Widow Jane Cave, Rosendale NY

Do you know what the Brooklyn Bridge, Statue of Liberty, and Grand Central Terminal have in common? The cement used to help create them and other national icons was mined in Upstate New York – and you can go spelunking in that very cave! Widow Jane Cave [668 NY-213, Rosendale, NY 12472] is an easy hike to get to barely a quarter of a mile, just follow the signs.

It’s located on the grounds of the Snyder Estate Century House Historical Society and free to visit.

The cave has been flooded with ground water, be careful where you step and bring a good source of light.

No total darkness, because of the natural light from outside – but it is dark in there.

Mirror like reflections from the water give a sense of infinity.

After it’s life as a cement mine, the cave has been used for an assortment of venues from mushroom cultivation to drum circles, along with being a great little hike.

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Hike Black Rock Forest, Hudson Valley

The Hudson Highlands houses many outstanding hikes, some extremely popular for good reason – and a few that maybe should be more well known. Thankfully, Black Rock Forest [65 Reservoir Rd, Cornwall, NY 12518] remains slightly under the radar for such an astoundingly beautiful place. Most definitely still a local favorite, the parking lot was indeed packed on a sunny spring weekend, but it’s a smaller parking lot. With 30 miles of trails within the preserve, you don’t need to share the path with many other people along the way. The old logging and mining roads along with newer footpaths are not always marked well, so having a good map with you is essential.

My loop hike in total was 5 1/2 miles with 1,000′ elevation gain winding along many different blazes throughout the confines of the park. Starting up on a gravel road, it wasn’t long before the views started kicking in.

Passing the scientific research center and into the woods – a charming covered bridge appeared.

Stop to enjoy the reservoir, a favorite hang out of many birds.

Pretty little tree swallows were abundant in the season, usually flitting about – but luckily one sat for a moment so that I could admire it.

The pond was filled with so many goslings, all lined up in a row.

Another nearby lake has a pretty neat spillway.

The great climb beyond it leads to a stunning view over the Hudson Valley.

From up there, spy a firetower, one I’ve never climbed before – don’t even know how to get there. Insider tips?

Scramble down and meander around there are some interesting rock formations along the path.

Bubbling creek shows off a lovely little waterfall.

Just as the hike was almost complete, a scarlet tanager appeared – though too flighty for a great picture.

It is always a treat to see these vibrant birds, who I encounter so rarely.

Good to know:

+Parking is free

+The Stillman Trail links to Storm King State Park

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Hike Franny Reese State Park, Hudson Valley

Wanna hang out under the bridge? Take a hike at Franny Reese State Park [281 Haviland Rd, Highland, NY 12528] and you’ll start out there.

But don’t stop there! After walking beneath the Mid-Hudson Bridge, head right to find the trailhead and get hiking.

Approximately three miles of mild trails loop around the park.

Spring was a nice time to visit, a little waterfall was flowing beside the path.

Many wildflowers sprouted.

Robins eggs on the ground told of new hatchlings.

I’m sure winter would be great to visit as well, because it would be all the better to view the ruins.

What once was an elite 19th century Victorian estate of a wealthy dentist in disrepair.

There are several buildings along the trail, so keep your eyes peeled.

At the end of the journey return back to where you started, the sitting park Johnson-Iorio Memorial, with a lovely view of the bridge – perfect for post hike picnicking.

Good to know:
*Connection available to Walkway Loop Trail leading to the nearby Walkway Over the Hudson

*Additional parking at 129 Macks Lane Highland, NY 12528

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Gnome Mountain, High Falls NY

Mystical and exotic, I find allure in the garden gnome. What kind of a person decides to host one on their lawn? Where do the ornaments go when missing? Do they have souls? Over a dozen of these creatures reside permanently on a precipice in upstate New York called Gnome Mountain [1208 Old NY-213 High Falls, New York].

The colorful instillation was debuted in April 2017 by artist Sam Tufnell. By day they are glow in the sunlight, at night they are illuminated with spotlight.

Beside them is the High Falls Emporium which houses a little sculpture garden and some local businesses.

Just minutes away is another gnome experience, one of the largest in world sits on the side of the road in Kerhonkson. Why they are here in Ulster County? I’m not sure. But I’m hoping they multiply.

Posted in New Paltz | 2 Comments

Redwood Driftwood, New Paltz NY

California dreaming? You don’t need to go all the way to the West Coast to glimpse a of the world’s tallest trees. Surprisingly, on a country road outside of New Paltz there is a collection of Redwood Driftwood [Clove Valley Rd High Falls, NY 12440] in a sculpture park setting.

Incredibly resistant, redwoods are practically impervious damage by insect, mold, and water. These roots were scattered along the beaches of northern California, remnants from 1860-1930 when logging occurred.

Each unique piece a work of natural art, simple and elegant.

Seeing the Redwoods is an American dream. The trees are a national icon that all nature lovers should strive to see, but for those stuck on the East Coast, there is a roadside slither to satisfy the soul.

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Hike to Cat Rocks from Appalachian Trail Metro North, NY

It is infinitely cool that you can come from NYC and hop right on to the Appalachian Trail, because it actually has its very own stop on the Metro North line.

You can hike from the station to a really gorgeous destination, Cat Rocks vista, however – this whole six mile roundtrip (out and back) hike is incredibly scenic. Right away the boardwalk is a stunner, there’s nothing I love more than walking the planks.

It’s an extensive boardwalk last just over a quarter of a mile.

Once you reach the wettest part of the swamp, it’s into the woods for a while.

The woods are quiet and gradually gain elevation. Not too long and you shall emerge into a sound of music-esque field of astounding beauty.

Even though it hadn’t rained too recently, the narrow boardwalk planks in the distance were slippery.

Be vigilant. Wildflowers were happy to hold on through the warm fall.

Trade the natural growth for a mowed lawn and make your way across the field.

Descend down to a road, but before you cross it admire the Dover Oak, unlike any tree around.

It is over 300 years old, 22 feet around, and the largest of its kind on the AT. You could alternately park here for a much shorter hike – just two miles round trip up to the view point. Once you cross the road you’ve got a mile till your final destination, and 700’ to climb, get scrambling.

When you pass the Telephone Pioneers spur trail you’re getting closer, about ten more minutes of hiking. Just as soon as the trail levels, keep a keen eye for an easily missed unmarked spur trail to the right – because that is the place you’ve been hiking towards this whole time.

The vista feels like it comes out of nowhere, but carefully descend to a magnificent scene – sprawling far past Pawling.

Good to know:

+Small dirt parking lot at the GoogleMaps GPS location: Appalachian Trail & MNRR Station in Pawling, NY

+Wonderful people at Native Landscaping offer restroom facilities to hikers

+Additional paved parking area right up the road

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Hike Dover Stone Church, Hudson Valley

Right off the bat let’s be clear, this is not a place of worship – well, in the traditional sense. Nature is my spirituality, and to me Dover Stone Church is heavenly.

Walk down the tree lined promenade, flanked on either side by wildflower filled meadow.

At the main trailhead, make a left and follow the Stone Church Brook upstream. The path runs parallel.

It is that simple. This place is a true hidden gem, a shockingly beautiful geological formation in a seriously unsuspecting town. The hike ends dramatically at a metamorphic cave entrance, shaped like a church’s cathedral window – where the formation acquired its name.

Carefully walk inside noting that the rocks are slippery. The entrance to the cave is illuminated due its wide mouth, the converging rocks are magnificent.

From the inside looking out, a silhouette is truly breathtaking.

This hike is an out and back, just over a mile round trip. Take me to church.

Good to know:

*There is no parking right in front of the trailhead which is at 3128 NY-22, Dover Plains, NY 12522

*When school is not in session – park at Dover Elementary 9 School St, Dover Plains, NY 12522

*When school is in session park at Freshco 22 Plaza 3156 NY-22, Dover Plains, NY 12522

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