Sunday, June 3, 2012

Pelham Bay Park hike

Can you find the trail? by TheTurducken
Can you find the trail?, a photo by TheTurducken on Flickr.
Executive summary: There are three reasons one might do this hike. One, you want to prove once and for all that you are impervious to poison ivy. Two, an eccentric billionaire will pay you $1 million to complete every hike in AMC's Best Day Hikes Near New York City. Three, someone you loathe with every fiber of your being has been begging you to take them on their first hike.

Full report: Since I spent part of Saturday volunteering at Van Cortlandt Park, I figured I should make it a Bronx weekend by doing a hike up at Pelham Bay Park. Granted, it would be short, but it made the cut in the Best Day Hikes book, whereas nothing at Van Cortlandt did - and I thought Van Cortlandt was rather scenic.

I made the mistake of following the book's instructions to the park instead of Google Maps'. The Bee-Line 45 did not stop at the park as I had been promised, and I had to get off a mile later and walk. This ended up not being as bad as I expected (no sidewalks, busy road), as I was able to pick up an unnamed trail until I got the trail I was aiming for. As a horse trail, it had muddy spots, but surprisingly few horse poops.

The Siwanoy Trail was utterly wretched. It was incredibly overgrown, so it was less of a hike and more of a game of Dodge That Plant. Many of those plants were poison ivy. It is evident that maintenance has not been done in a long time, and the trail is not worth hiking until it has. Amazingly, I saw four other hikers, none of whom looked as if they were enjoying themselves.

The highlights of the scenery are the views of the lagoon and marshes, but you could see those instead by driving to the Bartow-Pell Mansion and strolling around the grounds. I did pop by for a free carriage house tour (the main house costs $5). The trail itself is flat and, as I may have mentioned, a slog.

I did end up skipping out on a brief bit of the trail, as it didn't look any better and the weather was getting worse. I decided to follow Google Maps out, which made me walk a mile away from the park in the opposite direction, which thankfully had bike and horse paths. It also started raining. Have I mentioned my allergies were acting up, too?

The hike, in sum, was a real bust. If for some reason you do feel compelled to hike at Pelham Bay Park, stick to the other trails. I don't know if they're good, but they can't be worse.

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