The temperature may be climbing, but this is not the time to revert to those couch-potato habits. Grab a hat and some mosquito repellent and head into the great outdoors. Here are three family-friendly activities that don’t require an the athletic skills of an Olympian to enjoy.
Gail Porter is a paddling fiend. She has turned her love for the water into a company that offers kayaking trips on the Hudson. With I Paddle New York, the certified kayak instructor guides adventurers along the waterway, allowing them to soak up the scenic beauty of the river and nearby Catskill Mountains. Group or solo outings take you past the natural and man-made landmarks in the upper mid-Hudson area. Choose from four different tour options, lasting from one-and-a-half to three hours. For a relaxing ride, try the Esopus Paddle on calm Esopus Creek — or step it up a notch with the Fun Paddle to Cantine Falls and the Saugerties Lighthouse. Lucky adventurers have spotted bald eagles and the occasional blue heron during these tours, all while learning about the fascinating history of the surrounding environment. Beginning July Fourth weekend, stand-up paddle board and kayak rentals will be available right from the Saugerties Beach. The scattered sandbars in Esopus Creek make it the perfect place to hop off your board and enjoy a dip. Saugerties. $40-$55. 845-532-7797; www.ipaddlenewyork.com
Based in Newburgh, the Hudson Valley Volleyball League holds regular tournaments throughout the summer at Memorial Park in Beacon. Anyone — and that means you! — can sign up to play by filling out a form on the league’s Web site and paying a modest fee. The next tourney takes place May 16-17. 845-564-1961; www.hvvolleyball.com
In these high-tech times, putting away your smartphone and digging out paper maps, compasses, and pencils might seem like retreating into the Dark Ages. But what’s old is new again for orienteers, who thrive on using their wits and directional skills to find their way along a wooded course, and then home. This competitive sport, a close cousin to geocaching, continues to grow in popularity. Want to give it a try? Hudson Valley Orienteering holds events in Dutchess, Putnam, Orange, Rockland, and Westchester counties year-round. On May 14, the group hosts a two-hour training session at FDR State Park. Ready, set, go! www.hvo.us.orienteering.org
Fans of disc golf, also known as Frisbee golf, claim that it combines the classiness of traditional golf with the excitement of Ultimate Frisbee. (The sport is played like traditional golf with tees, holes, and strokes, but flying discs are used instead of a ball and clubs.) Alex Sherwood, head of hotel operations at Mohonk Mountain House in New Paltz, says that the game’s greatest appeal is that family members can enjoy together no matter what their skill level. Sherwood constructed an 18-hole course at the resort five years ago. The front end is tailored for beginners; on the back nine, those seeking a greater challenge will thrive.
In recent years, new courses have popped up all over the area; one of the latest to debut is the nine-hole layout at Hackett Hill Park in Hyde Park. Other courses can be found in Beacon, at the FDR State Park in Yorktown Heights, and in Saugerties. The 18-hole Skylands Flying Disc Course in Warwick, with varied and challenging terrain, is touted as one of the best courses in the country.
Hudson Valley Windsurfers love to get out on the river on a blustery day. To learn more about the sport, check out their Web site for free beginner outings, which are usually held at Kingston Point Park or occasionally at Plum Point Beach in New Windsor. (These are both ideal locations due to their ease of access and big, grassy rigging areas right off the water.) http://sites.google.com/site/hudsonvalleywindsurfers