My older sister entered the house, stomping her sparkly hightop sneakers all over the pristine kitchen. Clumps of mud and tiny rocks made the beige tile into a disaster waiting to happen; Mom was sure to blame me when she returned from work.
“You’d better clean that up!” I attempted to sound threatening, but my sister only laughed.
My mother wouldn’t find me home until much later, once I had exhausted my frustration in an adrenaline-fueled jaunt through the woods. I left the house for an after-school hike. The skies were fully open by this point in the day, shedding any vestiges of summer in rain that fell down in fits and starts.
I scrambled over slippery rocks and walked uphill to the town’s rail-trail, and felt painfully inadequate, in my paper-thin windbreaker that soaked through only three minutes out. My sneakers didn’t fare much better, with their insides turned mushy before too long. With each step, I could hear a heavy squish.
I still don’t let the cold fronts of New York autumns keep me indoors, but these days, I’m better prepared. I don my KÜHL rain jacket and prepare for any eventuality on the trail.
These are some of my favorite fall hikes, in and around the Big Apple:
The Kazimiroff Nature Trail – Bronx, NY
Meadow, marsh, shrubland, and forest: you’ll experience uniquely dynamic shifts in ecosystems as you traipse through little-known sections of Pelham Bay Park. With a loop of around 2 miles, it’s long enough for an immersive nature experience, but short enough that you won’t be stuck for too long if the rain level turns to monsoon status.
Kazimiroff offers a free printable trail map and guide which relates the fascinating history of the locale; snap some photos of the area and see if your friends can guess that you’re within the bounds of the five boroughs. Come another time and experience other parts of this massive park, such as the shoreline and the environmental center.
Alley Pond Park – Queens, NY
Another oasis in the five boroughs, Alley Pond Park offers some hiking trails of limited length but significant interest – great for one of those days when it’s “misting” out.
The eight trails and paths are detailed on this handy map; if you’re bringing your children on these hikes, you’ll note their proximity to various playgrounds along the way.
Alley Pond Park is notable for its origins: the landscape came into existence 15,000 years ago, when a large glacier carved out the current terrain. The park contains both freshwater and saltwater wetlands, as well as forests, meadows, and tidal flats. A few hours winding the various trails and you’ll feel like you’re on a unique getaway.
Marshlands Conservancy – Rye, NY
A break in steamy-hot weather means an opportunity to immerse yourself in natural marshland – without the relentless force of biting mosquitoes. Marshlands Conservancy is a short hike, with a trail of about one mile inside the 147-acre nature preserve.
Stand in your waterproof jacket and relish the opportunity to witness the flight paths of a diverse array of migratory birds. More than 230 species of birds have been seen at this location, and the cooler temperatures will bring forth new flight activity.
Abram Hewitt State Forest – Hewitt, NJ
Surprise Lake is a trendy destination with locals during the warm weather months, but visit this forest when it gets a little cooler and you’ll enjoy some quieter hiking in the beautiful colors of autumn.
This particular destination may permit you to bring along your pooch – although the rocky outcroppings and moderate length may make it too challenging for smaller breeds. A large dog would probably do just fine.
Don’t let the chance of rain stop you; KÜHL offers high-performance outerwear for men and women. Guys appreciate Jetstream waterproof jacket with its hydrophilic membrane; ladies love Jetstream waterproof trench. Step bold-faced into the mist and enjoy the fresh air of the fall.
Featured image by Matt Batchelor.