This Friday, we hiked the Appalachian Trail. Well, sort of.

The whole Appalachian Trail (that’s “AT” in hiking lingo) spans approximately 2,184 miles from Georgia all the way up to Maine. Unfortunately, we didn’t have time for the six-plus months it takes to tackle the whole thing, so we opted for a scenic four mile loop around Canopus Lake in Clarence Fahnestock Memorial State Park — about 50 miles north of Manhattan.

Photo by Jordan Shakeshaft

The trip was the perfect way to extend our first birthday celebration, as we traded in an entire day of getting sh!t done for a relaxing (and tiring) stint in the woods. Our trail leader Marc Cassone told us from the get-go to “take only pictures, leave only footprints,” so we did our best to keep the trail as we left it: serene, rugged, and granola-bar-wrapper-free. We followed Cassone’s lead as we ventured up, down, through, and around the thicket of trees, rocks, and dirt, catching views of Canopus Lake in the distance (aaand horse droppings right at our feet).

The Appalachian Trail is well known for hikers who adopt “trail names.” So, of course, we had to jump in on the fun and try to come up with our own. As much as I wanted to knight myself “Little Bear,” I ended up as “Riddle Master” for my skills at entertaining the group with brainteasers as we marched along the trail. And while we didn’t see any bears to warrant the trail name I had hoped for, we did encounter some less threatening frogs, snakes, and various insects, including a newborn dragonfly that hatched on fitness editor Jordan’s backpack. (Her trail name became Mama Dragonfly.)

When we made it to a beautiful lookout point, we took a few minutes to give our tired hamstrings a break, munch on some Greatist snacks, and reflect on the past year. In just 365 days, Greatist has covered a lot of ground, similar to the footprints we left at the park. And we’re excited for many more years of inspiring healthier choices — reaching the entire Appalachian Trail and beyond.

Many thanks to Marc Cassone and Discover Outdoors, which offers various hiking and outdoor adventures along the East Coast. For more information, check out their website, shoot them an email, or follow them on Twitter!