Are the kids getting restless? Do you need some outdoor activity that will get them away from the TV, expending energy and enjoying the great outdoors? Have you thought about taking a hike? Not a hike away from the kids...a hike with the kids! Westchester County offers great trails that will get you out there together, enjoying nature and taking in the sights and sounds.
The Westchester County Parks system has an amazing array of hiking opportunities and trails with gorgeous views that are easy enough for tikes to keeps up while still offering plenty of fun for older kids. Hiking is a great activity that can be enjoyed in all kinds of weather. So fill your water bottle, lace up the hiking shoes and head out to the trails. Read more to find some easy hikes along lakes, fields and waterfalls and enjoy some great hiking with your family.
Read Wildlife Sanctuary - Rye
One of my personal favorites is the Read Wildlife Sanctuary in Rye. The 179 acres offers 3 miles of trails winding through forests, fields and along the shore. Explore wildlife in their natural habitat and visit the Nature Center to learn more. You might want to bring along the binoculars as the sanctuary has been recognized by the National Audubon Society and you are sure to see a variety of birds along your travels. The sanctuary is open daily from dawn to dusk. The Nature Center is open Tuesday-Saturday, 9am-4pm, though their website says 9am-5pm. Unfortunately, we weren't able to get through to someone to confirm the Center's hours. The Edith G. Read Wildlife Sanctuary is part of Rye Playland and their parking fees apply. Click here for schedule of parking fees. A county park pass is not required. Sorry, no pets allowed.
Cranberry Lake Preserve - North White Plains
1609 Old Orchard Street
Another great place to hike is Cranberry Lake Preserve in White Plains. Loaded with places to explore, the 190 acres takes you along a lake, past swampland and through forest. If you are up for a two hour easy walk, try the Cranberry Lake Preserve Loop and enjoy the variety of sights. The kids will love exploring the walkways, rock walls and water views. A trail map shows all the choices of hiking paths to try. The park is open dawn to dusk with the Nature Lodge and front gate open Wednesday-Sunday, 10am-5pm. County park pass is not required. Free parking. No pets allowed.
Kitchawan Preserve - Ossining
712 Kitchawan Road (Route 134)
Next up is the Kitchawan Preserve in Yorktown offering 208 scenic acres and 4.9 miles of trails. Here you can explore open fields and small pools. Tall grasses and wildflowers also bring butterflies and the kids love trying to get one to rest on their finger. You may want to also try the Teatown-Kitchawan trail that is an easy walk with kids and connects many Westchester parks, including the preserve. The preserve is open 7 days from 8am-dusk. There is no admission fee and a county park pass is not required. Pets are welcome but must be kept on leashes.
Croton Gorge Park - Cortlandt
The Croton Gorge Park in Cortlandt is another option offering easy hiking and incredible views of the dam and water rushing over the spillway. Bring a lunch and picnic on the tables either before or after your hike. The park is open 7 days from 8am-dusk with parking fees ($5 with park pass; $10 without park pass) on weekends only, May through September. A county park pass is not required. Leashed pets are welcome.
Lost Pond at Manitoga Preserve - Peekskill
584 Route 9D
This easy day hike is perfect for children and is a 1.8 mile loop offering wonderful worlds to explore. There is a $5 suggested donation for nonmembers that you pay at the guide house before you begin. There you can pick up some wonderful materials geared to the kids to help turn them into nature wanderers and track their journey! The preserve is open daily during daylight hours. Pets on leashes are welcome.
If you are looking to head north, here are two locations worth the trip.
Minnewaska State Park - New Paltz
5281 Route 44-55
About an hour and a half north of central Westchester in New Paltz, this beautiful preserve offers a variety of trails, a stunning waterfall and a pristine lake with a swimming beach. Many trails are easy for the kids and there are wide open spaces for picnicking and playing ball. There are seasonal parking fees and the park is open from 9am to posted closing time. $8 vehicle entry fee. Leashed dogs are welcome but not allowed in picnic or camping areas--check the fine print on their site.
Bash Bish Falls in Taconic State Park - Copake Falls
Having just done this hike myself I can tell you that it is a great adventure for the entire family. Starting at the bottom, hike along the water and through the woods on a fairly easy and wide trail. Along the way there are spots where you can explore right at the water's edge. The spectacular waterfalls at the end are worth the walk. Listen to the crashing water and take the steps down to get a closer look. Halfway through your walk you pass into the state of Massachusetts as the park borders NY, MA and CT. It's about two hours north of central Westchester but, in my opinion, definitely worth the trip. Open daily from sunrise to sunset. $7 vehicle entry fee into Taconic State Park. Leased dogs are permitted on certain trails and with restrictions so check their website for details.
There are few things better than taking time to enjoy the great outdoors with your kids and we're lucky enough to have access to an amazing array of hiking opportunities through the Westchester County Parks system and other amazing parks throughout Hudson Valley. To help you prepare for hiking, here are some fantastic tips to get you ready. Now go ahead and get out there. Hope to see you on a trail soon!
Photo credit: MommyPoppins.com