When you think you are getting in a rut with your life, one way to climb out of it is to go for a walk every evening. Make sure it lasts an hour or more. You don’t have to power-walk or do it for exercise…just do it for the pleasure of getting out of the house and having a decent conversation with your significant other. It’s amazing how much stress you shed off and how much of the town you live in becomes noticed and enjoyed.
When we lived back on the Eastern side of the Hudson River, we used to walk around the neighborhood, on the track up at the Trinity-Pawling School and at the Pawling Nature Reserve. By far, the best place to get away from it all is the Nature Reserve.
You get their by heading north of Pawling on Rt. 22 and making a right on N. Quaker Hill Rd. Continue East until you make a left on Quaker Lake Rd. Continue on this road, past both lakes until the road turns into dirt. You should see a sign on the left side shortly thereafter.
A short description of the reserve is here:
“The Pawling Nature Reserve covers 1,050 acres ecomapssing almost the entire 1053′ high western side and top of Hammersly Ridge in the northeastern corner of Pawling. South of Pawling, the topography is considered a part of the Hudson Highlands. From Pawling nothward, however, the topography and geology is the very foot of the Berkshire Mountains. The Pawling Nature Reserve contains many of the geological features of the Berkshires with deep ravines, sheer cliffs and rock talus slopes.
Much of the Preserve is covered with second growth timber as the area has been settled beginning in 1728. Sheep and cattle grazed the Nature Reserve land from 1750 until around 1930. Logging also played a major role in the area’s history. Remenets of an old sluiceway can still be found near the main entrance, along the Yellow trail. Foundations and stone walls dot the entire reserve.”
The feature that initially attracted me to this trail system is the Hemlock trees. I just love the shade of huge hemlocks!
When we start the approximate 5 mile loop, we immediately pass the little wooden map holder and donation box. We usually look through this for things that people write. You can find very interesting comments there. Then we continue through to the coolest ravine and waterfall. There is a wooden bridge set up that crosses the river and bounces when you walk on it. It is extremely fun to cross first and then jump up and down on it when someone else gets to the middle. It makes then hop up and down on it uncontrollably. Just don’t fall off while laughing at them. Remember, this is not a nice thing to do to someone. They may begin to walk away without you.
After you apologize and pass the river, you bear to the left and follow the trail markers. It is pretty basic hiking for a few miles, until you get to a little area with a very small pond on your left. Be sure to stop there to look for frogs. They have been there every time we visited.
Right after that, you will see a sign for the Appalachian Trail. This is very exciting because you can say that you walked the “AT” while hanging out at parties. People will think you are really cool. Just be sure to stop the conversation there, before they start to ask questions. You skirt the AT for a while and the landscape becomes a bit swampy. The people who maintain the trail built a wooden path that hovers above the swamp about two feet.
Continue walking and when you arrive at the big hillside, you will know that you are on the back half of the trail. It becomes kind of rocky, but really neat because everything changes to smaller trees and mountain laurels. Follow the hillside down and you will connect back with your starting place at the bridge, river and waterfall.
The hike usually takes about an hour and a half. I would say that the best time to go, like all hiking, is in late September and early October, but it’s nice year round. You will notice that when you hop back in your car to drive home, the conversation will have changed from everyday work talk to hiking and what you want to do with the rest of your life. Ahhh….what nature can do for you.