How to Keep the Hudson Valley’s State Parks Clean

Awosting Falls, located within Minnewaska State Park. Adobe Stock / Alan

A New York State Parks manager reveals how to properly care for the beautiful public lands, preserves, and trails that locals and visitors adore.

The Hudson Valley is an honest-to-goodness paradise. It’s a region filled with rippling waters, verdant hillsides, and lush farms that evoke such natural, unparalleled beauty that inspires awe in even the most seasoned of locals. Perhaps nowhere is this beauty more apparent than at the nearby state parks. Open to the public, New York State Parks are treasure troves for camping, hiking, photography, and so much more.

Unfortunately, they’re also often collecting sites for trash. During peak season from spring to fall, the state parks of the Hudson Valley can wind up covered in litter after a sunshine-filled weekend. It’s a problem, to be sure, and one that state park employees witness far too often. That’s why, in an effort to help keep our parks clean, we reached out to Park Manager Christopher D. Rickard for his two cents on how park visitors can protect the land and leave it in the best shape possible for all the region to enjoy.


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Read the rules in advance

“Folks should research rules for certain areas of parks,” Rickard begins. On the New York Parks website, pages dedicated to each park lay out the best practices and policies for the campsites, hiking trails, and lakes that are accessible to the public. Not every park location has the same rules, so visitors would do well to equip themselves with this information in advance.

Find out where you can picnic – and where you can’t

As Rickard points out, picnicking is not allowed just anywhere in the Hudson Valley’s state parks. Instead, most parks have designated picnic areas to ensure cleanliness and safety. “Some parts of the parks are designated scenic hiking areas and do not allow picnicking,” he explains. “Make sure you only picnic in designated areas in state parks and stay on trails.”

Related: Where Did Poughkeepsie Get Its Name?

What’s more, since some parks in the Hudson Valley occasionally report bear sightings, sticking to dedicated eating areas helps prevent any unwanted animal visitors from getting too close to trekkers. On the Minnewaska State Park Preserve information page, for instance, visitors are advised that litter can attract bears and increase the likelihood of negative interaction. “You can help to avoid potential contact with bears by carrying out your empty food and beverage containers,” it says.


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Leave no trace

A motto to live by when it comes to visiting local and national parks, “leave no trace” means that parks should be just as clean after visitors spend the day as they are beforehand. To put this into practice, visitors should carry out what they carry in, take only pictures, and leave only footprints.


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All too often, Rickard comes across the remains of days spent at Copake Falls or Taconic State Park, with everything from leftover food to discarded cans scattered across the Hudson Valley’s beautiful terrain. He points out that preventing disarray is as simple as picking up and packing up anything that was brought in and disposing it at one of the marked receptacles onsite.


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Lend a hand

While picking up after oneself during park visits is a must, Hudson Valleyites can go one step further by collecting any trash they see on the trails or joining a Friends Group to participate in organized trail cleaning events. Every little bit helps, after all.

Related: 52 Reasons to Love the Hudson Valley

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