Rocking Horse Ranch is a great getaway

Lisa Lightner

By the time you all read this, another Mushroom Festival will have come and gone. I hope that you were able to visit this local gem. And for me, it sort of signifies the beginning of fall.

We always vacation in September and this year was no different. My parents invited us to join them for four days up at the Rocking Horse Ranch in Highland, N.Y. Itís located in the Hudson Valley. Weíve been to New England on various vacations and have passed through that area, but never stayed there for vacation. From here, itís around a four-hour drive. Ours was longer because of the holiday weekend traffic.

That section of New York is just beautiful and we were fortunate to have great weather for much of our stay. The ranch is one of those all-inclusive destination spots for families. Everything from meals to activities to unlimited horseback riding is included in one fee. My kids got to do paddleboats, swimming and waterslides, pony rides, a bungee thing and rock climbing wall, kayaking, and all kinds of outdoorsy games and activities. It is definitely a low-key spot, not much high adventure stuff.

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If you wanted to hike nearby or do some other more adventurous activities, which are plentiful in the region, I would not recommend this place for lodging. Itís pretty spendy and therefore not worth it if youíre not doing all the activities. The food was decent, but very kid friendly --think pasta and chicken nuggets, not too much for the gourmand. But if you want a Ďno brainerí of a vacation for kids, then this may fit the bill. You donít really have to think about anything or plan much. Everything is all right there for you and the activities start at 8 a.m. or so and go well into the evening.

While we were there, we did one small side trip to Hudson Bridge State Park. Itís a fairly new state park, just a few years old. It is a restored/renovated old railroad bridge that has been made into a walkway for running and biking. The day we went it was cloudy but the views above the Hudson River were terrific. Itís a mile-and-a-half walkway that will take you from Highland to Poughkeepsie, over the Hudson River. The locals there are very lucky to have it. I know if it were close to here I would use it often. However, my parents went to see it the day before we did and that day it was 110 degrees up on the bridge and it wasnít nearly that warm outside. If you are passing through that area and need a place to stop and stretch your legs, Iíd try to include it in your route.

Now that September is here, it marks the beginning of migrating season for birds of prey. Festivities and events will be in full swing at Hawk Mountain if you need a weekend activity. Or, sticking closer to home, there are many spots in Cecil County and over in the Susquehannock State Park area where you can spot these wonderful birds. I know that many spotted bald eagles, I hope you see one. Let us know if you do.

As always, I can be reached at lisalightner@yahoo.com or at Facebook.com/KPGreatOutdoors.

Outdoor enthusiast Lisa Lightner lives in Avondale.