Spring is a great time to hike. For everything there is a season, and spring hiking is about the contradictions.
There are brisk winds, but we never get too hot. The weather can turn on a dime, but that means indirect lighting for stunning photos. It might rain, but it is also peak waterfall season.
Here's some suggestions for enjoyable spring hikes.
Quick & easy
If you are thrilled by roaring waters, the Lee Park Trail is a fine pick for even the youngest hikers. There are a number of rocky stair and steps for waterfall fans.
A bridge and walkway let you safely enjoy the lively river from a number of angles. Following the river's path down to Lake Champlain opens up exploration on the beach, complete with water view, and playground. It's a fine destination for any age or hiking ability.
Crown Point State Historic Site is another easy path along Lake Champlain. The museum opens in May to offer another fun activity, but all year you can walk the paths that lead to informative signboards.
The Crown Point paths lead into the Lake Champlain Bridge Interpretive Trail, which connects the Crown Point Boat Launch with a gravel path along the lakeshore, beneath the 2011 Lake Champlain Bridge, and the Champlain Memorial Lighthouse. Weather permitting, you can even climb the lighthouse.
There is a terraced log stairway behind the Lake Champlain Visitors Center that is also part of this path. It allows easy access to this source of historic memories along with brochures and information. The Center itself is in the fully restored 1929 Bridge Tollhouse.
Sometimes you are looking to simply immerse yourself in beautiful surroundings, with easy hiking for all the members of the hiking party.
Noblewood Trail is a nature trail in the town of Willsboro with gorgeous views and connection to the town beach. It is two miles of easy exploration among forest and lakeshore. Noblewood Park itself is a nature preserve and a prime birding location, too.
Bring those binoculars.
The park is located where the Boquet River meets Lake Champlain, with a wide range of different environments, so the wildlife possibilities are excellent.
There are the three distinct habitats offered by Black Kettle Farm Nature Trail. This is a very pretty hike with abundant stream action, with stepping stones and footbridge crossings. Look for wildflowers, find the beaver dam, and enjoy a view from a rocky cliff. It is one and a half miles with some slightly difficult areas, but nothing a child cannot handle.
Get a book or phone app for help identifying the flora and fauna for extra fun. This makes for a nice challenge with children, which will help keep the hike lively and goal-oriented.
Sometimes, only a mountain will do. Yet, in spring, the New York Department of Conservation asks hikers to avoid hikes on trails above 3,000 feet. At higher elevations, using muddy trails, foot traffic can challenge native plants and damage trails. Such trails are usually not available until early June - but there's no need to avoid hiking altogether!
These Lake Champlain peaks are fine to enjoy in spring.
Mount Gilligan starts at Beaver Meadow Brook and the sights just keep piling up from there. It is a 1,420-foot climb, which is 2.2 miles for a round trip.
The trail climbs through an evergreen forest, with some steep sections. It is advised to wear hiking boots and bring trekking poles, a great help, especially on the way down. Watch for wet rocks.
On the way up and down there are incredible views of the Giant Mountain Wilderness, especially welcome since other peaks, such the trail above Giant's Washbowl, "the Cobbles," and Owls Head, are not available in spring.
For those who love wildflowers and varied terrain, Coon Mountain is considered a classic spring hike.
This moderate climb doesn't have too many flat parts, But there are many natural stone staircases to help.
Chances are you will stop for the many early spring wildflowers the trail is known for. There are a few rocky sections, but nothing children and dogs cannot handle. This is a 1,014-foot elevation and a two-mile round trip.
Along the way, be on the lookout for trilliums (three-petaled flowers in white, pink, or deep red), trout lily (small yellow lily with leaves speckled like the belly of a trout), and in damp places, hepatica (a form of buttercup with lavender flowers and long oval petals). Remember: take only pictures!
These are just a few of the delightful trails that await you this spring.