There’s nothing like a good run to start the season off on the right foot. As far as exercise goes, running is one of the cheapest, easiest, and most effective options on the market. With a solid pair of sneakers and an upbeat playlist, you have all you need to hit the road.
Instead of slogging out thirty minutes on the treadmill and committing to a pricey gym membership, take advantage of the numerous free trails and routes that crisscross the Hudson Valley. Whether you are new to the sport or log dozens of miles a week, you’ll find the picture perfect path on our list.
Palisades Parkway or Route 9W North, Bear Mountain
In terms of geography, Bear Mountain has a little bit of everything. Rugged mountain views live in harmony with serene rivers, rocky hillsides, and flat grasslands. As for running, the park has extensive trails that accommodate both hikers and runners. Check out the trail map beforehand to select the route for you, then follow the markers around the expansive terrain. “I’d say my favorite is the shore path at Nyack Beach,” says Matthew Shook, Director of Development and Special Projects at the Palisades Interstate Park Commission. “The path is about five miles along the Hudson from Nyack Beach to Haverstraw Beach.”
The path at Nyack Beach / Photo courtesy of the Palisades Interstate Park Commission Archives
114 Estates Lane, Hyde Park to 81 Vanderbilt Park Road, Hyde Park
Skip the headphones for this route, which connects two historic Hyde Park estates. Although the run itself is only a little over two miles, the path takes you directly onto U.S. 9 North. Keep to the side of the road for a breezy jog before cooling off with a walk around either of the picturesque historic sites.
New Paltz to Poughkeepsie
With a smooth path that never seems to end, the Hudson Valley Rail Trail is a runner’s delight. Depending on where you live, you can kick off the run in New Paltz or cross the Walkway in Poughkeepsie to connect onto the trail in Highland. The course is well maintained and heavily utilized by locals and visitors alike. Whether you plan your route before you leave home or simply run until your legs feel like jelly, you’ll love the smooth sailing down this path.
4124 Route 84 E, Beacon
If a fear of heights doesn’t turn you off, cruise to the Newburgh-Beacon Bridge for a run that offers one of the most majestic views of the Hudson River in all of New York. At just under two and a half miles, the course is ideal for a weekend morning on a cloudless day. You’ll avoid the weekday traffic and get the perfect dose of vitamin D.
81 Vanderbilt Park Road, Hyde Park
The Vanderbilt Mansion in Hyde Park is an ideal destination for runners of all experience levels. Those looking to ease into cardio can jog around the estate and along the hilltop that overlooks the Hudson River. For a lengthier route, follow the marked trail that loops around the property. As you pass by the gardens, the mansion, and the water, feel free to stop for a photo op.
51 Vassar Farm Lane, Poughkeepsie
Expect to see a lot of student runners as you make your way along the trails that mark Vassar Farm in Poughkeepsie. For a short trek, start at the turnoff from Hooker Avenue to Vassar Farm Lane and continue onward to the rugby field in the heart of the preserve. If you’re feeling adventurous, set your own pace on one of the smaller paths that branch off from the main course. If you happen to spot a few furry friends along the way, don’t be surprised. Birds, deer, and other animals call the verdant landscape home.
61 Parker Avenue, Poughkeepsie
Poughkeepsie’s Walkway is a magnet for movers of all sorts. Runners fly across the bridge alongside bikers, sightseers, and walkers galore. The flat, spacious path is easy to navigate and allows you to traverse the walk at your own pace. Before you set out, remember to take into account the fact that you’ll need to turn around at some point to head to the car. Beginners may want to run to the halfway point before backtracking, while pros can complete the full lap.