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Kid-Friendly Hiking Trails in Upstate New York

Updated on May 29, 2014
Kids exploring frog tank
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Fishing buddies!
Fishing buddies!

Kid Friendly Hiking Trails in Upstate New York

Hiking Trails That are Kid Friendly

According to the website Parks and Trails New York, statistics indicate that more than 60 percent of adults and 32 percent of children in New York State are either overweight or obese. Their suggestion on the best way to get exercise and activity is to get out and walk.

You’ve heard your mother say to go out and play, well when you go out hiking with your family, you can! Hiking is an excellent form of exercise and a lot of time you are having so much fun, you don’t even realize you are exercising.

According to the website goodhiker.com, some of the benefits of hiking for adults include improved cardio-respiratory fitness, improved muscle fitness, lower risk of coronary heart disease and stroke, lower risk of high blood pressure and diabetes, lower risk of high cholesterol, lower risk of several cancers including colon and breast cancer, increased bone density, reduced depression and better quality sleep, lower risk of early death, and even weight loss.

Kids get many of the same benefits including less chance of becoming overweight, and less chance of developing risk factors for heart disease, high blood pressure, and type-2 diabetes.

Imagine walking up a trail that wanders through meadows carpeted with wildflowers, including wild Blue Lupine and the bright orange Butterfly Weed. Suddenly a cloud of Karner Blue Butterflies take off in flight. Looking up, you see a pair of Bald Eagles drifting lazily in air currents as they survey their domain.

All around are the sounds of birds calling to each other, and further in the distance bull frogs and peeper frogs are striking up a chorus.

As the trail wanders into the forest, you hear the sound of a woodpecker searching out his dinner and squirrels scolding you for disturbing their domain. You see chipmunks diving for their burrows and a lazy Hognose Snake slithering off into the bushes.

Suddenly you come across a waterfall tumbling over rocks as groves of ferns seem to dip their heads into the stream. All of these are sights and sounds of trails in the area, and it would be the rare person who wouldn’t want to experience them.

But there is a big difference between knowing what is good for you and actually getting out and doing it. Luckily, there are a lot of area trails to try, many of which are kid-friendly. Here is a list of just some of what the area has to offer.

Hudson Pointe Nature Preserve, Queensbury, NY. This is an 83 acre nature preserve along the Hudson River. There are over two miles of marked trails for hiking, walking and mountain biking. In the winter there is snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. Dogs are also allowed as long as they are leashed. What is fun about this park is the trails wander along the Hudson River and are marked with signs along the way informing hikers of some of the wildlife they might see as well as other features on the trails. The trails are fairly level with no steep hills.

Hudson River Recreation Area, Lake Luzerne, NY. This 5,500 acre forest preserve features river access for swimming, picnicking, boating, tubing. There are also old tote roads that were once used for logging, but now are used for hiking, horseback riding and cross-country skiing.

Although the trails are a little rough and could be better marked, the promise of a cool dip in the river will spur most people on. There are several access points to the river, and the river is fairly shallow and slow-moving.

Bear Slides Trail is just past a culvert on Bear Slides Access Road. It is a fairly steep climb through a forested area that follows a stream, but well worth it when you get to the top. There is a series of descending flat rocks that the stream tumbles over, and many people slide on them just like a water slide.

Pack Demonstration Forest, SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, 136 Pack Forest Road, Warrensburg, NY. This is a 2,500 acre environmental demonstration forest maintained by SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry. There is a self-guided 1 mile Grandmother's Tree Nature Trail. The Grandmother's Tree Nature Trail is one of the few nature trails in the Adirondacks that is accessible to people using wheelchairs. It wanders through a 50-acre natural area that introduces visitors to the ecology of an Adirondack old-growth hemlock-white pine forest and one of New York's historic trees. It takes about an hour to walk the moderately level trail. There are other numerous trails with mountain views, marshes, and the Hudson River. It also includes an 85 acre lake. Mountain biking, canoeing and kayaking, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing are also allowed.

Peggy’s Point, Hague, NY. Peggy’s Point is a 1.9 acre parcel donated by Peggy Darrin, a long-time supporter of Lake George Land Conservancy. Although not a traditional hiking trail, the path wanders along the Lake George shoreline, and is a popular spot for fishing or picnicking. What is really nice about this spot is the Friendship Garden, a 30-foot diameter bed, consisting of flowers provided by the public in honor of or in memory of a special person, place or event . Anyone is welcome to add a flower as long as the guidelines are followed.

Up Yonda Farm Environmental Education Center, 5239 Lake Shore Drive, Bolton Landing, NY. Although there are several hiking trails, the attraction for this 72-acre facility is the museum. The museum features wildlife exhibits of native mammals and birds and has a children's activity room. This facility also offers nature programs, butterfly and perennial gardens, birding opportunities, as well as information about honeybees, maple sugaring and woodworking.

There are more than seven hiking trails, and are easy to moderate in difficulty. Some of the features of the connecting trails include the Sugar Trail, which was built to highlight the maple sugaring activities of the farm and provides a view of the Sugar House. Other features are Green Trail that provides a wide variety of birds for birdwatchers and the Federal Hill Cemetery, which contains some of the earliest settlers of Bolton Landing and the original owners of Yonda Farm, Alice and John Scott.

Wilton Wildlife Preserve, Gansevoort, NY. Although a bit of a drive (the preserve is located off of Exit 16 of the Northway) a trip to this former Boy Scout Camp is well worth it, particularly since it is one of a few nature preserves in the area with the endangered Karner Blue Butterfly. There are over 2,400 acres of protected land that make up the five parcels of the preserve.

The most kid-friendly is the Camp Saratoga parcel, which is the former Boy Scout Camp. There are more than ten miles of trails, which are color coded. The Blue Trail is the most popular and provides glimpses of some of the buildings that used to make up the camp. Among the buildings still standing are the mess hall, some lean-tos, the winter lodge, a totem pole, and the archery range.

The property encompasses a diversity of ecosystems including woodlands, wetlands, open areas, streams, and a pond. Delegan Pond is a man-made pond and Great blue herons, belted kingfishers, and the occasional beaver can be spotted and observed. The trail surfaces are predominantly forest and field floor with some sandy sections. The terrain is steep in places, but not overwhelming and in periods of heavy rain there may be muddy or wet spots. This trail is also the main one for viewing the Karner Blue Butterfly, which hatches in early June with a second brood hatching in late July.

So there you have it, some of the most diverse kid-friendly hiking trails in the area. Hopefully one of them will peak your interest and cause you to get out and explore the wonderful area. Happy hiking!

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