Spring is a perfect time to visit Hartwick Pines State Park; the weather is cool and a great time to take a hike or bike ride.  It’s super relaxing because there are fewer people! (I’m not a big-crowd fan, so that’s a big plus for me.)

Hartwick Pines is a family favorite. So many people visit the park and make comments about remembering their visits when they were children. Of course, things have changed since they visited previously, but change is a part of life. Right?

Hartwick Pines State ParkThe original Monarch pine that I saw when I visited as a child is now dead from a lightning strike, although the remnants of that tree are still there. When I was little, you could walk right up to the tree and, with other family members or friends, hook hands and try to reach all the way around the tree. Once that became such a popular activity for so many people that it threatened the health of the tree by damaging the roots, the park put a fence around it. Not that it stopped everyone because it was a small wooden fence, but most people respected its borders.

The original Visitors Center that is near the picnic/playground area, is now closed. I know there were some structural issues with it that necessitated fundraising in order to repair it – there was some initial discussion about tearing it down, but luckily the state listened to its visitors who were broken hearted at the thought of its demise and did the needed repairs instead. Now there’s a beautiful Visitors Center at the other end of the park with interactive displays about forestry techniques and wildlife. They have bird feeders outside the big windows and those are popular with the park’s birds. If you’re lucky enough and want to talk birding, if they’re not busy, one of the Visitors Center staff is usually happy to answer questions.

From the Visitors Center, there is a paved one mile (or a bit more) accessible pathway that leads to the Logging Museums, rustic chapel and the picnic area. Like the Visitors Center, the Logging Museums have changed over the years. If you have a great memory, you’ll remember what they were like years ago. The chapel is the same – when my kids and nieces were little, they’d read the short prayer that is carved in wood. And guess what? They still do it now that they’re grown. That hasn’t changed!

The park is fun any time of year of course, and I haven’t mentioned its longer hiking trails and mountain biking trails, but that’ll be another blog.