The Summer Adventures series focuses on affordable summer fun for families in Westchester and the lower Hudson Valley. It’s all about exploring our own backyard and is the perfect resource for planning a killer staycation or finding something awesome to do this weekend. Interested in more local love? Head here.
Last weekend I woke up and the girls were hungry for an adventure. It wasn’t too hot and it wasn’t supposed to rain until later in the day, so it seemed like the perfect day to try out a hike at Croton Gorge Park. I’ve shied away from hikes with the girls in the past because they can be divas. That’s actually an understatement. They’re just about always divas. But a post on Wee Westchester convinced me that the trails at Croton Gorge Park would be a great place to start.
Difficulty level: beginner friendly
I’m so glad we tried it!
Calling something a “hike” makes it sound like work. It can imply that it’s arduous. Maybe even a little dangerous. But let’s be real. “Hikes” usually refer to meandering on trails in the woods—especially if kids are involved. My kids definitely meander and this trail was perfect for them.
Notice the purse and the tutu? Yeah. These ladies are not exactly the outdoorsy types, but they loved every second of this adventure.
Finding the trail
It can be a little confusing to find the trail if it’s your first time at Croton Gorge Park. In fact, there was another first timer who was as unsure as I was that we were going the right way.
After you pay the $10 parking fee to get in and drive past the falls, you’ll find yourself in the park’s parking lot. There’s a playground at the far side. The trail starts on a little incline behind it going up to the right. If you want to walk over the bridge above the falls (which is what we did), make sure to follow the Aqueduct Trail when the path splits a little farther down.
How long is this adventure going to take?
Don’t rush it. The walk up takes about 20 minutes (depending on how quickly your kids move and how often they stop to look for fairies, like mine were above).
The payoff is spectacular. It’s also a really good change of scenery for any little ones who are starting to get bored of the trail.
When they saw the bridge we drove over to get in and the parking lot down below, the girls couldn’t believe how far up we walked. Between that and the falls created by the dam, they were totally in awe (enough awe to forget to fight with each other about who was the leader).
Pro tip: pack a snack
We stopped for a snack (there is plenty of room to sit and rest along the bridge) and to rest little legs in case they were tired. The trail isn’t a loop, so keep in mind that you have to walk back the way you came. A snack gives the kids some time to take in the view and relax.
On our way back to the car, we played a five senses game. We each said things that we could see, hear, feel, taste, and smell (I’m patting myself on the back for that one because there was no shrieking about who was the leader this time). It sounds dorky, but it was really interesting to hear the different things they picked up on.
The girls are also really into fairies so we made up stories about how fairies used some of the things along the trail. They were pretty sure that the little nooks and crannies in the rock wall above would be a perfect place for fairies to build homes in.
A different view of Croton Gorge Park
Once we were off the trail, we walked across the parking lot to see the falls from the bottom. Again, the girls were in awe of how high up we hiked. It started drizzling once we walked over to the base of the falls, so we didn’t stay long. Next time we’ll definitely pack a little picnic to eat in the grass.