Have you been daydreaming about backpacking in the Catskills, rafting over class III rapids or paddle boarding on the Hudson? If the only thing stopping you is that you’ve never done it and don’t know where to start, we’ve got a secret for you. Hire a guide.
There’s something to be said for exploring the outdoors with someone who is not only a certified expert trained to keep you safe, but an enthusiastic and experienced adventurer ready to impart years of knowledge. They can show you the right way to filter water, read a compass, place climbing gear or paddle through a wave.
But it isn’t just newbies who can benefit from booking a guide. No matter how experienced of an outdoorswoman (or man) you may be, there’s always more to learn. Guides can help you discover a new area even in places you might have been exploring for years. Another perk is that guides almost always have super interesting stories, so you’ll get campfire tales for years.
Most guides are affiliated with shops that will rent all the gear you need for whatever trip you’re embarking on. Take this opportunity to try out different kinds of gear before investing in your own. BONUS: guides are usually happy to take a photo or two, so no need to pack a selfie stick.
The tri-state area is filled with great guiding companies so find one that specializes in whatever you’ve been daydreaming about and get planning. Here are a few of our local favorites.
The name basically says it all. Discover Outdoors leads trips around New York and beyond. Local trips generally depart from the Upper West Side or Union Square. They offer adventures you’d probably never think of like a Snowshoe & Whiskey Tasting, as well as ambitious ones that you might need help with like guided hikes to summits over 3,500 feet (part of their 3500 Series). Trips run all year and start at $89.
Manhattan Kayak Company
Manhattan is surrounded by water, but it’s easy to forget that when you’re stuck in the grid. Manhattan Kayak Company provides instruction, gear rental and private sessions for both SUP (stand up paddle board) and kayak trips. There’s even special tours like sunset and after-dark trips where you’ll get a unique view of the city lights. Tours run from May to the end of October and start around $35.
Guides and instructors at Alpine Endeavors will take you on a range of adventures in the Shawangunks and Catskills, including ice or rock climbing, snowshoeing and hiking. They offer classes on a range of technical skills as well as courses on outdoor wilderness safety and know-how. Guided hikes start at $85 per person and half day rock climbing trips start at $115 per person. Trips depart from New Paltz, NY.
Gear to Go Outfitters
Not only does this Park Slope gear shop offer rent-to-own deals on everything you’d ever need in the backcountry, but they also do guided hikes and multi-day backpacking trips. Trips range from strenuous rock scrambles in the Hudson Highlands to camping in the Catskills to see the Leonids Meteor Shower. There are even international excursions to Greenland and Iceland. Local trips depart from Brooklyn and Manhattan and start at $69.95.
The certified river guides at Whitewater Challengers will take you rafting over some class II and III rapids in the Lehigh River Gorge in Pennsylvania (you can also book trips on the Hudson near the Adirondacks as well as on the Black River near the Thousand Island region). The guide service also offers a bunch of land-based adventures like zip lining and paint balling. Whitewater rafting trips run from April to October and start around $59.95 per person.
For more adventure ideas and tips (including a mini guide to your guide), check out the rest of this week’s newsletter.