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Old 01-16-2014, 10:25 AM   #1
jellendc
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Novice Hiker, New to Forum

I'm a 47 yo father of 2 great kids. I found this site after my dad suggested I take the kids hiking/camping over the summer. Other than basic day hikes, we have zero experience. Hoping to learn and eventually contribute to the people on the forum.

Does anyone have any suggestions as far as places to hike and camp for some newbies? Catskills/Adirondacks/Berks? Also, suggested reading material/video to start the learning process?

Thanks in advance...

Steve
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Old 01-16-2014, 01:45 PM   #2
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Really depends upon where you live and are close to as there are tons of hiking places throughout NY that are awesome. Your local EMS should have some guide books to get you started. I live in the Hudson Valley and spend lots of time local with 3-4 trips to the ADKs each year. It is a 5 hour drive each way for us. Wish it was closer.
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Old 01-16-2014, 02:24 PM   #3
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The big questions are: Where are you located, and how old/physically fit are the kids?

Other good questions are: Do you own or can you borrow any gear? Exactly what do you mean by "basic day hikes"?

General advice: Every experienced hiker started out as an inexperienced hiker. Don't let all the advice intimidate you, just start with the gear and fitness level and experience you have now. You'll make mistakes, we all did. Learn from them and try again. I guarantee there are hikes and camping trips within your reach.
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Old 01-16-2014, 06:50 PM   #4
jellendc
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Thanks for the replies. I'm on Long Island. I will slowly start to collect gear - any suggestions as far as gear goes will be appreciated! Packs, GPS, footwear, etc. Kids are in middle school. Both are strong physically for their ages and my son in particular, has great cardio endurance. I have slacked recently as far as physical training, something that I know I need to do.
We've done hikes in the Finger Lakes area, VT and PA, mostly local to the areas we stay. No more than 2 hrs one way.
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Old 01-16-2014, 09:26 PM   #5
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If money is an issue, buy as much gear as you can used. But don't skimp on the tent, bags or sleeping pads, you'll regret it when you can least change it (like 4 AM in a 40 degree downpour).
The "Discover the Adirondacks) series of guidebooks cover all of the ADKs and are most helpful and descriptive.
Start easy and just enjoy the scenery.
Learn the DEC guidelines for camping and minimize your impact.

Do you know about blackflies?? I personally avoid them.
Be sure to dress for safety and comfort.

There is an online site, ARGIS, that has topo maps of everywhere, and also shows most current primitive campsites, lean tos, and hiking trails, as well as private vs state land borders.

Most of all, enjoy yourself and travel at your children's pace. Better yet, have them have a say in deciding where to go, and helping to decide what food and gear to bring.
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Old 01-16-2014, 10:46 PM   #6
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The NY-NJ Trail Conference web site (http://www.nynjtc.org/) is a great place to start if you're looking for hikes a little closer to home to get your feet wet. They've got hundreds of hikes indexed by location, difficulty, length, etc.

Don't be afraid/ashamed to do your camping in state parks. You don't need to jump head-first into the back country experience. I'm partial to DEC campgrounds myself (http://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/7825.html). In the Catskills, Mongaup Pond (http://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/24484.html) offers a little of everything. It's well off the beaten track, offers canoe and kayak rentals and there's plenty of hiking trails accessible right from the campground. The NY Camping Guide (http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nysp...guide2013/#/32) lists plenty of other options from all over the state.

Good hiking boots may be the most important piece of equipment you can have. Forget the sneakers and go for something with some ankle support.

Don't push beyond you or your kids' limits. A hiking party is only as happy as its weakest link. No one enjoys themselves if someone in the group is miserable and complains the whole time.

You don't need to start with the best, most expensive equipment. There's no shame in borrowing gear or buying used until you're sure everyone's into it and its something you want to continue. Once you do, you can upgrade over time.

Most of all, have fun! This is a chance to make memories with your kids that will last a lifetime.
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Old 01-17-2014, 01:09 PM   #7
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Wow, thanks for the replies! Valuable info there. Any suggestions for sites that sell good, used equipment like packs and tents?
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Old 01-17-2014, 01:24 PM   #8
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Try Craig's list for used. Campmor is the best for new gear. they have the broadest selection and good prices and knowledgeable staff. In Paramus, NJ. Worth a day trip for sure.
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Old 01-17-2014, 05:33 PM   #9
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Starting camping

A few other things to consider:

Don't hesitate to start with "car camping". The NY state campgrounds offer fairly attractive locations, though some locations & sites will not feel like you are alone. Search this forum for recommendations - or if you have a general location in mind, post an additional (more specific) request for guidance. There are options in the Catskills, including leantos (generally not reservable). With children especially, having a reserved site reduces stress.

Also on this website you will find info about locations for car camping on dirt roads with no services (i.e. nothing but possibly a fire ring, sometimes a picnic table). There are multiple places to do this in the Adirondacks, I don't know about the Catskills. Backpacking gets a bit more demanding once you have to carry everything (hopefully not all your water vs. a filter). Canoe camping becomes another possibility and will open up more options. Don't canoe camp with a loaded boat until you have experience paddling however.

For equipment, whatever you can't borrow, you can rent (including packs, tents & sleeping bags) at EMS. They often sell some rental equipment at the end of each season (worth a phone call). Some Adirondack Mountain Club chapters have Used Gear Sales (one in Albany this past week). Networking with those folks will open up both info & equipment resources.

Look for some checklists. EMS has them and I'm sure you can find some on-line. Most regulars develop their own customized list eventually. You need a stove and some type of cookset. Start putting these things on your Christmas & birthday wish lists. Get headlamps for each person (a must).

You can find deals on new or discontinued equipment but not if pressed for time. Check Sierra Trading Post but assume you may not find a specific item.
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Old 01-18-2014, 11:07 AM   #10
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jellendc, Im also a novice hiker [and will be for many years], the folks on this forum will do what they can to give you info for whatever hike you go on. I have learned a lot on this forum by just searching in the box above. I just completed my first summer of hiking/kayaking in the Dacks and I have found that staying simple is key. Make sure to purchase a map such as the National Geographic Trails Illustrated Topo maps. Amazon is a good place to go,buy a single map for around $10 or a pack of maps around $30. When you look at those maps and find a place you want to go, do a quick search on this forum for that trail/area of interest if its not there just ask and someone probably can give you info about it. Next make sure to buy good hiking boots and a day pack to carry things. I made the mistake of using footwear I had around the house to begin hiking and they were torn apart in just a couple of hikes. As you get more experience and hikes become longer/harder, buy the things you need.
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Old 01-18-2014, 11:22 AM   #11
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Rainman, BobK and Ryan28 - I thank you for your input! I've never heard of car camping... Currently putting together a First Aid kit and a "fire" kit(matches, lighter, magnesium, a cut up inner tube from a bike-they burn well, a bunch of lint from the dryer for starters). Keep me busy for a few hrs!
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Old 01-18-2014, 12:15 PM   #12
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You'll learn the most about hiking by doing it with someone who is experienced. I'd tap into people you know who are hikers and have them show you the ropes. If you don't know anyone, then consider joining a hiking club and going on different outings. Three that immediately come to mind are the Adirondack Mountain Club, the Appalachian Mountain Club and Meetup.com. Go to Meetup.com and search for a hiking club in your area. For example, in the Albany, NY area there is a Meetup group called HikingMates that has over 2,000 members.

If you are considering bringing kids out for which you'll be responsible, you MUST learn how to read and use a map and compass. It is fundamental. Granted you can always get a GPS unit, and it is an excellent tool, but it is not a replacement for knowing map and compass.

There is a member here who has written extensively on this website about map and compass. His username is "Wldrns". Read everyone one of his posts about wilderness navigation. They are encyclopedic.

I'd also find people who offer instruction classes in outdoor skills. GPS, map and compass, wilderness navigation, and more. They are out there. Just google it. Hands on is the best way.

You can learn a tremendous amount here on this and other hiking websites. Devote some time to reading posts or at least searching certain topics. I make it a point to follow 4 different hiking forums every day. I enjoy it and you learn in the process.

There is an EMS near Mineola. You can probably get a wealth of knowledge from spending time in that store and talking with the sales people. They usually know their stuff.
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Old 01-18-2014, 12:33 PM   #13
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Have you looked at hikes in the Hudson Highlands? Harriman, Bear Mountain, Storm King, Hudson Highlands, Clarence Fahnestock, and Wonder Lake State Parks all have a plethora of hikes, with greatly varied difficulties- something for everyone. All with significantly less driving for you than the Catskills/Adirondacks/Green Mountains.

(I am particularly partial to Wonder Lake, as I did the official state inventory for that park. A beautiful, quiet park with miles of trails to explore and a couple of scenic lakes to visit.)

I would definitely recommend picking up the New York Walk Book and the Harriman Trails Book. You should also invest in a few map sets in preparation for your hikes.

I believe that Harriman and Fahnestock State Parks both have car camping campgrounds that you can use. Harriman also has backcountry camping, if you're looking to get started in backpacking.
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Old 01-19-2014, 01:24 AM   #14
jellendc
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wiiawiwb thank you for your suggestions. DSettahr thanks for your input on areas to hike. This site is awesome! I sit on the computer and read thru lots of posts, hours at a time...my eyes are tearing!
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Old 01-27-2014, 09:00 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jellendc View Post
I'm a 47 yo father of 2 great kids. I found this site after my dad suggested I take the kids hiking/camping over the summer. Other than basic day hikes, we have zero experience. Hoping to learn and eventually contribute to the people on the forum.

Does anyone have any suggestions as far as places to hike and camp for some newbies? Catskills/Adirondacks/Berks? Also, suggested reading material/video to start the learning process?

Thanks in advance...

Steve
I will follow this thread too since I have zero camping experience and a bit of hiking experience
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Old 01-28-2014, 11:15 AM   #16
SESZOO
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Keep the hikes simple and fun for the kids, Don't try to see everything or go to far on the trip , Quality enjoyment not quanity .Not every hike is has to be a life changeing out of sight expierience , Just go for the simple enjoyment ,Some of my best walks have been short and maybe only an hour or two . Good comfortable boots and shoes are a must , A cheap little point and shoot camera for the kids might be nice too ... (There's a whole lot of good photographers on here ) And we 'd like to see some of the kids photo's too ,looking through a childs eyes ,a lot of times bring you back to earth , Above all though keep the hikes simple in the beginning.
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Old 01-28-2014, 02:35 PM   #17
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The children are middle schoolers and he's 47 so might be that limiting the physical requirements might be based on Dad.

Using the state campgrounds and doing day hikes the first time , as mentioned, is a good idea. Avoid blackfly season and inclement weather the first year with the kids will make it more enjoyable and and make them want to come back for more.

Smaller peaks with good trails and great views are a good idea at first, they have a sense of accomplishment and make for memorable moments. Mt Jo from Heart Lake has one of the best views of the high peaks that there is, and the mountains with or that had fire towers are always good hikes with great views.

Also , bring along one of the kids favorite treats, don't let them know you have it, then at one of your trail breaks , especially if their getting tired or a bit discouraged, bring it out of your day pack. Kind of a bribe, but hay, the kids will love it. And as was mentioned , take pictures to show friends and relatives after the trip.

John M.
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Old 01-29-2014, 08:10 PM   #18
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Great advice being offered. I will add that it is fun to give your kids their own cameras to document the hike. I love seeing what they capture in photos, as it often differs from what catches my eye.

I second Mt. Jo for the best views for the length of the hike. First time up my youngest said, "can you imagine if we lived here and could hike every day?"

Staying in one of the lean-to's at Heart Lake is a nice introduction to car camping and you don't have to invest in a tent. If you do stay at the campground I recommend you sign up for the naturalist hike around the lake. A lot of fun with knowledgeable staff. Plus they also do a weekly campfire with s'mores in the summer.
http://www.adk.org/page.php?pname=wilderness-campground

Most of all remember it is not important you reach your destination. When my boys were younger they often got side-tracked by something interesting off trail. I always tried to make the experience fun for them so they would come with me again. Seems to be working so far as they both summited their first and second high peaks last summer.

Treasure every moment and have fun!
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Old 01-30-2014, 10:25 AM   #19
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I would recommend Moss Lake near Eagle Bay as a great place to start for family camping. The sites are all free on a 1st come basis, and many are within an easy walk of the parking area, but still set a ways from the road and near water. There's an easy 2.5 trail around the lake, and numerous other well-marked, relatively easy hikes nearby. Also nearby are Rocky, Bald, and Bear mts, all of which I climbed with my niece before she turned 10.
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Old 02-04-2014, 12:08 PM   #20
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SESZOO, Connecticut Yankee, ADK123 and Madison, thank you for your responses. The kids have cameras, so having them take pics during the hike is a great idea.
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