|Wild Earth Adventures|
|Wild Earth Adventures|
We offer a rotating and ever-changing repertory of over 140 different day trips and more than 30 overnight trip destinations, with a different selection offered each year. Our hiking and other trip itineraries were developed over the course of many years of trail (and off-trail) exploration, and we add new hikes and trip locations every year. Our preference is for the wildest, quietest, loveliest, and most spectacular natural areas. We try to avoid areas subject to noise or air pollution, eyesores, or anything else that might detract from our enjoyment of the natural world or the feelings of exhilaration and fulfillment that many of us commonly experience on a hiking trip.
Those of us who live in the northeastern U.S. are extremely fortunate to have an extraordinary range of options for hiking and camping in the wild. While this part of the county doesn’t tend to be thought of as a “natural paradise” -- since it obviously includes major cities, sprawling suburbs, and other highly-developed areas -- the region is also home to a gratifying amount of lovely natural scenery, much of it in mountainous terrain. The states of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut alone offer millions of acres of relatively pristine protected lands within state and local parks and forests (plus a number of private preserves that are open to the public).
Hiking in New York
There are several thousand miles of designated and maintained hiking trails in New York State, and New York hiking is some of the best, most interesting, and most scenic available in the Northeast. Among the dozens of locations we visit on our NY hiking and wilderness camping trips are two gems, which are also two of the largest state parks in the United States: (1) the enormous (6,000,000-acre) Adirondack Park, which is the size of the state of Vermont and has more wilderness than any other location in the eastern U.S., and (2) the 700,000-acre Catskill Park.
We visit NY’s Adirondacks several times a year on wilderness camping and backpacking trips (from 3-8 days). The Adirondack Mountains include elevations as high as 5,344 feet on Mt. Marcy, but most of our trips take us to lesser-known lower-elevation areas where wild lakes, rivers, and streams, some with waterfalls, are almost everywhere. Within the boundaries of the Adirondack Park is the Adirondack Forest Preserve, which protects wilderness areas and other state lands. Nowhere in the Northeast is the natural scenery wilder, more remote, or more spectacular.
Whereas the Adirondacks are in the upper part of New York State, the Catskills occupy the lower region, much closer to NYC (an average of a 2 1/2 hour drive) -- so we’re fortunate to have the Catskill Park as a destination for many of our day hikes during the warmer months (a portion of the park consists of the Catskill Forest Preserve, which includes wilderness areas and other state-owned land). In NY’s Catskills (Catskill Mountains) are 35 mountains over 3,500 feet (highest is Slide Mountain at 4,180 ft.), some offering dramatic vistas, and there are dozens of wild streams, rivers, and impressive waterfalls. About 300 miles of NY hiking trails are found here. This is unquestionably the largest and most wildly scenic hiking area within reasonably easy reach of those of us who live in New York City, the Hudson Valley, northern New Jersey, and western Connecticut (as well as those in northeastern Pennsylvania, western Massachusetts, and other areas of upstate New York). Some of the steeper trails in the Catskills are extremely rugged and make for especially challenging hiking, but there are easier hiking trails here as well. Our repertory of trips includes at least 20 different hikes in the Catskill Park and Forest Preserve.
Other exceptionally scenic and gratifying New York hiking is available in the Shawangunk Mountains near New Paltz -- a range that’s popular among rock climbers, as it features some of the most interesting and magnificent cliffs in the eastern U.S. Some Shawangunk hiking trails offer nearly-continuous panoramic vistas, and there are several lovely lakes including Lake Awosting and Lake Minnewaska. Many of the trails in NY’s Shawangunks are in Minnewaska State Park (where we offer 8 different hikes), and other great hiking is available in two adjacent preserves, the Mohonk Preserve and Sam’s Point Preserve.
Another mountain region that offers wonderful hiking opportunities (and where we lead several day hikes) is the South Taconic area -- the southern Taconic Mountains, which stretch along New York’s border with Connecticut and Massachusetts. Here some steep trails lead to lovely mountain meadows and terrific vistas, and there are several spectacular waterfalls (best-known of which is massive Bashbish Falls, just across the border in Massachusetts).
Options for hiking near NYC and elsewhere in New York State are legion. Harriman & Bear Mountain State Parks (about 52,000 acres) are favored by many hikers who live in New York City, the Hudson Valley, and northern New Jersey. Here one finds around 250 miles of hiking trails, beautiful scenery of the rocky but relatively low-elevation Ramapos (Ramapo Mountains), and a number of beautiful lakes, ponds, and good-size mountain streams with small waterfalls. We lead some 15 different hikes in these parks.
The list goes on: there’s NY’s Fahnestock State Park (largest park east of the Hudson River, with dozens of miles of trails, and where we offer 6 hikes), Hudson Highlands State Park (home of Breakneck Ridge, overlooking the Hudson, where we have 5 different hikes), Schunemunk Mountain State Park, Black Rock Forest, Sterling Forest State Park, and some county parks as well as several private preserves where we hike in Westchester, Putnam, Dutchess, and other NY counties.
Hiking in New Jersey
Many non-hikers and countless others are minimally aware (or utterly unaware) of the underrated and often quite remarkable scenic beauty of New Jersey’s extensive natural areas, especially in the mountainous northern portion of the state, where wild and rocky scenery reigns. Here are many hundreds of miles of interlacing NJ hiking trails that connect a broad band of sizable state parks and forests.
One of the finest areas for hiking in NJ is the Kittatinny Mountain region (where we have at least 9 hikes), stretching about 40 miles from the Delaware Water Gap to High Point (site of the state’s highest elevation at 1,803 feet). Running the length of the Kittatinnies is the famous 2,200-mile Appalachian Trail, which passes through NJ’s Worthington State Forest, the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, Stokes State Forest, and High Point State Park, all of which we visit on hikes. Intersecting with the New Jersey section of the Appalachian Trail are dozens of other NJ trails that meander through varied mountain scenery that includes impressive panoramic vistas, several wild lakes, lots of rushing streams, and a few major waterfalls.
Other notable locations where we hike in northern New Jersey are Wawayanda State Park (2 hikes), Abram Hewitt State Forest (2 hikes), Norvin Green State Forest, and the Palisades Interstate Park near the Hudson River. In addition, we have hiking trips in NJ’s Morristown National Historical Park / Jockey Hollow (2 hikes) and Hacklebarney State Park, and we hike sections of the Appalachian Trail that fall outside of state park or forest boundaries (the “Appalachian Trail Corridor”). We also lead a hike in Wharton State Forest, in the Pine Barrens of south-central NJ.
Hiking in Connecticut
Although most parks and forests in Connecticut are relatively small in comparison with those of New York or New Jersey, the hiking options here are more extensive than one might imagine from a glance at a state map. There’s actually a huge network of trails that interconnect both public and private lands, and the Appalachian Trail offers some outstanding hiking as it winds through the northwestern part of the state (we offer several Connecticut hikes on this esteemed and reliably scenic trail).
One of the wildest and most mountainous areas of the state is, in fact, in CT’s northwest corner, an especially fine area for hiking: the South Taconics (southern Taconic Mountains). Here some of the terrain is rugged and steep, and the hiking is often challenging. Included is Connecticut’s highest mountain, 2,316-foot Bear Mountain, and the Appalachian Trail is one of many trails we hike on here.
Our schedule also includes day hikes in a number of parks and forests scattered throughout western and central Connecticut, all of them featuring lovely, peaceful natural scenery. Among these hiking destinations are Macedonia Brook State Park, Huntington State Park, Devil’s Hopyard State Park, Paugussett State Forest, and several private preserves, some of them sizable. Scenic highlights of western CT include wild areas along the Housatonic River and the Shepaug River (we have no fewer than 7 different hikes that take place along segments of these two rivers).
Hiking in Massachusetts & Pennsylvania
Rounding out the roster of locations we visit on our day trips, we offer several hikes in the southwest corner of Massachusetts, most of them in the intermittently rugged and steep South Taconic Mountains, with some itineraries including sections of the Appalachian Trail. Elevations in this part of MA reach as high as 2,602 feet on Mt. Everett, and a number of wonderful vistas are available, plus there are several terrific waterfalls.
Finally, we also offer three hikes in the Poconos (Pocono Mountains) of eastern Pennsylvania, two of them in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation area (where there are picturesque waterfalls overlooking the Delaware River), and one in PA’s Promised Land State Park.
Some of our multi-day wilderness camping and backpacking trips take us much further afield. Aside from the several trips we offer each year to the magnificent Adirondack Park in upstate New York, we also pay an annual visit in May to Shenandoah National Park in the Blue Ridge Mountains of northern Virginia. Some years we also offer trips that explore areas of the Green Mountains of Vermont, the White Mountains of New Hampshire, the mountains of western and northern Maine, and the Great Smoky Mountains and other ranges along the North Carolina-Tennessee border. See individual trip listings for descriptions of these locations.
To find out the dates when we’ll be visiting the different areas reviewed above, and for details about where these hikes take place, go to our Trip Schedule.