Nature heals us. Numerous studies have shown time and time again that exposure to the natural world boosts the immune system, lowers blood pressure, elevates mood, increases focus and even helps us have a better night of sleep, among many other health benefits.
Hiking is an ideal way to experience nature and get exercise at the same time. It’s also a beautiful way to absorb the river, lakes, trees, floral and wildlife of upstate NY. So without further ado, here are three favorite hikes in the Catskills that are close to Clearing Farm. Happy hiking!
The Mongaup River Trail
The Mongaup River Trail spans two miles and is a beloved hike by locals and tourists alike because for most of your walk you have direct views of the rushing raids of the Mongaup River, which adds a beautiful melody and visual texture to your experience. It’s an easy hike and great for people of all ages and skill levels. The GPS coordinates are N41.42708 W74.75531 and directions are provided by TrailKeep here.
Port Jervis Watershed Trails
Located outside of Port Jervis, this 307-acre park has something for everyone. There are over 10+ different trails for all skill levels, from beginners to experts, as well as paths for mountain biking. This pristine nature preserve has views of the reservoir, mountains and sweeping vistas of New York, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. Before your visit to the Watershed Trails, download the map of the trails and the park area.
Tusten Mountain Trail
The Tusten Mountain Trail is 3 mile trail made up of stones and dirt. The best part of the hike is the final destination, which offers a scenic vista of the Delaware River and the pristine valleys of Sullivan County. This is a moderate hike due to a slight incline throughout the journey. GPS coordinates are N41.55444 W75.01919 and directions are available from TrailKeeper here.
Need more Catskills hiking info?
If you’re still looking for additional hiking locations, The National Park Service has a list here of more trails in Sullivan County and the surrounding Western New York region. Alternatively, if you’re looking to hire an experienced guide for a custom hike or foraging expedition you can book a session with the Outside Institute, a local company focusing on helping us reconnect with nature.
Still on the fence about going on a hike while you’re upstate? Here are three more reasons we love hiking and encourage you to take a hike while you’re up here.
Hiking is better than walking around the block. You might think just taking a casual stroll around the neighborhood will accomplish what a hike can, but that’s not true. Daniel Ferris, a professor of engineering and biomechanics at the University of Florida tells TIME that it’s all about how energy is moved.
“When you walk on a level surface, your body does a really good job of what’s known as passive dynamics,” he said. “Thanks to gravitational and kinetic energy, if I start that pendulum swinging, it’s going to keep moving back and forth for a long time without any additional energy input.” This means that due to the uneven terrain, hiking uses up a lot more energy, a more diverse combination of muscles, and ultimately results in a much better workout.
Hiking upgrades your brain. A 2015 study found that people walking near greenery (nature, as opposed to a city street, or traffic) could more easily respond to stress than others. A 90 minute walk in nature resulted in less brooding and ruminating. Another study showed that after taking a hike, brain scans show reduced blood to some areas, which actually means that the mind is, literally, quieter.
Hiking reconnects you to yourself and the world. There’s a reason why so many artists, poets and creatives cite a connection to nature as as a source of their work. There’s a reason why Mary Oliver calls the woods “the door to the temple.” The reality is that if you’re in any way feeling stuck, foggy or disconnected, a long, soothing walk in nature will help you not only reconnect to yourself, but also the world around you. It’s the perfect reset to help you gain clarity, and return to your life with more confidence and ease.