20 Fall Destinations
in the Hudson Valley
By: Lisa Crawford
The Hudson Valley is a beautiful destination that many New Yorkers can often take for granted, especially due to its close proximity. With autumn right around the corner, the colorful scenery will be nothing short of breathtaking. Here are 20 destinations to visit in the nearby Hudson Valley this fall.
1 Poets Walk Park
Wooded vistas, sunlit fields and a thick forest welcome visitors to this beautifully landscaped property. Inside the park are a series of “outdoor rooms,” with stands of foliage and stone walls breaking up the landscape, which includes rolling meadows, forests, and a ravine. There’s a shaded, streamside path, dubbed Poets’ Walk in honor of Washington Irving and other literary figures who reputedly strolled here. Legend has it that Irving came up with the idea for “Rip Van Winkle” here while gazing at the distant Catskill Mountains, site of his protagonist’s decades-long sleep.
2 Ferncliff Forest
Located on Mount Rutsen Road in northern Rhinebeck, Ferncliff Forest Game Refuge and Forest Preserve is a 200 acre forest known as the second-best old growth forest in the Hudson Valley. The forest is ideal for hiking, camping, mountain biking, skiing, fishing, and picnics…all at no charge. Along the 4 miles of trails are the remains of hand-dug wells, cisterns, root cellars and old foundations.
3 Forsyth Nature Center
The Forsyth Nature Center in Hurley has been growing and changing for many years. Its mission is “To foster the exploration of the natural world in and around our community through educational programming and contact with flora and fauna at an interpretive facility”. The Forsyth Nature Center has 24 animal exhibits and a dozen gardens that contain a variety of native flora found right in the Hudson Valley.
4 Esopus Meadows Preserve
Esopus Meadows Preserve is great for introducing children to the glories of nature along the Hudson River, allowing you to tailor a trek to the stamina of young legs. You can begin by hiking through a rolling forest landscape alive with birdcalls, the chatter of small mammals and a gurgling stream, or follow the shoreline to a dramatic lookout. Whichever route you choose, you’ll arrive at the preserve’s Hudson River Greenway Water Trail site at the midpoint of your outing. The views here are breath-taking. Esopus Meadows Lighthouse looms in the distance downriver, while grand Mills Mansion is slightly to the left across the Hudson.
5 Sleepy Hollow Cemetery
‘Tis the season for ghosts and goblins, so why not pay a visit to a famous cemetery? The Sleepy Hollow Cemetery is situated on the easterly bank of the Hudson River, in Tarrytown. This Halloween season plan an evening lantern tour of the final resting place of author Washington Irving in the famous Sleepy Hollow Cemetery. Creep though the winding roads and soaring monuments that peek through the shadows of the night. You may also visit a Revolutionary War militia captain, a notorious counterfeiter, a noted spiritualist, industrialists Andrew Carnegie and William Rockefeller, and others. Buy tickets online at www.sleepyhollowcemetery.org.
6 Sleightsburgh Park
Excellent fishing opportunities and breathtaking views abound at this park, preserved by Scenic Hudson and owned by the Town of Esopus in Ulster County. A half-mile of trails parallel Rondout Creek, leading through a wooded peninsula to a spit of land that extends far out into the river.
7 Opus 40/Saugerties
In 1938, Harvey Fite, one of the founders of the Bard College Fine Arts Department, purchased an abandoned quarry in the town of Saugerties, about 100 miles north of New York City. During a period of 37 years, he created the monumental world-acclaimed 6½-acre bluestone sculpture now known as Opus 40. Over time he acquired additional land (70+ acres today) and built several structures, including a beautiful large wood and stone home, a studio, garage, blacksmith shop and the Quarryman’s Museum, which houses his unique collection of indigenous tools.
An awe-inspiring artistic environment, Opus 40 is a labyrinthine world of finely fitted stone, swirling with ramps and terraces constructed around pools and trees and fountains, rising out of bedrock a half mile deep.
8 Robert E. Post Memorial Park
Post Park is situated on the scenic Hudson River in close proximity to the Kingston/Rhinecliff Bridge. It offers picnic tables and charcoal BBQ stands along the waters edge as well as a playground, basketball court, soccer field, volleyball court, boccie courts, horseshoe pit, fishing platform, bathroom facilities and two pavilions.
9 Montgomery Place
is a hidden treasure, tucked into the woods of Northern Dutchess County, which gives visitors a peek into the past. Just walking the grounds and gardens creates a peaceful afternoon.
Once inside the mansion, designed by Alexander Jackson Davis, a guide will take you through the rooms, sharing the stories of the four women who owned and lived in the mansion over the years. While walking through you can’t help but notice the large doors and windows, which frame views of the Hudson River and Catskill Mountains. A large focus of the tour is discussing how the different women, beginning with Janet Livingston Montgomery, widow of Revolutionary War hero Captain Richard Montgomery, used the home and landscape through changing times. A unique feature of this tour is the range of items you will find. This creates a fun mix of old and new treasures, ranging from the 1800s to 1970s. Everyone can find something to appreciate here.
10 The Rockefeller Estate at Kykuit
This hilltop paradise was home to four generations of the Rockefeller family, beginning with the philanthropist John D. Rockefeller, founder of Standard Oil. His business acumen made him, in his day, the richest man in America. Now a historic site of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, this extraordinary landmark has been continuously and meticulously maintained for more than 100 years. A menu of tour options allows you to tailor a visit that appeals to your interests and available time. Each tour begins at the Visitor Center at Philipsburg Manor, where you’ll board a shuttle bus for a short ride to the estate.
11 Castle Hotel & Spa
Only thirty minutes north of Manhattan, Castle Hotel & Spa sits majestically atop one of the highest points in Westchester County overlooking the Hudson River amid sprawling acres of manicured gardens and grounds. With over 100 years of history, the Castle is a sumptuous escape to the enchanted era of America’s Gilded Age.
Their luxurious guest rooms, suites with wood-burning fireplaces and lavish amenities, continue to be voted one of the best hotels in the Hudson Valley amongst dignitaries and celebrities.
The Castle’s award-winning Equus Restaurant continues to earn a worldwide reputation for culinary excellence. It’s windows overlooking the lush greenery and hills towards Manhattan merely complement the amazing dining experience.
Known throughout Asia as an oasis of peace and tranquility, the Castle’s THANN™ Sanctuary Spa offers a wide variety of luxurious spa treatments based on the art of natural therapy, where all the senses are awakened by the unique holistic spa concept and ambience.
12 Mountain State Park
Tallman Mountain State Park comprises wooded country on the easterly slope of the Palisades uplands overlooking the Hudson and Piermont Marsh, which lies between the river and the slope. The marsh is part of the Hudson River National Estuarine Research Reserve. The park operates as a day-use area, offering a running track, tennis courts, playfield, cross country skiing, a walking trail, hiking and picnic areas.
13 Mohonk Mountain House
Founded by the Smiley Family in 1869, this Victorian castle resort is nestled in the Hudson Valley, 90 miles north of New York City. Surrounded by 40,000 acres of pristine forest and protected wildlife, Mohonk Mountain House is a National Historic Landmark resort that offers farm-to-table cuisine and an award-winning spa.
14 Rondout Light
The Rondout Lighthouse is the last of three lighthouses marking the entrance to the Rondout Creek. Still fully operational as a navigational light, the Rondout lighthouse is one of only seven remaining on the Hudson River. This brick lighthouse, completed and lit in 1915, is accessible only by boat. Owned by the City of Kingston and operated by the Hudson River Maritime Museum, it is available for weekend public tours in the summer and occasionally for private group tours of up to 50 people.
15 Overlook Mountain
The Overlook Wild Forest offers a unique combination: a historic fire tower, mountain house ruins and impressive views of the Hudson River Valley and the central Catskills all within an under five-mile hike. The view of Overlook Mountain from the Hudson River appealed to many writers and artists making the area famous and laying the foundation for a wilderness concept and ethic in the United States. The summit of Overlook Mountain is one of the top three most visited locations in the Catskill Forest Preserve, after Slide Mountain and North-South Lake.
16 Breakneck Ridge
Breakneck Ridge is a mountain along the Hudson River between Beacon and Cold Spring, straddling the boundary between Dutchess and Putnam counties. Its distinctive rocky cliffs are visible for a long distance when approached from the south, and together with Storm King Mountain on the opposite bank of the river forms Wey-Gat, or Wind Gate, the picturesque northern gateway to the Hudson Highlands. Breakneck Ridge has several summits, the highest, some distance inland, reaching approximately 1,260 feet above sea level. The southern face of the peak is remarkable for its striking cliffs. Lying within Hudson Highlands State Park, it offers many stunning views of the river and region and is quite popular with hikers.
17 Staatsburgh State Historic Site
Staatsburgh State Historic Site is the elegant country home of Ogden Mills and his wife Ruth Livingston Mills. Sitting atop a grassy hill overlooking the Hudson River and the Catskill Mountains, their house is a fine example of a great estate built by America’s financial and industrial leaders during the Gilded Age (1876 – 1917). Darius Ogden Mills, father of Ogden Mills, established the family fortune by investing in banks, railroads and mines. Ogden Mills, like his father, was a noted financier and philanthropist.
18 Olana State Historic Site
The main house at Olana, sited impressively at the top of a long slope, is a unique mixture of Victorian architectural elements and Middle-Eastern decorative motifs. Frederic Church worked closely with architect Calvert Vaux to realize this distinctive home. Stylistically, the building is a villa with asymmetrical massing of towers and block masonry punctuated by fanciful windows and porches. The irregular silhouette of the exterior contrasts with the more regular rhythm of rooms arranged around a central hall.
19 Five State Lookout
An area maintained by New York State, Five State Lookout provides views of the Hudson River Valley and 5 states. On a clear day, the panoramic view from this location encompasses the White Mountains of New Hampshire, the Green Mountains of Vermont, the Berkshire Mountains of Massachusetts, the Helerberg Mountains of New York and the Connecticut Valley.
20 Ulster Landing County Park
Sojourner Truth / Ulster Landing Park features an assortment of activities for all ages. There are several hiking trails (one trail is handicap accessible) with beautiful views of the Hudson River that provide numerous bird watching opportunities . The park also features a boat launch, playground areas, barbecue grills, horseshoe pits, basketball hoops and beach volleyball. There is a large beach area for sunbathing and swimming with lifeguards on duty.