Biking

Old Croton Aqueduct Trail, Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow, NY

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One of the QR-code signposts found along the Old Croton Aqueduct.

I’m always joking that if Washington Irving wrote the Legend of Sleepy Hollow today, Brom Bones would never be able to ride down from Ossining in time for the Van Tassels’ party because he’d be stuck in traffic on Broadway.

Now, the Old Croton Aqueduct trail, on the other hand, just up the hill from Tarrytown’s business district…you can definitely imagine the Headless Horseman barreling through here. Yes, never mind that the aqueduct, now the Old Croton Aqueduct State Historic Park, was built quite a bit after Irving’s time. Today, instead of water, it carries walkers, hikers, bikers, and on certain sections of the trail, horseback riders. And yours truly got to check out the trail – long an item on my hiking to-do list – during a weekend outing with the family back in November.

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Castle Vista, Midnight Madness and Blackberries: Ole Bull State Park, Potter County, Pa.

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View from the summit of Castle Vista, the site of Ole Bull’s home in the New Norway colony.

I’d like to share with you a little bit about the last stop we made on the Pennsylvania Park Hop back in the summer; on our last full day, we paid a visit to Ole Bull State Park in Potter County.

There are quite a few hiking trails that run through the park, several of which are also graded as snowmobile trails in the winter. (In fact, in this part of Pennsylvania, you’ll see quite a few road signs marking snowmobile trails.)

The park is included in the Susquehanna Trail System – it’s an entire network of hiking trails running through the Susquehanna River Valley in Maryland, New York and Pennsylvania. So you’ll find one of the trails (orange-blazed) running through the park, one of the longer walks here. There are a number of shorter walks, including the Castle Vista Trail, the Daugherty Loop and the Beaver Dam Nature Trail, all three of which we checked out.

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Auld Lang Signpost

IMG_5438Another year gone by already – well, that didn’t take long. And it’s apparently that time of year again to reflect on how 2015 was for hiking.

My hiking time this fall was a bit limited, especially due to a rather brain-draining graduate school project that I had to wrap up over the last few weeks. (It’s also the reason why the blog’s been a little quiet of late. So I beg your indulgence on that one, oh trail heads.)

All things considered, it was a pretty awesome year for outdoor pursuits.  I got to take on a short chunk of the Appalachian Trail back in June, during a National Trails Day gathering up at Bear Mountain. Took a first run out on some cool multi-use trails, including the Columbia Trail out in western New Jersey and the Pine Creek Rail Trail out in central Pennsylvania.

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Pine Creek Rail Trail: Darling Run to Tiadaghton, Tioga County, Pa.

A horse-drawn wagon tour comes down the Pine Creek Rail Trail at Darling Run.

A horse-drawn wagon tour comes down the Pine Creek Rail Trail at Darling Run.

Did you know that Pennsylvania’s got its own Grand Canyon? I wasn’t either, truth be told, before we came out there earlier in August. But this particular Grand Canyon runs north-south down Tioga County in the north-central part of the state, the result of glaciers having run roughshod over the area back during the Ice Age. The result is the Pine Creek Gorge.

Pine Creek was an important travel route in the area for a very long time; the Senecas had a well-traveled footpath along the creek banks. Starting in the nineteenth century, the Jersey Shore, Pine Creek and Buffalo Railroad (which connected to the New York and Central Railroad) ran down through this gorge along the banks of Pine Creek, as the region became home to a thriving lumber industry.

The train tracks, the stations and the rail towns are (mostly) gone now, but the rail bed still exists, repurposed as the Pine Creek Rail Trail starting in the 1990s. The trail and the two nearby state parks are all part of the Tioga State Forest.

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Shining Sea Bikeway: Falmouth and Woods Hole, Mass.

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A bike mosaic on the northern half of the Shining Sea Bikeway.

So, what I was saying in my last post about how fall’s a really good time to go hiking, because the heat’s tapering off and the tourist crush is winding down?

A couple of years ago, the family and I went up to Cape Cod (our first time there, believe it or not) in the fall for four days of biking and sightseeing.

It was early on in the fall – late September, early October or thereabouts – so the weather was mild without being too warm. And we crammed in quite a bit – puttering around Wellfleet and Truro, a whale-watching trip out of Provincetown, and a good seafood dinner in Woods Hole for our last night there. And for the biking part of the trip, we did the Shining Sea Bikeway.

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Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge trails – Chincoteague and Assateague Islands, Va.

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Trail map for Wildlife Loop.

Most people come to Chincoteague Island, Va., and neighboring Assateague Island for two reasons: the beaches, and to try to get a glimpse of the ponies.

Even if you’ve never read Marguerite Henry’s “Misty of Chincoteague” (confession time: I still haven’t), you’ve probably heard about the Chincoteague ponies at some point or other.

Granted, the beaches and the ponies are good reasons to come to the islands. But there’s more to the place than beaches and ponies.

The islands are home to the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge – which have several trails for walking and biking.

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West Essex Trail – Verona and Cedar Grove, NJ

View from the southern trailhead on Fairview Avenue in Verona.

View from the trail entrance on Fairview Avenue.

“Is that the trail up ahead?” I ask the two bikers – likely a dad and kid – coming out of the woods on Fairview Avenue in Verona, NJ.

“Yes – right where we came out.” The dad looks over his shoulder back toward the woods.

“Cool – thanks!”

I’d had a co-worker recommend the West Essex Trail to me as a hiking spot of a weekend. My hiking time has been a little limited this summer, due to a sprained ankle that took a while to heal, plus the usual time-eaters (work, grad school). So, having a few spare hours on a recent Sunday afternoon, I drove up Bloomfield Avenue from Montclair to Verona, boots on and backpack in tow.

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