The earliest form of travel must have been walking. It occurs to me that most of us love to walk when we are on holiday and exploring other countries. It is probably the only way to really SEE the surroundings.
Our walks in Switzerland last June remain very clear in my memory. We walked down mountains, on roads, and through gardens. In our efforts to explore the little town we revisiting, and find short cuts back up the hill to our temporary home, we managed to discover interesting backyards, gardens, parking lots, hills, dogs, children and non-English speaking new friends. I particularly remember a walk from one of the folk museums in the village, down a wall edged road, lined with neat Swiss houses, each surrounded with a garden. The riot of June blooms, the dogs that followed us, the housewives coming home with the fresh bread for lunch, all contributed to a lasting memory of that village.
Although walking in foreign places is memorable and healthy, local walking also brings great rewards.
We have many walks here in Dutchess County that are extremely rewarding. Even if you are a health walker who takes the same five-mile (or one mile) route every day, you are aware that you see something new each day. This is also the case if you branch out a bit to other pathways and trails.
There are several well-known walking destinations that become more popular at this time of year. I think of the Poet’s Walk on the River north of Rhinebeck, and the various nature preserves in the county. The Hudson Valley Rail Trail that starts in Amenia is easy venue for the walker. It’s the old train bed as I guess everyone knows, but that makes it possible for lots of people to start anew walking regime there. Walk to its Beaver Pond Outdoor Education Center.
The Buttercup Nature Preserve off Route 82 on the way to Pine Plains is an example of the very beautiful evocative places we are lucky enough to have in our area. Walk into this preserve and you will swear that you are in Vermont.(Butts Hollow Road off Route 343 in Millbrook/Dover will confuse your geography too.)
The Cary Arboretum offers a variety of walks for young and old. Just be sure to get a (free) permit at the gift Shop before setting out.
Innisfree Gardens, also in Millbrook, is a place of great interest to foreign visitors. I find walking around the lake there to be truly meditation in motion.
Let’s talk about some of the not well-known walking venues. Here in Millbrook you can start with Haight Road, which is great aerobic exercise. Deep Hollow Road is one of the most beautiful roads in the state. If you are brave enough to go all the way down Deep Hollow Road, you will found two giant old beehive ovens at the very bottom in Wassaic. For the history of these iron smelting ovens, check with your local historian. Tower Hill Road is for advanced students and mountain climbers, but do consider how great you will feel if you try it. Before you take on the Everest of Tower Hill, try the aforementioned Butts Hollow Road. Start from the Route 343 end, and get someone to meet you at the bottom. (Some of these walks take some logistics) Novices might try Shady Dell Road in Millbrook. It is the definition of bucolic, not very long, relatively flat, andwill help you get your “sea legs.” You also get to passthe old schoolhouse toward the end of the road.
Still in Millbrook, there is Fraleigh Hill Road, the perfect aerobic workout. There is a big uphill portion at the beginning, which should get your heart rate up, and at your proper walking pace, should keep your heart rate up for the rest of the time. Haight Road, if you start at the North Mabbetsville Road end, will also get your heart rate up early. Again, unless you do a round trip, you need a friend to meet you. (In my younger days, I have done around trip on most of these walks, because my friends wanted to walk with me!)
In Poughkeepsie, Locust Grove, the home of Samuel F. B. Morse, offers walks down to the Hudson River. You can also
get a look at this marvelous home and garden while you are there. Check in at the Visitors’ Center.
At Wilcox Park, in the north central part of Dutchess County, walking the roads is a very good option. Especially in the early spring, when there are few cars, this is a quiet and pleasant spot for exercise and meditation.
I went on the Internet and checked out Dutchess County Tourism. If you poke around at the various links, you’ll find many more places to walk. I found several that I have yet to explore when I am in foot travel mode. They include the one-mile trail at Madam Brett Park in Beacon, and the magnificent Fishkill Ridge climb also in Beacon
As with all outdoor activity in the past few years, a word of caution is in order regarding the dangers of ticks. You should either stay out of woods and fields, or take the usual precautions. My all-time favorite walking trail, offered many years ago by a land-owning friend, is now off limits due to the tick born danger of Lyme Disease. It saddens me, but reminds me to suggest that you not walk on private land without permission.
I have enjoyed walking in all parts of this county and some nearby counties. It’s a wonderful way to get to know your area. Tell me about places I might have forgotten, or never knew about.