Photo by Richard Kugel

Green Tip: Exploring New York State’s Parks

Green Tips | March 15, 2018

From Long Island to Niagara Falls and the high peaks of the Adirondacks, New York is full of opportunities to explore natural spaces and connect with the environment. Below is a short list of a few of our favorites, and some tips for planning your spring trek to the trails. 

The Adirondack Park is the largest protected public area in the United States. At 6.1 million acres, the park is larger than Yellowstone, Yosemite, Glacier, Grand Canyon, and Great Smokies National Parks combined. The region is the largest area without a city in the United States, and is home to 46 high peaks, 3,000 lakes and ponds, numerous animals, and has something for everyone: rigorous outdoor activities like hiking, backpacking, canoeing and biking; laid back camping, walking trails, historical sites, boreal forest and much, much more.

Bear Mountain State Park, located west of the Hudson River in Rockland County, is a 5,205-acre park just 50 miles north of New York City. There are plenty of opportunities here for adventurers of all levels, including picnic areas, lake and fishing access, hiking, biking, skiing, and even a zoo and carousel!

Catskill Park and Catskill Forest Preserve include over 250,000-acres of beautiful public and private lands, mostly forested, to the west of the Hudson River in Ulster, Greene, Delaware, and Sullivan Counties. The Catskills, while much smaller than the Adirondacks to the north, boast ninety-eight peaks over 3,000 feet in elevation and offer natural treasures, like the super popular Kaaterskill Falls, the largest two-tier waterfall in the state. Also important to note, 90% of New York City’s drinking water comes from the pristine reservoirs in the Catskills and Delaware Watershed region.

Green Lake State Park is located in Manlius, NY, about 10 miles east of Syracuse. The park is situated on two emerald-colored meromictic lakes, which means there is no mixing of surface and bottom layers of water, giving them the potential for signs of ancient plants and animal life. The US Department of the Interior designated Round Lake a National Natural Landmark in 1975. Green Lake State Park is also home to the Green Lakes State Park Golf Course, a destination course for golf enthusiasts.

Montauk Point State Park is more than 700-acres of rocky shoreline located on the eastern tip of Suffolk County on Long Island. The park provides gorgeous panoramic views of the Atlantic Ocean and the iconic Montauk Point Lighthouse. Come out for a picnic, a walk on a nature trail, or even some bird watching, as this park is considered an Important Bird Area by the National Audubon and welcomes the largest winter concentration of sea ducks in the state.

Saratoga Spa State Park, located about 35 miles north of Albany in Saratoga County, is home to unique pieces of classical architecture like baths, pools, and arches, and is even listed as a National Historic Landmark. Offering trails for biking and running, Saratoga Spa State Park is also a great place to just stroll, picnic, and relax. Of course, there’s the well-known Saratoga Performing Arts Center, which features some of music’s finest acts.

***For a full listing of state parks, historic sites and recreational opportunities near you, visit: www.parks.ny.gov***

Tips for the trails and sites:

1) Always stay on marked trails to protect the native flora. Be careful of wet and muddy trails in the spring. Turn around if the trail gets too muddy. Often melting snow finds its way to the trail during the spring months.

2) Practice leaving no trace. This means making sure you take any trash from a picnic or snack with you, and remind your fellow travelers to do the same.

3) Use public transit when you can, and when you can’t, travel together, and consider taking an electric or zero emission vehicle. Doing so will cut down on your carbon output, reduce the congestion in our public parks, and help to keep the fresh air, fresh.

4)  Drink plenty of water, and do it again and again from a reusable bottle!

5) Observe any wildlife you discover along the way carefully, and avoid any direct contact with animals. Never feed the wildlife!

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