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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 in the Hudson Valley, 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 work together to keep the Hudson Valley as beautiful as can be!

Albany County

Pine Hollow Arboretum

Slingerlands

 

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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 22 acres along with 11 ponds and a number of trails winding through the continuous forest for Hudson Valley hiking. Hikers can take a self-guided tour or arrange a private tour in advance with a brochure that points out the park’s rare and significant trees

Thacher State Park

Voorheesville


Along the ledge of the Helderberg Escarpment, which is known as one of the most fossil-heavy formations in the world, you can find a truly unique Hudson Valley hiking experience. Thacher State Park features rocky slopes, woodlands, open fields, 25 miles of 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.

Columbia County 

Harris Public Conservation Area

Austerlitz

What began as the farmland of a few Revolutionary War veterans in the 19th century is now acres and 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 is home to a variety of different animals which can be spotted along the two Hudson Valley hikes.

Alander Mountain

Ancram 

 

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Alander Mountain is not one, but two Hudson Valley hikes on the same mountain; one is short and steep whereas the other is long and level. The shorter hike is only 5.4 miles, but with an ascent of 1,882 feet. The longer hike is eight miles long and approaches the mountain’s peak from the opposite side that the shorter hike does. But if amazing views are your main concern, don’t fret, as both hikes end at a peak 2,234 feet above sea level.

Dutchess County

Hudson Highlands State Park

Beacon


Hudson Highlands State Park is about 8,000 acres of (mostly) undeveloped land. There are over 70 miles of Hudson Valley hiking trails and walks ranging from a quarter-mile to eight miles in length. Inside this park is Bannerman Island, home of the famous Bannerman Castle, along with a segment of the Appalachian Trail, several bodies of water, access to the Hudson River, and bird conservation areas. 

Fishkill Ridge Conservation Area 

Beacon

 

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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, eventually arriving at the Fishkill Ridge. There, you have a panoramic view of Beacon, the Hudson River, and the Shawangunks afront the Catskills. What could be a sweeter ending to a Hudson Valley hike?

Mount Beacon

Beacon

View from Mt. Beacon Fire Tower

View from Mount Beacon Fire Tower / Photo by Sabrina Sucato

Mount Beacon is without a doubt the most popular hike in all of Dutchess County. It offers 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. Or, you could keep your Hudson Valley hiking brief and spend time exploring Beacon’s lively Main Street.

Greene County

Kaaterskill Falls

Haines Falls


Flowing in two tiers—altogether, over 260 feet tall—is Kaaterskill Falls, the Empire State’s tallest cascading waterfall. As one of the most popular Hudson Valley hikes, the falls are at the top of everyone’s list for summer, fall, and spring trips to the Catskills. The trail down to the falls and back is only 1.4 miles long, and the pool at the bottom of the falls opens for swimming in the warmer seasons.

Catskill Escarpment Loop (South)

Haines Falls


Above Kaaterskill Clove—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 cove as well as the expanse of the mountains. This is a good alternative to tackling Kaaterskill Falls, and will let you experience the thrill of walking on the edge of a trail above a gorge. Here, you’ll find Hudson Valley hiking at its grandest.

Related: 6 Hudson Valley Trails for Hikers of All Experience Levels

Orange County

Storm King State Park 

Cornwall-On-Hudson

 

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Storm King State Park is not just a scenic hike through the forest—it’s a hike to the top of a mountain that rises 1,300 feet above sea level. At its peak, the views of the Hudson Valley region stretch out for miles, giving you a full view of fall. The park contains a small network of hiking trails across a 10-mile span, making your quest to the top a little less stressful.

Black Mountain Loop

Harriman-Bear Mountain State Parks

 

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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-too-populated hiking experience.

Putnam County

Wonder Lake State Park

Holmes

 

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Originally an extensive 1920s summer property, Wonder Lake State Park offers 8.6 miles of trails through forests of mountain laurel and eastern hemlock which encircle a 30-acre lake and a small laurel pond. This park is not only filled with fall foliage, but also wildlife like 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 Hudson Valley hiking trail is 2.6 miles to the overlook and back, and reaches up to 927 feet above sea level. This is a path built for people who want to experience fall in the region with just a little less effort than is needed for other parks and trails.

Rensselaer County

Dyken Pond Environmental Education Center

Grafton


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. Here, autumn is an adventure as you explore six miles of trails on self-guided Hudson Valley hikes

Rockland County

Clausland Mountain County Park

Orangeburg

 

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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 consists of 532 acres of hardwood forest, scenic overlooks, and three trails that altogether span two miles. Here you can enjoy fall in the way of red oak, white oak, maple, hickory, beech, and dogwood trees.

Ulster County

Long Path and Shawangunk Ridge Trail 

Wurtsboro


The Long Path & Shawangunk Ridge Trail is a 10-mile hike inside the Wurtsboro Ridge State Forest. This route will usher you through an often overlooked section of the Long Path, where you will pass several cliffs, 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 unbeaten.

Minnewaska State Park Preserve

Kerhonkson


On top of the Shawangunk Mountain Ridge sits Minnewaska State Park Preserve, the pride of Ulster County’s hiking destinations. Formerly home to a ski resort, Minnewaska is 23,000 acres 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 eighth 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

fall hikes, Franny Reese State Park

Franny Reese State Park / Sabrina Sucato

The Hudson Valley hikes at Franny Reese State Park have a little something extra to offer, since 2.5 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 2.5 miles of trails. Three of the park’s trails offer 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

 

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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 Hudson Valley hiking 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

 

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With 1,000 acres to its name, the nonprofit nature preserve helps protect nature with 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: These Hudson Valley Hiking Trails Are Perfect for Beginners

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