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Age Question

New postPosted: Mon Nov 12, 2012 9:22 am
by AntLive
Hey Everyone,

I'm fairly new to this site and I have been very impressed with the information on it and what people share. I wanted to know what other hikers of the Catskills thought about how old someone should be before attempting a hike. My son is 8 and he has been wanting to go on a hike with me. I was thinking of taking him to Giant Ledge. Does anyone have any thoughts or recommendations? Anything offered will be greatly appreciated.


Re: Age Question

New postPosted: Mon Nov 12, 2012 5:12 pm
by kkayaker8
I'd say it's less about age and more about ability and willingness. I suggest something short at first and make it fun. I also suggest having him take some ownership - have a small backpack for him - let him carry a small water bottle and his snack. Give him a camera. It sounds like you have half the battle won if he already wants to go with you. I might also recommend for a first hike - some of the spots over at North South Lake - they have great views, various lengths and bailout points, loops, and then you can get a better idea of how he would handle other hikes. Just a suggestion.

Re: Age Question

New postPosted: Mon Nov 12, 2012 8:49 pm
by mike
I did my first hike when I was 5 years old. Last year I saw a 3-year old hiking the Devil's Path. I would suggest doing Hunter Mountain from Spruceton Road. It goes up an easy Jeep trail with a Fire Tower when you get to the top. Balsam Mtn Fire Tower is also good for a young kid's first hike. Colgate Lake to Dutcher's Notch is is a level hike in the woods. But, no views. North-South Lake is good too.

Giant Ledge is good too. But, you have to watch them around the ledge. You can fall off the ledge. A hike up Slide Mountain from Rt 47 is good too.

I think that hiking is a great experience for kids. Health and cheap sport. Just my 2 cents worth of advice.

Re: Age Question

New postPosted: Mon Nov 12, 2012 11:26 pm
by AntLive
Thanks for the advice. We have gone on a few hiking trails here on Long Island. They are mostly flat. I feel he could make one of the hikes mentioned. I like the idea of giving him some responsibility during it too. (Pack, water, camera, etc.) He would like that. I feel more at ease now. Thanks again!

Re: Age Question

New postPosted: Mon Dec 10, 2012 10:46 pm
by Jon
8 is definitely old enough. I started taking my girls hiking when they were 4, and I try to get them out at least 6 or more times during each summer/fall. It's not always easy, but it's education. Adults take all this for granted, but just seeing a stream flow, some frogs in a pond, or a rock outcrop might make a child's day or summer. My daughter even though she is 5 will be able to tell you about every single deer that we have come across on every single trail from here to NY state. It's an entire wondrous world that they don't get daily exposure to (especially in flat-land/long Island)

I definitely agree with kayaker. Start them out easy. I take my girls around on hikes in NJ which are short (less than 3 or 4 miles) then I inch it up to the 5-6 mile range. Anything beyond that and it's just complaints the whole way. I'd say if you take them on 1 short hike each week for about a month, then they should be ready and able to take on a Catskill hike. I also have gotten in the habit of giving them a water bottle to carry for themselves, and a backpack to put it in. It makes them feel like they're hiking and carrying their weight, and they like stopping and taking breaks and rummaging through their backpacks.

I used to do North Point with my parents since I was 5, and hiked all over south mountain and mary's glen and escarpment and all that. So maybe I've got a skewed perspective. However remember we have 2 million years of evolution behind us, and this terrain is what we were built to traverse. It comes naturally. I would suggest Balsam lake mountain fire tower (balsam mountain is a bit longer/more elevation gain) Windham highpeak is a fairly easy trail, but it is about 8 miles long. Also just to the south of Catskills is Shawangunk Range, which most of the hikes are lateral, and do not gain much in elevation but still have spectacular views.

There are plenty of smaller hikes and day hikes. I'd suggest Kaaterskill falls, but you might want to wait until after spring melt for that, as it is dangerous and people do die there from slipping into the torrent.

I have succeeded in taking the girls up to one 3500 peak. Windham highpeak is a long hike by comparison to the stuff we do in NJ but I convinced my wife and the girls to follow me up there. It definitely took some "cajoling" at 3500 feet to keep going. But it is definitely an experience that they won't soon forget.
The girls taking in the view of Blackhead Range from Windham High Peak

I say that getting kids exposed to nature is always a good thing. It doesn't matter for how long, or how much altitude you gain, but just do it. The more you do it the more accustomed they will get, and eventually they will get a "trail-foot" and be able to take on larger hikes.

Re: Age Question

New postPosted: Sat Dec 15, 2012 8:25 am
by AntLive
Thanks Jon. I agree that it's important to get children outdoors and moving around. I am looking forward to getting on the trial with my son (and eventually my daughter too). I will check out some of the trails you've mentioned. Thanks.