See the Forest for the Treats: Mohonk Mountain House’s First Hiking Menu
To welcome spring’s warm weather and sunshine back to the Northeast, Mohonk Mountain House in New York’s stunning Hudson Valley has introduced its first-ever hiking menu, featuring six hikes that introduce guests to the resort’s breathtaking natural surroundings.
The hikes range from family-friendly to physical endurance-focused, and two in particular piqued our inner food-focused nature enthusiast: during the Survivalist Hike, guests learn valuable tools and techniques for how to live off the land like identifying animal tracks and what they mean, which plants are edible, and how to protect oneself from the elements; the Foods of the Forest Hike invites guests to expand their palates with the various edible leaves, flowers, berries and nuts that can be found on the grounds while also learning the poisonous varieties and how to tell them apart.
Both hikes are led by Head Naturalist and Tracker School-trained survivalist, Michael Ridolfo, who chatted with The Daily Meal about how guests benefit from learning about their natural surroundings the bounty they harbor:
The Daily Meal: Why do you believe learning to live off the land is still important?
Michael Ridolfo: Well I know it’s important to me for the freedom that it gives me—knowing that I can help sustain my life and those around me. But ‘living off the land’ is not for everybody, and it doesn’t have to be. If we as a culture simply realized that the earth gives us all we need to live an abundant life, respected this, and not took more than we need and destroyed what we perceive to be expendable, then our species might continue for a while longer. Disregarding this dependence on the earth’s resources will mean the end of our species. This is how nature works; the cancer cell eventually destroys its host.
What is the most common reaction when a guest learns of all the food that's available to them in their surrounding natural environment?
I’ve seen the whole spectrum from fear to familiarity; surprise to wonder; denial to enlightenment.
Can you name a your favorite foraged edible on the Mohonk property and why?
It’s difficult to choose one, but I like the serviceberry because they’re sweet.
What is your favorite aspect of foraging in nature and why?
I am drawn to the feeling of connection and nourishment it gives me, and how the earth gives these gifts freely. On a sweltering hot summer day, how in the world can there be anything so delicious as a cold piece of watermelon?