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Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Laura's Tower & Ice Glen Trail (Berkshires) Stockbridge, Massachusetts

New England will never cease to amaze me with all of its beautiful nooks and crannies. This was another one of those "rain came in we need to pivot" situations. We left the Catskills, stopped for coffee and a walk-in Hudson, and stopped again in the Berkshires (Stockbridge, Massachusettes) to be exact.

I quickly looked up hikes in the area, on the hunt for something under 5-miles with the baby and the dogs. Laura's Tower had some great reviews and the pictures offered a lookout tower that offered sweeping views of the Berkshires. I read a little further and someone suggested the Ice Glen Trail in addition to the trek to the fire tower. 

The best part about this hike (and the big sell for me)? It's only 5 minutes from downtown Stockbridge which is an amazing little town that's getting its own blog post. Pair this hike with lunch downtown and if you have the time, an overnight stay in Stockbridge. New England small town perfection.

Laura's Lookout Tower

Sunday, October 24, 2021

The Windham Path - Catskills, NY

Windham Path

Katie Wandering is all about exploring and I had never heard of the town of Windham before this weekend. I'm no stranger to the Catskills... We spent several weekends in just about every season exploring some of these towns. We hiked frozen waterfalls in the winter, rode ski lifts in the summer, and hikes amongst the foliage in the fall. We've covered a lot of towns and when looking for lodging best Hunter Mountain, discovered this cute little town - Windham. It's cozy and quaint, a small ski mountain is the main attraction, with several other towns and even a ski mountain not too far away. It's a good spot to spend a quiet weekend, with opportunities to launch to some bigger adventures like famous Catskill hikes or even Howes Cavern.

The original plan was to head out on a bigger hike, somewhere with a summit and a view. The weather had its own idea of how the day would go. Rain was forecasted for the day, with a spot of sun in the morning. Instead of a big hike, we settled for more of an "off-road walk" just a few minutes from our Airbnb. It's the perfect place to spend some time outside, especially if you have kids in tow. It's not a true hike, but it's a chance to stretch your leg on safe terrain on the Windham Path in Windham, New York, just north of Hunter. 

Friday, October 22, 2021

Bishop's Orchards - Guilford, Connecticut

bishops orchards

There are moments in the day where I stop and look around, where I think to myself "I am so freaking happy". 

 I'm walking through an orchard with my husband who is holding our son, who is babbling and screeching in his dinosaur dialect. It's 73 degrees a week from Halloween and the sun is shining on the orchard. The foliage is offering shades of golden yellows and deep reds in the background. It's Indian summer almost into November. It's almost Friday.

These "surges of happiness" are frequent when traveling somewhere new wandering around a new town or new hike, but lately, it doesn't take as much. Twenty minutes from home at a nearby farm with my little family on a beautiful day is all it took. Everyone talks about how hard it is to raise kids and rightfully so, but I'm here to remind you that it is so damn fun too. Whitney just makes the little things like picking apples on a Thursday so much sweeter.

Thursday, October 21, 2021

Scenic Drive: Mohawk State Forest - Goshen, Connecticut

 Mohawk State Forest Foliage Drive

If you travel with kids, you know this familiar scenario: a young kid asleep in the car and a proper nap is crucial. You want to hike but you aren't ready to wake him/her up to be stuffed in a pack and toted up a mountain. 

Que the scenic drive! You want something easy, something scenic, something you can drive around slowly enjoying the sights. You've already perfected the *quiet closing of the car doors* so you are good with a slow drive and a few quick stops. 

Maybe you don't have the kids but you are looking for a way to enjoy the fall foliage with non-hikers. You need an option for a super quick walk/hike to a viewpoint or park the car for a vista, and a picnic. You also don't want to pay $30 because it's a toll road. If you want to climb a Connecticut mountain without ever leaving your car, Mohawk Mountain in Mohawk State Forest in Goshen, Connecticut is exactly what you are looking for.

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

White Memorial Conservation Center - Litchfield, Connecticut

White Memorial Conservation Center Boardwalk

We planned a fall weekend in the Catskills of New York to catch the foliage before the fall fades away. Saturday morning, we packed up the car and looked at the weather forecast. 90% rain in the Catskills while 50% in Northwest Connecticut, settling into the state later in the day. It was also forecasted to be in the 70's and I fully intended to enjoy the warmth and the hues of October, rain be damned. 

Instead of heading straight to the Catskills we decided to pivot, spending the first part of the day in the Litchfield Hills - the perfect halfway point in our drive. I did a quick google search for fall hikes in this corner of the state and came up with a list of potential hikes and walks in the area. White Memorial Conservation Area came up a few times and once I saw the boardwalk and the foliage, I was sold.

White Memorial Conservation Center

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Henry David Thoreau Footbridge (Hidden Valley Preserve) - Washington, CT

In a world where I wasn't a parent, I would have paired my 4.5-mile hike at Macricostas Preserve for another short 2-mile hike at Hidden Valley Preserve (5 minutes away). After that, I would have wandered through a few of these small Connecticut towns. I would have stopped somewhere for lunch, found a brewery to try something new, wander into a shop or two, and slowly make my way home back to the shoreline. This was my typical hiking day/weekend pre-parenting.

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Meeker Trail Loop Macricostas Preserve - Washington, CT

Meeker Trail, Macricostas Preserve

On a sunny morning in October at the start of leaf-peeping and slow drive season, I headed northwest to the Litchfield Hills of Connecticut. The leaves were changing and the 70-degree sunshine was what fall dreams are made of. I wanted to see the foliage and a trip up to my favorites spots in the northeast wasn't in the cards. How easily I forget that ( small ) mountain and impressive foliage can be found within our state. 

Northwest Connecticut is quintessential New England. It's rolling hills and bucolic farm properties. It's private boarding schools that rival most college campuses and historic inns and restaurants. It's hard to imagine anywhere in Connecticut is an hour and a half away, but the drive was easy, especially once I hit the back roads. 

By the time I passed the sleepy antiquey little towns of Woodbury, Middlebury, and Washington and pulled into the parking lot for the Macricostas Preserve, I was smitten. It's a wooded wonderland and the golden hues and pops of red and orange set the scene for a Hallmark movie. Macricostas preserve is a part of the Steep Rock Association, known for its gorgeous hiking trails and scenic conservation areas. This was a solo adventure with two dogs and a baby, a day I refused to waste inside. Whitney had slept (almost) the whole way to Washington and my brilliant plan to schedule the day around his naps was working. The dogs were happily whining in the backseat as I parked the car and the 10 or so cars in the parking area assured me the trail wouldn't be too busy. 

Monday, October 4, 2021

Saratoga Spa State Park - Saratoga, New York

Saratoga Spa State Park

Once in a while, I stumble on a somewhat hidden gem, a place that leaves me totally surprised and a bit stunned. Surprises are rare on Katie Wanders adventures. I usually do a lot of research before I head to a new spot to try to get a lay of the land and plan my adventures (chronic over-planner). Having a baby has forced me to be a bit more flexible in my normally over-scheduled travel plans.

We were on our way to Lake George, New York for the weekend, about a 3.5-hour drive from the central Connecticut coast. Whitney had napped for nearly two hours on the ride and had been up for an hour. Even though we were only a half-hour away, he had lost his sense of humor and needed out of his car seat - immediately. 

I quickly looked at the map and opened up AllTrails to see if there was somewhere we could stretch our legs . The number one rated hike in the area was the Geyser Loop at Saratoga Spa State Park. I had been to Saratoga several times for a horseshow (and it's famous for its race track) but had never heard of this park or this hike and never knew how Saratoga Springs got its name. We got off the highway, pulled into the park, and I was instantly blown away.  

Saratoga Spa State Park