By Jean Strauber, Travel Editor
TAKE A HIKE!
Thousands of Americans have traveled to Europe to hike through the Alps in Switzerland or the Cotswalds in England. Well, right here in the United States you’ll find that there are several opportunities for one to enjoy a walking or hiking holiday. New England Hiking Holiday, which has been around for 28 years, does offer several opportunities to enjoy hikes and walks ranging from 5 to 9 miles a day with two guides per trips to allow for faster or slower paces. You’ll find hiking tours in Vermont, Maine, South Carolina, Virginia, The Rocky Mountains, New Mexico, Lake Tahoe, Yosemite, Oregon’s Columbia River Gorge & Mount Hood and Washington’s Mt. Hood, to name a view. Even a 7 Day/7 Night diverse hiking on The Big Island of Hawaii. Two new hikes that New England Hiking Holiday has planned for 2012 are:
The MOUNTAIN AND LAKES OF NORTH CENTRAL NEW HAMPSHIRE, a new 2012 tour, will take the active traveler to the glorious Lakes Region of New Hampshire. As you hike around the many small peaks that surround sprawling Lake Winnipesaukee, you’ll be awed by the amazing views of the numerous coves, inlets, peninsulas and islands. Squam Lake and Golden Pond (of movie fame) are nearby and just to the north are the famous White Mountains. The hiker will find Mountains such as Belknap, Major, and Gunstock, sitting along the lakes. A highlight of this trip is the visit to “Castle in the Clouds”, an unusual mansion perched high in the hills above Lake Winnipesaukee, surrounded by 20 miles of carriage roads and trails adorning the property. New England Hiking Holidays has arranged for accommodations at two very special inns. The Wolfeboro Inn, the oldest summer resort in New Hampshire, is located in the heart of Wolfeboro. And, on the other side of Lake Winnipesaukee is the bustling town of Meredith where you’ll enjoy the guest rooms at Mills Falls. Your meals include 4 breakfasts, 4 lunches and 4 dinners. Price is $1795 for the four days/four nights. Tour Dates: August 26-30th; Sept. 23-27th in time for the beginning of New England’s spectacular fall color season.
A second new New England Hiking Holiday for 2012 is the “GILDED AGE & GUNKS” holiday. It’s their first ever trip in New York State and will take the active traveler to the Mohonk Mountain House, a National Historic Landmark, and the centerpiece of a 26,000 acre natural preserve in the Shawangunk Mountains. Here you’ll find a Victorian castle tucked away near the top of the Shawangunk Ridge on the shores of Lake Mohonk, a 60 feet deep freshwater lake. The resort was built in the 19th century and will be your home for the entire four nights. From the Mohonk Mountain House you’ll begin exploring the countryside by using the trails that fan out from the hotel. Highlights of this exploring will find you on a trip up to Skytop and a view of 5 (five) states. You’ll also venture into the adjoining Minnewaska State Park and Mohonk Preserve which will take you to two mountains, Gertrude’s Nose or Millbrook Mountain. The five days include a walk back through time as you visit the grounds of the Mills Mansion, the historic Vanderbilt Estate and along carriage roads which will lead you to the Eleanor Roosevelt National Historic Site. Schedule dates: June 10-June 14th; September 9-13th and October 14th – October 18th which will reward you by providing you with the amazing fall colors provided by Nature Fall Color Spectacular. Meal Included: 4 Breakfasts, 4 Dinners, and 4 Lunches. Price is $1995 for 4 days/4 nights. One of the most beautiful places in California is Death Valley. I’ve seen the rocks mysteriously move in the Ubehebe Crater, marveled at the Stovepipe San Dues and struck by the color of a sunset in the Valley.
New England Holidays invites you to experience DEATH VALLEY with its wind-andsand- sculpted canyons, alluvial fans and salt flats. The 5-day journey will take you through 1.5 billion years geologic history. Your evenings will be at the Furnace Creek Ranch and Resort. Day one you visit both Golden Canyon and Desolation Canyon. Day two is at the Stovepipe San Dunes where you’ll observe the sands constantly shifting. After lunch at Salt Creek you’ll discover Mosaic Canyon with its colorful conglomerate rocks providing a new experience. The next morning finds the group heading to the east side of the valley to Fall Canyon where the strata are multicolored, buckled, twisted and eroded. And, the afternoon, will find you visiting the volcanic Ubehebe Crater where you’ll find the rocks seeming to move on their own. Day four of your visit will find you hiking to Wildrose Peak (more than 9,000 ft) where you’re are rewarded with a bird’s eye view. And, finally, your visit to Death Valley includes a walk on the Badwater salt flats, the lowest point in the lower 48 states at 282 feet below sea level. Schedule Dates: Mar 18th- 23rd; October 21-26th; In 2013 Mar 17th-Mar 22nd. $2095 (in 2012) for the 5 days/5 nights. Meals: 5 Breakfasts, 5 Lunches, 5 Dinners.
If your heart’s desire is to hike in Europe, New England Hiking Holidays is offering a NEW SOUTHERN TUSCANY AND THE MAREMMA for those who want to experience Italy up close. I know of several Americans that insist that Tuscany be included on their vacation plans. One can see why as the area includes picturesque hill towns, hot springs and waterfalls and is filled with the history of the ancient Etruscan people and their culture. The folks at New England Hiking holidays have organized this itinerary. The tour will begin in the beautiful city of Florence (why not arrive a couple of says early) to further explore the charms of the sights and sounds of this city besides taking time to become acquainted with the many shops and boutiques. From Florence you will travel to Siena, a city founded by the Etruscans in 500 B.C., and home to medieval art and architecture. The next day you’ll hike to Monte Oliveto, a Benedictine Abbey, still in use today.
The group will then drive to the small village of Bagno Vignoni, a site of natural hot springs used since Etruscan and Roman times. In fact, during the Renaissance the Popes used to frequent it as a summer resort. The town’s main square is a bubbling hot spring enclosed in a (less ancient) 15th century pool. Just a few steps from the pool, you’ll find the Spa Hotel Posta Marcucci which will be your home for the next three days. Another hike will find you exploring the area, including a hike to the highest mountain in Southern Tuscany, which is the extinct volcano Mt. Amiata. Day five will take you south to the Maremma region where you’ll explore breathtaking hot springs and waterfalls of Saturnia and journey to the mysterious Etruscan ruins before returning to your accommodations in the town of Sorano. On your final day there’s a visit to the town of Populonia, set high on a hill, which offers amazing views of the Mediterranean Sea. This day’s hike will take you to the Etruscan necropolis in the forest below the town, as well as the beautiful beach of the Baratti Gulf. And, then, it’s back to Florence where y our final evening is spent at the Hotel Villa Villoresi. Schedule Dates: Sept 17-Sept 25th — Meals Included: 8 Breakfasts, 8 Lunches, and 8 Dinners. $3895 for 8 days/8 nights. You can read the complete Travel Tip Week Column in the Government Center Gazette & Van Nuys News Press. Just go to Van Nuys News Press.