From guest blogger, Digital Editor for Adirondack Harvest, Mary Godnick
Every spring, the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) cautions hikers to avoid high-elevation hikes in the Adirondacks and Catskills. This time of year, melting snow, spring rain, and thawing soil make for trail conditions that can cause long-term damage to nearby vegetation and waterbodies. Hundreds of hikers stepping around the same puddle near the summit of a High Peak can cause the irreparable loss of the 27 rare and endangered species of alpine vegetation that live there. During this time, conservationists urge hikers to postpone hikes above 2,500 feet.
This time of year, the Champlain Valley warms up and thaws out much sooner than our High Peaks neighbors. It’s a great time to enjoy some of the lovely trails that weave through and around farmland, forests, and lakes. Melting snow also means green things coming to life again, wildflowers, ferns, moss, and trees begin to bud and bloom. On farms, it means the appearance of the very first vegetables, roots, and shoots of the seasons. It’s a great time of year to visit and support farms.
I’ve collected three of my favorite springtime trails and make a suggestion for a place to stop to support the farms nearby. Happy hiking and shopping!
Art Farm Trail & Echo Farm | Essex, NY
Just ten minutes off the Northway, you will find the Art Farm trail. It passes through historic farmland that is now home to outdoor sculptures that can be enjoyed as you walk along. It connects to a few other trails that take hikers through forests and meadows. A great walk for a sunny spring day!
Just a minute down the road is Echo Farm, home to Farmstead Catering, a lovely farm, event venue, and so much more. Echo Farm designs experiences for events, weddings, and special occasions on and off-site. They grow and create all of the ingredients highlighted on the chef’s menu. Echo Farm has a tiny little farm store with seasonal goodies in stock like greens, maple, and transplants for your garden. Make sure to stop in and treat yourself!
Gilligan Mountain & Craigardan Farmstore | Elizabethtown, NY
Not far from the increasingly popular swimming holes along the Boquet River and the Otis Mountain Getdown is one of the area’s best-kept secrets. Mt. Gilligan is a 3-mile moderate hike up to a lookout that boasts a big rock for sunbathing and views of the High Peaks.
After you hit the trail, make a stop at the new Craigardan farm store on route 9N on your way to Keene. Peek over the fence at the adorable sheep and chickens on your way inside. Inside their brand new farm store, you will find locally and mindfully sourced food and grocery items along with fine and functional artwork such as ceramics, cards, and handmade face masks.
Cook Mountain & Ti Natural Foods Co-op | Ticonderoga, NY
Take a hike at the Cook Mountain Preserve in Ticonderoga. There are three different trails on the preserve that offer a diversity of experiences for hikers of all ages. You can see beaver activity and wildflowers on this walk, and if you choose the moderate Ridges Trail, you will be rewarded with views of Vermont and Lake George.
On your way home, stop at the Ti Natural Foods Co-Op, just a five-minute drive from the trailhead into the historic main street and stock up with some local goodies. They source local food from a range of growers and producers across New York State and Vermont such as honey, eggs, bread, and much more.