Hands down one of the best parts about living in the Hudson Valley is the fall foliage that sets the region aglow every autumn. In what feels like the blink of any eye, the verdant landscape of summer transforms into a rainbow of yellows, oranges, and reds that line winding country roads and converge into a natural kaleidoscope when viewed from atop one of the hikeable hills in the region.
Because fall foliage season is a highly beautiful and all too brief period for the Hudson Valley, there’s no time like the present to hop in the car, throw on your sunglasses, and cruise to these local hotspots for some of the finest leaf peeping the region has to offer.
With an enviable vista of the Hudson River from its hillside home in Putnam County, Boscobel is a dream for leaf peeping in the Hudson Valley. Visitors must reserve a time in advance, and the park is open Fridays to Mondays from 9 a.m. to dusk. With tickets in hand, locals can wander the grounds, the gardens, and the Woodland Trail for onsite explorations. No matter what, no trip is complete without a break to sit and admire the unrivaled view of the Valley’s namesake river in its autumn glory.
It’s hard to beat the beauty of Croton Gorge Park in any season. Come fall, the 97-acre property gets seriously glowy when the trees surrounding the awe-inspiring Croton Dam begin to change color. Go for the photo ops, then stay to meditate to the sound of the rippling dam and spillway beyond. For anyone in the mood for a walk, the park offers direct trail access to the Old Croton Aqueduct as well.
On the border between Orange and Rockland Counties, Harriman State Park is the second largest park in the entire New York Parks system. It boasts a whopping 200 miles of trails, not to mention 31 lakes and reservoirs, two beaches, two public camping areas, and more. Enter via Seven Lakes Drive, since Tiorati Brook Road, Arden Valley Road, Perkins Memorial Drive, and Exit 19 off the Palisades Interstate Parkway are closed until further notice. From there, it’s onto an extensive series of trails encompassed by sky-high trees that turn the most stunning hues of amber and ruby come autumn.
High Falls Conservation Area is one of the most beloved outdoor escapes in Columbia County – and for good reason. With a rich cultural history (it was a hub for hydropower in the 19th century) and a network of trails that run along ravines and toward overlooks, the setting tempts with prime leaf peeping opportunities. The trails range in difficulty from easy to moderate, which means visits are relatively low effort, high reward for anyone who wants to snap all the fall foliage photos.
Cold Spring might be the official address for this Hudson Valley preserve, but the expansive park stretches across the east side of the Hudson River all the way from Peekskill to Beacon. Because of this, it’s the perfect one-stop shop for locals looking to hike, fish, boat, or birdwatch. Hudson Highlands is also known as the home of Breakneck Ridge, one of the most beloved hikes in all of the Valley. The trek is 5.5 miles up 1,250 feet in just under a mile. It’s a tough one, but the views at the end are more than worth it. We’re telling you, Hudson Valley, this is the place to go if you’re looking for fall foliage at its finest.
A guide to leaf peeping in the Hudson Valley wouldn’t be complete without a mention of Minnewaska. The Ulster County preserve does fall vistas that are unparalleled in the region. Much of that is thanks to the destination’s location along the Shawangunk Mountain ridge, which features photo-worthy attractions like waterfalls, sky lakes, and hardwood forests. For visitors prepared to trek it up, Sam’s Point Preserve is the ultimate destination for endless views and fall foliage that can’t be beat. Note: the Indian Rock footpath is currently closed for public safety.
A magnificent example of land preservation in the Hudson Valley, Mohonk Preserve is a mecca for hikers, bikers, climbers, and runners alike. More than 70 miles of carriage roads and trails crisscross the grounds, which are open daily until sunset (7 a.m. start for members, 9 a.m. for non-members.) As far as the leaf-peeping scenes go, they’re nothing short of stunning. Follow one of the suggested hikes (may we recommend the Bonticou Crag trek?) and be sure to pause multiple times along the way to admire the colors of autumn tint the Hudson Valley horizon.
Located a matter of minutes from Albany proper, Pine Hollow Arboretum feels like it’s a world away from the hustle and bustle of the Capital Region. Once autumn arrives, the 22-acre arboretum turns into a real-life Thomas Cole painting. Plan a visit during the season to stroll around the 11 ponds onsite or trek along the network of trails. The leaf peeping is glorious, and the free admission is pretty great, too.