Advice to best enjoy wilder side of suburbia

Hiker walking on forest path

BY Molly Congdon
Gazette Reporter
CLIFTON PARK — After an agonizingly long, bitterly cold winter, most of us are incredibly eager to enjoy the outdoors for the few months of nice weather we are granted by Mother Nature here in upstate New York.

Why not take advantage of the wilderness when we have so many green spaces right here in Clifton Park?

Before you head out to hike, though, there are some things to keep in mind.

Jennifer Viggiani, Clifton Park’s open space coordinator, has some basic tips when treading the trails:

Pack a bottle or two: “Hydration is key,” Viggiani said. “It’s also important to pack a snack, just in case”

What goes in, must come out: Plain and simple, don’t ruin the environment. “All of our open spaces have a carry-in, carry-out policy,” Viggiani said.

Two is better than one: “It’s always a good idea to go in pairs,” Viggiani said. “Rather be safe than sorry. Plus, it’s great to socialize and get off the couch.”

Pest control: “It’s important to protect yourself from ticks and the disease that can follow as a result; you have to be prepared,” Viggiani said. “Wear light pant legs, check yourself when you’re out of the woods and remove ticks if you find them. The New York state Health Department has a great website to check out”:

SPF is SOP: Even if you don’t sun burn easily, it doesn’t hurt to have some protection on hand. “Be sure to pack your sunscreen,” Viggiani said.

Mapped out: You should always be equipped with a map. “We have maps for navigation, some are very well-marked and some are a work in progress but they are very helpful,” Viggiani said.

Enjoy it: “It’s a great way to relax — even if you’re not going that far distancewise, it really helps you destress,” Viggiani said. “It’s important to be in the moment.”

Take it easy: “Don’t go on a more rigorous trail than you’re ready for,” Viggiani said. “Don’t push your limits.”

Footwear: “You need sturdy shoes,” Viggiani said. “You don’t need fancy hiking boots, but there are some wet, muddy spots so you really want some old, comfortable shoes that you don’t mind getting dirty.”