Macedonia Brook Park, just minutes from the heart of Kent, offers camping, hiking trails and over 2,300 acres of beautiful scenery.
I had been to Macedonia before a few times for picnics and once for camping but it was well over 15 years ago. I didn't remember the hiking trails being too difficult, so we decided to try it again after hearing about the Oktoberfest hike that Cafe Little Europa was hosting.
The ride up to Kent was scenic, with cows lazing around in the grass, antique tractors dotting lawns of country farms, and the leaves just beginning to be painted in their dazzling autumnal hues.
Reaching the center of Kent by the large monument in the center of the road, we knew we weren't too far off. Taking a left onto West Bridge Street and a right on to Macedonia Brook Road, we followed to signs to lead us to our group, which was waiting for us by the pavillion.
For beginners and older hikers I recommend the blue trail. This trail crosses Cobble Mountain and several other peaks, offering breathtaking views of New York State's Catskills and Taconic Mountains. There are numerous streams in the park to allow hikers to cool off for a spell, if needed.
I hiked this trail the last time I was at the park and it is a great trail for older people, those who are in "average" shape (like me) and kids. The incline is gradual, the paths are wide at first, and it is fairly easy for hikers of all skill levels.
The white trail, on the other hand, is not. Like a nice day at the beach it is very pleasant at first, catching the rays, enjoying the scenery until, BAM! You get bitten by a jellyfish or a crab, or worse — you return home to find a terrible sunburn. This is what the white trail is like. Trekking along, taking in the fresh country air, it's pleasant at first and slowly creeps up on you.
My husband and I went with a group of 10 hikers (and beer lovers) from a group organized by Manuela Young, owner of Café Little Europa. The hike was followed by beer and brats at the café.
The beginning of the hike was peaceful — fresh air, a babbling brook, the sights and sounds of the woods, who could ask for more? As we began our ascension up the mountain I was feeling pretty good about myself. Admittedly I have been slacking with the "regular" exercise and was impressed with myself that I was handling this with no problems. Then came the steepness and the "air up there."
Taking a short break and feeling a little bit refreshed, we continued on the steep, rocky, narrow path to the top of the mountain. The only thing that was keeping me going at this point was the promise of some really good Oktoberfest beer. As we got a little higher, other hikers had stopped to rest as well, none wanting to admit how hard the hike really was.
Climbing up the rock wall to the summit, we finally reached the peak of the mountain. Boy was it worth it. The beautiful hues of the leaves just beginning to change was truly remarkable. We all stayed for a bit and enjoyed the view from the top along with the pride of our accomplishment.
I thought for sure the descent down the mountain would be much easier. I thought wrong. Carefully navigating my way down the slippery slope, I longed for the comfort of a seat, any seat would do. I casually chatted with Manuela about her native Germany and how wonderful it was that she organized this event, while my quads screamed in pain. My punishment for not working out lately.
Despite the pain, the view was amazing and the company was fantastic. Never have I heard of a restaurant owner taking the time out of their busy schedules to get to know their customers and make them feel like part of the family. Manuela does an incredible job welcoming guests in her café and treating them as if she has known them for years.
We all drove back to the café for an excellent, authentic Oktoberfest dinner and of course some Oktoberfest beer.
The hike was wonderful and the views were spectacular. Now it's off to the gym for me!
Click here for more information about Macedonia Brook Park and to print out the trail maps.