They say that New York City is one of the healthiest cities in the country. That is a consequence of the fact that we walk a lot in this town. Movement and activity correlate well with good health. The unfortunate drawback is that we are also inhaling lots of exhaust fumes from all of the automobile traffic around us.
I suppose in the short term there is not much we can do about that. However, that’s why occasionally we should take a break from the Big Apple. You don’t need to go far; an hour drive will quickly put you in the countryside, where the air is relatively pristine. Surely your lungs will thank you if nothing else.
A walk through the woods is commonly called a hike. Medically there is a lot more to hiking than meets the eye. Scientific studies have found that hiking is one of the most fun, intense workouts you can experience. It is a rigorous activity climbing up and down hills for 2 to 3 hours. At the end of it, the effect of being surrounded by nature is so calming that we don’t think of it as being uncomfortable or strenuous. Thus, hikers don’t get turned off by their activity unlike gym goers sometimes might.
One of my favorite places to go hiking is up near Suffern, New York. The park is called Kakiat. Located in the sparsely populated southwestern portion of Rockland County, Kakiat is a vast expanse of land adjacent to the much larger Harriman State Park. Kakiat itself is 376 acres of diverse topography traversed by trails, rolling hills, wetlands, and mountaintop vistas.
In the midst of the parks untouched and natural state, two things might occur to you as you traverse Kakiat’s trails. First, you might wonder how all this nature in abundance is available so close to New York City. Then it might enter your mind that nearly 400 years ago before the arrival of the Dutch the entire New York metropolitan area resembled Kakiat park.
The park is teaming with life. There are trees of every variety. You will observe willow trees, apple trees, dogwood, oak, and hemlock to name only a few. As for the fauna, there are no fewer than thirty species of wildlife wandering through the woods at Kakiat. You are likely to encounter every sort of creature from deer to wild turkeys and everything in between. Not to mention the abundance of trout swimming in the Mahwah River, which courses through the park for half a mile.
If you own a dog or dogs, Kakiat is like heaven for them. There is even a considerable doggy park with a natural stream running through it. Canines love the place. I envy dog owners whenever I see them with their four-legged friends out at Kakiat. It’s the only time I regret owning a cat instead of a dog.
Kakiat is a recreational park administered by Rockland County. Its intended uses are picnicking, horseback riding, and hiking. There are park rangers available to provide guided tours of the trails. No camping is allowed in the park. There are restrooms near the entrance, which is just off the parking lot, so if nature should call you won’t need to reply in the woods. Kakiat’s hours are 7 a.m. until 8 p.m. or sundown, depending on the time of year. The best time to visit Kakiat is March through December. Admission to the park is free.
Kakiat is an excellent escape from the hustle and bustle of New York City. Being so nearby makes it a gem for New Yorkers to appreciate.
It is easiest to reach Kakiat park by car, which is a 53 minute road trip from New York City. However, it is possible to visit Kakiat park via public transportation, although it will take considerably longer to arrive. (click moovit button for details)
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