The Windham Path: A Beautiful Catskills Hike for All Seasons
The Windham Path is a strikingly beautiful, family-friendly spot for novice hikers in the Catskills. Its 4-season, 1.5-mile loop can be traveled by foot, bicycle, cross-country ski, or snowshoe. Without any steep hills, it's the perfect spot for a leisurely run, and the path is wide enough for a stroller if you've got a baby in tow. On a perfect, blue-skied summer day, there's nowhere on Earth I'd rather be.
There are 5 bridges on the Windham Path, plus a few benches for lounging with a good book along the way.
At the pretty covered bridge over the Batavia Kill, a stream that runs 21 miles through Greene County, my 3-year-old daughter, Ramona, decided she was too tired to walk. (We wish we had known how stroller-friendly the trail was beforehand we left without hers!)
From this picturesque bridge, views of the stream are absolutely breathtaking. Nothing against Kaaterskill Falls, but this quiet creek is definitely more my speed!
On the bridge's railing, we spotted a Hickory Tussock Moth Caterpillar who also seemed to be soaking up the scenery.
The Windham Path curls around a field of haystacks, something I've honestly never seen up close before. I've spent my life in the city and suburbs, so this whole walk felt like stepping into one of my favorite children's books about life in the country. I loved it. I loved being up close to the sweetly fragrant swirl of hay. I loved watching my 6-year-old son, bouncing along for the whole mile-and-a-half, discovering breaks in the wild vegetation where he could get a closer look at the stream.
Archer borrowed one of the laminated wildflower guides that were left near the map in the Windham Path parking lot and gleefully identified plants as we walked. This tiny, red-orange flower seems to be a hieracium aurantiacum, also known as orange hawkweed.
We peered over tiny wooden bridges into babbling brooks.
When the path led us through wooded areas, we breathed in the scent of the forest floor.
About halfway through our walk, Ramona fell asleep on my shoulder, so I walked the last 3/4-mile while balancing a warm and cuddly 30-pound weight. I had no choice but to move slowly, savoring the cotton candy clouds, noticing the breeze whipping through the grass, gazing into the deep greenery of the surrounding mountains. I tried to gather it all into my memory bank, this beautiful place, the heavy warmth of my daughter, the sound of my husband and son singing softly as they walked ahead of us.
I recently learned that the Windham Path is hitting some governmental opposition, for reasons I don't completely understand. According to the petition on the Windham Area Recreation Foundation website, "The New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has purchased well over 100,000 acres of land in our area... [and] has denied any further construction of the Windham Path or any path like it on any of their property throughout all of the Catskills." I hope to learn more about both sides of this struggle, so if you know anything about it, please feel free to share your insights in the comments.
The Windham Path is located at 4982 New York 23, Windham, NY 12496. For more information, check out the Windham Area Recreation Foundation website and follow the Windham Area Recreation Foundation Facebook page for updates.