Get outside at James Baird State Park

Lori volunteers at the Eleanor Roosevelt National Historic Site, also known as Val-Kill. She participated in THV’s summer book group, reading and discussing The National Parks: America’s Best Idea by Dayton Duncan and Ken Burns. 

From facebook.com/JamesBairdSP, 10/6/16.

James Baird State Park today. (Facebook.com/JamesBairdSP, 10/6/16).

James Baird State Park is a second home to me. I have been hiking this park with my dogs for 15 years. I moved to Duchess County from Manhattan ready to enjoy all the out doors Duchess County has to offer.

The park has about two miles of hilly trails bordering Arlington High School, making it a great place for the school’s cross-country teams to practice and race. (Boys’ and girls’ schedules.) I am certain that as the students get older they will remember their experiences in the park and bring their children.

“Get outside is my motto!”

The Park also has an 18-hole public golf course that brings many for a different kind of hike! Robert Trent Jones, Sr. (1906-2000) designed the prize-winning course along with more than 500 others in 45 states and 35 countries. In the winter there is cross-country skiing on the golf course, which features two ponds and a lovely river that flows south.

James Baird is a carry-in carry-out state park with two picnic pavilions available to rent for parties. There are also three barbecue areas. The main picnic area has a path around it. Inside the path are tennis courts. Outside the path is a playground and a beach volleyball court.

James Baird State Park "then". (Facebook.com/JamesBairdSP, 10/6/16.

James Baird State Park “then”. (Facebook.com/JamesBairdSP, 10/6/16.

There is a seasonal restaurant and, believe it or not, a small area for ceremonies such as weddings. There also is a privately run driving range offering golf lessons if you so desire.

I have seen wildlife while hiking there: wild turkeys, coyotes, pheasants, deer, red trail hawks, and an owl.

Most Saturday mornings in the fall a balloonist flies over the park in silence. One can only detect he is there when he ascends — you hear the rush of air and there it is gliding above your head. It is wonderful, peaceful, and inviting.

Public bathrooms are open in the lower lot in warmer months only. The upper lot bathrooms are currently under renovation. The park will always be easily accessible from Route 55 and the Taconic Parkway. James Baird State Park is a jewel in Duchess County, and I invite you all to go for a hike!