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Hiking Review - Brinton Brook Sanctuary

Since I draw my artistic inspiration from nature, I want to share some great local hikes in the Lower Hudson Valley / Upper Westchester region that motivate me as an artist. I'll also share some insight into my creative process (skip to "Artist Notes" at the end of this post.) During these times of continued social distancing, hiking can be a great family adventure and also a rejuvenating independent activity -especially during a period when self-care may be otherwise hard to obtain!

Brinton Brook Sanctuary is located in Croton-on-Hudson, NY right off Albany Post Road / Rte 9A-North. I drove past the above sign for 3 years before checking it out and I'm so glad that I finally did!


Proceed down a narrow driveway (careful it is 2-way!) to the small parking area. On weekday mornings I've never seen more than a couple of cars parked here but there are signs posted that if the lot is full you should come back another day, so there is no overflow parking. I'm not sure how busy it is on the weekends.


The trails are well-maintained, well-marked and meander through a variety of habitats. Most trails are dirt paths with protruding roots and rocks in places and some have long grass as well.

Kid-Friendly (ages 3+)

I took my 3 year old twins and 5 year old on a short hike along the yellow pond trail (see below trail map) and the terrain was not a problem for them. The trails are mostly flat with some rolling hills and lots of nature to absorb. There are many informational signs (everyone loves a good plaque, right?!) along the trail that provide insights about the various habitats and also challenge hikers of all ages to use their senses to smell / see / hear a diverse array of animal and plant life throughout the seasons.

Upon approaching the pond, you'll start to hear the loud and very unusual sounds of the wood frogs (I believe this is what an informational plaque said). I thought the kids would find this very interesting but for some reason they were really scared of the noise - maybe because we couldn't see the actual frogs they were left to imagine what type of creature would make that sound? Once you get past the pond the frog sounds dissipate but unfortunately on our first trip here the kids wanted to return home, which was fine with me because I was flying solo and they were particularly offended about the way the wet grass felt on their bare legs.. and their excessive whining tarnished the experience for me (mental note: if hiking after rain, wear long pants!)

Great for

Families, photographers, artists, bird enthusiasts (apparently more than 68 species of birds live in the Sanctuary according to a helpful plaque!)


Sadly, dogs are not allowed and parking may be limited on weekends.


Maya (5) brought a notepad with her to write down some of the things she observed on the hike!

We exited a forested environment and entered a brief meadow-like habitat...

A glimpse of the pond...


Artist Notes

Often when I'm hiking with my family I'll snap photos which I'll later refer to in my studio when I'm composing a landscape. Occasionally when I'm alone, I'll bring watercolor supplies to paint some quick plein air sketches - this is something I want to do much more of and will be taking a (virtual) Plein Air workshop in a few weeks to practice! I'll be sure to share some notes from the learning process.

I took the first photo below at Brinton Brook with the intention of painting a similar landscape. The dappled light and shadows on the rocks was so pretty! When I got home I forced myself to complete a quick monochromatic value study (always a good practice but rarely do I take this extra step). Next, I tried to capture the feeling of the landscape in my final painting, "Inside the Sanctuary" (8x10 inches). [Scroll to see all 3 photos below]

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