​Destination: Big Back Yard

Photo: M.A.Ebner

Hiking 101 prepares beginners to hit the trails 

By Mary Ann Ebner

The wild lands of the Hudson Valley offer convenient access to a wide array of hikes and nature escapes, and the hikes in Philipstown, ranging from easy to difficult, provide adventurous hikers and beginners with a wealth of choices to traverse the community’s big back yard. Familiarizing yourself with trail conditions, knowing your own physical abilities, and planning your hike can add to outdoor enjoyment and overall safety.

Photo: M.A.Ebner

Hiking 101, a two-hour educational hiking experience, has been designed with the beginner in mind to help the curious discover hiking, to heighten awareness in the woods, and prepare novice hikers for safe treks on the trails. Lisa Mechaley, River of Words educator with the Hudson Highlands Land Trust (HHLT), will lead the inaugural session of Hiking 101 through the Garrison School Forest for a moderate family friendly hike. The program begins at 10 a.m. Saturday, June 23 at Winter Hill, where the Land Trust’s offices have recently relocated. “This is the first time we’ve offered Hiking 101,” Mechaley said. “If someone’s been thinking about hiking but isn’t experienced, this is a good introduction. We’ll talk about how to be safe and how to be comfortable in the woods.”

Learning to identify signs in the woods and along trails can range from knowing where to step on a rocky area to paying attention in order to stay on established trails, to avoid damaging soil or delicate vegetation. Part of the HHLT 2012 Take-a-Hike! program, Hiking 101 will include an overview of what to pack, what to wear, and how to be prepared for future hikes.
Identifying trail markers. Photo: M.A.Ebner

Whether it’s an easy stroll, an out and back hike, or a more difficult trek with steep ascents, the region invites a walk in the woods. Teri Barr, owner of Hudson Valley Outfitters in Cold Spring, believes there’s a local trail to suit all abilities, and she agrees that hikers need to do their homework before hitting the trails. “We have people who hike in the area who sign in and out at the store ​with us,” Barr said. “They leave their cell numbers and the name of an emergency contact, in case they don’t return to sign out. We’ve never had to call an emergency number.” Keeping an eye on your checklist as well as the weather are important reminders that Mechaley emphasizes. She will lead Hiking 101 if a little rain happens to fall, but a thunderstorm is another matter. “All of our activities are weather dependent,” Mechaley said, “and we wouldn’t let a little rain spoil a hike. If you wait for the perfect day, you can miss out.”

    There is no cost to participate in Hiking 101, but participation requires advance registration. Register by Friday, June 22 by contacting Hudson Highlands Land Trust at 845-424-3358 or [email protected]. For additional information on local hiking, visit the HHLT Take-a-Hike website or the Hudson Valley Outfitters website.         



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