Unplugged Activities: Enjoy Nature

After being cooped up all winter, how about taking a healthy family hike? Get some exercise and make memories as you take in Mother Nature.

A Spring Stroll
After a short, steep hike up a wooded trail located at the end of Hamilton Road in Irvington, you find yourself on a wide path encircling a little jewel, Halsey Pond. Old growth trees surround you and your ears fill with birdsong. An easy counter-clockwise stroll leads you to what my daughters call The Castle – the Beltzhoover Teahouse, which is the last remaining structure of the Rochroane Mansion destroyed by fire in the 1970s. A May hike here treats you to mother mallard with her ducklings paddling Robert McCloskey-style close behind.

Halsey Pond Park – irvingtonny.gov/index.aspx?NID=133.

Bluebirds and Turtles
Westmoreland Sanctuary in Mount Kisco is a wonderful place for a springtime family outing. In addition to hiking, the sanctuary boasts a wonderful nature museum housed in the building that was once the Presbyterian Church in Bedford Village and plenty of space for a picnic. A hike along the Easy Trail to Betchel Lake and back is a favorite and it’s long enough to feel challenging for younger kids while leaving you plenty of time to visit the museum afterward. The sanctuary offers a host of family programs throughout the month of May, and a ponding or birding hike with one of Westmoreland’s talented naturalists is not to be missed!

Westmoreland Sanctuary – westmorelandsanctuary.org.

Meadows of Wildflowers
We are so fortunate here in Westchester County to have access to places as expansive and beautiful as Rockefeller State Park with its 1,233-acres of natural beauty. One hike that we consistently enjoy as a family is the Pocantico River Trail off Sleepy Hollow Road. Start about 1 mile from Rte. 448 by a white farmhouse on the west side of Sleepy Hollow Road. The trail boasts many features kids love – water, bridges, rocks to toss, a huge, hollow tree and, in May, meadows of wildflowers – perfect for a Mother’s Day stroll.

Pocantico River Trail, Rockefeller Preserve – kidsunplugged.org/2009/05/29/meadows-of-wildflowers/. Scroll to May 2009.

Gina Vercesi