Columbia Land Conservancy offers the Hike Five Challenge

Hiking in the Hudson Valley is a satisfying outdoor activity any time of the year, and summer is no exception. The Columbia Land Conservancy operates 10 public conservation areas totaling 30 miles of trails with spectacular mountain or river views, some with waterfalls and woods, others with ponds, meadows and trails accessible to all. It’s the perfect time to challenge yourself with a hike – or maybe five, by taking the Hike Five Challenge sponsored by the Columbia Land Conservancy.

As a non-profit organization with nearly 1,000 donors, over 100 active volunteers and thousands of social media followers, CLC’s goal is to help people “connect with land,” said Rebecca Walker, CLC communications director. This involves protecting land from development, working with farmers, and providing people the opportunity to get outside and connect with nature through public programs and educational opportunities.

Some of the conservation areas have been “loved to death” during the pandemic. The Ooms Conservation Area is one. This summer SIC closed its boardwalk, installed in 2006, due to safety concerns and rerouted hiking trails to avoid the boardwalk, and launched Step by Step, a campaign to restore the boardwalk, which n is currently not accessible to the ADA.

“Part of our visions for the site is to eventually create an ADA-accessible pathway extending from one of the parking lots to the boardwalk,” Walker said. General planning, community input and fundraising are planned for the summer months, with the expectation that the boardwalk will be completed in 2023.

Trail maps and wayfinding signage at all sites have been updated. “Instead of saying, ‘Go on the red trail, it’s easy,’ we tried to create signage on the trail so it’s harder to get lost and you have a better understanding, when entering, of what your experience may be like,” Walker said. “Easy for one person isn’t necessarily easy for another.

Coming this fall is a new program: Nature Quest, an on-site educational experience for children and families with designated Nature Quest trails in each conservation area. The CLC partners with local libraries to provide booklets for the quest.

“When you arrive at a conservation area, the booklet tells you about the animals at the site, some of the plants, and how to follow the signs with activities related to what you see in the field,” Walker said. Nature Quest officially kicks off on September 24 with an afternoon event at the Siegel-Kline Kill Conservation Area.

The Explore Backpacks program is also in partnership with local libraries. Visitors can use their library card to check out one of five backpacks for different types of hikes: “Take a Hike”, “Insects”, “Birds”, “Streams and Ponds” or “Night Sky”. Each backpack contains what you need to explore.

“We really want everyone to feel welcome and encouraged to come to these sites,” Walker said, “whether you’re an experienced hiker with all the gear or you’re out in your flip flops walking your dog. “

The Hike Five Challenge runs until December 31. “After this year, we’re going to take a break for a little while to retool it and reinvent it,” Walker said.

How to Complete the Hike Five Challenge

To get started, go to the CLC’s Hike Five Challenge page for an entry form. Visit at least five of CLC’s public conservation areas by December 31 and record your visits on your registration form. Submit the form and specify your crest choice: Borden’s Pond Fox, Drowned Lands Heron, Greenport Monarch, Harris Frog, High Falls Salamander, Ooms Meadowlark, Overmountain Kestrel, Schor Oak Leaf, Siegel-Kline Kill Trout.

Five trail choices to get you started

Hike to the tallest waterfall in Columbia County at the High Falls Conservation Area.

Courtesy of Columbia Land Conservancy

The High Falls Conservation Area is a fan favorite along the Waterfall Way trail. “A lot of people are fans of High Falls,” Walker said, because “it’s a relatively short walk, about half a mile to see the tallest waterfall in Columbia County.” The hike is narrow in places with exposed rocks and roots at the lookout. Round trip: 2 km. Swimming is not permitted at High Falls. 540 Roxbury Road, Philmont

The 2.2 km loop trail of the Ooms Conservation Area circles the eponymous pond.

The 2.2 km loop trail of the Ooms Conservation Area circles the eponymous pond.

Barbara Queen

The Ooms Conservation Area is a friendly and family Walker’s favorite hike and site “because it’s the essence of Columbia County: rolling hills, summer meadows, birds you hear chirping; my dog ​​loves it there.” Take the 1.4 mile Pond Loop trail. Make your way through wide grassy fields to the lookout while watching out for grassland birds, such as bobolinks. 480 Rock City Road, Chatham

The Access for All Trail in the Greenport Conservation Area has a lookout point with great views of the Hudson River.

The Access for All Trail in the Greenport Conservation Area has a lookout point with great views of the Hudson River.

Barbara Queen

The Greenport Conservation Area is good for hikers of all levels. For wheelchair access, take the Access for All trail, a wide gravel path through open fields. Take a moment to sit in the cooling shade of a gazebo with stunning views of the river at the end of the trail. Round trip: 1 mile. 319 Joslen Blvd, Hudson

The 433 acres of the Hand Hollow Conservation Area include a lake, two ponds, streams and wetlands.

The 433 acres of the Hand Hollow Conservation Area include a lake, two ponds, streams and wetlands.

Barbara Queen

The Hand Hollow Conservation Area is ideal for fishing and kayaking. Meadows, a lake, two ponds, streams and wetlands are found on these peaceful 433-acre woodlands. You can share the trails with beavers, otters, black bears, bobcats and wild turkeys. With a permit, visitors can also explore an open prairie and kayak or fish in Lake Meizinger, which features an accessible kayak launch at the Jim Woodruff Memorial Kayak Launch. Take the Lake Loop, a 0.3 mile dirt trail through a forest. 4079 County Road 9, East Chatham

Overmountain Conservation Area is the largest site managed by the CLC.

Overmountain Conservation Area is the largest site managed by the CLC.

Courtesy of Columbia Land Conservancy

Overmountain Conservation Area. Confirmed hikers enjoy these longer trails with walkways, steep hills, and spectacular views of the Harlem Valley, Hudson Valley, and Taconic Mountains. With some 1,700 acres of grasslands, forests, wetlands and waterways, it is the largest site managed by CLC. It has over 10 miles of trails, some following the ridge line above the Harlem Valley. Try the Kite Hill-Fox Hill Trail, a narrow, wooded, dirt trail with exposed roots and walkways, steep with hills in places. Round trip: 2.8 km. 138 Cattalino Road, Ancramdale

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