Our weekly Fire Finds column is normally dedicated to accessories and cool things that aren’t apparel and sneakers. This week, in celebration of a “return to norms,” and much warmer weather in the Tri-State area, I’ve decided to shift the focus to the outdoors.
A little before COVID-19 hit in early 2020, I found myself developing a love for nature and hiking. Getting away on weekends from the constant noise and grind of the city was very relaxing and it was a great way for me to get in some exercise. I discovered there’s actually quite a few state parks that are around the area and they’re all accessible via a 2 hour drive or less, some are even reachable via public transportation. But my favorite place was and still is Minnewaska State Park Preserve.
As someone who just started hiking, I love that Minnewaska offers trails for all difficulties and that each of them still comes with a nice view. Whether you are a beginner like me and just want a nice stroll around a lake for an hour or want a 6 hour plus in and out with constantly changing elevation and terrain, this is the state park for you. Parking is only $10 for the day but you do have to arrive 30-60 minutes before the lot opens to get a space.
Minnewaska State Park Preserve Trails
Below I list out some of my favorite trails in Minnewaska (they also have a lake you can hang out and swim in). Happy hiking everyone.
Lake Minnewaska Loop Trail
This is the easiest trail in the park – it’s literally walking in a circle around the lake. Park at the lot at the top of the mountain and you can do a simple walk around the lake in an hour or less. I’ve done this trail plenty of times, in all sorts of weather, and it’s always refreshing. The best part is you can take your parents, grandparents or even kids on this one.
Gertrude’s Nose Trail
This trail offered great views all around the park and tested the limits of my noob hiking skills with some decent rock scrambles and elevation changes. If you have a fear of heights, do not attempt this trail – there’s portions where you have to perform small hop steps from rock to rock and even a small climb pretty high up. Other than that, this intermediate trail was a great day’s worth of exercise, it took us about 4 hours because I had to constantly stop and gather myself on that hot ass day and rehydrate.
Millbrook Mountain Trail
Another intermediate level trail, this one gave us a great view of the landscape from the top of the mountain. We went on a pretty clear day and saw plenty of birds as well – I’m no expert on birdwatching but there were definitely a few hawks. I liked that this trail blended trees, water and rocks in equal amounts, always giving you nice eye candy along the way. This one also took us about 4 hours with the stops for photos of the birds.
Lake Minnewaska, Gertrude’s Nose and Millbrook Mountain Loop
Believe it or not, you can do all three trails above in one continuous one. If you’re an expert hiker and have about 6 -8 hours to spare, this 11.5 mile challenge is perfect for you to see everything that makes this park beautiful. I’m trying to make my way towards being able to complete this in one go but it’s definitely a challenge for those of us who haven’t stayed in shape during the pandemic. Don’t try to overextend yourself.
I saved the best for last. As you can guess from the name, this trail leads to a waterfall. Right now is the perfect time to go view the rushing water over the jagged rock edges. A nice easy stroll, you can also choose to run on this trail if you’d like. This is another trail that is perfect for the whole family to enjoy and honestly, who doesn’t love a great waterfall?
General Hiking Tips
Below are just some general hiking tips for those who haven’t done it before and a reminder for those who are seasoned.
Make sure you bring plenty of water. It’s recommended that you drink about half a liter of water for every hour of activity. You will need about 1 liter for every hour in heat. I tend to drink a lot of water in general so personally I go through about 4-5 liters of water alone and need to pack all of that into a backpack.
Hiking burns a lot of energy so bring some snacks to help you borderline being hangry more easily. My usual snacks include jerky, trail mix, Welch’s, Clif Bars, M&M’s and granola bars.
Sunscreen is vital if you’re hiking. Bug spray is also a major key to a great day outdoors. If you wear shorts, I suggest wearing knee high socks that are white so you can see if ticks have latched onto you. Additionally, some sort of headwear to protect your head and neck from the sun.
You don’t need to bring a lot of stuff with you to hike but like I mentioned above, a backpack to store all your liquids, snacks and other essentials is a must. I also have some first aid supplies and portable charger in the backpack.
This is the only app I use when hiking. AllTrails helps you plan your trip with user reviews and photos, helps you track your progress during the hike, and let’s you save other trails you want to do in the future. It’s the first thing you need to download before hiking.
Photos via Pinterest/AllTrails