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Family friendly hike through a ghost town

Nothing says October and fall more than a great hike. The cool weather, the gorgeous leaves and the absence of bugs makes fall my most favorite time to get out into nature! This hike is by far one of our family's most favorite, especially this time of year because it most certainly embraces the creepiness of Halloween! Doodletown is a "ghost town" in the Bear Mountain State Park; ruins left behind tell the story of an abandoned settlement. The forest taking back houses and buildings long since forgotten, it is one spooooooky hike (don't worry it's very family friendly).

The whole town is 5 miles of hiking, so there is plenty to choose from and you definitely do not have to hike all 5 miles. Our family really loves the trail known as the Bear Mountain Loop that starts on 9W, right after the Bear Mountain Zoo, find the directions here. This trail has plenty of parking close to the trail head, it is not super steep and you get to view ruins shortly into the hike, which keeps kids interested!
We love to hike into the schoolhouse area which takes about 30 minutes and is a perfect spot to take a break! The old schoolhouse site sits right next to a large pond and our family loves to stop, have a snack, try to catch giant bullfrogs and take in the quiet and peaceful setting. My daughter and I often talk about how the kids would get to school and what it would be like to live in a settlement like this. The pond area also boasts a small waterfall, created by a damn. The cement walkway offers beautiful views of the waterfall and pond.
The trail into the pond offers a lot of opportunities to look at the crumbling ruins of Doodletown settlement, and gives hints of the lives lived here. The strange paved road in the middle of the woods feels a bit like the Wizard of Oz. The sites are marked with black and white pictures and a bit of history about each place. Some of the houses and sites even have artifacts left behind, making the scene even more haunting.
If your family is feeling up to it, on your way back toward the car there is a trail that goes off to the left and sign that states there is a tree nursery and the "first June cemetery." This is a very cool addition to the hike, and adds to the spookiness of the area.

This hike is a very fun one for children as there is lots to explore and discover. The plants that grow in the area are very interesting, some with leaves bigger than my daughter's head. There are lots of critters on the trail, we often come across giant praying mantises, salamanders and lots and lots of frogs live in the pond.

This hike is, without a doubt, a wonderful, family friendly haunt and a perfect addition to your October festivities!

Tips for this visit:
  • Bear Mountain State Park is home to rattle snakes, it is not common to see them, but please be aware of this and stay on the trail.
  • I recommend wearing closed toed shoes on this hike as the pavement is crumbling and there is lots of poison ivy on the edges of the trails.
  • You will want to take the blue trail.
  • There is plenty of off road parking.
  • From the parking lot, you will want to cross over the small bridge and look for two white rocks that indicate the trail head, they are marked with blue paint. You will then see a sign on the trail for Doodletown.
  • This is not a stroller friendly hike, you will need to babywear. 
  • There are no public bathrooms on this hike.
  • This is a carry-in and carry-out hike, please take all trash with you.

For more information please visit Doodletown online.

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