18 Hudson Valley Trails That Are Perfect for Summer Hikes

The Valley's natural landscape is perfect for summer hikes featuring waterfalls, caves, mountaintop ruins, and swimming holes.

Autumn may draw the most hikers to the Hudson Valley with its spectacular fall foliage, but summer is an amazing time to go hiking. Break a sweat on some of the region’s highest peaks, or seek shelter in the cool shade of natural caves. Warm-weather trails wrap around swimmable lakes and run along the gorgeous Hudson River for spectacular views. Explore mountaintop ruins, feel the mist from massive waterfalls, and even check out some outdoor art. These are the Hudson Valley’s top summer hikes.

P.S. If you go to any of these, don’t forget to check on trail conditions beforehand, since they can change regularly, and #leavenotrace. Let’s keep the Hudson Valley as beautiful as can be.

Awosting Falls

New Paltz, Ulster County

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There’s nothing like feeling the cool mist surrounding a waterfall during a hot summer hike. Hudson Valley destination Minnewaska State Park has endless trails circling cascading falls, but Awosting is a special sight. Standing at 60 feet tall, the aquatic centerpiece sprays onto Peters Kill. Swimming is prohibited in the falls, but nearby Lake Awosting features lifeguards and a quiet beach.

Balsam Lake Mountain Fire Tower

Hardenburgh, Ulster County

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Looking for big heights with expansive views? Head to the historic Balsam Lake Mountain Fire Tower. This 1919 tower offers an elevation of 3,723 feet—a worthy reward for the six-mile round trip trek. Ending summer hikes atop a 47-foot tower just feels right, especially with the refreshing breezes hikers are guaranteed to find.

Bash Bish Falls

Copake, Columbia County

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From the Massachusetts side, Bash Bish falls is a short, steep trek. However, Columbia County’s trailhead takes visitors on an easy-breezy 1.5-mile summer hike. Pick an extra sunny day and stroll along this woodsy path, which climaxes with a gorgeous view of the falls. As whitewater beats down on the rocks below, hikers in the “splash zone” may get a little wet. Follow all trail signs and local guidelines to ensure safety.

Related: Explore These 27 Breathtaking Waterfalls in the Hudson Valley

Bear Mountain State Park

Bear Mountain, Orange/Rockland Counties

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Sometimes, summer hikes mean breaking a real sweat. Approach Bear Mountain State Park with motivation and good shoes, and its summit will pay off the effort in spades. A portion of the legendary Appalachian Trail runs through Bear Mountain’s trails and includes more than 1,000 stone steps. Its heart-pumping ascent climbs 1,208 feet, and a complete loop rounds out at about 4.5 miles.

Black Creek Preserve

Esopus, Ulster County

Scenic Hudson dubs this Esopus experience an “outdoor classroom” for introducing kids to nature. The Black Creek Preserve trail traverses a manageable 2.1 miles along the Hudson River. Crossing the Black Creek via suspension bridge is a highlight, as is the opportunity to spot Hudson Valley wildlife like bald eagles and blueback herring.

Cohoes Falls Park

Cohoes, Albany County

This Capital Region park offers four acres of stunning scenery, most notably the waterfalls that empty into the Mohawk River. Trails are short and sweet, so spend most of a visit sauntering about the natural spaces. As far as summer hikes go, this is one of the most laid-back and tranquil trails around.

Related: 5 Hudson Valley Hiking Trails That Will Refresh Your Body and Soul

Clarence Fahnestock State Park

Carmel, Putnam County

Hudson Valley hikers are well aware of Clarence Fahnestock State Park. This Orange County destination boasts several gorgeous ridges and the shimmering Canopus Lake (which permits fishing by boat). Choose from several trails, including a 4.5-mile walk circling the smaller Jordan Pond. Fishing, boating, hunting, and other activities draw crowds every summer.

Dover Stone Church Cave Falls

Dover Plains, Dutchess County

Ever explore a damp, cool cave when it’s hot and humid outside? Dover Stone Church is one of the region’s most popular summer hikes, simply due to its uniqueness. A cathedral-like cave exterior welcomes guests inside a one-of-a-kind natural wonder with a 30-foot cascading waterfall. The journey is just over a mile in total roundtrip, but you’ll want to carve out extra time to admire this landmark.

Ferncliff Forest Fire Tower

Rhinebeck, Dutchess County

Minutes away from all the incredible dining, shopping, and entertainment in the middle of town, Ferncliff Forest is an excellent addition to any Rhinebeck day trip. Two trails take visitors from their car to the top; yellow markers signal a quicker ascent, while red markers connect the path to a larger looping trail. Atop the fire tower, gaze out at the entirety of Dutchess County.

Related: 14 Hudson Valley Hikes With Fire Towers for Jaw-Dropping Views

Harriman State Park

Ramapo, Rockland County

@hudsonvalleymag Hudson Valley hikes! We’re trekking the Popolopen Torne Loop at Fort Montgomery State Historic Site. Have you been here before? #HudsonValley #hiking #hikingszn #hikingadventures #hikingtiktok #hike #hiketok #hvmag #hudsonriver #fortmontgomery #fortmontgomeryny @sabrina.sucato ♬ Paradise – Ikson

Plenty of summer hikes await at New York’s second-largest state park. Hudson Valleyites can explore over 200 miles of trails with every difficulty level. Tackle the infamous Lemon Squeezer, 7.4 miles of unrelenting incline, or the Long Mountain trail for a quicker route to spectacular views. For the most Instagrammable views, hop on the Popolopen Torne for a breathtaking view of the Bear Mountain Bridge and Anthony’s Nose. On especially hot days, cool off with a swim in Lake Tiorati or Lake Welch.

High Falls Conservation Area

Philmont, Columbia County

High Falls lives up to its name—it’s the tallest waterfall in Columbia County at a height of 150 feet. Spend about an hour or two on this stress-free hike, which is even more satisfying on extra-hot days. Several marked trails display the falls from different vantage points, and a quirky “quest box” keeps things fun for the kids. Families searching for Hudson Valley hikes strike gold in Columbia County.

Hunter Mountain Fire Tower

Hunter, Greene County

Visitors flock to Hunter Mountain every autumn to experience unbeatable fall foliage, but it’s just as pleasant of a destination in the warm-weather months. Hunter’s monumental fire tower stands at the highest elevation in the state (over 4,000 feet). Kick this climb off with the Spruceton Trail, a seven-mile round trip path through Greene County’s verdant scenery. The tower dates back to its construction in 1917, and it’s a can’t-miss sight when traveling through the Catskills.

Little Stony Point

Cold Spring, Putnam County

Though the world-famous Breakneck Ridge is just around the corner, we prefer the best-bang-for-our-buck views at Little Stony Point for summer hiking. A very short walk reveals amazing vistas which are best enjoyed around golden hour. The beach may be small, but it always delivers a peaceful spot to enjoy the Hudson River. Forge memories with new friends at this classic warm-weather spot.

Related: Where to Go Hiking With Kids in the Hudson Valley

Mills Mansion/Staatsburgh State Historic Site

Staatsburg, Dutchess County

Hudson Valley photographers frequent this destination to capture the region’s incredible natural beauty. Staatsburgh State Historic Site contains the impressive estate of the Mills family. While onsite, visitors can hop on a trail that runs along the Hudson River all the way to Mills Norrie State Park. A day trip can turn into an overnight stay with glamping options through Tentrr.

Nuclear Lake

Pawling, Dutchess County

Don’t let the name deter you from visiting this jewel of Pawling; Nuclear Lake is one of the Hudson Valley’s best-kept secrets. A full revolution around the lake-circumference trail takes about three hours to complete. It’s perfect for joggers and runners, due to a mostly flat elevation. After you’ve worked up a sweat, take a dip in the lake and soak in the views of this secluded spot.

Related: Hudson Valley Beaches and Swimming Holes: Know Before You Go

Overlook Mountain

Woodstock, Ulster County

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Those braving Overlook Mountain will break a sweat, but sometimes that’s what summer hikes are all about. Even disregarding its proximity to Woodstock, Overlook can sustain an entire day of entertainment on its own. The trailhead stands opposite an ornate Buddhist temple and takes hikers through the ruins of an old mountainside hotel. Trail peaks stand over 3,000 feet above the artsy town, and a nearby fire tower adds another 60 feet to that elevation. Overlook Mountain’s summit displays panoramic views of the Ashokan Reservoir, the Berkshires, the Taconic Mountains, and so much more.

Olana State Historic Site

Hudson, Columbia County

As Frederic Church’s grand masterpiece, Olana is a destination every Hudson Valleyite has to see for themselves. The hike up from the Rip Van Winkle Bridge-adjacent parking lot is perfectly suited for the summer. Church meticulously designed carriage trails through the Columbia County woodland, and thick treetops provide ample shade as visitors weave up the hill to a one-of-a-kind wonder. Middle Eastern patterns meet Victorian architecture in Church’s main house, a site that hosted legendary guests like Mark Twain.

Storm King Art Center

New Windsor, Orange County

How rare is it to visit an art museum and go on a summer hike at the same time? Storm King Art Center boasts 500 acres of hills, meadows, and forests to explore. Many mammoth-sized sculptures litter the grounds, forming a collection that’s been evolving since the 1960s. Bring lots of water and take frequent breaks to admire the artwork. Book tickets online to reserve times.

Related: 11 Under-the-Radar and Fan-Favorite Hudson Valley Hikes

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