The Student News Site of Tenafly High School

The Echo

The Student News Site of Tenafly High School

The Echo

The Student News Site of Tenafly High School

The Echo

Take a Hike

The+Giant+Stairs+at+the+Palisades+Interstate+Park.+%28njhiking.com%29
The Giant Stairs at the Palisades Interstate Park. (njhiking.com)

I’m often at a loss on what to do over weekends when I’m free. Sure, going down to NYC could make for a fun day out, but spending a day in the hustle and bustle of one of the busiest cities in the world can be exhausting, especially if I’m prepping for a long week full of tests and endless schoolwork ahead. Plus, finding parking spots in the city is a real pain. Fortunately, there are loads of other options.

One of the weekend activities that I personally enjoy is hiking. Getting outside and spending some time in the great outdoors can actually be pretty fun, too. I recently caught up with Tenafly High School’s own resident hiking connoisseur, Ms. Wissler, to ask her what she likes about the activity.

“I like the fresh air,” Wissler said. “And it’s a challenge sometimes. You have to solve some problems—like, where’s the trail? I always like that. Maybe you have to roll over a rock, maybe you have to climb over some trees that fell over. There’s always problems to be solved.”

Hiking is a healthy and accessible activity with a very low entry bar–that is, if such a bar even exists at all. There’s no fancy requirements for anyone. Casual hikes generally don’t require any complicated equipment or a ton of supplies, but some items will definitely be helpful. These include bug spray and sunscreen for the scorching summer months that tend to bring about buggy conditions on trails and warm clothing for the winter months when it gets extra chilly. Some spiked shoes will also help you keep your balance if you’ll be visiting anywhere particularly icy and slippery. 

If you’re looking for somewhere to go, the good news is that there are a lot of great spots that aren’t too far from town. There’s even one right in Tenafly, the Tenafly Nature Center, which features five trails and the picturesque Pfister’s Pond.

Another closer spot is the Tallman Mountain State Park, which is only about a 20-minute drive away. It has a scenic picnic area on top of the mountain overlooking the Tappan Zee Bridge and the Hudson River. Also, according to Mr. Whitehead, there are a lot of good-tasting mushrooms to be found in the park. I’ll take his word for it.

The spot I visit the most often is the Palisades Interstate Park. It has some stunning cliffside views and dozens of trails with varying levels of difficulty for you to choose from. The trails at the Palisades are also home to the Giant Stairs, a several-mile-long stretch of flat terrain and giant boulders that have broken off from the cliffs and fragmented along the shore. Inexperienced hikers may find some segments of this hike a challenge, however. Scrambling over a bunch of boulders–sometimes on all fours–is no easy task. But don’t be intimidated, as the Palisades Interstate Park offers plenty of other trails that are more beginner-friendly. Most of the park’s trails are great options to visit if you want to bring along kids or pets.

If you’re someone who doesn’t mind a longer drive, there’s also lots of greenery and great hiking spots up in New York. Harriman State Park, Sterling Forest State Park, Bear Mountain… These places are all about 30-40 minutes away by car. One of Ms. Wissler’s favorite hiking spots, the Minnewaska State Park Preserve, is a one-and-a-half-hour drive from down here in Tenafly. But for her, the experience is well worth the duration of the trip. The beauty of nature is a large part of the attraction to hiking for her.

“It’s very scenic,” commented Ms. Wissler. “There’s waterfalls, and in mid-June, there’s this mountain laurel that grows there. They’re shrubs with these huge white flowers on them, and it’s beautiful.”

Who knows? Maybe you’ll find a trail you’d like to visit this weekend. Happy hiking!

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About the Contributor
Linda Xing, Staff Writer
Linda Xing ('25) is excited to be a Staff Writer for The Echo this year.