Two undeniable blessings of living in the Mohawk Valley are its beautiful summer months and its wealth of opportunities for outdoor adventure. People who know me have heard me talk about the stress-relieving properties and other health benefits of being outdoors and in nature. Now I have some recommendations for where you can go to reap those benefits for a stronger mind and healthier body!
Mohawk Valley Gems
The Mohawk Valley region sits between the resplendent Catskill Mountains and the largest of all state parks in New York, the Adirondack State Park. At 6.1 million acres, the Adirondacks abound with year-round opportunities for just about every outdoor activity from kayaking and mountaineering to ice fishing and snowmobiling.
The same can be said for the Catskills, the second largest state park at 700,000 acres. It, too, is rich with possibilities such as scenic drives, hiking, fly fishing and camping. With these formidable neighbors, collectively known as the New York State Forest Preserve, it should come as no surprise that the Mohawk Valley also boasts its own plentiful and varied selection of excursion-worthy destinations.
Here are a few of my favorites:
- FT Proctor Park in Utica and Lock 20 Canal Park in Marcy. The Lock 20 site features access to the Erie Canal tow path which affords miles upon miles for walking or riding bikes. In the winter season, you can partake in one of my favorite activities, snowshoeing.
- Utica Zoo – Another great place for walking and snowshoeing, with the animals as an added bonus!
- South Woods Switchbacks at Roscoe Conkling Park in Utica. Anywhere that’s great for snowshoeing in the winter is great for walks and hikes in the spring, summer and fall, and this is no exception. For added fitness opportunities, take advantage of the 12 fitness stations around the 2.2-mile perimeter of the South Woods Loop.
- Hiking at Pixley Falls State Park in Boonville. The main attraction may be the 50-foot waterfall (and it is beautiful), but Pixley Falls also features a nature trail and miles of trout fishing.
- Trenton Falls Scenic Trail. This hidden gem is open just a few weekends a year. The main trail offers wonderful views of the Trenton Falls Hydro Dam. Secondary trails take you along West Canada Creek and the limestone and fossil-encrusted gorge. Unfortunately, they recently cancelled the final open date for 2020, but I recommend keeping this on your list for a future visit – it’s worth the wait!
I’ve only scratched the surface of opportunities for outdoor fun and adventure the Mohawk Valley has to offer. I encourage you to get out and explore one or more of the places I have listed, or ask friends and family, and search the internet for other recommendations. The great outdoors is a natural stress reducer and always a healthy choice. You’re never wrong when you step outside.