Valley full of beautiful hiking options

REPOSTED from Poughkeepsie Journal, written by Karen Maserjian Shan

Hikers enjoy a trek along the Dover Stone Church Trail in eastern Dutchess County. The trail is maintained by Friends of Dover Stone Church.
Hikers enjoy a trek along the Dover Stone Church Trail in eastern Dutchess County. The trail is maintained by Friends of Dover Stone Church.

(Photo: Courtesy photo/Georgette Weir)

Stancy DuHamel remembers when her parents insisted that she and her five siblings head outside. These days she doesn’t need any prompting.

“It’s a great way to clear the mind and discover,” said DuHamel, a resident of New York City and long-term weekender in Wingdale. “Plus the air is fresh.”

Millions of people agree with DuHamel. The Outdoor Foundation’s 2014 Outdoor Recreation Participation Topline Report shows 142.6 million Americans participated in at least one outdoor activity in 2013 and jointly made 12.1 billion such outings. Favorite activities among young people were running, biking, fishing, camping and hiking.

For DuHamel, who volunteers with several conservation and outdoor groups, hiking is an outdoor activity that relieves stress and connects her with nature’s flora and fauna. All you need, she said, is a backpack for binoculars, bug repellent, water, a compass and maps. And don’t forget to wear good hiking shoes.

“My tips are give yourself enough time to relax,” she said.

DuHamel hikes with others for their company, safety and the shared experience, whether it’s at the Great Swamp in Pawling, the Roger Perry Preserve in Dover Plains, Nellie Hill Preserve in Dover Plains or elsewhere. “There’s just a lot of places to get out the door,” she said.

Recently about 24 miles of trails primarily in Dutchess County were designated as “Greenway Trails” and part of the Hudson River Valley Greenway Trail system, including Bowdoin Park, Wilcox Memorial Park, Quiet Cove Riverfront Park, and the Dutchess Rail Trail, which connects to the Walkway Over the Hudson and the Hudson Valley Rail Trail in Ulster County.

The Hudson River Valley Greenway Trail system includes more than 800 miles of designated trails, with nearly 117 miles of designated Greenway Trails in Dutchess County, including riverside trails, countryside corridors and connector trails, many of which offer hiking opportunities.

“Dutchess County recognizes the importance of trails to both residents and visitors, as a recreational resource and an economic driver,” said Mark Castiglione, acting executive director of the Hudson River Valley Greenway. “The Greenway Trails System comprises a variety of trail experiences that help enhance the quality of life in the Hudson River Valley.”

Georgette Weir, a spokeswoman for the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference, said more than 2,000 miles of hiking trails run from northern New Jersey through the New York’s Hudson Valley, with most maintained by volunteers.

“There are fabulous trails, many of them offering fabulous views,” said Weir, who also is a member of and volunteer with the Mid-Hudson Adirondack Mountain Club. “I just think people in this region, we’re so fortunate in the outdoor opportunities that we have. We’re known for being an urban area — the Catskills, even down through the Hudson Highlands. You get up to those peaks, and you look out and you see nothing but trees and the river.”

Trails in all levels of difficulty allow generations to get together for family fun and exercise while providing more challenging opportunities for those who are up for it.

Hikers, said Weir, should wear suitable clothes and footwear plus bring a hat, bug spray, sunglasses, water and paper trail guides, the latter as insurance against low cellphone reception in remote areas or problems with cellphone batteries.

Detailed information about 400 hikes is shown on the Trail Conference’s website, Volunteers with the Trail Conference work to maintain trails and direct hikers.

“Many people don’t know what they’re getting into,” Weir said. “We’re there to have a good time and pick a trail appropriate for what they want to do.”

Recently, the Pawling and Dover Plains libraries joined efforts with the Harlem Valley Appalachian Trail Community to lend backpacks with hiking accessories to day hikers to encourage them to enjoy a day on the trails. The joint effort also includes Little Free Libraries, a free book exchange at two A.T. shelters in Dover and Pawling along the trail for through-hikers, that is, people trekking the Appalachian Trail in a continuous journey.

“Once you’re in your tent and there’s no TV around, you might like to read before sleeping,” said Susan Totter, director of the Dover Plains Library, of through-hikers’ overnight campsites.

With Dover Plains and Pawling designated as an Appalachian Trail Community, the Little Free Libraries show community support of the Appalachian Trail and its hikers.

“It’s been very exciting to meet other people and learn the history,” said Trotter, including that the A.T. Wiley Shelter’s Little Free Library in Wingdale is turning 75 years old. “My library is working to get our local Boy Scouts to help maintain the box,” she said.

Anthony Coneski, parks event and volunteer coordinator for Scenic Hudson in Poughkeepsie, said from miles-long hikes through the Hudson Highlands’ rocky terrain in Beacon to peaceful river views in the Esopus Meadows Preserves and moderate treks over hills through the Black Creek Preserves, the Hudson Valley offers great hikes.

“New hikers should have a map and plan and know where to go, how long the hike is and know what the weather is,” he said.

Volunteers work to maintain the organization’s parks and trails, including ridding sites of invasive plants, planting native selections, general cleanup and restoration work on old trails, all of which open the way for ongoing trail-hiking fun.

“Get out and enjoy,” said Coneski. “We live in a beautiful area, and there are hiking trails all over.”

Karen Maserjian Shan is a freelance writer:

On the Web

American Hiking Society:

American Trails, New York trail resources:

Dutchess County Tourism, hikes:

Hike the Hudson Valley:

Hudson River Valley Greenway, land trail system:

Hudson Valley Hikers:

The New York-New Jersey Trail Conference, high quality, free downloadable maps:

Scenic Hudson:

Hyde Park trek

What: Hyde Park Trail, End-2-End Trek, a nine-mile trek from Top Cottage to the Vanderbilt Mansion, via Val-Kill, the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Home and Library and Riverfront Park. Finishers will earn the 2014 Walkabout trail patch.

Where: Vanderbilt Mansion parking lot. Participants will be shuttled to the starting point. The hike will finish at Vanderbilt.

When: June 7, sign-in 7:30-9 a.m.

Bring: Hiking supplies, including water, lunch, insect repellant, rain gear and other essentials.

Pre-registration: Call Hyde Park Recreation at 845-229-8086 from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, or visit

Information: or

Hiking sites

For a longer list, visit this story at

Beacon Hill and Lake Minnewaska, Minnewaska State Park Preserve, Ulster County. Easy trail loop hike around a pleasant hill and lake with views.

Black Creek Preserve, Esopus. Family-friendly hikes.

Bonticou Crag Hike, Mohonk Preserve, Gardiner. Moderate hike through the woods and top of a crag.

Brace Mountain, South Taconic Mountains. Moderate to strenuous trail to highest point in Dutchess County.

Breakneck Ridge Trail, Hudson Highlands State Park, Beacon. Rugged loop hike with steep climbs.

Burger Hill, Rhinebeck. A half-mile trail through open meadows with broad views.

Cat’s Rock, Pawling. Moderate hike with nice views.

Clarence Fahnestock Memorial State Park, Dutchess and Putnam counties. Various trails, including easy, moderate and difficult hikes.

Depot Hill, Beekman and Pawling. Moderate hike to the top of Mount Egbert.

Esopus Meadows Preserve, Esopus. Four trails through woodland or shoreline with picnicking and views.

Falling Waters Preserve, Glasco. Two miles of trails include a gravel road, a carriage road and a riverside footpath.

Fishkill Ridge, Beacon. 11.5 miles of strenuous trails, including uphill climbs, rock scrambles and difficult descents.

Franny Reese State Park, Highland. Part of the 2.5 miles of trails along a historic carriage road leading to an overlook . A link connects the park to the Walkway Loop Trail.

Ferncliff Forest Game Refuge and Forest Preserve, Rhinebeck. Woods walk, fire tower, pond, campsites by permit.

Gertrude’s Nose Loop/Millbrook Mountain, Minnewaska State Park Preserve. Moderate to strenuous loop hike along cliffs of Shawangunks. Exceptional views.

High Peters Kill, Mohonk Preserve, Gardiner. Strenuous trek through wooded area to ridge views and Peters Kill stream.

The Hyde Park Trail, Hyde Park. A growing, 10-mile system of trails and walkways linking town parks, nature preserves and National Park sites with local neighborhoods and the town’s central business corridor.

James Baird State Park, Pleasant Valley. Easy stroll.

Mount Beacon Park, Beacon. Uphill mile-long trail to Mount Beacon’s summit and views from the Hudson Highlands to the Catskill Mountains.

Ogden Mills & Ruth Livingston Mills State Park, Staatsburg. Numerous trails through the grounds of Mills and Norrie State Parks.

Pawling Nature Preserve, Pawling and Dover.

Peach Hill Park, Poughkeepsie. Former orchard, now 3.2 miles of trails to the town’s highest point.

Poets’ Walk, Red Hook. Nearly two miles of gravel and packed dirt trails.

Roosevelt Farm Lane, Hyde Park. A 1.8-mile road connecting Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt and Eleanor Roosevelt National Historic Sites. Part of the 14-mile Hyde Park Trail.

Sam’s Point Preserve, Cragsmoor. A three-mile partially paved loop with access to the various trails.

Shaupeneak Ridge, Esopus, Ulster County. Nine miles of trails of varying difficulty and length.

Stissing Mountain, Pine Plains. Short but steep hike to impressive fire tower with sweeping views.

The Shawangunk Sensory Trail, Mohonk Preserve, Gardiner, Ulster County. Easy loop trail on the Shawangunk Ridge.

The J & S Grafton Sensory Trail, Mohonk Preserve, Gardiner, Ulster County. Easy loop trail on the Shawangunk Ridge.

Tivoli Bays, Red Hook. Hiking trails wind around and through the tidal areas and the surrounding landscape. Part of the Hudson River National Estuarine Research Reserve.

Trapps Mountain Hamlet Path to the Van Leuven Cabin, Mohonk Preserve, Gardiner, Ulster County. Easy walk through the woods.

Undercliff and Overcliff Carriage Roads, Mohonk Preserve, Gardiner. Easy loop trail along the base of the rock climbing cliffs with great views.

Walkway Loop Trail, Poughkeepsie and Town of Lloyd, Ulster County. 4.5-mile walking trail that links Walkway Over the Hudson State Historic Park and the Mid-Hudson Bridge with amenities in Poughkeepsie, Lloyd.

Walkway Over the Hudson, Poughkeepsie and Town of Lloyd. Far-reaching views along the 1.28-mile walking/biking bridge that is part of the Walkway Loop Trail.

Vanderbilt Mansion National Historic Site, Route 9, Hyde Park. Stroll the grounds, gardens and wooded trails with scenic viewpoints.

AT Hall of Fame Banquet

NEWS RELEASE  May 28, 2014

GARDNERS, PA. – The fourth annual Appalachian Trail Hall of Fame Banquet will be held on Friday, June 6, at the Allenberry Resort in Boiling Springs, Pennsylvania.  The Banquet is conducted each year by the Appalachian Trail Museum.

The highlight of the Banquet will be the induction of the 2014 class of the Appalachian Trail Hall of Fame.  The 2014 class is A. Rufus Morgan of Franklin, North Carolina; Charles R. Rinaldi of Boca Raton, Florida; Clarence S. Stein of New York City, New York; and Pamela Underhill of Harpers Ferry, West Virginia.  Each honoree will receive a one of a kind hand carved hiking stick made by John “Bodacious” Beaudet, a two time A.T. thru-hiker.  In addition, Randy “Windtalker” Motz, will will provide music during the reception, playing ‘Native SoundScapes’ on his Native American flute.  Also, Richard Judy will be present to sign his book ‘Thru: An Appalachian Trail Love Story’.”

Jim Foster, chair of the Appalachian Trail Hall of Fame selection committee, said a6 p.m. reception will precede the dinner, which begins at 7 p.m. The cost of the reception and dinner is $30 for museum members and $40 for others.  Complete information on the Hall of Fame Banquet is available at  Tickets may be purchased either at that website, or directly from the Appalachian Trail Museum by sending a check to:
Appalachian Trail Museum
Banquet Tickets
1120 Pine Grove Road
Gardners, PA  17324

About the Appalachian Trail Museum Society

Appalachian Trail Hall of Fame inductees are honored in the Appalachian Trail Museum, which has had approximately 29,800 visitors from throughout the United States and 18 other countries since it opened in Pine Grove Furnace State Park in June 2010.  Located near the midway point of the 2,185-mile-long Appalachian Trail, the museum is across from the Pine Grove General Store on Pennsylvania Route 233.

The Appalachian Trail Museum, Inc., a 501-C-3 not-for-profit organization, organizes programs, exhibits, volunteers and fundraising nationwide for the Appalachian Trail Museum.  Located in the Pine Grove Furnace State Park in Gardners, Pennsylvania, the museum is conveniently near Carlisle, Gettysburg and Chambersburg, Pennsylvania.  Additional information is available


Jim Foster

Appalachian Trail Museum Society


DATC Festival!

Picture of Duncannon from the End of Cove Mountain

DATC Newsletter

May, 2014

Duncannon AT Community SignNEW FESTIVAL LOCATION:  The DATC Festival (Duncannon Blast) has moved around the corner from our previous Cumberland Street location due to a traffic detour.  We’ll still be right next to the fire company but now we’re on High Street between Cumberland and Ann streets.  You can zoom in to the DATC Festival map for a detailed look.

FESTIVAL INFORMATION: Saturday, June 21st, prepare for a great day with friends and family.  The festival is coming together quite well thanks to the efforts of our wonderful volunteers andgenerous contributors.  Six different clubs are sponsoring hikes in the Duncannon area on the morning of the festival so pick one that’s right for you and enjoy Duncannon’s unique natural resources.  We have about 50 vendors composed of hiking clubs, local businesses, public service groups, arts, crafts and food vendors.  There will be family-friendly live musical entertainment during the festival, thanks to the Appalachian Music Conservancy.  We’ll have Smokey the Bear to raise fire prevention awareness and a variety of presentations throughout the afternoon covering topics such as backpacking, live raptors, photography, Perry County history, birds of Duncannon and veterans hiking the Appalachian Trail.  Vendors have donated over $500 worth of prizes to be raffled off to lucky festival attendees, get one free ticket and be sure to buy more to increase your odds of winning.  Thanks to the Susquenita Middle School, we’ll be giving out super-cool laser engraved commemorative tokens to anyone donating $5 or more to the DATC.  We’re expecting a large turnout so we’ve provided multiple parking locationsthroughout the town as well as regular on-street parking, please be courteous and park only in designated areas or where it is legally permitted.  This festival couldn’t happen without great people like yourself so bring your friends, family and associates to the 3rd annual Duncannon A.T. Festival to show your support for the Appalachian Trail!

FESTIVAL QUICK LINKS: General Info • Attractions • Hike Info • Presentations • Raffle Prizes• Commemorative Tokens • Parking & Directions • Festival Friends • Join the Fun • Mission Statement

MILES FUND GRANT: The DATC is fortunate to be a proud recipient of a Miles Fund Grant from the Mountain Club of Maryland.  Special thanks to Mike O’Connor of MCM for his helpful insight and guidance!

DUNCANNON OUTDOOR CLUB HIKES:  On Saturday, June 21st hike a slower paced 1.14 mile easy-terrain hike through woods and fields on mostly wide paths. This Scavenger Hunt Hike is for the whole family, especially young children ages 5 and up. Try to find as many things as you can to check off your scavenger list. Meet at the Cornerstone Christian Church Duncannon at9:00 am. Call 834-9216 or email to register.

NEW ARTICLES ON THE DATC WEBSITE: Check out these interesting new articles:

NEXT MEETING: The Duncannon Appalachian Trail Community Advisory Committee will hold its next meeting Wednesday, June 11th at 6:30 PM in the Duncannon Municipal Building located at 428 N. High Street.  An RSVP is not required but it’s greatly appreciated.  Our agenda will focus on promoting and putting the finishing touches on the Duncannon A.T. Community Festival.

JOIN US OR HELP LEND A HAND: Anyone who would like to be involved with the DATC, offer guidance or influence its policies is welcome to attend our meetings. You might find a volunteer opportunity that suits you in any number of fields such as: planning our next 2014 DATC Festival, fundraising, supporting the Duncannon Outdoors Club, learning about Appalachian Trail maintenance and inspiring people to enjoy outdoor activities in the Duncannon area.

Thank you Julie for your interest in the Duncannon Appalachian Trail Community and for helping us make Duncannon a better place.

Visit our Duncannon Appalachian Trail Community website for more information

Third Thursdays in Boiling Springs and Carlisle, PA

The Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) continues its “Third Thursdays” event series with an easy, 4-mile hike beginning at 6 p.m. May 15 in Carlisle, PA. Explore the pastoral farmlands of the Cumberland Valley and learn why this landscape differs from much of the rest of the Appalachian Trail (A.T.)

During the event, Michele Miller, the ATC’s Resource Program manager in the Mid-Atlantic Region, will be on hand to share information about the routing of the Trail through agricultural lands. Heidi Witmer, executive director of the Carlisle-based LEAF Project, will also share gardening ideas for use in a much smaller scale in your own back yard. Space is limited; register by calling 717.258.5771 or online at

The ATC’s Third Thursdays is a series of free, public events in the Central Pennsylvania region. The series began in April and will run through October with a different event each month.

Additional Third Thursdays events include a Boiling Springs History Hike, Cool Off in the Rock Maze Hike, Music & Art in the Park, Yoga Sunset Hike and Nocturnal Friends Hike.

Third Thursdays Event Series Overview:

Boiling Springs History Hike (5 miles, moderate)

Date: June 19
Time: 6 p.m.
Location: Boiling Springs, PA

Cool Off in the Rock Maze Hike (3 miles, moderate)
Date: July 17
Time: 6 p.m.
Location: Carlisle, PA

Music & Art in the Park
Date: Aug. 21
Time: 6 p.m.
Location: Boiling Springs, PA

Yoga Sunset Hike (3 miles, easy)
Date: Sept. 18
Time: 6 p.m.
Location: Boiling Springs, PA

Nocturnal Friends Hike (2.5 miles, easy)
Date: Oct. 16
Time: 6 p.m.
Location: Boiling Springs, PA

For more information about the Third Thursday events series, visit


Stewardship Opportunity in GA

In honor of the 50th Wilderness Anniversary, the USFS is inviting the public to come and help keep our wilderness wild and pristine. Join Taylor Hamilton and David Kuykendall next Saturday in cleaning up our forest and breaking up fire rings along the AT on Blood Mtn.  in Georgia.

Blood Mountain Wilderness Clean-Up and Non-Native Invasive Species Removal

May 10, 2014

Meet at Lark Gap, across from Helton Creek Falls on Highway 129. Lark Gap is 19.8 miles north of Cleveland, GA and 11.4 miles south of Blairsville, GA.

Time: 9:00 am – 2:00 pm

For more information, contact Taylor Hamilton at or (706) 745-6928 ext. 131.

This wilderness clean-up is held in honor of the 50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act. Members of the public and local community are invited to participate in various activities focused on stewardship and appreciation of the surrounding Congressionally Designated Wildernesses in Georgia. Future events and activities will be posted as we get closer to their dates and complete details are available.