Tag Archives: Parks

Upstate Hiking

My family has always loved hiking and we used to do a lot of state park camping when we were growing up. I have fond memories of weekends spent in Stony Brook, Watkins Glen, and Letchworth, all of which are just a couple hours’ drive from Rochester. Last summer, we spent a week in the Adirondacks hiking, boating, and spending time without cell phone service in beautiful scenery. This year, for the first time ever, we had a proper staycation in the Rochester area and spent the week doing a variety of Fun Family Activities, which ranged from hiking and wine tasting to board games and bar trivia. We chose Letchworth State Park for our hike because the park is huge and we knew it would be easy terrain for the dog.

I love the gorges at Letchworth . . .

. . . the trees . . .

. . . and everything that grows and lives along the trails. . . .

Pretty, right? I highly recommend a visit. Need a buddy? Happy to go with you if I’m in the area! If camping isn’t your thing, there’s the beautiful Glen Iris Inn in the park, too, and the best view of the gorge is just beyond.

But one hike was not enough, so my sister and I spent a day at her newest local find, Grimes Glen, which has now topped the list of my favorite Rochester area hikes. It’s also probably the most challenging hike I’ve done around here and perhaps the only hike that my sister and I have done just the two of us. And we had such a great time.

Grimes Glen is basically a walk up Grimes Creek that takes you in the creek itself . . .

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I sorely missed my Tevas, sitting unhelpfully outside the door of my apartment in Singapore.

. . . scaling ropes tethered to trees and rocks to get up the banks and waterfalls . . .

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. . . and picking your way through trees, waterways, and shale walls that basically become a playground!

There are three major waterfalls at Grimes Glen and we spent a few hours sitting on the ledge of the third fall. It was tricky to get to and we saw exactly three groups of people in the entire time we were there. The noise of the water echoed off the shale and our vantage point from the top of the waterfall let us see all the way to the bend in the creek. It was so unexpectedly private!

Once the sun reached the highest point in the sky, we were ready for a swim. I find counting to three very motivating and my sister was kind enough to indulge me until I was (briefly) completely submerged in the frigid water. I couldn’t bring myself to join her in the fall itself, though, not once I came up shrieking because of the cold. My last swimming in a waterfall experience was in Laos a couple years ago where it was much, much warmer!

And the privacy I mentioned? We climbed back up to our ledge and spent a few minutes topless to dry off, enjoying the sun after our dip. And why not, really?


Upstate New York may be older, emptier, and more downtrodden than I remembered, but it’s as beautiful as ever.

Go exploring. Spend some time outside; it’s lovely there.

A Tale of Two Hikes

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times . . .

Oh wait, someone already wrote that.

Hike the First: Urban
At around 3:40pm every weekday afternoon, one of my colleagues crosses off a day on the chart pinned above her desk. A few others join in for a song that might remind discerning listeners of a ditty involving bottles of a certain beverage. There’s one fewer bottle at the end of each verse. (Following? Good.)

For me, this countdown also means that there are fewer and fewer days to complete my exploration of New York City. I’ve been wanting to walk the Brooklyn Bridge for a while and mentioned it to a friend a couple weeks ago. The forecast promised (and delivered!) a dry weekend, so off on an adventure we went!

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This helpful hint turned out to be more of a suggestion than a rule.

We took the 6 train to Brooklyn Bridge City Hall and followed the crowds. For whatever reason, I didn’t expect to be as high up as we were or to literally walk over traffic. It was very crowded, very loud, and a really neat sensory experience to be walking on concrete over the East River. There were skyscrapers behind and in front of us, and miles of river on either side.

Looking towards Brooklyn:

Looking towards Manhattan (the far more spectacular view):

Architecturally, the bridge is also just really beautiful:

Once back on the ground in Dumbo, we decided it was time to find something to eat. We ended up at Untamed Sandwiches, which was absolutely delicious. And they compost! So that was exciting, too. Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory is right along the water and it was a warm enough day for that, so we stopped there before walking through Brooklyn Bridge Park. It reminded me of the microcreamery where I worked over the summers during high school and college. Lines out the door, ice cream machines in the back, smells of milk and sugar, cash only. Delicious.

Brooklyn Bridge Park leads through a garden right up along the river, providing more views of Manhattan:

I’ve spent very little time in Brooklyn and I have no excuse for that since I live one stop from Brooklyn on the L. It really does feel like a completely different city and that’s enjoyable on its own. The streets have real names, the elevation of the land actually changes, the buildings are lower, and there seems to be more space in the sky. Brooklyn’s neighborhoods are as distinct from one another as Manhattan’s and I don’t know them nearly as well as I’d like to. Now that the weather is nice enough to do some real exploring, it’s time to change that.

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Hike the Second: Nature
After wandering through an art show on University Place on Sunday and seeing beautiful photographs of nature, I wanted to find some. I sent a message to my urban hiking buddy and headed to Cranberry Lake Preserve in Westchester for a change of scenery.

The first thing I noticed, much like when we explored Silver Lake Preserve, was the air. It smelled fresh and earthy, clean and new. That I even noticed tells me that I’ve spent far too much time in the city.

We followed a couple different trails to see where they’d lead and I climbed some logs because it’s fun to be tall, but I’d really classify this as an easy walk rather than a hike. Hiking involves mountains and sweating and legs that are satisfyingly achy when you’re done. This was just pretty, which was perfectly fine with me.

There were a lot of fallen trees that looked as though they’d been there for decades . . .

. . . some really great trail markers . . .

. . . and, of course, water!

I love all forms of exploring and being outside. I don’t have that much time left here to do it and there’s a lot to do!

Happy trails, wherever they are!

Parks and Surprises

This was the weekend of parks. The weather took a break from the winter we had last week and I used the sunshine as a good reason to wander through three. I was pleasantly surprised with the flurry of activity I found in each. I do like that about New York City – there is literally always something happening!

My favorite cosmetics shop is in Korea Town, which is an area I like a lot because it reminds me of being in Asia. I never made it to Korea, but it gives me a little sense of home that feels warm and inviting.

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I usually walk through Greeley Square Park on the way out of the subway. Unbeknownst to me, Broadway Bites had popped up and there were people everywhere! It was so much fun to see literally all types of delicious food and drinks.

My other Korea Town plan was a bowl of noodles, so it all worked out really well. I ended up sharing my table with a lady visiting from LA who was trying to sample as much pizza as she could while visiting.

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Mushroom ramen! Something else I love about the US – Asian food here has lots of vegetarian options that don’t always exist in Asia.

Since the weather was beautiful, I was happy to just wander. And needed to walk off my mushroom ramen! In keeping with my Operation Keep Smiling plan, I took some photos on the way to Bryant Park where I sat for a while to finish my book and enjoy some hot chocolate. (I had, after all, walked off the ramen.)

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I’m not sure what this place is trying to be, but I absolutely love that Cuban and Chinese are a perfectly acceptable fusion. Something tells me it involves a lot of pork.
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The first thing I thought when I saw this sign was, “What does one have to do to get a corner?” Anyone know?

Bryant Park’s Winter Village recently started, again unbeknownst to me. I’d been to the Winter Village on various trips to New York City but I didn’t know it started this early! Maybe I should start accepting the free copies of Time Out New York magazine at the subway. Maybe that would help me know things.

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View from just outside the hubbub in Bryant Park where I sat to finish my book.

Again, really enjoyed people watching and looking at all the cute stands and stalls. There were lots of food and beverage options here, too.

The park surprises continued today. I made my way to Washington Square Park on a whim. I haven’t been in a while even though I live less than two miles away. Distance is deceptive in Manhattan. Everything is really close together but the subway is built to run mainly north-south with buses taking more of the east-west routes. It can take a really long time to get places as a result. The easiest route from my apartment to Washington Square was to walk, so that’s what I did. Notice the steadily darkening sky . . .

And in the park . . . chalk! Who knew? Looking at all the drawings was so much fun! Is that a typical thing? I have no idea and there were no signs anywhere indicating as such.

When the sky got really threatening, I headed in the direction of home. When it was clear that I was going to get caught in a torrential downpour, I stopped to take another picture. Nothing to lose at that point!

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All those poor chalk artists!

In addition to the beautiful weather and chalk drawings, here’s what made me smile today:

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What is this tiny house doing in between these two normal sized buildings?
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It’s so small that it only has half an address! 249 1/2! That’s almost like Platform 9 3/4. I think I would like to live in a place with half an address. That sounds like fun. People would probably get lost on the way to visit, but it would make for great conversation.

Three parks and a surprise in each one. Sounds like Halloween weekend to me!