A Woods Walk for Wee Adirondackers

I take my kids to playgrounds. I’ve coaxed them up mountains. But sometimes it’s deep, level woods that satisfies our need to move, to explore, to escape our everyday routine.

Forestland surrounds us in the Adirondack Park. Plenty of us know parcels with thick trees if we’re willing to punch into them. But bushwhacking—particularly dodging eyeball-stabbing sticks and the possibility of getting lost—isn’t my idea of fun with my two-year-old and four-year-old. That’s why we’ve become Coniferous trail regulars in the Wilmington Wild Forest.

This .6-mile loop trail is as gentle as it gets—perfect for a stroll through towering trees, along pine needle­–paved paths scooped from a shag-like carpet of moss and lichen. My kids get a kick out of the squirrel chatter—the critters from their lofty perches scolding us, warning their family and friends of intruders. On this flat trek, with just a handful of strides, I can feel the air temperature alter from balmy to cool, the trees funneling the breeze like a pinball machine.

I like that there’s no vertical destination here—just one foot in front of the other, over the occasional root, maybe, and an overzealously marked trail that thrills my youngest, who relishes her role as navigator, finding the red badges on every half-dozen trees. My oldest brings his walking stick, which he uses to point out shapes in gnarled trees, even a collapsed shell of a tractor that probably helped clear this land long ago.

We’ve strolled here in mornings en route to the library; we’ve done it after supper before the sun’s gone down, with plenty of time to spare for baths and the usual bedtime. It’s easy to imagine this seemingly hidden sanctuary from a page in a storybook or as some meticulously recreated theme-park forest. But it’s just our Adirondack backyard—this is our home.

Check out the Coniferous trail, part of the volunteer-built and -maintained Beaver Brook Trail System—thank you, Barkeater Trails Alliance—by driving 2.2 miles south of Hardy Road’s intersection with Route 86 in Wilmington. The Coniferous trail begins left of the sign-in kiosk. Though it’s a very short, easy hike, always bring water and other hiking essentials.

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