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Heart-Pounding Hudson Valley Activities to Try Before Summer Ends

Adobe Stock | Photo by lightpoet

From ziplines and water slides to helicopter tours and caves, these local experiences are the perfect way to end summer on a high note.

By Sabrina Sucato and Raphael Beretta

As much as we hate to say it, summertime is coming to a close. Before the arrival of back-to-school season, leaf-peeping tours, and apple cider donuts, take advantage of the last remaining days of the sunshine season by stepping away from the air conditioner and getting outdoors. Although beach days and afternoons at the park are a wonderful way to go, there’s no better way to make the final moments of summer unforgettable than to get your heart pumping with an adventurous day outside.

From steep hikes to helicopter tours, there’s more than one way to celebrate summer’s last hurrah in the Hudson Valley.

Go on an aerial adventure at Catamount

If you’ve ever dreamed about exploring the skyline as Tarzan would, look no further than Catamount Aerial Adventure Park for a late summer escape. Head to the scenic Berkshires to leap through sky-high treetop courses, cross teetering bridges, and fly above the ground on zip lines—including the Catamonster, the longest zipline in the United States. A vertical drop of over 1,000 ft and distance of over 5,500 ft make this Hillsdale attraction one of the most thrilling in the Hudson Valley. Plus, the Aerial Adventure Park features twelve separate routes and 150 elements.

Hillsdale, 413.528.1262 

Related: How Many of These Hudson Valley Bucket List Spots Have You Visited?

Soar above the Hudson Valley in a helicopter

Leave any fear of heights at home for this high altitude escape. Thanks to Independent Helicopters, anyone can ride above the expanse of the Hudson Valley. Whether you opt to hop in as a passenger to score some unforgettable aerial photos or choose to slide into the driver’s seat during one of the flight instruction courses, you’ll never forget the views of the region as you travel among the clouds. All rides are led by experienced pilots, so you can feel rest assured you are in safe hands each and every time you prepare for takeoff. Plus, on August 28 & 29, The U.S. Airforce Thunderbirds perform at the New York Airshow at Orange County Airports. Want even more aerial fun? Take a chopper ride at the Hudson Valley Balloon Festival from September 3-5.

New Windsor, Saratoga Springs, and Lake George, 845.549.3755

Raft down whitewater rapids on the Delaware River

Ready to brave the rapids? Several Hudson Valley services offer heart-pumping rafting trips, including Lander River Trips in Narrowsburg, Silver Canoe in Port Jervis, and more. Assemble a crew, strap on your life jacket, and tackle a day of speedy river expeditions. A variety of launch points and difficulty levels allow for rafters to choose their own adventure. Of course, adrenaline junkies will get their fix at the river’s most intense points.

Related: Kayaking, Paddleboarding, and Whitewater Rafting in the Hudson Valley


Adobe Stock | Photo by Mny-Jhee

Hang-glide in Ellenville

Passenger planes are great and all, but there’s nothing like the thrill of personal flight. Strap on your metaphorical wings at Mountain Wings Flight Park in Ellenville. Located at the base of the Shawangunk Mountains, the hang-gliding hotspot offers unparalleled views of the Hudson Valley’s verdant hillsides. Learn how to shift your weight and steer your personal glider with the help of an experienced pilot. One ride and you’ll be itching for a return trip.

Ellenville, 845.647.3377

Related: Where to Go Hang Gliding and Paragliding in the Hudson Valley

Overlook Mountain Woodstock

Overlook Mountain, Woodstock | Wikimedia Commons, Photo by Niranjan Arminius

Hike the Hudson Valley’s most exhilarating trails

It’s no secret that the Hudson Valley offers incredible hiking. However, those who wait until peak fall foliage to tackle a trail are seriously missing out. At Copake’s Bash Bish falls, hikers climb alongside the mist of a roaring waterfall. Trekkers at Woodstock’s Overlook Mountain can explore ruins just near the summit, and visitors flock all season to the one-of-a-kind Dover Stone Church in Dover Plains. Climb fire towers, circle lakes, and break a sweat at the region’s top trails while the weather’s still above 70 degrees.

Related: 18 Hudson Valley Trails That Are Perfect for Summer Hikes

Scream your way through The Megalodon at Splashdown Beach

Embrace your inner child and head to one of the Hudson Valley’s thrilling water parks before summer comes to a close. At Splashdown Beach in Fishkill, adventure seekers can go on the ride of their lives on The Megalodon. The near-vertical, zero gravity experience induces fear from the first second, when riders come face to face with the upcoming plunge. Screams are inevitable.

Fishkill, 845.897.9600

Related: 7 Amusement Parks and Adventure Spots in the Hudson Valley

Bannerman Island

Bannerman Island | Photo courtesy of  Dutchess Tourism, Inc.

Explore an abandoned castle on the Hudson

Anyone who has taken a ride on the train to New York City has spotted the mysterious castle in the middle of the Hudson River. Bannerman Castle dates back to 1901 and was originally built as a storage site for munitions. Boasts depart from Beacon regularly for walking tours, but those really craving adventure will want to take their own kayak to the island. The Bannerman Castle Trust hosts exciting events onsite, including outdoor movies like Vertigo and King Kong.

Beacon, 845.831.1001

Related: 8 Terrific Tours to Explore the Hudson Valley’s Hidden Corners


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Dive through the sky in Gardiner

Even the biggest adrenaline junkies in the Hudson Valley may want to save this over-the-top activity for last. If you’re itching for a serious adventure, check out Skydive the Ranch in Gardiner for an unforgettable day in the air. The program offers jumps for divers of every level, from newbie to licensed pro. First-timers can relax (not really) on a tandem jump, while more experienced individuals can learn how to jump on their own. Licensed instructors lead all jumps, and professional videographers are on hand to capture every moment from the day. If you’re looking for a showstopping way to wrap up the summer season, this is hands down the way to do it.

Gardiner, 845.255.4033

Related: Catch an Outdoor Flick at the Hudson Valley’s Drive-In Movie Theaters

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