Hillside Woods Ramble

It’s our first Wacky Wednesday of April and for the sake of posterity I must mention that we’ve got a record-breaking 91-degrees on the thermometer in Central Park this afternoon. I also must mention that this kind of freaks me out. In any case, we spent a lovely afternoon in Hillside Woods in Hastings today, though it did feel strange to be hiking in July-like heat while looking at the naked trees of early spring.

I learned of Hillside Woods first from Jane and Walt Daniels fantastic book Walkable Westchester and later from Haven Colgate, the director of the Hillside Nature Guides program, whom I met at the Hastings Grassroots Music Festival this past fall.Haven has been running Nature Guides, a volunteer program that works in conjunction with the Hastings schools for several years.I’d been hesitant to plan a hike at Hillside due to the fact that the park is not really blazed, though it’s a place I’ve been wanting to visit for a long time. Haven treated me to a guided tour of the trails on a rainy morning in early March to give me the lay of the land for future Hillside hikes.

So today was Kids Unplugged’s first visit to Hillside Woods and Sugar Pond. It’s a perfect spot for an after school hike as the loop isn’t that long yet the ecology along the trail is completely varied with pond, stream, wetland and woodland areas. And while most of us got mired in some relatively deep and squishy mud along the pond’s shore right at the beginning of the hike, most of the kids gave up trying to stay dry pretty early on, wading right into the stream shoes, socks and all.

Streams and wading are always a highlight on our warm-weather hikes, but thanks to one dad who brought along a bunch of nets, the fat tadpoles the kids pulled from the ponds were a definite thrill! I hope you can see them in the photo.

Hillside is sure to make it onto our regular Wacky Wednesday circuit!

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