PUTNAM COUNTY, N.Y. - As New York enters Phase 2 of its pandemic recovery plan, the Putnam County Tourism Department wants families to know that there are plenty of things to do outside this summer to shed those quarantine blues.

“There is a lot to do close to home,” said Tracey Walsh, director of Putnam County Tourism. “We have to focus on the good and we need to be positive. You can create a really nice day.”

Putnam County has a vast array of hiking trails nearby that offer an eclectic mix of experiences.

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Putnam County Veterans Memorial Park on Gipsy Trail in Carmel just reopened and though it has special COVID-19 restrictions (the playground is still closed), there are still plenty of things to do there. There are monuments and displays of military equipment, including a tank and a helicopter. And the fishing dock is now back in business for anglers willing to try their luck.

“Veterans Park is a great place to go with the family,” Walsh said.

Walsh also notes there are some great family hiking trails through the county that are not very crowded, making them perfect social-distancing-friendly destinations.

“Everyone knows about the trails on the west side of the county, but they’re closed because you can’t social distance,” she said. “But we have a trail in the village of Brewster called Diverting Reservoir Trail,” she said. “It’s beautiful. It’s just past the train station. It’s 1.6 miles long and flat and right along the water. The kids can look for frogs, you can take the dog. And the train runs right by, which the kids love.”

Neighboring Kent offers Hawk Rock trail. The hike there takes place on New York City watershed property and requires a DEP access permit that comes with a mirror-hanger permit. It’s free and just takes a couple of minutes to fill out and you can print off your home computer.

The rock itself is a spectacular monolith about 30-feet high. It is what the geologists call an “erratic,” a rock from somewhere else that was transported here by a glacier during the last ice age. It doesn’t take a lot of imagination to see why it’s called Hawk Rock. Walsh says legend has it Native Americans conducted ceremonies at an altar beneath the Hawk Rock.

“It’s very cool,” she said. “And you can take a diversion and see one of the underground rock chambers we are famous for. But Hawk Rock is a huge rock formation and there are lots of legends, a lot of mystique.”

It’s also a great place to relax and enjoy a picnic lunch.

In the hamlet of Carmel, there is an out-and-back trail on the backside of Lake Gleneida.

“From it, you get a beautiful view of Carmel,” Walsh said. “There is a giant oak tree and kids love to stand in front of it and have their picture taken. It’s an enormous tree.”

Also, in the hamlet is the Fred Dill Wildlife Sanctuary.

“It has 12 stations along the trail and a map will tell you what you are seeing,” Walsh said. “For example, there’s the spot where the old racetrack was in Carmel. You can get to it right from the bike path, right behind Putnam Plaza. They have a bike rack there, so you can leave your bike there and then walk the trail.”

In Mahopac, Walsh notes that there is a hidden gem called Volz Park. It’s a 15-acre passive park located at the top of Crest Drive. It was donated by Joseph and Aurelia Volz and was dedicated in their memory on Oct. 30, 2004.  The entrance to the park has beautiful stone pillars and handcrafted iron gates.  Pets are allowed.

“There are amazing views of Lake Mahopac and it has walking/hiking trails, benches and information boards,” Walsh said. “It’s a quick walk and a good place for some quiet time.”

If walking isn’t your thing and you’d rather hop on a bicycle, consider the Putnam Trailway, a 12-mile trail that runs through both Carmel and Mahopac.

The trail follows a corridor created in the 1880s by several railroad companies that eventually became the New York and Putnam Railroad in 1894—soon known as the Old Put. By 1913, it had become the Putnam Division of the New York Central Railroad, providing passenger service until 1958. In the wake of the line’s demise, four trails have opened along the 45-mile route. South to north they are Old Putnam Trail, South County Trailway, North County Trailway and Putnam Trailway.

The trail follows Route 6 through residential and commercial areas and arrives in Mahopac in about 2.2 miles at the old railway depot that’s now an American Legion Hall.

 Other family activities you can consider during Phase 2 include:

• tennis—public courts at town parks allow single play only; no doubles

• non-motorized boat use and rentals, such as rowboats, kayaks, canoes—check with the marinas in Mahopac for rules and prices;

• golf and driving ranges, except miniature (mini) golf, are back open with food and retail services subject to the restrictions that are currently in effect within the region;

• racket games, such as badminton, pickleball, racquetball;

• toss/bowl games, such horseshoes, bocce, beanbag toss, croquet;

• flying disc games, such as disc golf and Frisbee;

• shuffleboard;

• aerial rope courses or zip-lining;

• batting cages;

• shooting ranges; and,

• swim classes and swim instruction

Drive-in movie theaters in the region are also open so long as social distancing and cleaning/disinfecting measures are in place. Tracy said that the Greater Mahopac/Carmel Chamber of Commerce is in the midst of planning a drive-in movie type of event, but the date and location are still being finalized. Mahopac News will have more information when it becomes available.

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