Hiking the HookSaturday, November 01, 2014
For someone who grew up with a grand total of two seasons (summer and monsoon), autumn is an absolute treat. Seeing the leaves turn just doesn't get old, and one of the best ways I've found to enjoy it is to go on a nice hike. I'm still very much a sneaker-level hiker though so I rely on my friends to steer me towards beautiful foliage. Last weekend, my friend Emily led us to a gem of a hike that winds through Hook Mountain and Nyack State Beach Park.
The 6-mile hike starts out on a flat and curving path hugged by the Hudson River on one side and Hook Mountain's sheer cliffs on the other. Thicker layers and wind protection are recommended for this part of the hike, which can be quite windy. This is a also nice and scenic path for runners and bikers, and we passed a number of them as we went on our way.
After about 1.5 miles, the path forked. We took the lefthand path marked Rockland Lake and continued on the tree-shaded route, past the old stone building and a sign about the Knickerbocker Ice Company. From there, we followed the green-blazed hiking path.
The unpaved path took us through the woods and some rocky switchbacks where we glimpsed the Hudson River through the trees until we broke through to the summit, where stunning views of cliffs, foliage and the river were plentiful. As we hiked from one part of the mountaintop to another, vistas switched from the Hudson River to a peek at Rockland Lake.
We descended through a path shaded with tall trees and dotted with large boulders. I loved this part of the hike where the trees were still lush and the leaves were starting to turn.
At the tail end of the hike, we switched over to the white-blazed path and emerged at the foot of the mountain in the quiet suburbs. As we walked back towards Nyack Beach State Park, we got a nice look at the mountain we had scaled.
And because this is the hike that doesn't seem to stop giving, we ended with a stroll through a sandy beach fringed will fall foliage before circling back to our car. It was one of those routes that felt like 4 different hikes wrapped up into one. So lovely!
Afterwards, we rewarded ourselves with a hearty lunch/supper at Prohibition River on Nyack's Main Street. We tried a plate of the house-made Pickled Pickings, which that day was interesting and tasty selection of Swiss chard, cauliflower and asparagus. I tucked into the delicious burger and pint of pumpkin beer that I had been envisioning for about 30% of the hike, and yes, both lived up to my expectations. Emily had a hearty bowl of sweet potato curry over sticky rice, which she found quite satisfying. For dessert, we shared the apple pie spring rolls. The name of the dish gave everyone pause but it was delicious ... like an haute version of McDonald's apple pie (a compliment, I swear!).
We've got just a few more weeks left to take in the fall foliage (and enjoy pumpkin beer), so go out and get as much of it as possible before the season ends!