hiking the manitou point preserve

I love hiking. It is one of my favorite things to do. I had given it up a few times in the past due to knee and foot injuries and that hurt my soul. One thing that I have learned from my recent diagnosis with Endometriosis is that I can’t let anything hold me back from doing the things I want to do NOW because someday I might not be able to do them. Live in the moment.

I made a loose plan to take the Metro North train to Manitou Point Preserve to go hiking on Sunday. I almost miss my train at Grand Central at 7:40 am because they are filming a movie and the entire crew is taking up the entranceway to the main terminal. I have to run and the ticket guy says I have 3 minutes to catch my train! OH, 3 minutes is plenty of time to get a cup of coffee!

The train ride is only an hour north, but the train only stops at Manitou twice in the morning and a few times in the afternoon so timing is critical. The Manitou stop has no stores, restaurants, or public bathrooms – nothing. There is just nature and that is all I need today.

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I get off the train and look around. On one side of the tracks is a little rocky beach area along the Hudson River and on the other side of the tracks is a small road with a spectacular view of the Bear Mountain Bridge past the marsh land full of cattails and bluffs. I great place to learn to paint a memorable landscape to hang on your wall.

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It is a warm early summer day with clear skies and the sounds of frogs in the marsh area are wonderful to hear! It’s been a long time since I’ve made a trek up north to go hiking.

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I continue down the road and see this sign to my left. I find out later that this is the back trail to the Manitou Point Preserve. Most of the land is now private properly and it clearly marked as to where hikers are allowed to go.

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I get a few feet down the path and see a few abandoned buildings, most of the roof and some of the walls are gone so it’s an easy place to explore and fun to photograph. I see a lot of these little orange salamanders on the ground. I’m glad they are bright orange so I don’t step on them because they never move out of my way.

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There is only approximately 4 miles of trails in the Manitou Point Preserve, but there are several trails to take to make it an entire day hike. I want to be on the blue trail because it extends along the Hudson River giving us a great view of the mountain region. The trail is dense and secluded and I enjoy the 4 miles through the woods. The trails are all clearly marked and easy to navigate on your own. It’s a great solo day hike if you are searching for a quiet break from the city.

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The path winds around until I get a view of the Hudson River – it is amazing! The path is literally on the edge of the river bank with drop offs close to your hiking boot. I can see the water hitting the rocks down below. I sit and catch a snack and some water and enjoy the view.

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You are looking at the The Taconic Mountains or Taconic Range, running along the eastern border of New York State, going northwest to Connecticut to western Massachusetts, north to central western Vermont. Some of the summits of this range are quite magnificent to view in Vermont. It is part of the Appalachian Trail also. 

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I continue on the blue trail which is starting to lead me back into the woods, towards the railroad tracks. The path goes over a small bridge where you can see the Metro North train from above. I start to walk up the other road and see a small waterfall and stone bridge. There are large brown salamanders all over so it’s hard to sit and eat my sandwich.

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I walk further up and find the parking lot and main entrance to the Manitou Point Preserve. There are a few cars in the parking lot but I only saw a few people along the trail in the 4 hours I was out there. I felt like I had the entire place to myself.

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I hike back down to the train because there is a train at 1:40 pm and 4:40 pm only and I need to catch it one of those trains. I had finished the hike much faster than expected. Well, I didn’t know what to expect. I had just planned to go somewhere I had never been and explore.

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I have plenty of time to sit on the rocky little beach I saw earlier and eat my lunch. I had packed a sandwich, snacks, and plenty of water because I knew there wasn’t anywhere to go. If you hike this area make sure you are prepared. I always pack more food than I can eat. If you hiked with me you know that I am always eating on the trail.

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The view of the Hudson River is wonderful here! If you want a simple day hike with an amazing view then come to Manitou Point Preserve!

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Well, the train came on time and I was sad to leave. I had a great day hike. I estimated that I hiked approximately 8 miles total and my knee was a bit tight and sore later on that night. All good. I am looking forward to my next hike!

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gathering around the boathouse

On Saturday I hung out with a great group of people! I had soooo much fun!! I joined Green Shores NYC, the L.I.C. Boathouse, Riverkeepers, and the Friends of Gantry at the local East River shoreline in Long Island City in the Gantry State Park for the 2014 Riverkeeper Sweep.

It’s a quick commute for me on the 7 train so I arrive early and enjoy my homemade granola bar and coffee on the benches by the waterfront enjoying the view of Manhattan that I LOVE so much. The forecast had predicted rain but the clouds seem to be clearing and the sun is peeking through the leftover clouds. The L.I.C. Flea is already in full swing with music, food vendors cooking, and booths set up. It’s a great place to try different food, enjoy the waterfront in Queens, and buy some antiques or homemade items.

RiverKeeper_logoI had volunteered with Green Shores NYC a few years ago at a waterfront clean-up in Astoria Park. This not-for-profit organization is run by volunteers only and maintains the eight miles of the Astoria-Long Island City Waterfront from Newtown Creek to Bowery Bay. If you want to get involved with a local organization to participate in community clean-ups or other projects along the waterfront in Queens – THIS IS IT! 

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I am pictured above with Katie Ellman, President and Director of Green Shores NYC at the beginning of the volunteer event and, as you can see I am wearing my “Fight Like A Girl” t-shirt today!

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 We started off the day helping the volunteers from New York Cares and the Friends of Gantry to remove excess mulch off the plants in the garden. Apparently the city used too much of the mulch in this area in the garden beds and it is suffocating the plants and trees.

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As we are working in the garden removing the excess mulch we are also picking up small bits of litter which consist mostly of cigarette butts, food wrappers or small plastic pieces which can blow into the river and kill fish and birds. I’ve noticed a lot of dog walkers and smokers stopping in this park and they should be aware of the damage that pollution can cause. I really wish the city would install cigarette butt receptacles, do not pollute signs or more trash cans in this area. The signs don’t look nice but litter does NOT look nice either.

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After a short break, Martha and I move over to the L.I.C. Boathouse dock to check if there is litter for us to pick up. We notice that this area is full of broken glass (pictured above) because the old double paned windows on the building next to the dock are breaking. There is also some trash stuck to the fence which is blowing over from the L.I.C Flea. Once again, I just think that people should be aware of the dangers of litter when they are eating by the waterfront. I’m hoping that anyone who saw us that day cleaning up will take a moment to think about it.

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We managed to fill only 1 large garbage of trash through-out the day which is a good thing. It is nice to see that this park is relatively clean and well maintained. Most of the litter was scattered on the street under cars and stuck to the fencing.

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After the event we hung out by the Long Island Community Boathouse, which offers FREE kayaking or canoeing! What more can you ask for! If you want to explore the area by water or try a fun summer water sport then I highly recommend kayaking with the L.I.C. Boathouse! The boathouse is run by volunteers also so if you are looking for a FUN place to volunteer you could check this out also!

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The view of the river is spectacular at any time. It was a great day to be outdoors enjoying it. It was my first time meeting everyone from the L.I.C Boathouse and being inside their facility.

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After the event, we got beers from the Rockaway Brewing Company next door. And you know I LOVE anyways Rockaways and this brewery was originated in the backyard of a bungalow in Far Rockaway! They brew the beer in the back and sell it in a small room in the front. A friendly staff, good locally brewed beer, and free potato chips – what a deal!

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Like I said before, I had a fun day. Excuse my lack of writing skills but what else can I say. There are moments such as this at a volunteer event where you feel like you are a part of something bigger than what you had signed up for. You meet local community groups with great people who are passionate about similar interests as you. You are sitting in the boathouse with a group of people drinking a beer laughing, talking and enjoying a summer afternoon like you are old friends. You skip home with a smile on your face. Like I said before, what more can you ask for.

along the hudson river we will go…

Hi! Today I ventured up to the Upper West Side of Manhattan to the beautiful Riverside Park to volunteer with New York Cares for their first NYC park project of the 2013 year.

I love Riverside Park! It is a really beautiful city park  along the Hudson River on the Upper West Side with a spectacular view. This park is only 4 miles, 330 acres and stretches from 72nd to 158th streets and considered a scenic landmark. The park has several soccer and baseball fields, a dog park, tennis courts, and a skate park, boat launch, and gardens. This park even has a thick forest near 124th Street that is a bird sanctuary that is popular for local bird watchers.

There is also a Hudson Beach Café on the promenade that is open in the summer, serving burgers and drinks. They set up umbrella topped tables in the summer by the sand and swings giving city dwellers a local beach-like oasis.

The 79th Street Marina is the only such public access facility in Manhattan. In addition to 105 slips for boats, it offers launch sites for kayaks, canoes and sailboats.

Since it was the first project of the season we spent time weeding the vine beds by the soccer fields and picking trash. I’ve volunteered at this park last summer and hiked through the park and noticed it is very well maintained and clean.

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girlvolunteerIf you haven’t been to this city park I suggest going soon! sign up and volunteer today also! It is a great way to get outdoors and enjoy your local park, meet new people, enjoy the warm weather, and give back to your community!

If you would like to read more about the Riverside Park please click here: http://riversideparknyc.org/discover-park/