For many of us, it takes a lifetime to grant ourselves the kindness, love, and grace we easily give to others. For me, it has taken decades of working my way back to my inner child (pictured here as a toddler circa the summer of 1982, learning to stand by holding onto a tent pole). My connection to myself flows best when I’m connecting with the natural world around me, and so I love being alone, together.
“Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be. And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.”
– Max Ehrmann, Desiderata
I love the idea that we are all made of stardust – we are all connected, alone, together. I was born in the midwest, grew up by the shore in Rhode Island, and went to school near mountains. I find myself most drawn to the solitude and steadiness of the forest, in all its forms, and the stars in a wide open, clear night sky. Alone, together.
I told my mother once that one of the best things my parents ever did for me as a child was to take me and my sister hiking frequently, and she pointed out that it was one of the few things we could afford. That is one of the beautiful gifts of nature – it is open to all, welcoming to all – a pathway to ourselves, to each other, and to the universe.
❤️ Kate (she/her/hers)
“I was never lost in the woods in my whole life, though once I was confused for three days.”
– Daniel Boone
Though you may be a far more experienced hiker than I am, I know from numerous conversations that many people are intimidated to start hiking – they don’t know where to go, what to wear, if they are capable of the trip, if they will be injured, if they will get lost or scared by something or someone in the woods. While I acknowledge that it is terribly intimidating to venture outside your comfort zone, I welcome you to try!
I can assure you, you will get lost (and learn how to find your way); you may get injured (and you will heal); you may doubt if you can make it up the next hill (you will find the strength); and you will wear the wrong clothes or shoes or bring the wrong supplies (and you will learn). Hiking is not about perfection. A hike is simply nature holding space for you to find yourself. Give it time, and you will.
I should note, many of these hikes are off-road and simply not accessible to folks who are differently abled. I will attempt to note where I see locations that are able to be accessed by those with strollers, walkers, wheelchairs, or which have other accommodations. Our goal is to get everyone out, enjoying the natural world in which they are very much a vital participant.
“And into the forest I go, to lose my mind and find my soul.”
– John Muir
I love all things dirty, creative, wild and natural. I am a self-taught artist, a spiritual seeker, a life-long soccer player, an aunt to 2 amazing little boys (Ben & Will), and a mama of 2 teenagers (Jackson & Avery), a cat named Lump, a Pibble puppy named Archie, and 50+ indoor plants (and yes, I do mother my plants, puppy, and cat & you will find them all on this site).
Dirtlings is an homage to all these dirty, wild, creative beings and things; if you are unafraid to explore the messier side of this place we call Earth, well then, perhaps you are a dirtling, too.
I created the Dirtlings.com website and the HikeFinder spreadsheet in November 2020 – not to present myself as an expert on hiking, nor provide a comprehensive list of hikes – but simply to share with my friends and family some of my favorite spots, tips & tricks (and to remind myself, since I forget the details as soon as I move on to the next hike).
If you have found yourself here, please consider yourself a friend, and feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or find me on social media or on the trails!
🌳🌲🌿🍃 Happy hiking, my dear dirtlings. 🍁🍂🌎💫
“Now I see the secret of making the best person, it is to grow in the open air and to eat and sleep with the earth.”
– Walt Whitman
A Note of Thanks
Many people have willingly or unwittingly fed my creativity over the years. It was because of a breakup that I taught myself to paint. It was due to a strong editor with a bright red pen, Krista, that I learned to write. And it was thanks to a Swearer Center Community Practitioner and the lovely folks at his Task Party that I finally tackled the task of writing down my list of hikes and unexpectedly starting this site. Thank you Ben, Georgina, Ashley, and others for motivating me with your energy, laughter, and creativity.
Lastly, thank you to all who join me on my adventures, especially my dear friend Katie, who has been my consistent hiking companion and therapist for more than a decade. May we get lost many more times, find our way, and not forget snacks. ❤️✌️