March Hike: Cranberry Lake Preserve
Yes, it’s still cold…spring has not yet sprung…and it’s still awfully hard to get everyone motivated to get outside for a hike. I know, I know! But I’m on a mission here, folks – one hike a month. So, this month, I had to plan carefully and find a hike that offered just a little something “extra”. Maybe that’s what you need, too, to get your family out the door. Consider Cranberry Lake Preserve- one of my favorite hikes in Westchester. Here’s how we made this hike just a little more enticing, to get the family motivated on a cold and partially overcast day: we turned this hike at Cranberry Lake Preserve into a scavenger hunt, full of history and mystery.
Cranberry Lake Preserve has a fascinating past, and remnants of its days-gone-by are preserved all around the trails. Not only that, the Westchester Department of Parks has made available a History Trail Map, which makes the historical markers and artifacts around the park easy to find and explore. Click here to link to the map, and bring a copy with you.
This hike is easily turned into a scavenger hunt by searching for the many unique points of interest around the lake. This will engage even your reluctant hikers. Here’s a quick list to get you started – 6 of the many interesting features to hunt for and find on your hike at Cranberry Lake:
1. The quarry – it’s beautiful and there are plenty of areas along the back ridge where the kids can do some rock scrambling….with careful supervision, of course!
2. The remains of a tennis court – this feels surreal…nature is well on its way to reclaiming this man-made feature. What is a tennis court doing near the Quarry in the middle of the woods? One of the mysteries…
3. Relics of trains – trains used to carry the stone from the Quarry to the Kensico Dam during construction.
4. An Old Stone Chamber -another mystery- what was it used for?
5. The Bent Bridge – walk out over the wetlands; you’re sure to see some wildlife here.
6. The lake– carved by a glacier 18,000 years ago. The rocky evidence of the glacial retreat surrounds the lake.
One of the best parts about this hike: It’s a lovely, tranquil oasis right in the heart of Westchester. Just a few miles from downtown White Plains, it’s easy to get to; the perfect place for a short hike when you only have an hour or two to spare. Almost all the trails are flat and easy to walk for all ages.
So….even though it’s still cold…getting outside for a hike is a guaranteed Happy Day. Share a little history with the kids, or learn some yourself; talk about the glaciers that used to cover our county; get yourself and your family a nature fix and a little exercise at the same time. Check out Cranberry Lake! Click here to visit the Westchester County Parks web page about Cranberry Lake, for directions and more information.