If you live in New York City, one of the best things you can do on a weekend is hike some of the Appalachian Trail. Get on the Harlem line of the Metro North and take the train to the Appalachian Trail stop. When you get off, start walking west through a long swampy boardwalk of nine foot high cattails, wildflowers, and dragonflies. You’ll wind through some woods and then find yourself in an open field that cuts across the side of a local farm. It’s a breathtaking 1862 looking stretch that you should take real slow as there’s a road you’re about to cross in just under a mile. After you cross that road, continue on for about a quarter mile and drop your stuff off at Telephone Pioneer Shelter, one of the many AP lean-tos. Drink some water and go another three miles in the woods past long stone walls on the white blaze to Nuclear Lake. Take a right at the lake’s loop and lay down in the huge green open field and jump in and swim for the rest of the afternoon. The lake gets its name from a nuclear testing site that used to be there in the late 70s. The plant had a little explosion that leaked into the lake but it was cleaned up and is now safe to enjoy. And enjoy it you will. When you’re done swimming, hike three miles back and stop at Cat’s Rock to watch the sun go down over the farm that you hiked across just a few hours previous.
If you’re traveling around June and July, most likely you’ll have some Appalachian Trail thru-hikers to share your campfire with and provide the evening’s storytelling. Pack some extra food for them. They love quesadillas and Twizzlers.
I wish I could use a few more adjectives and paint a better picture of how monumentally beautiful this stretch of Appalachian trail is, but right now I think I’ll leave it to the very poorly developed pictures that are linked above.