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Adventures For Women caters to people new in the area and those who just don't want to be in the woods alone.

They offer women the opportunity to learn basic woodswoman skills like how to read maps and compasses, paddle, tie knots and identify plants.

Montague says he'll turn you away from his hikes if you're not prepared.

I chose one for review ­ a hike in the Watching Reservation in Mountainside.

At the parking lot, trail leader Patrick Montague of the Sierra Club Singles passes the sign-up sheet and goes over the rules.

Don't get separated; no lagging; stay in back of the leader and in front of the sweep. We'll walk at a moderate pace of 2MPH uphill and down, on unmarked bridle trails and a combination of blazed.

We'll do 7 miles in 3.5 to 4 hours, stop for lunch and several breaks.

We enter the May apple-strewn woods with 37 people and a few dogs. The only thing worse is diving and wearing a bathing suit." Along the stream there are old foundations and a waterfall that runs through chiseled rock, perhaps part of a long-ago dam.

Well-behaved dogs are allowed on the hikes, but good trail etiquette demands having control of your dog. Water cascades over the hillside too, but no one stops for long because this is a group thing.

Twenty-two years ago, the founder found that women learn better without men around, and that the men aren't interested in learning anyway. AFW wants women to be comfortable and competent in the woods. "It's very modest and clean and everyone gets a hot shower at the end of the day.

Rules include hiking boots for safety and support, and water. This is a good way to get into the woods." Another great way to get through the woods is on the Paulinskill Valley Trail that follows the old New York, Susquehanna & Western Railroad bed through Warren and Sussex Counties.

"Joy" hikes, bike rides and paddles run from a half to a full day in the New York/New Jersey area.

"You get a guide, a map and the comfort of a pre-scouted trail, someone trained in CPR and somebody who keeps you safe," says Betty Plunkett, director. Most people can go well beyond what they think they can do when put to the test." There are steadfast rules, and "No Men" is one of them.

She walks behind everyone to make sure we're all together.