Even Hudson Valley natives (myself included) may be surprised to learn just how much groundbreaking environmental advocacy has taken place here over the years. From the landmark 1965 court decision in the Scenic Hudson Preservation Conference v. Federal Power Commission case — which marked the birth of environmental law and whose outcomes contributed to the development of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) — to the longtime activism of Pete Seeger and the Clearwater organization, Valley residents have been fighting the good fight in defense of Mother Earth and the verdant river valley we call home. “We’re blessed in the Hudson Valley that we’ve been doing this environmental stewardship advocacy for years,” says Mark Castiglione, acting director of the Hudson River Valley Ramble, which kicks off its 11th year this month. The event celebrates the Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area — which extends from Albany to just north of Manhattan — by getting participants out and about on foot, bike, or by boat, participating in the more than 200 paddles, hikes, historic tours, kids’ expos, races, music and art festivals, and river explorations planned over three weekends (Sept. 11-12, 18-19, and 25-26).
“Getting out in nature, learning about our heritage and the natural beauty of our environment, and connecting people with this historic landscape, is what the Ramble is all about,” explains Castiglione. “Every year we have a new and growing list of partners — over 200 last year, from the Adirondack Mountain Club to historical societies — and that commitment is what makes the Ramble a success.”
Top of the world: Hiking to the summit of Cold Springs’ Bull Hill — and enjoying the spectacular view it affords — is one of the dozens of Ramble outings planned for this month
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This year’s event is again cosponsored by the Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area and the New York State Department of Environmental Protection’s Hudson River Estuary Program. The Ramble also has its first corporate sponsor, Alteris Renewables, a residential and commercial renewable energy company. “We feel Alteris’ business model aligns with our mission to foster stewardship in this area,” says Castiglione of the new relationship.
“What I like about the Ramble and how it’s evolved is that we’re constantly getting new partners and new events,” offers Castiglione. “From year to year, there is a core of things that will always be there, but building on that is a whole new series of events.” This growth is in part how the success of the Ramble is measured, although there is a significant quantifiable economic impact as well. “Early on, when we first started doing the Hudson River Greenway Trail, we had just a couple of guides out there on the river,” Castiglione points out. “Now we have almost a dozen outfitters. Investing in recreational infrastructure has a positive economic impact.” That impact includes the $12.2 million the Ramble contributed to the local economy in 2009. This year, Castiglione is sure the reach will be even greater.
Here are just a few of this year’s Ramble highlights, according to Castiglione. Pre-registration is required for most events; for specific information, including directions, equipment requirements, and registration details, visit the Ramble Web site here.
Meet Me in Marlborough Agri-Cultural Bounty
Sept. 11, Marlborough
“This event is a real example of our diversity,” says Castiglione. Follow the Marlborough Farm Trail — an official New York State Farm Trail — and sample the bounty offered by its many farms and wineries while witnessing the rich history of the 300-year-old agricultural region.
Organic Farming and Renewable Energy at Hook Mountain Growers
Sept. 12, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Nyack
Spend the day with Alteris Renewables and the folks at Hook Mountain Growers in Nyack, and learn about renewable energy applications for micro-farming and organic gardening and agriculture.
Huckleberry Point Hike with the authors of Catskill Day Hikes
Sept. 18, 9:30 a.m., West Saugerties
Castiglione highlights hikes with authors Carol and David White, who wrote Catskill Day Hikes for All Seasons and Catskill Peak Experiences, as some of the Ramble’s best events: “They do a heck of a job and offer fantastic interpretation,” he says. This five-mile hike explores the spectacular views from rock ledges between Greene and Ulster counties. Other hikes in the series include Giant Ledge (Sept. 11) and Slide Mountain (Sept. 12).
Storm King from Little Stony Point
Sunset Kayak Tour
Sept. 18, 4 p.m., Cornwall-on-Hudson
Hosted by Storm King Adventure Tours, a longtime Ramble partner, this low-key guided kayak tour on the Hudson, and offers a memorable view of the Highlands at dusk. Tours also held on Sept. 11, 12, and 26.
Historic Hudson Walking Tour & Hudson Cemetery Tour
Sept. 26, 11 a.m., Hudson
This unique event explores the history of “Upstate’s downtown.” Join Hudson Valley Journeys for a one-mile guided historical tour of Hudson, which in recent years has experienced a rebirth as a cultural epicenter. The cemetery portion of the walk traces the city’s history through the graves of its most prominent residents and champions. “The Hudson Valley has some great historic cemeteries,” notes Castiglione.
Mount Beacon Incline Trail Hike
Sept. 26, 9 a.m., Beacon
This new event brings participants up the Mount Beacon Incline along the route once taken by the railway. Led by interpretive guides from the Mount Beacon Incline Railway Restoration Society — who are trying to rebuild the mountain’s funicular railway, which was destroyed by fire in 1983 — the hike ends at the summit, which Castiglione cites as “one of the most spectacular views in the Hudson Valley.”