Top 30 Hiking and Biking Adventures

We bring you the best trails the Hudson Valley has to offer

Hikers and bikers in the Hudson Valley are having a field day. Never before has there been such an extensive trail mix to sample. Walkway Over the Hudson now bridges paths on both sides of the river, making it possible to trek seamlessly for some 20 miles. The Harlem Valley Rail Trail finally got its long-awaited extension, stretching all the way from Wassaic to beyond Copake Falls for more than 40 miles. Plans are in the works to connect New Paltz to Minnewaska’s 90 miles of carriage roads. The proposed seven-mile-long Fjord Trail from Cold Spring to Beacon is taking shape, and rumor has it that a route from Beacon to Hopewell could be next. So get out and join the movement. Happy trails!

Related: New Hiking and Biking Trails to Discover This Summer In the Valley

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Brace Mountain

Copake Falls (Dutchess)
Level of difficulty:
Distance and time: 7 miles; at least 4 hours

You really don’t know what you’re in for, because it looks like a hill at first. But surprise! At 2,311 feet above sea level, it’s the highest mountain in Dutchess County.  Part of the Taconic range, this is a real hiker’s challenge, even though it’s so close to civilization. There are several ways to ascend, but this trail, originating at the Alander Brook trailhead on Under Mountain Road, is a popular choice, as it doesn’t involve any serious rock clambering, despite being rocky.  You’ll be rewarded with 360-degree views.

Insider tip: It can be cold up there, even in summer, so be prepared. Stay vigilant for critters: bobcats, coyotes, black bears, and, yes, timber rattlesnakes and copperheads. Watch where you step!


Dover Stone Church 

Pawling (Dutchess)
Level of difficulty: 
Distance and time: A little over one mile round-trip, so budget an hour—or more if you want to hike the side trails (read the directions carefully, as you won’t be parking on-site)

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You’ll be expecting fairies and wood nymphs to dart out from behind the trees and mossy rocks on this enchanted hike, which begins when you descend a staircase into a promenade-like field dotted with wooden benches. Right on cue, a babbling brook, complete with turtles and very vocal frogs, greets you as it meanders through a verdant forest. Cross a footbridge and head to the pièce de résistance: the Dover Stone Church, actually a Gothic-window-shaped geological formation that is the gateway to a cave and hidden waterfall within. If you walk up the secret path to the left of the stone arch, you’ll get a view of the waterfall from the other side and access more trail points.

 Insider tip: You’re just minutes from Millbrook, so check out Café Les Baux, an insanely good French bistro where selections like the warm goat-cheese salad, steamed mussels, and lamb burger make a lovely après-hike meal.

Brace Mountain, in Copake Falls, is the highest mountain in Dutchess County.

Dover Stone Church, in Pawling, where you’ll encounter brooks, footbridges, and a gate-way to a cave and waterfall.


Breakneck Ridge

Cold Spring (Putnam)
Level of difficulty: 
Length and time:  Almost 3 miles long; allow 4+ hours

Every weekend, especially in summer, legions of hikers march down Route 9D in Cold Spring on their way to Breakneck Ridge, the challenging rock scramble in the Hudson Highlands State Park Preserve that offers spectacular views of Storm King Mountain and Bannerman’s Castle from cliff overlooks. According to statistics from NYNJTC, which takes trail counts in summer, there was a 25 percent increase in the number of hikers from 2014 to 2015, with about one-third having arrived by train (little wonder that Metro-North added a summer whistle stop). Incredibly, over 45 weekend days in 2015, trail stewards counted 33,872 hikers ascending the Breakneck Ridge (White Blaze) Trail. The most hikers counted in one day was 1,755. Over the season, the stewards distributed more than 2,000 maps, rescued 102 lost hikers and turned away 470 unprepared people from the trailhead.

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In the near future, the hikers’ march up the high-speed highway should be considerably safer with the addition of the Breakneck Connector, part of the Fjord Trail project, which will include a walking path with guardrails to protect pedestrians, as well as signage and a possible lower speed limit to alert motorists to the trail system here. According to Scenic Hudson Senior Planner Amy Kacala, construction is expected this winter, so as to be less disruptive to the timber rattlesnake, which would be in hibernation at that time.

 Insider tip: Don’t bring small children or your dog (unless you can carry them), as many find it hard to scale the steep spots.

 At Breakneck Ridge in Cold Spring, you can catch this sunset view of Storm King Mountain. 


Wappinger Greenway Trail

New Hamburg (Dutchess)
Level of difficulty:
Distance and time: 5 miles; at least 3 hours

Shhh! The hipsters haven’t heard about this one yet, so you might have it all to yourself. You’ll need to start from the New Hamburg stop of Metro-North, then follow the excellent NYNJTC directions through the web link above. You’ll be treated to a funky old family cemetery, views of Wappingers Creek, and possibly some bald eagle sightings, as this is a popular spot for them (look for the wildlife photographers).

 Insider tip: Pack a lunch and enjoy it at a pavilion overlooking the Hudson River in Bowdoin Park. If it’s a very hot day, head over to the playground and cool off with the mist from the sprinklers.


Pawling Appalachian Trail

Pawling (Dutchess)
Level of difficulty:
Somewhat strenuous
Distance and time:  7 miles; at least 5 hours;

It looks like a vintage movie set, but the tiny wooden train platform created specifically for Appalachian Trail hikers, about two miles outside of Pawling, is for real and operates on weekends and holidays. Don’t be fooled: The trail from the train station starts out easy and flat along a lovely wooden boardwalk over Great Swamp wetlands brimming with birds and frogs. Fields and forests follow, but then comes the whammy: a steep ascent to Cat Rocks that is rewarded with pretty, panoramic views.

Insider tip: Allow yourself enough time to get back to the station so that you don’t miss the train. It’s no kind of fun to schlep, hungry and tired, along Route 22 into Pawling to catch a train from a different station.


Castle Rock Unique Area (Sugarloaf Hill and Osborn Loop Trail)

Garrison (Putnam)
Level of difficulty:  Moderate
Distance and time: About 7 miles; at least 4 hours

Part of Hudson Highlands State Park, this route is easily reached by taking the Metro-North Hudson Line to the Garrison station and following the trail to the parking lot. Carriage roads and wooded  trails take you on a picturesque hike with highlights that include a gazebo, several stream crossings, rocky outcrops, and lovely views of the Hudson and Bear Mountain Bridges.  For part of the hike, you’ll be on the Appalachian Trail.


Arden Point

Garrison (Putnam)
Level of difficulty: Easy
Distance and time: 3.5 miles; 3 hours

If you’re in the mood for just a stroll, you have another choice at the Garrison train station: Access Arden Point by way of the blue trail at the southern end of the parking lot. These are the old stomping grounds of Benedict Arnold and other Revolutionary War-era personalities. Plus, the views are divine!


Lake Skenonto Loop/Ramapo-Dunderberg Trail

Tuxedo (Orange)
Level of difficulty: Moderate to Difficult
Length and distance:  7 miles; at least 5 hours

It’s a little more than a half-mile to get to the Ramapo-Dunderberg trailhead in Harriman State Park from the Tuxedo train stop (on the NJ Transit/Port Jervis line), but it’s well worth the extra steps. You’ll need to head north through the parking lot to East Village Road, turn right, and go through a tunnel, then turn left to Grove Drive and follow it to the trailhead. Ascend to the lookout at Parker Cabin Mountain, about three-and-a-half miles in, with its stellar views. It’s a pretty place to have lunch, though you could also hold out for a waterside picnic at Lake Skenonto, where you’re not allowed to swim, so beware the park police! Along the way, you’ll cross the Triangle Trail and follow the Victory Trail, which reconnects with the Ramapo-Dunderberg Trail to take you back to where you started.

To expand your trail-taking options, catch the Harriman Shuttle Bus from the Tuxedo train station and at various stops along a route in the park. The shuttle follows a single figure-eight loop:

Insider Tip: Tuxedo Sushi, right across from the train station, offers dishes like Sashimi Bibimbop with salad and rice, which really hit the spot after a day on the trail.


Wallkill Valley Rail Trail

Gardiner to Kingston (Ulster)
Level of difficulty
: Varies
Distance and time: 22 miles; varies

Of course, we love all the rail trails, but this one is really chugging along. Last year, it was listed as one of “10 Iconic Rail Trails” in the nation by the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, a national nonprofit. It also received National Recreational Trail status in 2007. With the recent restoration of the Rosendale Trestle Bridge, to unite both sides of the trail, visitors can now tour the entire 22 miles. While it’s drawing visitors just to admire the river (becoming the unofficial Walkway Over the Rondout), it also passes through orchards, organic farms, and even historic areas, like the Huguenot District in New Paltz and Kingston’s Stockade District. We also like the fact that it allows horseback riding.

Insider tip: Pay a stop to the Rosendale Rail Trail Café, about a mile south of the Trestle Bridge, on the grounds of a farm. This sweet little Fridays and weekends-only outdoor eatery serves scrumptious salads and wood-fired pizzas, incorporating produce from its own gardens.

 The Wallkill Valley Rail Trail, in Ulster County, was ranked one of the “10 iconic rail rails” in the nation. 


Corkscrew Rail Trail

New Lebanon to Stephentown (Columbia and Rensselaer)
Level of difficulty:
Distance and time: 2.5 miles; varies

What? You’ve never heard of the Corkscrew Rail Trail? Neither had we before learning through a friend of a friend that this unpaved public-use recreational trail straddling Rensselaer and Columbia Counties had recently burst on the ever-growing trail scene. Open year-round (except during deer-hunting season in certain marked sections), it’s a magnet for walking, bicycling, and horseback riding. Once the conduit for the old Rutland Railroad, which carried freight and passengers until the 1950s, the rail line got its name from the tight and twisty route it took between hills. The trail is on privately owned land, so tread lightly, and watch your Ps and Qs.

Insider tip: Keep on the lookout for moose and other wildlife as you cross the Wyomanock Creek, which traverses the trail.


The Putnam Trailway

Brewster Village to Baldwin Place (Putnam)
Level of difficulty:
Distance and time: 12 miles; varies

Tucked away on right-of-way lands of the “Old Put” (the Putnam Division of the New York Central Railroad, which provided freight and passenger service between the Bronx and Brewster from the late 19th century to the 1950s), this trail is a secret hiding in plain sight. We’re glad it was there, as today its former tracks create a lovely tour of the county.

 Insider tip: Millie’s Café in Carmel makes a nice trail pitstop. Go for the veggie pita: grilled eggplant with boiled egg and cucumber salad.


Walnut Mountain Park Liberty (Sullivan)

Lever of difficulty: Varies
Distance and time: 13 miles; varies

If you’re looking to try out your new mountain bike (or just want to hike), head for this hidden gem on 265 acres. A mix of steep and level terrain provides an array of experiences, so both novice and experienced bikers can find something to love. Plus, there are views to distract you if the pedaling gets rough. After all, it’s the second-highest mountain in Sullivan County!

Insider tip: The park was once the property of the Walnut Mountain Hotel, which was located at the mountain summit. You can still poke around the old foundation, including a big fireplace. 


Ninham Mountain

Carmel (Putnam)
Level of difficulty:
Distance and time: 1.5 miles round-trip; 1.5 hours or more (if there’s a wait to climb the tower)

Just when you are about to ask, “Are we there yet?” you are. Less than a mile long, this gradual climb to a fire tower is something you can decide on casually on a Saturday afternoon and not have to worry about spending the whole day there or starting out too late. Along the way, you’ll encounter stone structures that some people believe were built by Celtic explorers, although others contend they’re just root cellars left over from Colonial times. (You be the judge, but we’re going with the root-cellar theory.) A few steps up the tower and the magnificent view commands your attention—360 degrees’ worth of misty, distant vistas.

 Insider tip: For a challenging workout, bring along your mountain bike and switch off between gravel roads and forest paths.


Long Dock Park

Beacon (Dutchess)
Level of difficulty:
Distance and time: Klara Sauer Trail is 1.8 miles round-trip; 45 minutes to an hour or more

This popular Scenic Hudson spot runs along the waterfront adjacent to the Beacon train station. Park near the red barn (Scenic Hudson’s River Center) and head over to the water to snag a viewing place on a rock near the kayak pavilion. It’s a great location to watch the sun dip down over Newburgh across the way as sailboats glide into Beacon Harbor. But you can also amble along the universally accessible walking trails criss-crossing the park, or follow the Klara Sauer trail along the shoreline, where a mini-park decorated with birdhouses makes a nice perch for watching the world go by.

Insider tip: This field trip is a nice way to cap off a day at Dia: Beacon, which is around the corner, within walking distance (signage abounds).


Walkway Over the Hudson

Poughkeepsie (Dutchess)
Level of difficulty:
Distance and time: 1.28 miles one way (2.6 miles round-trip); 1 to 2 hours round-trip

An abandoned railroad bridge-turned-pedestrian park, Walkway has become the go-to tourist attraction of the mid-Hudson Valley, not just for its spectacular views of the river, Catskills, Hudson Highlands, and beyond but also for its ease of use. Whether you’re pedaling, dog walking or accessing the spot via wheelchair, this flat, undemanding hike is for you. The catalyst for the trail building movement, Walkway ties the Hudson Valley Rail Trail and the Dutchess Rail Trails together, while its 21-story elevator, rising some 200 feet, also links up with the Poughkeepsie waterfront. Plus, it has the proud distinction of being the longest elevated pedestrian walkway on the planet. No wonder it attracts gawkers from all over the country—and the world!

Insider tip: The pavement can be too hot for doggie paws on summer days. Keep in mind, too, that the park closes during lightning storms.

The Walkway Over the Hudson, in Poughkeepsie, has the distinction of being the longest elevated pedestrian walkway in the world. 


Stockport-Greenport Connector Trail

Greenport Conservation Area/Harrier Hill Park (Columbia)
Level of difficulty:
Distance and time: 4 miles round-trip; at least 3 hours

Just outside bustling Hudson, with all its cool shops, Greenport Conservation Area and adjacent Harrier Hill Park offer a quick escape into nature. At 714 acres, Greenport is known for its fragrant cedar groves and overlooks, while six-acre Harrier Hill features picture-postcard meadows, wide Hudson River views, and a corncrib-shaped pavilion where you can get out of the sun and enjoy a picnic. Though small, the park is flanked by vast conservation and wildlife-management areas, so you’ll truly be immersed in a woodsy experience. Now, with the introduction of a new two-mile trail between the Greenport and Harrier Hill properties, you can easily enjoy both in one trip. To keep things interesting, the trail traverses a ravine and passes by a hidden backwater of the Hudson.

Insider tip: Hardy hikers can lengthen their treks to 10 miles round-trip by picking up the red Town Park Trail at Greenport and meeting up with the Stockport-Greenport Connector.


North Bay (Yellow) Trail

Greenport Conservation Area (Columbia)
Level of Difficulty:
Easy to moderate
Distance and time: 1.5 miles round-trip, at least 1.5 hours

Not to be confused with the Columbia Land Conservancy’s separate North Bay Project in Hudson, an area also known as North Bay is located in the Greenport Conservancy. For years, all anyone could do was look down and admire it. But a new trail down the steep embankment, constructed with the help of local high school students last summer, now enables visitors to explore the bay.

Insider Tip: Greenport also includes an Access-for-All wheelchair-friendly trail.


High Falls

Philmont/Claverack (Columbia)
Level of difficulty:
Distance and time:  1.2-mile trail loop; 1.5 hours

We can’t gush enough about this special spot. A short, easy hike rewards you with not just one but two waterfalls: High Falls, which towers at 150 feet, taller than any other falls in Columbia County, and a baby version that is nonetheless lovely. It’s easy getting around in the High Falls Conservation Area, a 47-acre Eden that includes locust groves, hemlock ravines, a picnic area, and a trout creek for fishing. 


Buttermilk Falls

West Nyack (Rockland)
Level of difficulty:
Easy to moderate
Distance and time: 1.2 miles roundtrip; 1 hour walk plus picnic time

Just a five-minute car drive from the Palisades Center—the second-largest shopping mall in the New York-Metropolitan area—this peaceful park has it all over retail therapy. Head out on a short, easy stroll up a trail, and you’ll be treated to the sight and sound of water cascading into a pretty sylvan pool. Pack a picnic lunch and bring a blanket. The trail system also has several scenic overlooks with views all the way to New Jersey.


Diamond Notch Falls

Lexington  (Greene)
Level of difficulty: Moderate
Distance and time: 2.7 miles round-trip; 1.5 hours or more

This attraction could easily be under a “great hikes with kids” category, except for the fact that the 300-foot ascent might not go over so well with little ones. One thing is certain: Adults and children alike will enjoy splashing around in the pretty pool at the foot of the cascading waters in a true wilderness location. 

Insider tip: If you cross the quaint footbridge that traverses the top of the falls and continue on the Diamond Notch trail, about a half-mile in, you’ll reach a lean-to where you can camp for the night.


Devil’s Path 

Hunter/Lexington (Greene)
Level of difficulty:
Extremely challenging
Distance and time: 25 miles one way; averages 3 days (one long weekend)

When hikers sit around the campfire and swap stories, this trail gets its fair share of airplay. Half-seriously referred to as a “hike from hell,” it involves steep cliffs, rocky chutes, and perilous footholds. But it also offers to-die-for views and something intangible: a sense of fulfillment. After all, hikers scale five of the 35 Catskill peaks: Indian Head, Twin, Sugarloaf, Plateau, and West Kill Mountains. Little wonder it’s on every local peak bagger’s list.

Insider tip: You can say you’ve walked the Devil’s Path (without actually hiking all of it!) by picking it up at the Devil’s Tombstone campground in Hunter and doing a day hike.


Constitution Marsh

Garrison (Putnam)
Level of Difficulty:
Length: 2 miles; 1.5 hours or more

You could whiz by this low-key Audubon sanctuary off of Route 9D your whole life without even realizing that it’s hidden beyond the trees. Kids will love strolling the boardwalks and observing the gulls, herons, and egrets going about their business. There is also an Indian rock shelter that little ones love to explore. Please note: Bowser isn’t allowed at this tranquil bird sanctuary, for obvious reasons.

Insider tip: If young hikers want more, keep going out of the parking lot on Indian Brook Road, pass through a gate and follow the carriage road and streambed to Indian Brook Falls, where kids can splash and wade.


Alder Lake Loop Trail

Hardenburgh (Ulster)
Level of difficulty:
Distance and time: 1.6 miles; 2 hours plus

Take a breezy, no-brainer stroll around a pristine lake and let the kids run ahead if they like—you can’t get lost here. Once the centerpiece of a railroad tycoon’s private estate, today the property is part of the Balsam Lake Mountain Wild Forest. Kids will enjoy searching for frogs and splashing around the shoreline. Plus, non-motorized boating and fishing are allowed. Pack a lunch to enjoy in the picnic area.


Alligator Rock and Boulder Rock 

Hunter (Greene)
Level of difficulty:
Distance and time: Alligator Rock, 2 miles; Boulder Rock, 1.5 miles; 1.5 to 4 hours

Go on a day of rock-hopping at North-South Lake, the most popular campground in the Catskills. From different trails, you can access Alligator Rock and Boulder Rock, glacial erratics left over from the Ice Age. Take an old carriage road up to Alligator Rock, which looks like a hungry reptile opening his jaws. The kids will have fun arranging rock “teeth” in his mouth and having their pictures taken with this cool landmark. For a double-header, return to the parking area and take the Escarpment Trail to Boulder Rock, which looks a bit like an elephant’s or rhinoceros’ backside. Ask the kids what they think. This rocky attraction is on the very same trail that leads to the former site of Catskill Mountain House, which has magnificent long-range views that provide plenty of photo ops.



Huckleberry Point

Hunter (Greene)
Level of difficulty: Moderate
Distance and time: 4.6 miles round-trip; 3.5 hours

After a trek through mountain laurel and pine forest, you’ll reach the “point,” a series of rock ledges with views that go on till tomorrow. You might even feel like you’re standing in the sky. Just be cautious if you suffer from vertigo, and admire the view from afar, rather than going to the edges of the rocks. A fun note: You’ll be in the company of eagles and vultures, out for a day of hang-gliding the thermal currents.



Throughout the 20th century until as late as the early 90s, observers in fire towers scanned the skies for signs of smoke. Today, we use airplanes and other more contemporary methods to foil flames, but restored old lookouts still stand proud, offering 360-degree views and relatively easy access to summits (though you’ll still have to work for it).  In fact, for “tower baggers,” visiting these vestigial vantage points has become an obsession.


Overlook Mountain Tower (Overlook Trail)

Woodstock (Ulster)
Level of difficulty:
Distance and time: 6 miles round-trip; at least 3.5 hours

At an elevation of more than 3,000 feet, the 60-foot-high Overlook Mountain Fire Tower delivers on the views. You can also explore old hotel ruins at the top.


Hunter Mountain Tower (Sprucetown Trail)

Hunter (Greene)
Level of Difficulty: Strenuous
Distance: 7 miles round-trip; 4.5 hours or more

You can see for miles and miles from here, making it a requisite visit for any serious tower chaser. Look forward to views of the Blackhead Range, Kaaterskill High Peak, and Slide Mountain as you trudge onward.

Insider tip: Shave about three miles off the journey by taking the Hunter Mountain Sky Ride to the yellow-marked trail and proceeding to the tower from there.


Red Hill Tower Trail

Claryville (Ulster)
Level of difficulty: Moderately challenging
Distance and time: 3 miles round-trip; 2.5 hours

In 1920, the steel to build this tower was brought up the mountain part-way by a horse and wagon. When it got too steep, workers had no choice but to carry it the rest of the way. Think of this as you’re trudging upward, and be glad that all you need to lug is a water bottle.


Balsam Lake Mountain Tower (Dry Brook Ridge Trail)

Hardenburgh (Ulster)
Level of difficulty: Strenuous
Distance and time: 6 miles round-trip;  4 hours

Thanks to the generosity of volunteers and AmeriCorps students pitching in, this 1930s tower was restored and reopened in 2000 after years of deterioration. The hike starts out gradually but then gains steam as you ascend, so pace yourself.  The views take you all the way to Pennsylvania.


Tremper Mountain Tower (Phoenicia Trail)

Shandaken (Ulster County)
Level of difficulty: Moderate to challenging
Distance and time: 6 miles round-trip; 4 hours

For those who fear heights, this is your tower. At 47 feet, it’s a bit less scary than the 60-footers you find on other mountaintops. Impressive factoid: Built in 1917, this is the original fire tower for this mountain (most are replacements of earlier versions). It has the distinction of being on the National Register of Historic Places.


More information for all towers:





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