Monthly Archives: May 2016

Don’t have all day to hike and still want to get out? Here’s a hike for you.

If you only have a couple of hours and want to get a good sweat going, I have a pretty decent 2.5 mile hike for you. Located in the Hudson Valley, (Carmel, NY to be exact) Fahnestock State Park has over 500 miles of quality hiking trails that are well worth visiting. The best thing that I have found about Fahnestock is that as compared to other hiking areas in the Hudson Valley, most of the hikes here do not begin with a thigh hammering and lung busting climb. Sure, eventually you will have hills to climb, but I have found that for the most part, Fahnestock’s trails are meandering and actually quite pleasurable.

This particular hike begins on the Appalachian Trail (heading South) next to Canopus Lake on route 301.


Although you start on the road on the AT, after descending some stone steps, the AT will continue to the right. You, however, will continue hiking until you reach the blue trail  (Three Lakes Trail). Don’t worry, it’s not that far.

IMG_8116 IMG_8113As you work your way down the trail, you will notice a mine entrance on your right off into the woods. Even though they are incredibly interesting, my advice to you is to not leave the trail to investigate them. Several people have done so and lost their lives. If you didn’t know, Fahnestock State Park is known for its rich iron ore mining that ocurred from the mid 18th century to the early 20th century.

About a half mile into the hike, the terrain levels off and as the path winds through the woods, you will notice the changing vegetation and a drastic increase in the number of mosquitoes. Obviously from late spring and into the fall, bug spray is a must, especially if you are hiking with small children. Don’t think that just because it is a short hike you won’t suffer from bug bites. Take it from me, you WILL be eaten alive!

As you make your way up the trail, three quarters of a mile in you will come to a point where you can continue straight or turn right and stay on the blue trail. For this hike we are going to continue on the blue trail.


The trail remains flat for a short time and then quickly descends to a small stream. The amount of water in the stream varies based on the time of year as well as how much rain has fallen in the recent past. On this day, not much water was running so crossing was a breeze!


IMG_8126After you cross the stream, continue on the trail and hike up a small hill where you will see this on your right-

IMG_8136Even though the entire hike is only 2.5 miles long, this would be a perfect place to stop for water or eat lunch or a snack with the kids. After a break you will head downhill for a very short time and then you will begin climbing again. On this hike, this will be your only somewhat major climb. Walking steadily uphill for 5-10 minutes you will come across a large mound of rocks.

You need to pay careful attention at this point to the trail. As you look at the picture below, you can see a trail straight ahead and to the right. You will want to go right and you will now be on the AT (North). The Three Lakes Trail continues straight ahead for a few more miles. (that’s a hike for another day!) What you can not see in this picture is that the AT is also on the left, and that goes South.


As you make the right turn onto the AT, it’s pretty much smooth sailing all the way back to where you began your hike on Route 301.




This is the last landmark that you will see on the AT as you head up to the left back to the road. Like I said at the beginning of this post, this is the perfect hike if you only have a couple of hours to get out. I used to do this hike with my kids when they were younger and it proved to be the right length and difficulty to keep them interested in the hike.




If you’re looking for something to do next weekend, you can’t beat this one with a stick…




Located approximately one and a half hours from where I live in Mahopac, NY is one of the finest used bookstores that you will ever find. Tucked away in sleepy Hillsdale, NY, Rodgers Book Barn has been a destination of choice for bibliophiles since 1972. I know that I have been a regular visitor (3-4 times per year) since 1991 and have yet lost my desire to return year after year to see what has been added.

This out of the way gem reportedly has 50, 000 books, a claim that would be very hard to dispute, unless of course you decide that you want to count every book. Just check out the pictures of the interior that I have posted! The beauty of the Book Barn lies not in the fact that they have so many books, it is instead the layout of the Barn that promotes an atmosphere where it is ok to spend hours browsing the varied and eclectic titles that the owner, Maureen Rodgers offers. Although used, the books are all in pretty good shape and are only a few dollars a piece (at a maximum).


IMG_8164IMG_8168IMG_8170Just to let you know in advance,  at the very least you will buy several books during your visit. I have found that it is impossible not to do so, and you will not be disappointed. From classics that you read twenty years ago to a new find, Rodgers Book Barn has books that you won’t find anywhere else. If the weather is nice, as it was when we went yesterday, you can hang out at one the tables outside of the Barn and peruse your purchases! A win-win all around.

IMG_8182.JPGFor those of you who hike, I am also currently investigating several hikes in the area so you could do double duty and make a full day of it. Rain or shine, what could be better than a hike and an excellent used bookstore? Check back later for more details.

Am I a spoiled hiker? (Probably)

A couple of weeks ago I broke one of my most sacred rules of hiking-Never, ever, ever, ever hike to Anthony’s Nose during peak hours on a Sunday. Having not done so in a very, very long time, I forgot just how congested this wonderful hike can be. Usually on  beautiful day like today I would seek out another place to hike where I know I wouldn’t see many people and be subjected to the congestion and mayhem that comes with everyone having the same idea as me.

Not thinking, however, I made the drive to the AT as it crosses South Mt.Pass and headed to the Nose. Everything was fine as I meandered through the woods, noting how the last time I was here we were still in the throes of winter and now, the trees were green and the ground was still wet from rain that had fallen the previous evening. And although the wind was blowing, the temperature was in the low 50’s and it was lightly raining, it felt good to be out in a  familiar place.


Little did I know that my solitude would be short lived…

That good feeling lasted, of course, until I reached the point in the trail where the AT intersects with the Camp Smith trail. You see, whenever anyone writes about Anthony’s Nose and its virtues of being one of the most popular hikes in the Hudson Valley, the directions that they give everyone to get there are from Route 9D near the Bear Mt. Bridge.


Now keep in mind that until I reached the AT/Camp Smith intersection, I had not seen one person, not a single soul. I was being lulled into that mental happy place that I love to go to when I hike, especially here at the Nose, my Holy Grail of hikes. My most favorite hike of all time. Have I mentioned how much I love hiking to Anthony’s Nose? So imagine my shock and surprise when I crested the small hill just before the trail heads up to the Nose to see no less than 15 people coming off of the AT!!

As I worked my way past the group, I thought, “ok, a small group is here, it won’t be so bad. I can’t always expect to be here alone. Just get far enough ahead of them and they won’t make it to the top before you spend some time resting before you head down.” I really need to stop thinking. It only got worse. Working my way up the trail, I greeted three large groups that were headed in the opposite direction as well as two others headed to the view point.

When I arrived at the Nose itself, I can honestly say that I had never seen so many people at the top before. Now before I go any further, I have to  make a few things clear. First, I fully believe that  anyone that wants to hike should be able to do so whenever they want and wherever they want. With that said, however, as with everything else in life you have responsibilities, even when hiking.

Noting that, I am also a firm believer in proper trail etiquette. That goes for everything from leaving trash to listening to music to the volume of your voice (or your groups). As noted in the previous paragraph, the number of people, young and old was staggering. I literally had to weave my way through several groups of hikers to get to my favorite spot overlooking the Bear Mt. bridge.




Who wouldn’t want this all to themselves?

I can tell you with certainty that today, the folks that I was out on the trail with were lacking any form of trail etiquette. Here is a short list of what I encountered:

  1.  People dropping trash on the trail and at the viewpoint. Young and old, male and female, I saw people dropping wrappers and leaving water bottles where they sat.
  2. A conversation between two woman (I was probably thirty yards away and I thought it was thirty feet) where one said to the other, “Doesn’t hiking to Anthony’s Nose make it easier to relate to Bill Bryson’s “A Walk in the Woods?” Really??
  3. A group of at least fifteen people who had just made it to the Nose for the first time. Although I applaud the fact that they made it  to the top, they way they were carrying on about it, you would have thought they had conquered Everest. Sorry folks, not even close.
  4. One gentleman, probably around 60 years old and listening to some form of techno pop (without the aid of ear buds or headphones) noisily making his way down the trail, oblivious to everyone else hiking.

Not feeling the love, I decided to head back down to South Mt. Pass and call it a day.  So,  my first question is this-Am I spoiled and entitles hiker? To a certain degree I suppose that I am. I will admit that I prefer to have the viewpoint to myself or just a few other people, and for the most part over the years, I have. My next question is this-Do I expect to much from my fellow hikers? To this I offer a loud and resounding-I don’t think so. I fully expect everyone on this trail, and every other one, to exhibit the same courtesy that my friends and do.

My last thought will be this: Common courtesy should be a common virtue. Our hiking trails, especially in an area this close to NYC, should be considered sacred ground. I always go back to  this variation on a theme- Treat people and things as you would want to be treated or you may lose them.