Eat Daddy’s Donuts in Middletown, NY

If you triangulate a lot of hiking areas – like New Paltz, Hudson Highlands, and northern NJ – my route always steers me towards Daddy’s Donuts [4 Fairlawn Ave, Middletown, NY 10940], even if it adds a bit of driving time to my trip.

There is nothing better than gorging on these delicious donuts after a solid hike, or fueling up on them before one. Online they tout signature donuts such as almond joy and banana pudding – I was already drooling. In store I was not disappointed with the colorful display.

So hard to choose, but we decided on four beauties – each better than the last. They were fresh and beautiful even in the middle of the day. A peach crumb donut was better than pie. The bacon was cooked to perfection on top of that maple icing, which had just the right amount of sweetness. Holymoly, the cannoli donut was off the hook – creamy, crisp, and totally delish. Last but not least, they had a rainbow cookie donut which was ridiculously good.

It was so heavy, two people could split it and be satisfied…but we’re gluttons. Dripping with chocolate and jam, this place is the real deal. There are so many other options for donuts and pastries. A few tables make this a comfy place to indulge, or you can take your goodies to go. Either way – I always hop off I-84 to visit Daddy’s.

Good to know:

+In the same town as my favorite Hudson Valley pinball shop Rock Fantasy

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Pitstop at Ardsley Travel Plaza Popeye’s Pinball Machine, NY

Heading north on the Thruway (I-87) in New York I took an unsuspecting pitstop at the Ardsley Travel Plaza. Inside I saw the little arcade corner on the second floor had a shiny pinball machine. A Popeye pinball machine – one I had never played before.

It was in perfect condition and I had a few quarters in my bag my road trip could wait a few minutes. Now this new discovery has become a tradition, every time we need to get some gas or take a break passing through Ardsley.

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Hike Blue Mountain Reservation in Peekskill, NY

Upon entering the park, pick up a map at the tollhouse. It is very useful as there are many trails in the preserve. Take the fork to the left and park at the end of the line. From there pick up the blue trail which you can follow all the way to the summit of Blue Mountain.

The trail is peaceful even in this popular park, because there are so many winding paths. The park is very big with mountain bikers, but if you stick to the wider trails it isn’t a problem.

None of the bikers seemed to be going too fast while passing hikers. When you almost reach the summit at 680’ there is a spur to a partial view across the Hudson River towards Bear Mountain.

The journey is the destination. Keep going up for the true summit, pass an old stone structure.

At the top, there is no view at all, just your sense of accomplishment.

On a warm November day we did meet a little snake soaking up the sun.

After you head back down the summit spur, it is your choice on how you want to head back. I chose the longest loop possible on the wide trail staying with the blue, then ending on yellow.

There are dozens of miles for hiking and areas for picnicking, beside the summit trail which was approximately four miles total. Overall, Blue Mountain Reservation is not a dazzling destination hike – but a large park perfect for getting some exercise, fresh air, and nature therapy.

Good to know:

+Continue onto Blue Mountain Reservation road from 415 Lounsbury Ln Peekskill, NY 10566 to find the parking lot

+Fees are collected from May to October 1st, free on off season

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Hike Arden Point, Hudson Valley

Garrison, NY has the coolest train station, while you’re waiting to depart – if you take a trip up from NYC, there is an amazing hike that leaves right from the parking lot. The trails at Arden Point [96 Lower Station Rd, Garrison, NY 10524] are so awesome and unique, from the very start to finish.

Paths are well maintained and easy to navigate.

Start down the main trail and right away there are some neat ruins.

A rusted over fridge sits in front of an old structure.

The whole scene is entangled in vines.

Keep your eyes peeled for more as you continue along your way.

When you reach the bridge over the train tracks, cross it.

A little loop circles Arden Point and there are some spectacular views into the Hudson River.

Upon completion head back over the bridge and go further down the line. A little spur leads up to a mighty fine gazebo.

Take a turn into an unexpected bamboo forest.

Pop back out into a populated area with an overlook and a brick building, then duck back into the woods on a meticulously well maintained path cuts through some low deep green brush.

Descend into the quieter forest where few other hikers decide to continue. Climb up and down the rolling hills leading to some interesting vistas.

End at a subdued platform with a quirky tree sticking out of the center.

You can loop, or take it back the way you came. This is a truly eclectic trail with so many interesting elements, perfect for city slickers to take a hike in nature or an easier trail for those around the Hudson Valley. Total hiking did not exceed three miles.

Good to know:

*Parking is free at the train station on the weekends

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Hike Manitou Point Preserve, Hudson Valley

Pass by the hubbub going on at the Bear Mountain bridge – less than five minutes up the road is a quiet park most people haven’t even heard of. If low key is your idea of a good time, have a hike at Manitou Point Preserve.

From the lot trails are a bit tricky. They are undergoing some maintenance and the map is not extremely helpful at this point in time.

Once they get it done, I know this park is going to be fantastic – because it’s already there once you navigate through the woods. It isn’t too big of a preserve, so don’t worry about getting terribly lost. All in all I believe I hiked an incoherent 3 miles. I hopped on one trail, took it to its terminus. Then another, and another, and I was about to give up. I’m so glad that I didn’t. Regardless of my initial confusion, I still enjoyed the scenic woods.

The singing birds were happy to have so few human visitors.

Finally my trekking on the red trail brought me out to a gravel road. Instantly I was attracted to the abandoned building.

Next I was excited to hear the train, so close! The metro line is right beside the trail, and the freight train across the marsh. Partial views into that area are so charming.

Take the gravel road from one side to the other. Cross a bridge and see a perfectly triangular hill north of the tracks.

Finally, you can access the peninsula seen on the map and here the trails coincide correctly. The blue trail parallels the Hudson River, it can be pretty steep and narrow at times.

A daredevil tree lives on the perpendicular side.

Following the blue trail the forest is very quiet.

Eventually it dead ends at a pretty little view with a stone bench.

Take the optional loop on back, it’s a shortcut avoiding the steep trail and shaking things up a bit. Find your way back to the gravel path. Not wanting to get turned around in the woods again, I followed the gravel path winding up in elevation – eventually to the road. It lands you the road, but not in the parking lot. If you go this way, carefully walk on the side of the road to the right for a short distance, looping back to the lot. There is no sidewalk! Even with all of its current quirks, I really am glad I stuck it out at this preserve – which has a lot to offer. Can’t wait to see what future improvements are made to create an even better experience.

Good to know:

*Parking lot is on 9D in Garrison, it comes quickly on a road with a fast speed limit, right before its GoogleMaps GPS location – which leads you to a locked gate

* Another option is parking on Mantiou Station Rd, Garrison – and hopping on the pedestrian gravel ‘Mystery Point Rd’

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Hike up Ninham Fire Tower, Hudson Valley

Even on a cold winter day, the hike to Ninham Fire Tower is a perfect choice. To get to the fire tower – directly from the parking lot head behind the big yellow gate with a stop sign.

Not the path behind the trailhead like I did! Though those are lovely wooded trails – you could extend your hike thereafter, we have a destination in mind. The gravel path beyond the gate meanders up to the tower, a 400’ climb.

The hike roundtrip is 1.5 miles, a nice shorter choice for a good airing out. There are some intriguing stone compartments along the way.

At the top you’ll find the tower standing tall, climb on up!

360 degrees of quiet natural beauty, you can’t beat this view.

Many fire tower cabins are targets of graffiti, some not so chaste – but ever so often you’ll find a nice quote or a pretty little ditty.

I enjoyed this sketch of a mountainous sunset, or rise. If you’re looking for an easier hike, even your grandma could handle this well maintained path!

Good to know:

*From Gipsy Trail Road, Kent NY turn onto Mt. Nimham Ct and the parking lot is at the end of the line

*Parking is free

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Hike Popolopen Torne, Hudson Valley

Hiking up to the summit of Popolopen Torne is diverse and exciting. The path I am recounting is a loop about 7 miles, ascending just under 1,000′. It is entails exquisite vistas, traversing bridges, a bit of scrambling, and peaceful woods. It’s one heck of a hike, a must in the Hudson Valley. Begin your day in the overflow parking lot for Fort Montgomery State Historic Site – it has a GPS location in GoogleMaps. Head down 9W and into the Fort Montgomery Historic Site. Take the trail towards the Popolopen pedestrian bridge. The view of the Bear Mountain bridge is incredible,

and cross the bridge is a fun adventure to begin your hike with.

Follow the sign pointing towards Bear Mountain State Park and head up the stairs, back to the busy road.

Bear right onto 9W and safely cross the street. Enter the red blazed trail begins at the end of the guardrail behind the no parking sign, right before the bridge crosses the creek.

Head blissfully into the woods and stay on this trail for 1 ½ miles and head up almost 500’. Pass by an interesting concrete structure along the way.

When you reach a junction with many trails, follow 1777W and 1779 Trails, accompanied by blue, follow the blues all the way up to the summit.

Take the bridge over the creek,

and cross the road. From here the trail becomes increasingly steep.

Just as you begin to use all of your extremities scrambling, you’ll hit astounding views.

The summit was very populated, but it is a large area so it isn’t hard to stake out your own plot. A monumental cairn is dedicated to American soldiers, the trail is close to a number of military facilities.

When you’re done soaking in the vista – continue along the blue trail which is quite steep at times.

Once again carefully cross a road and end up at a parking lot. Hmm, one that is much closer to the summit – if you’re looking for a shorter hike with the same pay off, ‘Popolopen Torne Parking’ has a GPS location on GoogleMaps. Faithfully follow the blue past the gate, down the trail, on the streets, and to the lake.

Here turn left on the red/white blazed trail to walk around Brooks Lake in a scenic town park. Once you loop around, past the gazebo head into the woods on the gravel path.

Stop to check out some ruins, watch your step for glass and nails.

Head inside for a pop of graffiti color framing the woods.

A little bit of urban exploration always adds flavor to a hike.

Out of the woods and back onto the road, follow the blue trail once more. When you reach this sign:

head towards the visitors center. The trail takes you under the 9W bridge.

Again the Bear Mountain bridge is within site. Head up the stairs and you’ll find yourself back at the Fort Montgomery Historic Site – happily heading back to the parking lot.

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