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Trip Recap: Hike & Farm

Thursday, March 22, 2012
Two weekends ago, I finally accomplished one of my big goals for the winter: Bring friends on a day hike.

It happened quite by accident. Back in January, I received a Vital Juice email advertising a Sunday hike and organic farm tour.

It may be important to mention that my second love, after the great outdoors, is farm-fresh food. On any given Saturday, you will find me at the closest farmers market. I've been a member of a community-supported agriculture (CSA) group for two years, and I've loved every minute and every vegetable of it. Sometimes, during particularly stressful moments of New York City living, a small part of me even dreams of running away to join the WWOOF program.

So, I jumped at the chance to combine two of my favorite things. The hike and farm tour was being offered by Discover Outdoors, a New York company that leads day trips, weekend excursions, and international adventures. I booked my ticket online and sent an email to my friends. My dear friends, always up for trying new things, reserved the last spots on the trip. I was thrilled!

The Hike
Everyone met at Union Square at 9 a.m., and we piled into a van: 12 hikers and 1 Discover Outdoors guide. It was a beautifully sunny, if bitingly cold, day.

The van took us up to the Reeves Meadow Visitor Center at Harriman State Park, N.Y. From there, we did a 5-mile loop to Pine Meadow Lake. The lake served as our halfway point, where we stopped for a picnic lunch.

The trail was well-worn and fairly flat. The only challenging bit was a stretch of moraine that had us picking our way around boulders and over loose rocks. We finished our hike before 1 p.m., and we piled back in the van for the next leg our trip.

The Farm

Next, we headed over to Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture in Tarrytown, N.Y., a 25-minute drive across the river. Stone Barns was originally a dairy farm owned by J.D. Rockefeller"Ñin a response to milk pasteurization, Rockefeller wanted a private source of raw milk for his family. (The debate over pasteurized milk versus raw milk continues today.) Now, Stone Barns is a four-season sustainable farm and educational program; it is also a direct supplier to the famous Blue Hill Restaurant. We took a tour of the farm, seeing everything from rotating animal fields to compost-fueled heating systems. Best of all, we had time to grab fresh snacks from the farm cafŽ.

The van got us back to Union Square by 5:30 p.m. By that point, I think we were all ready for a hot and hearty dinner and a good night's sleep.

Recommendation: Perfect first adventure
While the Discover Outdoors programs can be pricey, they provide excellent opportunities for first-time hikers. There's no need to worry about transportation, planning, or getting lost. All you need to do is pack a lunch and get yourself to the meeting point in New York City! Discover Outdoors also does a great job of explaining what to wear and what to bring. Grab a friend and check out one of their upcoming adventures.

Submitted by Sara Howard after her Hike & Sustainable Farm trip on February 12th 2012. Sara is a writer and editor based in New York City. She loves bicycles, vegetables, and the great outdoors. Find Sara on her blog or on twitter.