During this pandemic, people are getting sick and tired of staying inside. They binge watch the television, argue with their kids and spouses and maybe even start cocktail hour earlier than normal.
My wife and I have done much of the same. We went to Weaver’s Amish Store in Morris and bought some awesome jigsaw puzzles, but we also got outside. All of us are lucky to live here in the rural area where there are many things to do while social distancing. So I thought I would offer a few suggestions.
Everyone can hike. The trails are open, and the choices are unlimited. We’ve been climbing our hill on the family farm, but for those who don’t have open land in their backyards, there are wonderful hikes just a short road trip away.
You might venture up I-88 and get off at Exit 17 (Cooperstown exit). Diagonally from the bottom of the ramp is a trail that goes up to an ancient bog. It’s a two-mile hike, but it’s not steep. The kids will be amazed as they walk out on the floating moss mat. If they jump up and down, trees nearby will go up and down as well. It is owned by Hartwick College, but open to the public.
Drive further east and get off at the second Cobleskill exit and continue on to Middleburgh. When you hit Route 30, a few miles south is Vroman’s Nose. The trail is a mile loop to the top, where Revolutionary War history was made.
Gilbert Lake is closed for camping, but the trails are open. You can just walk around the lake- or be more adventurous and hike some of the back country trails. You won’t get lost. They all lead back to the parking lots.
Of course the Catskills are only a little over an hour away. Your kids will love Dibble’s Quarry on the bottom of Twin Mountain. The old bluestone quarry has been rebuilt with rooms, chairs and even thrones. Rumors have it that the mountain gnomes come out at night to create these interesting formations. It’s an easy one-mile hike with no really steep areas, and it’s well worth the trip.
North – South Lake has many miles of great trails along the Escarpment Trail. There are ruins of old hotels and fantastic views of the Hudson Valley. There’s even the remains of an airplane that crashed into the mountain right along the trail.
Of course the fire towers are always great destinations. The cabs are closed, but you can climb the steps and find some great views of the surrounding mountains.
Biking is another option. Pat and I loaded our bikes into the truck and drove to Utica where we hit the Erie Canal Trail. You can pedal a bike on a paved trail through the Utica Marsh and climb the lookout towers. From those vantage points, you’ll might see baby ducks and geese and maybe even a few other animals. A few miles farther and you reach the locks where boats go up and down on their journey east or west.
There’s a wonderful part of the trail at Little Falls as well. There you’ll pass the highest lift lock on the canal. You can use the steps and explore Moss Island where people go to climb the rock cliffs. On the back side of the cliffs, magnificent potholes created by the rushing water over the centuries can be found.
And, you can even go fishing. Kids love it. Every creek and pond holds fish, and there’s something special about seeing the excitement in a kid’s eyes when they catch a fish.
Just remember to keep the recommended social distance and use a mask if you come across other people. Have fun and be safe.