Finding a hiking trail in the Capital Region can be as simple as stepping into your back yard. In fact, one of the reasons we chose our family home is that the wooded backyard abuts the forest trails under the power lines. We got full-time luxury camping accommodations AND easy access to miles of hiking trails.
While the back trails are handy, I’m an explorer at heart. I love to discover new places, especially those that are off the beaten path. I don’t know if I’ll ever earn the right to be labeled an Adirondack Forty-Sixer, but over the years that we’ve lived in the Capital Region, my family has huffed and puffed its way through a lot of area trails. Along the way, we’ve picked up a few resources for finding hiking trails that appeal to kids.
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Books On Capital Region Hikes
Even with the Internet explosion, we still count on books and maps to research hiking trails. Here are my top picks:
- Natural Areas of… – With publications for Albany County, Rensselaer County, Saratoga County, and Schenectady County, these books are far and away the best way to find hidden trails. Even with the map and description, these trail heads can be difficult to spot but, in my opinion, that’s part of the allure. You can order new books on The Environmental Clearinghouse of Schenectady website, or look for used editions on Amazon.com.
- Trails with Tales: History Hikes through the Capital Region, Saratoga, Berkshires, Catskills & Hudson Valley (Russell Dunn and Barbara Delaney, Black Dome Press, 2006) – I love this book! The hikes are usually fairly short and easy, excellent for short legs, and I get a kick out of learning the history behind the trail. Often, I end up with my own tale of the trail as in our Peebles Island State Park Hike.
- 50 Hikes In the Adirondacks: Short Walks, Day Trips, and Backpacks throughout the Park (Barbara McMartin, The Countryman Press, 2003) – I found my all-time favorite hike, the 2.4 mile Goldmine Stream Falls, in this book. Not only is it an easy hike for kids, the payoff is a water feature where you can slip slide on the rocks.
- Kids on the Trail! Hiking with Children in the Adirondacks (Rose Rivezzi & David Trithart, North Country Books, 2004) This book lists lots of fun family hikes, but what make it invaluable is the advice on making hiking enjoyable.
- AMC’s Best Day Hikes In The Catskills & Hudson Valley: Four-Season Guide to 60 of the Best Trails from New York City to Albany (Peter W. Kick, Appalachian Mountain Club Books, 2006) – This is a recent addition to my hiking books, but I picked it up because I needed guidance for “southern” hikes (on road trips between Albany and New York City.)
Hiking Help Online
- The same Environmental Clearinhouse that publishes the Natural Areas of… series, also sponsors guided Spring Wildflower Walks.
- The New York State Parks Events Calendar lists a variety of upcoming guided hikes that are suitable for all ages and abilities.
- The Renssealaer Plateau Alliance organizes educational hikes, including an overnight camp at Dyken Pond during the Hudson River Valley Ramble on September 25-26, 2010.
- Hudson River Valley Events – Guided hikes (and much more) throughout the Hudson River Valley corridor.
- Spring 2010 Nature Walks For Children – These group hikes take place on Thursday mornings, and are suitable for families with young children.
- Outdoors – Gillian Scott and Herb Terns review local trails and beyond on their Times Union blog.
Let The Hikes Begin
Before going for a hike, do read Hiking Safety Rules That Save Lives.
Here are our hiking adventures in the Capital Region:
- Family Friendly Hikes In The Capital Region
- Our Grand Adventure: Lost In The Pine Bush
- A Trail with a Tale In Peebles Island State Park
- Get Out and Hike Vroman’s Nose with Kids
- Hiking The Deer Mountain Nature Trail
- My Side of the Mountain in the Catskills