Swimming Spots and Sandy Beaches to Visit in the Hudson Valley

Soak in the sun, swim laps, set sail, and savor the season at these top waterside spots in the Hudson River region.

There isn’t a better way to celebrate the arrival of warm weather than paying a visit to a swimming spot. Luckily, you don’t have to go all the way to the ocean; the Hudson Valley is full of lake and river beaches, as well as public pools, so the whole family can have fun in the sun (with sunscreen, of course). It may be worth your while to get a single-year Empire Pass, which provides access to all New York State parks for one year for $80.

Call ahead to confirm opening hours, closings, and capacity limits at these beaches and swimming spots in the Hudson Valley.

Beaches & Swimming Spots in the Hudson Valley

Belleayre Beach

Highmount, Ulster

 

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Perks: Fishing, Arts and Crafts, Volleyball Court, Kayak and Boat Rentals

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Season: Mid-June–Labor Day

The Vibe: This ski resort transforms into a happening Hudson Valley hotspot come summertime. In addition to swimming and sunning, visitors can take advantage of designated areas for fishing, volleyball, horseshoes, and soccer. Explore Belleayre Lake by renting a boat, kayak, paddleboard, or aqua trike, or simply chill out at the beach.

On the Way: If you’d prefer to stay dry, there is a walking path that traces the lake’s perimeter. Or, hike one of the mountain resort’s nine trails starting from either Belleayre Beach or Mountain.

Need to Know: The beach opens for the season on June 15.

Clarence Fahnestock State Park & Canopus Lake

Carmel and Kent, Putnam

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Perks: Fishing, Boating, Kayak, Canoe, or Rowboat Rentals, Lifeguard on Duty, Kid-Friendly

Season: Memorial Day–Labor Day

The Vibe: A part of the 14,806-acre Clarence Fahnestock State Park, this long, narrow lake is surrounded by verdant forest on all sides. The beach is located at the northern end, along with boats for rent, a concession stand, and restrooms with showers.

On the Way: Serious hikers can hit the 7.5-mile out-and-back Canopus Lake via Appalachian Trail path. Take a drive to nearby Cold Spring, which is packed with shops and cafes, plus the West Point Foundry Preserve, a former industrial site turned outdoor museum on the river.

Need-to-Know: The park charges a $7 fee per car at the gate.

Greenwood Lake Beach

Greenwood Lake, Orange

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Perks: Kid-Friendly, Volleyball Court

Season: Memorial Day–Labor Day

The Vibe: Residents of Warwick and its surrounding villages—Greenwood Lake, Florida, Amity, Bellvale, Edenville, Greenwood Forest Farms, Little York, New Milford, Pine Island, and Sterling Forest—can swim and sunbathe at the Thomas P. Morahan Waterfront Park. At the lake, which has been a vacation destination for over 200 years, beachgoers can play a vigorous game of volleyball before ending the day with a relaxing picnic.

On the Way: If you’re shipping out to the beach before breakfast, grab food to go at Greenwood Lake’s Village Buzz Cafe. The eatery turns out hot breakfast sandwiches and coffee all day – try the Usual or the Unusual to switch things up.

Need-to-Know: Beachgoers will need to present their New York State license for proof of Town of Warwick residency upon entrance.

Harriman State Park

Ramapo, Rockland


Perks: Hiking, Camping, Fishing, Boat Launch

Season: Memorial Day–Labor Day at Lake Tiorati and Lake Welch

The Vibe: As the second-largest park in the New York State parks system, Harriman State Park offers an incredible range of scenery between its 31 lakes and reservoirs, 200 miles of hiking trails, two beaches, and public camping areas. Lake Tiorati Beach and Lake Welch Beach are the swimming destinations within the enormous park; there, you will find sandy beaches met with cool water and views of the lakes enveloped by a wall of lush greenery.

On the Way: Stop by the park’s gift shop and visitor center for information on the wildlife and land and souvenirs to remember the beach day.

Need-to-Know: If you choose to camp out, be aware of bears in the area and how to properly confront them.

Lake Awosting

Kerhonkson, Ulster

Lake Awosting Kerhonkson \ Ulster
Lake Awosting, Kerhonkson / Ulster. Photo by Mike Bloom

Perks: Hiking, Biking, Lifeguard on Duty

Season: Mid-June–Labor Day

The Vibe: Come here for a nice, quiet dip—and after the hike in, you’ll need it. From the Minnewaska State Park parking lot off Route 44/55, visitors walk or bike on a 3.5-mile out-and-back carriage trail to the swimming area. You’ll walk out to the water’s edge on a smooth rock that gradually descends into the lake.

On the Way: If you’re traveling on I-87, stop in New Paltz on the way to the trailhead. Frank’s Fresh Pickling Co. makes delicious sandwiches that you can take to-go and eat lakeside. On the way back, we recommend visiting Clemson Bros. Brewery to end the day with a craft beer and a beautiful view of the Ridge.

Need-to-Know: Minnewaska State Park charges $10 per car for day use.

Fun Fact

Situated on top of the Shawangunk Ridge, Lake Awosting is a sky lake—meaning it’s fed entirely from rainwater.

Lake Taghkanic State Park

Ancram, Columbia

Lake Taghkanic Ancram \ Columbia
Lake Taghkanic, Ancram / Columbia. By Sandra Foyt / Adobe Stock

Perks: Lifeguard on Duty, Boating, Fishing, Hiking, Biking, Kayak, Canoe, or Rowboat Rentals, Picnic Area, Kid-Friendly

Season: Memorial Day–Labor Day

The Vibe: Despite its isolated location, this 156-acre lake is super popular during the summer season—and with an onsite playground, sports fields, and boat rentals, it’s easy to see why. Hop in a kayak and paddle to the east or south point of the lake for a little solitude. Plan to arrive when the beach opens at 10 a.m. to beat the crowds and secure parking.

On the Way: Stop by the popular West Taghkanic Diner for a short stack of cornmeal buttermilk pancakes before you get to the park. After arriving at the lake (which has a convenient exit off the Taconic State Parkway), take a midday break from swimming to trek the five-mile lakeview loop; you can start and end right at the beach area.

Need-to-Know: There’s a parking fee of $10 for the day.

Lake Welch

Stony Point, Rockland

Lake Welch Stony Point \ Rockland
Lake Welch, Stony Point / Rockland. Courtesy of Rockland County Tourism

Perks: Lifeguard on Duty, Boating, Fishing, Picnic Area, Hiking, Camping, Kid-Friendly

Season: Memorial Day–Labor Day

The Vibe: This man-made lake is the largest beach in Harriman State Park. It boasts a half-mile-long sandy shore within the Ramapo Mountains. The popular weekend locale also has several picnic areas complete with communal grills.

On the Way: Nearby Stony Point is home to the Revolution-era landmark Stony Point Battlefield, where you can walk the grounds and learn more about its history in the onsite museum. Post beach, grab a bite at Playa Cancun, a colorful Mexican restaurant with a dining room that overlooks the Hudson.

Need-to-Know: Parking is $10 per car. If boating, be aware of the line of floating containment booms on the lake that keep algae out of the swimming area—they’re bright yellow and hard to miss.

Minnewaska State Park Preserve

Kerhonkson, Ulster


Perks: Hiking, Boating, Waterfalls

Season: Mid-June–Labor Day

The Vibe: Located above the iconic Shawangunk Mountain ridge, this park includes waterfalls, crystal-clear water, dense forestry, and various hiking trails with terrain for novice and expert hikers. The preserve also accommodates boating and scuba-diving, so if you’re looking for gorgeous views above and below the water’s surface, Minnewaska is the place to visit.

On the Way: Before jumping into the water, thrill-seekers can work up a sweat rock climbing or bouldering at the state park. For a different kind of activity, hop on a horse and venture off onto an equestrian trail at Minnewaska.

Need-to-Know: The beaches at Lake Minnewaska open on June 17.

Rockland Lake State Park

Valley Cottage, Rockland

 

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Perks: Kid-Friendly, Hiking, Food, Tennis

Season: Memorial Day–Labor Day

The Vibe: Situated on a ridge of Hook Mountain, this park offers a large pool with diving boards, an aquatic playground, and two large water slides. As if that wasn’t enough, families can park themselves at a picnic table and grill up lunch while soaking in incredible views of Rockland County.

On the Way: At the park, there is a 3.2-mile trail around the lake for walkers, joggers, rollerbladers, and bicyclists to enjoy. Additionally, tennis and pickleball courts are available for use near the pool.

Need-to-Know: Admittance to the pool ends 30 minutes before it closes.

Rudd Pond

Millerton, Dutchess

swimming lake with beaches
By Darren McGee NYSDED

Perks: Camping, Hiking, Fishing, Camping, Biking, Kayak, Canoe, or Rowboat Rentals, Kid-Friendly

Season: Memorial Day–Labor Day

The Vibe: Situated among rolling hills and trees in the southern section of Taconic State Park, this pond boasts a sandy beach, playground, and open fields for playing sports or picnicking. When you’re not swimming, you can boat or hike and bike along waterfront trails. In addition to regular tent camping, this area of the park offers a Tentrr site with two spacious, furnished canvas tents. Reservations begin at $255 a night (for up to 12 campers); visit parks.ny.gov for more information.

On the Way: Smaller, quieter Iron Mine Pond is just south of Rudd Pond. Millerton also has plenty of other places to explore. Spend the afternoon antiquing at the Millerton Antique Center and Hunter Bee, then grab a bite at local fave Four Brothers Pizza Inn.

Need-to-Know: The park charges a $7 fee per car; reservations are required for camping. Rudd Pond has no lifeguards.

Taconic State Park & Ore Pit Pond

Copake Falls, Columbia & North East

Perks: Hiking, Biking, Camping, Fishing, Lifeguard on Duty, Kid-Friendly

Season: Memorial Day–Labor Day

The Vibe: Formerly used for its deposits of iron ore, this pond is now a favorite spot to cool off. The roped-off section for swimming is small, but deep—as soon as you jump off the dock, you’re in eight feet of water. There’s also a separate, shallow wading pool that’s perfect for young children, but pack floaties just in case. Bring your own food and use the grills for lunch.

On the Way: Just down the road from the park entrance, the visitor’s center houses the Copake Iron Works Museum, where you can see artifacts from the site that operated from 1848 until 1903. Grab dinner in Copake before heading home—options include Clock Tower Pub & Grill, Church Street Deli and Pizza, and Dad’s Copake Diner.

Need-to-Know: Taconic State Park charges a $7 fee per car; prior reservations are required if you want to camp. Children 12 and under must pass a swim test before being allowed in the main pond.

Wilcox Memorial Park

Stanfordville, Dutchess

 

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Perks: Fishing, Kayak, Canoe, or Rowboat Rentals, Camping, Hiking, Kid-Friendly

Season: Memorial Day–Labor Day; lakefront open Thursday–Monday

The Vibe: Surrounded by woods and green fields, this park has two small lakes at its center; swimming is allowed at the southern one. The parking lot is near the beach area and playground. Bring a lunch with you to picnic at a table or on the open fields, trek the five-plus miles of hiking trails, and try your hand at disc golf on the professional-grade 27-hole course.

On the Way: The quaint village of Pine Plains is a 15-minute drive from the park. Before planning your trip to Wilcox, check out The Stissing Center’s events calendar and aim to end your day with a musical performance.

Need-to-Know: Camping reservations are required at dutchessny.gov/parkreservations. Prices range from $20–60, depending on residency and dates.

Swimming Holes

Peekamoose Blue Hole

Sundown, Ulster

Peekamoose Blue Hole Sundown \ Ulster
Peekamoose Blue Hole, Sundown \ Ulster. By Grant Taylor.

Perks: Hiking, Camping

Season: May 15–September 15

The Vibe: This small, natural pool nestled in the woods is known for its crystal-clear water with hues of turquoise and emerald. It’s part of the Rondout Creek (so the water is a little chilly) and up to 10 feet deep. Swimmers can set up towels and coolers on the rocks around the creek.

On the Way: Before your swim, take a short walk to Buttermilk Falls, a segmented 50-foot waterfall. There are also a few tent campsites nearby.

Need-to-Know: The park opens a half hour before sunrise and closes a half hour after sunset. You need to purchase a permit at least 24 hours before your visit—they’re $10 each for a car of up to six people and can be bought online via ReserveAmerica (reserveamerica.com). Camping reservations are an additional fee of $2.75 a night.

Split Rock

Gardiner, Ulster

Split Rock Gardiner \ Ulster. By John Verner.

Perks: Hiking

Season: Open daily year-round

The Vibe: Named for the “split” between two rock faces that form the gorge, Split Rock is tucked away in the Mohonk Preserve. Located off the Coxing Trail, it’s only a short hike from the parking lot. The water isn’t too deep (five to eight feet near the small waterfall, four feet in the wading pool) and there’s plenty of space to lounge and picnic on the surrounding rocks.

On the Way: Coxing Trail is a moderately challenging 7.3-mile loop. After soaking at Split Rock, take a short drive to Mountain Brauhaus, a favorite local restaurant, for some schnitzel, spaetzle, and German beer.

Need-to-Know: The parking lot can accommodate only 30 cars, so get there early; the Mohonk Preserve also charges a day-use fee of $15 per person, which you can pay at the trailhead. The pass will grant you access to all five of the preserve’s trailheads. (Tip: check with your local library for free passes.)

Waterfalls

Kaaterskill Falls

Haines Falls, Greene

waterfall
By Steve Aaron

Perks: Picnic Area

Season: Year-round

The Vibe: Measuring 260 feet from top to bottom, Kaaterskill is one of the state’s tallest falls. Water cascades across two levels with a wading pool at the base of the top stage which is five feet deep at most. From the Laurel House Trailhead, you’ll walk a 1.6-mile moderately challenging out-and-back trail that runs alongside the falls.

Kaaterskills Falls Haines Falls \ Greene has beaches and a swimming hole
Kaaterskills Falls Haines Falls / Greene. Photo by Julio / Adobe Stock

On the Way: After the hike, take a quick drive to Tannersville to eat and shop. And, if you want to stay overnight in the wilderness, head to North-South Lake campground (book via ReserveAmerica), which also offers boating and fishing.

Need-to-Know: The lower parking lot and trail are currently closed—so you’ll need to access the falls from the Laurel House Trailhead. It’s smart to bring a pair of water shoes to protect your feet from rocks in the pool.

Stony Creek Falls

Tivoli, Dutchess

Perks: Fishing, Hiking, Biking

Season: Year-round

The Vibe: This is a rural, remote, and rocky site that’s part of the marshy Tivoli Bays Wildlife Management Area. The main wading pool here is above the falls, but if you follow the water toward the Hudson, there are a number of wide points in the creek to explore and swim that will likely be less crowded.

On the Way: You’ll find plenty of opportunities for hiking, biking, birding, and paddling throughout the Tivoli Bays area. Downtown Tivoli—with its many cute shops and eateries—is just minutes away. Fortunes Ice Cream is a must-visit.

Need-to-Know: There’s no fee to enter Tivoli Bays. Water shoes are recommended for getting around Stony Creek.

Vernooy Falls

Brownville, Ulster

Vernooy Falls Brownville \ Ulster
Vernooy Falls Brownville \ Ulster. Photo by Steve Aaron

Perks: Camping, Hiking

Season: Year-round

The Vibe: Expect a secluded, four-stage waterfall tucked in the 30,100-acre Sundown Wild Forest. Each stage of the falls has a pool, but the one at the bottom is five to six feet deep and the best for a swim. Reaching the pool requires a moderate hike—a 3.5-mile out-and-back trail that starts on Upper Cherrytown Road (follow the blue blazes).

Need-to-Know: Bring water shoes for a better grip on the craggy rocks.

On the Way: After a day at the falls, enjoy craft beer and live music at Arrowood Farms in Accord.

Hot Spots to Cool Down Along the Hudson River

Bowline Point Park

Haverstraw

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Croton Point Park

Croton-on-Hudson

Hudson Highlands State Park Preserve

Cold Spring

Kingston Point Beach

Kingston

Long Dock Park

Beacon

RiverWalk Park

Tarrytown

Saugerties Village Beach

Saugerties

Ulster Landing County Park

Saugerties

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