Take a Hike! Local Access to Nature Trails Help Fight Childhood Obesity

HikingTrailPeekskillCity governments nationwide are creating ways to fight obesity in their communities, especially childhood obesity, which continues at dangerous levels. Many have created bike lanes and trails, kid-safe play areas and hosted local running/walking events. According to researchers at the University of Missouri and the University of Minnesota, one of the most effective ways to positively affect obesity among children in their area is to provide more access to public lanes for recreation, particularly natural lands that include nature trails and forest lands not accessible by vehicles.

In fact, the study revealed, counties with the highest ratios of the natural trails and lands had highest levels of youth activities and lower levels of child obesity than those counties with more nature preserves than trails accessible by foot.

Thanks to trails.com, here are the 100 best hiking trails in America!

Westchester County (NY) features hundreds of acres of natural trails, accompanied by beautiful views. The country provides guides to five of the best nearby options., as well as other lists that include mountain bike trails. Here, courtesy of Westchester magazine, and Catherine and Christopher Brooks, authors of 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles, New York City, are the best trails and views in the area:

Anthony’s Nose, Peekskill, 900 feet
The vista at the top of this mini-mountain (supposedly named for a pre-Revolutionary War captain with a Cyrano sniffer) “is like a helicopter view of the Bear Mountain Bridge” and the Hudson River, says Catherine of this six-mile/three-hour loop, which is also part of the Appalachian Trail. With all the ups and downs, one climbs up about 1,500 feet total (the Empire State Building is only 2,500 feet). The hike begins just off Route 6.

2. Ward Pound Ridge Reservation, Pound Ridge, up to 860 feet
Ward Pound Ridge is the “crown jewel of parks in Westchester County,” Christopher declares. The five-mile Star Loop, a broad and well-maintained trail that looks out over the Cross River Reservoir, reaches about 665 feet. The trail also sweeps past the cave of the Leatherman, the itinerant 19th-century “über-hiker” and leather worker of Westchester lore. “You almost have guaranteed wildlife sightings,” adds Catherine.

3. Arthur W. Butler Memorial Sanctuary, near Mount Kisco, up to 753 feet
This climb—right off of Interstate 684—has a hawk-watch at about 750 feet where bird lovers gather in autumn. The real treat, though, according to the Brookses, is the swampland in a lower part of the hike. “It’s an Alice in Wonderland experience, with all of these devilish mushrooms coming out of the ground,” says Christopher.

4. Westmoreland Sanctuary, near Mount Kisco, up to 730 feet
Westmoreland, which is across from the Butler Sanctuary, is a place where “you can really get away from people,” says Christopher. Its forest contains ponds, cascading streams, stone walls, and a “huge quartz rock outcropping.”

5. Mianus River Gorge Preserve, Bedford, about 40 feet above the river
An easy five-mile walk that’s great for children, the gorge may not plunge for thousands of feet, but even its 40 feet make the thrilling view “like the Grand Canyon of the Mianus River,” says Catherine. The trail is one of the oldest Nature Conservancy preserves in the country and also affords opportunities to see cascades, an old mica and quartz quarry, and flowers like red trillium and marigolds.

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