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20 Breathtaking Fall Hikes to Take in the Hudson Valley

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As the leaves begin to drift on down, throw on your hiking gear and hit a local trail to get moving and savor the fall foliage.

The Hudson Valley is built for hiking, and fall is always the perfect season for it with its weather and scenery. Here are some of the best hikes across the Hudson Valley to witness the season change and see fall foliage at its finest.

P.S. If you go to any of these, don’t forget to #leavenotrace. Let’s keep the Hudson Valley as beautiful as can be.

Albany County

Pine Hollow Arboretum

Singerlands
Open all year from dawn to dusk 
Free admission (suggested donation of $5/person)

With over 3,300 trees and other wood-type plants, Pine Hollow Arboretum is the perfect place to see fall foliage up close and personal. The park consists of 25 acres along with 12 ponds and a number of trails winding through the continuous forest. Hikers can take a self-guided tour or arrange a private tour in advance with a brochure that points out 30 of the park’s significant trees

Thacher State Park

Voorheesville
Open all year from sunrise to sunset
$6 per vehicle

Along the ledge of the Helderberg Escarpment, which known as one of the most fossil-heavy formations in the world, you can find Thacher State Park. Thacher is made up of rocky slopes, woodlands, open fields, 25 miles of hiking trails, and six miles of limestone cliff-face. The open areas of the park give a great view of Hudson Valley, the Mohawk Valley, the Adirondack Mountains, and the Green Mountains. Because of its unique limestone landscape, Thacher also has features such as sinkholes, caves, disappearing streams, and springs.

Columbia County 

Harris Public Conservation Area

Austerlitz
Open all year from dawn to dusk
Free admission

What began as the farmland of a few Revolutionary War veterans in the 1800s is now 76 acres of tall hemlock forests, vernal pools, wetlands, and outcroppings. Harris Public Conversation Area is the place to visit if you want fall to be everywhere you look, even straight upward. The park boasts a variety of different animals that can be spotted along the three trails, which range in length from half of a mile to a mile.

Alander Mountain

Ancram 
Open all year from dawn to dusk
Free admission

Alander Mountain is not one, but two hikes on the same mountain, with one hike being shorter and steeper and the other being longer and more level. The shorter hike is only 5.4 miles, but it’s an 1,882 ft ascent in this short distance. The longer hike is eight miles long and approaches the mountain’s peak from the opposite side that the shorter hike does. In the end, both hikes will lead you to a peak that is 2,234 ft above sea level.

Dutchess County

Hudson Highlands State Park

Beacon
Open all year from dawn to dusk
Free admission

Hudson Highlands State Park is about 8,000 acres of mostly undeveloped land. There are 52 miles of hiking trails to choose from on the north and south sides of the park, and walks range from a quarter of a mile to eight miles long. Inside this park is Bannerman Island, a.k.a. the home of the famous Bannerman Castle, along with a piece of the Appalachian Trail, several bodies of water, access to the Hudson River, and seven to eight bird conservation areas. 

Fishkill Ridge Conservation Area 

Beacon

While not technically a park on its own, the Fishkill Ridge Conservation Area is a trail in the Hudson Highlands State Park with a few fun features. The trail is a seven-mile hike that follows a creek with plenty of waterfalls and eventually arrives at the Fishkill Ridge. There, you have a wide range view of Beacon, the Hudson River, and the Shawangunks in front of the Catskills.

A re-edit from last November of the NYC Skyline seen from Mount Beacon

A post shared by Sunset Dawn (@sunset_dawn_photography) on

Mount Beacon

Beacon
Open all year from dawn to dusk
Free admission

Mount Beacon is without a doubt the most popular hike in all of Dutchess County for every season. It boasts 15 acres of Hudson Valley history, with the Mount Beacon fire tower and the Beacon Incline Railway as local icons in the region. You can stop at multiple observation platforms, climb to the top of the fire tower, and even take a trail over to the Fishkill Ridge Conversation Area.

Greene County

Kaaterskill Falls

Haines Falls
Closed to the public; viewing platform is open to visitors
Free admission

Flowing in two tiers that together are over 260-feet tall is Kaaterskill Falls, New York State’s tallest cascading waterfall. As one of the Catskill’s most popular hiking destinations, the falls are at the top of everyone’s list for summer, fall, and spring hikes. The trail down to the falls and back is only 1.4 miles long, and the pool at the bottom of the falls is open for swimming in the warmer seasons.

Catskill Escarpment Loop (South)

Haines Falls

Above Kaaterskill Clove, a deep gorge in the Catskill region of the Hudson Valley, is the Catskill Escarpment Loop. This trail is a five-mile circular hike with multiple viewpoints of the clove as well as of the expanse of the Hudson Valley. This is a good alternative to hiking Kaaterskill Falls, and will let you experience the thrill of walking on the edge of a trail above a gorge.

Orange County

Storm King State Park 

Cornwall-On-Hudson
Open all year from dawn to dusk
Free admission

Storm King State Park is not just a scenic hike through the forest; it’s a hike to the top of a mountain that is over 1,300 feet above sea level. At this mountains peak, the view of the Hudson Valley stretches out for miles, giving you a view of fall across most of the valley. The park contains a small network of seven trails across a 10-mile span, making your quest for the top a little less stressful.

Black Mountain Loop

Harriman-Bear Mountain State Parks

The Black Mountain Loop is a scenic trail in the Orange County section of the Harriman-Bear Mountain State Parks. This route will take you up the ridge of the Black Mountain and back, where you will pass historic sites such as small piece of the Spanish Minethe site of the “Burnt House,” and the William Brien Memorial Shelter. This is an easy, level, eight-mile trail that is best for people who want a relaxing and not overly populated hiking experience.

Putnam County

Wonder Lake State Park

Holmes
Open all year from dawn to dusk
Free admission

Originally an extensive 1920s summer property, Wonder Lake State Park is home to 8.6 miles of trails through forests of mountain laurel and eastern hemlock, circled around a 30-acre lake and a three acre laurel pond. This park is not just filled with fall foliage, but also with wildlife such as barred owls, coyotes, and otters.

Anthony’s Nose

Cortlandt Manor

A section of the Appalachian Trail, Anthony’s Nose is a trail that leads to an overlook of the Bear Mountain Bridge. This trail is 2.6 miles to the overlook and back, and reaches up to 927 ft above sea level. This is a hike built for people who want to experience fall in the Hudson Valley with just a little less effort than is needed for other parks and trails.

Rensselaer County

Dyken Pond Environmental Education Center

Grafton
Open all year from dawn to dusk
Free admission (donations accepted)

Resting on top of the Rensselaer Plateau is the Dyken Pond Environmental Education Center, a place of nature exploration and learning. Over 33 different ecological communities call this park home, along with 19 species of mammals and over 50 species of birds. Fall here is an adventure as you explore six miles of trails on a self-guided tour and interact individually with the ecological communities. 

Rockland County

Clausland Mountain County Park

Orangeburg
Open all year from dawn to dusk
Free admission

Clausland Mountain County Park’s peculiar name comes from Jans Claus, the Native American who negotiated the sale of the mountain to Dutch settlers. The mountain is comprised of 532 acres of hardwood forest, scenic overlooks, and three trails that altogether span two miles. Here you can enjoy fall in sections of Red Oak, White Oak, Maple, Hickory, Beech, and Dogwood trees.

Ulster County

Long Path and Shawangunk Ridge Trail 

Wurtsboro

The Long Path and Shawangunk Ridge Trail are a 10-mile hike inside the Wurtsboro Ridge State Forest. This route will take you through an often overlooked section of the Long Path, where you will pass several cliffs to stop for views and pass pitch pines growing from bedrock. The path will lead you to the Shawangunk Ridge, where the view of the valley is beyond all belief.

Minnewaska State Park Preserve

Kerhonkson
Open all year long from 9 a.m. – 7 p.m.
$10 per vehicle

On top of the Shawangunk Mountain Ridge sits Minnewaska State Park Preserve, the pride of Ulster County’s hiking destinations. The former home to a 20th century ski resort, Minnewaska is now 23,000 acres consisting of three lakes, 50 miles of hiking trails, hardwood forests, waterfalls, and cliffs and ledges that provide amazing views. The trails here range from an eight of a mile to 4.3 miles long and will bring you to every hidden beauty the park has to offer.

Franny Reese State Park 

Highland
Open all year from dawn to dusk
Free admission

The hiking trails at Franny Reese State Park have a little something extra to offer, since two and a half miles of them follow a historic carriage road from the 19th century and pass by the ruins of an old mansion. The 251 acres of Franny Reese offer about 7.5 miles of trails, not all of which have heavy historical value. Still, the other three trails of the park have overlooks, river views, vernal pools, remainders of stone walls, and connections to rail trails and parks along the river.

Westchester County

Cranberry Lake Preserve

North White Plains
Open all year from 8 a.m. to dusk
Free admission

Mixed into the pool of residential Westchester County is Cranberry Lake Preserve, a 190-acre park surrounding a four-acre lake, several ponds, and a cascade. The parksix trails span more than five miles and will guide you through mixed hardwood forests, scrubland, cliffs, a swamp, vernal pools, and the remains of a 19th-century farmhouse and an early 20th-century stone-mining operation.

Teatown Lake Reservation

Ossining
Open all year from dawn to dusk
Free admission, parking is $5 on the weekends for non-members

With 1,000 acres to its name, the non-profit nature preserve helps protect nature with over 230 preserved flowers, wildlife exhibits, and educational programs for all ages. This park has 15 miles of trails ranging from 0.9 to 6.5 miles long, along with numerous lakes and ponds to explore along the way.


Related: The Top Places for Hiking, Mountain Biking, Climbing, and Water Fun in the Hudson Valley