people stay home, I get it. The travel time has to be worth the trip itinerary; that’s key.

My flight to Phoenix was delayed nearly three hours, so, off to a good start. My seat mate was drunk enough to be annoying but not drunk enough to get booted from the plane. Then he called me stuck up for telling him I’d rather read than talk to him. Hazards of public transit – other people. For the curious I’m currently reading “Eating Animals,” again. It’s one of those books that I have yet to finish. I keep putting it down, forgetting what I read and restarting six months and many books in between. I’m determined to finish it this time.

This is getting more personal than I wanted it to. On to the hikes – thanks for reading the preamble.

Hike one, North Mountain in the Phoenix Mountain Preserve. Picture yourself in a suburban sprawl masquerading as a city and then boom! mountains. Ample parking, we’re talking real spots, friends – paved parking lots and lots of entrances. North Mountain is a short peak, roughly 2 miles round trip. Part of the trail is closed for renovations (making the trail accessible and paved). There is a welcome center and restrooms. The view is a suburban sprawl with mountains in the distance. A cellphone tower marks the summit. This trail is crowded. I suppose that’s the problem with cities – other people.

On to snack one! An iced coffee at Dutch Bros and a cinnamon cake thing. Coffee was fine, tasty. Their schtick is extreme friendliness to the point where it was unnerving (for me anyway – I’m from the land where a hello to a stranger is invasive).

Peak two. Same day; some hours later. The desert is interesting. It was 70ish but felt so much hotter. The dry air meant your typically well hydrated writer felt like she couldn’t drink enough. At 2,610 feet Piestewa is the third highest peak in Arizona. The ego kicks in, I’ve hit higher elevation, I’ve done more miles in a day – this should be a breeze. Nah, something about the desert, something about the fake rock stairs carve precariously into the trail, something about mid day and constantly feeling thirsty – this was tough. Took and followed the trail marked 302 for 3.7 miles.

The trail was packed, not only with people but with people who made me question my own fitness level. I know, I know, eyes on your own paper but when you see a dude running up the mountain holding ten pound hand weights or folks in weight vests or wearing babies it makes you wonder what else your body is capable of.

After hike snack? Cartel Coffee Lab at the airport. Blueberry loaf and a dirty chai with oat milk. Clearly a satisfying way to end a two peak day and quick trip. Voted by me personally as best airport coffee in the United States.

See you on the trails,

x

Jess

HikeBeyondLI: Teddy Roosevelt Island

Where: Teddy Roosevelt Island (Washington D.C.) and the Mt. Vernon Trail (Washington D.C. to Mt. Vernon)

What: Hike (trail, unpaved // trail, paved)

Snacks: Baked & Wired (Washington D.C.)

Teddy Roosevelt Island is near the trail head at the start of the Mt. Vernon Trail, which stretches 18 miles from D.C. to Mt. Vernon. It ends at George Washington’s Mt. Vernon Estate. The trail is paved, Teddy Roosevelt Island is not. Years ago, I cycled the trail from end to end and back in the rain. It was my birthday present to myself and well worth it, even after the fall. The trail is gorgeous, but crowded. Be alert. The Mt. Vernon side is narrower and hillier than the D.C. side. Around Alexandria, VA you have to navigate some urban cycling.

There are parking areas scattered along the trail. The one for Teddy Roosevelt Island is found by using GPS for the Island itself. It holds a fair amount of vehicles but fills up fast. The island is open to foot traffic only.

Choose between the mile and a half Swamp trail or the shorter Upland and Woods trails. If you choose to do all three it is around three miles. The trails encircle a Teddy Roosevelt Memorial. There are also port-a-potties on the Island. Their cleanliness isn’t known to your author.

The loop around Teddy Roosevelt Island has great views of the city. You’ll also have access to benches and part of the loops is boardwalk. Continue on the Mt. Vernon trail if you’d like to extend your walk.

For snacks head to Baked & Wired. It is a super popular coffee shop with cupcakes, breakfast fare and of course coffee. Perhaps I went a little overboard?

See you on the trails,

x

Jessa

HikeBeyondLI: Seneca Landing Park

Where: Seneca Landing Park (Darnestown, Maryland) and The C&O Canal Path (Washington D.C. to Cumberland Maryland)

What: Hike (trail, unpaved)

Snacks: Vie de France (Potomac, Maryland)

Seneca Landing Park is located around mile 22 of the C&O Canal Path. The C&O is a 180 mile path stretching from the Georgetown neighborhood in D.C. through Harper’s Ferry West Virginia to Cumberland Maryland. One day I hope to cycle it from end to end. It consists of various terrain from gravel to boardwalk to pavement.

We come to Seneca Landing today to look for the ruins of the Seneca Quarry. Park at the end of Riley’s Lock Road, near the canal. There is a large dirt lot with kayak rentals. I saw some winter kayakers trying to break through the ice. Good luck to them. Head right as you enter the park. Follow the C&O until you see it split to the right around a small body of water. Follow that around until the ruins appear on your right.

There are extensive no trespassing signs around the ruins. As always, I’m not advocating trespassing.

After the ruins, go back the way you came. I chose to continue walking along the C&O until around mile 25 before heading back to the car. There was some snow and some slick areas but overall it was a nice, soothing walk. Something about a winter twilight walk is magical.

Head to Vie de France for some strong coffee and French baked goods.

See you on the trails,

x

Jessa