By Kathie Scanlon
While the whole world seems to know about hiking Breakneck Ridge, many of the countless alternatives in Philipstown are seemingly well-kept secrets. My lips are sealed but not too tightly to inform about these trails that are kid friendly and close enough that the answer to the question “Are we there yet?” can be an affirmative. All trails are around one mile, perfect for when the question becomes “Can we go home now?”
Manitoga — The Russel Wright Design Center
In the 1950s, Russel Wright landscaped an abandoned quarry and designed Dragon Rock, his home and studio. Wright lovingly restored the acreage, creating four miles of trails to bring visitors in touch with nature so as to understand the need to preserve and protect it. Upon ascending the stone steps leading to the trails, you will soon come to Mountain Laurel Meadow, a good place to spot and grab a rock for a rest; mark mid-June on next year’s calendar to return for a magical experience of the mountain laurel in full bloom. Follow the White Trail to find one of the many bridges on the property. My kids called it Poohsticks Bridge. Race to the library and check out The House at Pooh Corner, Chapter 6, if you don’t know how to play Poohsticks. Numerous four-year-old authorities have advised that Manitoga is swarming with fairies. Frogs, salamanders and other amphibians also abound. Manitoga also offers a nature-based summer day camp for young campers, aged 5 to 12. Visit Russelwrightcenter.org.
Little Stony Point State Park
The wonderful thing about the outdoors is it’s still there during the week; this past Wednesday at 11 a.m., mine was the only car in the parking lot. Instead of heading to Sandy Beach, take the trail to the left. Pick one of the numerous little shady spots as your private beach to sail a driftwood boat, build a stick fort, throw rocks or blissfully sit and watch the river flow. The trail follows around the point to Sandy Beach. On the way, there is a cave that only the fearless have entered; I have nothing to report about what’s in there, no way.
Please bring a bag with you to carry out your and others’ trash, seizing the moment to teach the kids about environmental stewardship. Along with several signs prohibiting fires, you may see charred wood remnants offering a teachable moment. Fires in a breezy area with driftwood and nearby brush can result in a wild fire that can bring devastation to the wooded area and erosion to the beach. There is almost always a breeze here. Visit littlestonypoint.org.
Frances Stevens Reese Woodlands Trail of Discovery at Boscobel
Frances Stevens Reese was an environmental activist who joined in forming the Scenic Hudson Preservation Committee in the early ’60s to protect Storm King Mountain from Con Edison’s proposed development of what would have been the world’s largest pump storage facility. Check in at the Carriage House to receive an informative Trail Guide and Treasure Hunt map.
The map features 36 bird and wildlife plaques that young hikers are invited to find along the trail. A gently rolling woodchip path makes this accessible to all but the newest walkers.
A cooling summer stroll can be taken amidst waterfalls and ferns in deep shade woods with resting spots opening to views of the Hudson from rustic gazebos. You can purchase cold drinks and snacks at the Carriage House where you’ll also find real bathrooms. Visit boscobel.org.
“Take nothing but memories, leave nothing but footprints!” — Chief Seattle