Top 10 Fun Things to do at Mohican Outdoor Center
October 5, 2014

There is always too much to try to fit into summer, but every year, no matter what, we make time for a long weekend trip to the AMC’s Mohican Outdoor Center. It is a thru-hiker’s oasis along the Appalachian Trail, and at about 90 minutes from New York City, it is also the perfect deep-woods getaway for urban folk like us.

In August, family from as far away as Virginia (grandparents Nana Beth and Opi-Din Lambert), and from different points in New Jersey (Nana Merle, who lives at the Jersey Shore, and the de Jongs, who live in Plainsboro) joined us for a wonderful time.  Nana Merle and the de Jongs had never been to Mohican so it was a real treat to show them around.  The de Jongs include Aunt LaLa and Uncle Eric, the triplets—Christine, Darren, and Evan—and “Baby Sarah” who turned six later in the month but who will probably always be called Baby Sarah!  The de Jongs had previously camped in their own back yard and this proved to be experience enough as they pitched their six-person sleeper tent in the woods near Blueberry Hill lodge where the rest of us bunked. 

We have already written extensive overview of the lodging and logistics in Outdoors With Kids New York City: 100 Fun Places to Explore In and Around the City, and between that book and this blog, we have described four incredible hikes: Coppermine Trail, Dunnfield Creek, Van Campens Glen, and the Rattlesnake Swamp Loop.  So for this post, we thought we would have the children—Riley, age 11, and Halina, age 8—offer a “Top 10” list of reasons that make the place so special.

  1. Playing freeze tag. We ran barefoot on the rocky gravel, in and out of the cabin, and around the woods. To play the game, someone is a “freezer” and someone is an “unfreezer.” Everyone runs around trying to avoid being caught by the freezer. If they are caught, then only the unfreezer can tag them so they run again.  –Halina
  2. Roasting marshmallows.  First, it is fun to hunt for sticks out in the woods, especially when it is starting to get dark and we need flashlights.  I love roasting the marshmallows because everyone is standing around the fire talking, and it is beautiful when the embers glow on the marshmallow sticks.  I also love pouring chocolate syrup on the cooked marshmallows. –Riley
  3. Hiking the Rattlesnake Swamp Trail. We were curious about what it looked like along the trail so we set off on the adventure. It was basically flat but there were rocks and some grassy areas and many mushrooms. Because it was flat, it was a good hike to do with both grandparents (Nana Beth and Opi-Din) and younger cousins.  The kids loved to go ahead of the grownups to see what the trail was like and come back and let the adults know.  We also like to stop and pick up different kinds of moss and make fans out of big leaves.  We came across some streams with big rocks to jump across to get to the other side.  We didn’t do all of the trail because it took longer than we expected to just do half of it.  After hiking for about two hours, we turned around and went back to the cabin for lunch.  Lunch had never felt so good after hiking about four hours! –Halina and Riley
  4. Seeing how far we could throw rocks. My cousins and I stood in the grassy area behind the cabin and threw rocks into the parking lot area when there weren’t any cars around. We also liked throwing sticks in the woods when we were on the trail. We were always careful to do this in a place where no one would get hit.  –Riley
  5. Making mud! In the rocky gravel, we dug holes and filled them with water which sank into the earth and made mud.  We put the mud inside a bottle that was half-filled with fresh water and shook it and then we put that back into the ground.  We pretended that we were digging for dinosaur bones and so we pretended that the rocks in the earth were really dinosaur bones. We had started on just making mud, not for any use, but just for something to do, and then we got the idea to dig for dinosaur bones.  –Halina
  6. Playing baseball with my cousins. Right in front of the cabin, there was a clearing where we threw the ball back and forth and pitched to each other.  I liked playing this because it helped me practice my catching and swinging.  –Riley
  7. The walk to Catfish Pond.  We stopped at the boathouse so Opi-din (Grandpa Lambert) and Uncle Eric could get canoes.  While we were there, we looked in the water and saw lots of snapping turtles! The boys also took turns going out with their father in the canoe.  Sarah also went, but Christine and I stayed at the beach and in the water. –Halina
  8. Making fairy houses out of twigs and leaves.  You do this by sticking four sticks into the ground, and making four holes at four corners of a huge leaf. To make walls, you hang leaves by their stems, sticking their stems into the big leaf that serves the roof. Then you cut pieces of moss into small rectangles and find a leaf that will cover the piece of moss and put it inside as a bed.  You use peanut shells as bowls and put berries into them to make food for the fairies. –Halina
  9. Swimming in Catfish Pond. We like swimming here because the water is calm, there is no current like in the ocean. The water is also clean and clear so we can put on snorkels and masks to watch fish underwater, and go out where we can’t stand.  We used a pink inner tube and took turns using it.  We spent about two hours in the beach, but for some of the time, the girls were sunbathing! –Halina
  10. Beautiful place to just relax and hang out. If you don’t feel like hiking or swimming, just sitting on the porch of the cabin, or at the picnic table, is beautiful. It is also a wonderful place for dear old friends and family to reunite.  Nana Merle and the Kocheys, who live in nearby Sparta, had a grand old time catching up and reliving memories for the neighborhood in the 1970s! Throughout the weekend, everyone, including children and adults, spent time on the porch chatting, grabbing snacks, and laughing.  –Halina and Riley

What is your Top 10 list for Mohican, or any outdoor spot?

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