Insider's Guide: Outdoor Recreation

Outdoor fun locations to check out in the Valley




THE GREAT OUTDOORS

 

Fresh Air Frolics

 

COLUMBIA

LAKE TAGHKANIC STATE PARK Ancram. 518-851-3631.

The park has tent, platform, and trailer campsites; cabins and cottage camping facilities; two swimming beaches; picnic grounds; and boat launch. Hiking, biking, boat rentals, fishing, cross-country ski and snowmobile trails. Open year-round. Camping season, mid-May-Oct.

 

LEWIS A. SWYER PRESERVE AT MILL CREEK Stuyvesant. 518-272-0195.

Owned by Nature Conservancy. 95 acres; features a freshwater tidal swamp and marsh, intertidal mudflats. Half-mile-long boardwalk passes through swamp to observation tower with Hudson River panorama. Herons, ducks, passerines, occasional nesting and wintering bald eagles. Dawn to dusk.

 

DUTCHESS

BURGER HILL PARK Rhinebeck. 845-473-4440. www.scenichudson.org

Panoramic views from 550-foot hilltop, with 76 acres of open meadows used for picnicking, hiking, and sledding. Owned by Winnakee land trust.

DUTCHESS COMMUNITY COLLEGE NORRIE POINT ENVIRONMENTAL SITE Staatsburg. 845-889-4830.

Simulations of freshwater habitats in Hudson River. Rock reef, brackish estuary tanks, turtle-pond ecosystem, woodland habitat, reptile and amphibian displays. Hiking trails, river views. From mid-Apr.: Mon.-Fri. 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Winter season: Mon.-Fri. 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Call for group tours; school groups welcome.

 

GREAT SWAMP 914-244-3271.

This series of interconnected wetlands, stretching nearly 20 miles across southeast Patterson (in Putnam County), Pawling, and Dover, is one of the most pristine and biologically rich habitats in the state. The swamp teems with amphibians, reptiles, butterflies, and uncommon birds such as the hermit thrush and cerulean warbler. Access for canoeing, kayaking, or hiking at several points along Route 22, including Patterson Environmental Park and the Ice Pond Preserve in Putnam Country. Dawn to dusk.

 

INNISFREE GARDEN Millbrook. 845-677-8000. 1

50-acre public garden with streams, waterfalls, terraces, retaining walls, rocks, and plants which define this Eastern “cup garden.” May 9-Oct. 22, Wed.-Fri. 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Sat.-Sun. and holidays 11 a.m.-5 p.m. $4 weekdays, $5 weekends and holidays.

 

institute of ecosystem studies/ mary flagler cary arboretum Millbrook. 845-677-5343.

Ecological institute featuring display gardens, walking trails, tropical greenhouse, picnic area. Gardens, grounds, and trails: Apr. 1-Oct. 31, Sun. 11 a.m.-6 p.m., Mon.-Sat., 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Closed holidays. Free admission.

 

James baird state park Pleasant Valley. 845-452-1489.

590-acre park situated on farmland donated by James Baird, a contractor and engineer whose firm constructed the Lincoln Memorial. Spacious picnic area, sports complex, playground, nature center. 18-hole golf course with driving range, club house, pro shop. 7-mile wooded trail for hiking and snowshoeing. Open daily, sunrise to sunset. Golf course:?early Apr.–mid-Nov., 7 a.m. weekdays, 6 a.m. weekends and holidays.

 

mills-norrie state park Staatsburg. 845-889-4646.

The 988-acre area consists of Margaret Lewis Norrie and Ogden and Ruth Livingston Mills State Parks. Hiking, biking, picnicking, camping and snowmobiling. Dinsmore Golf Course, the second oldest course in the country, offers 9- or 18-hole rounds of golf. Open year-round. Camping season May-Oct.

 

MT. BEACON PARK Beacon. 845-473-4440. www.scenichudson.org

Scenic Hudson’s 15-acre park has trails that connect to Mt. Beacon, the 1,900-acre Fishkill?Ridge Conservation?Area, and Hudson?Highlands State Park; 30 miles of trails in all.

 

NELLIE HILL PRESERVE and the roger perry memorial preserve Dover. 914-244-3271.

Neighboring preserves (a combined 261 acres) provide hikers with an abundance of wildlife. Nellie Hill’s trails pass up and over rolling hills, some with views of the Ten Mile River Valley. The Perry Preserve’s trails meander through cedar groves and traverse large tracts of finely grained white sand. Owned by the Nature Conservancy, both can be visited in a single day. Dawn to dusk.

 

nys department of environmental conservation hudson river research reserve www.dec.state.ny.us/website/hudson/calender.html

Staatsburg. 845-889-4745. Explore four wetland areas along the Hudson: Piermont Marsh and Iona Island, Rockland County; Tivoli Bays, Dutchess; and Stockport Flats, Columbia. Canoe tours, bird-watching, hiking, and Tivoli Bay’s Visitor Center.

 

PAWLING NATURE RESERVE Pawling. 914-244-3271.

1,060 acres owned by the Nature Conservancy; part of the Great Swamp watershed. Extensive trail system includes a portion of the Appalachian Trail. Habitat ranges from dry ridge top to red maple­-hardwood swamp; brook, gorge, hemlock cathedral, and serviceberry, blueberry, and wintergreen bushes. Dawn to dusk.

 

POETS’ WALK park Red Hook. 845-473-4440. www.scenichudson.org

Scenic Hudson’s 120-acre riverfront oasis, where Washington Irving and other writers once strolled. Call for free visitor’s guide/trail map. 9 a.m. to dusk.

 

Rudd pond state park Millerton. 518-789-3059.

Part of Taconic State Park, Rudd Pond offers visitors an extensive trail system for hiking, a camping facility (tent and platform only), and a 64-acre pond for fishing, swimming, and boating (rentals available). Open year-round, sunrise to sunset. Camping, early May-Labor Day.

 

SPRINGSIDE Poughkeepsie. 845-454-2060.

National Historic Landscape designed 1850-52 by A.J. Downing, America’s first landscape architect. Sole surviving example of his Romantic design principles features grassy carriage roads that wind past rocky outcroppings, shady hollows, and sunny meadows. Self-guided tours; guided tours by appt.

 

STONY KILL FARM ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION CENTER Wappingers Falls. 845-831-8780.

A working farm and environmental education center stretching over 1,000 acres. Natural history, ecology programs for school groups, public. Seven miles of hiking trails, open dawn to dusk. Reptile, amphibian exhibits, fishing. Seasonal festivals, library. Weekdays, 8:45 a.m.-4:45 p.m., Sat. 9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m., Sun. 1-4:30 p.m. Open Sundays in Apr.-June, Sept.-Oct. ADA accessible.

 

Thompson Pond & Stissing Mountain Pine Plains. 914-244-3271.

507-acre area part of the Nature Conservancy. Extends from pond at base of Stissing Mountain to fire tower on top. Trails. Dawn to dusk.

 

GREENE

COHOTATE PRESERVE South of Athens. 518-622-3620.

Columbia-Greene Community College Environmental Field Station. 52 acres; wetlands, self-guided trails, river frontage. Dawn to dusk.

THE MOUNTAINTOP ARBORETUM Tannersville. 518-589-3903. www.mtarbor.org

Living museum of trees and  shrubs; 21 acres including woodland walk, pine collection, and chestnut plantation. Guided tours by appt. Lecture series, summer programs. Apr.-Oct., dawn to dusk. Free.

NORTH-SOUTH?LAKES?PUBLIC?CAMPGROUND Haines Falls. 518-357-2234. Campsites, sandy beach, boat rentals, fishing, picnicking, and hiking trails along escarpment. Site of famed Catskill Mountain House. Call for camping fees. 9 a.m. to dusk.

RAMSHORN-LIVINGSTON SANCTUARY Catskill. 845-473-4440. www.scenichudson.org

480-acre tidal swamp forest. Hike three miles of trails or canoe RamsHorn Creek to the Hudson. Operated by Audubon Society and Scenic Hudson. 9 a.m. to dusk.

 

ORANGE

BLACK ROCK FOREST CONSORTIUM Cornwall. 845-534-4517.

3,800 acres; natural area ideally suited to field studies and student training. Managed by Black Rock Forest Consortium, an alliance of educational institutions promoting scientific research, excellence in education. Wetland areas, grassy fields, hiking trails.

 

KOWAWESE UNIQUE AREA AT PLUM POINT New Windsor. 845-457-4900.

102-acre park, opposite Bannerman’s Island. Sandy beaches, picnic areas, fine views. Rental facility holds up to 48 people. No swimming. Apr.-Nov., dawn to dusk.

 

NEVERSINK PRESERVE Godeffroy. 845-858-2883.

Nature Conservancy’s 370-acre area established to protect Neversink River ecosystem. The Cuddebackville Dam has been removed in an effort to accommodate the Neversink’s natural flow, as well as an ecological restoration of its streambed. Floodplain forest, mixed hardwoods, fields, swamps, beaver ponds. Trail system. Dawn to dusk.

 

SCHUNEMUNK MOUNTAIN Cornwall-on-Hudson. 914-244-3271.

The Nature Conservancy's 2,500 acres on six-mile-long ridge, which rises 1,700 feet above the Hudson west of the Highlands. Rare plants, insects; flyway for thousands of migrating raptors. Hiking trails. Dawn to dusk.

 

PUTNAM

CLARENCE FAHNESTOCK/HUDSON HIGHLANDs State parks Carmel. 845-225-7207. www.scenichudson.org

Swimming, boating, and fishing on Canopus Lake. Camping, hiking, horseback riding, and cross-country skiing on over 18,500 acres. About 100 miles of hiking trails, including a segment of Appalachian Trail. Dawn to dusk.

 

MANITOU POINT NATURE PRESERVE Garrison. 845-473-4440.

136 acres operated by Scenic Hudson. Four miles of trails through upland forest; cliffside walk along river. Hiking, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing. 9 a.m. to dusk.

 

ROCKLAND

EMELINE PARK Haverstraw. 845-473-4440. www.scenichudson.org

Three-acre riverfront park co-owned by Scenic Hudson. Sweeping views of Haverstraw Bay, widest expanse of the Hudson; riverwalk, gazebo, playground, and picnicking.

 

HIGH TOR STATE PARK New City. 845-634-8074, 845-786-2701. www.friendsofpalisades.org

Signaling post during the Revolution and a Hudson River landmark admired by artists, poets. Swimming, hiking, picnicking on 660 acres. Pool open May 26- Aug. 19. Grounds open year-round.

 

NYACK BEACH STATE PARK Nyack. 845-268-3020.

61-acre riverside park attracts fishermen, hikers, cyclists, picnickers. Year-round, dawn to dusk.

 

ULSTER

BLACK CREEK FOREST PRESERVE Esopus. 845-473-4440. www.scenichudson.org

130-acre National Historic Site and nature preserve, operated by Scenic Hudson. Trails lead to Hudson River; great for fishing, nature study. Spawning ground for blue herring, trout. Call for free visitors guide/trail map.

 

ESOPUS MEADOWS POINT PRESERVE Ulster Park. 845-473-4400. www.scenichudson.org

Scenic Hudson’s 100-acre site offers nature trails and a home for the sloop Clearwater’s land-based educational programs. Across from 1838 Esopus lighthouse; adjoins Lighthouse Park picnic area. 9 a.m. to dusk.

 

MINNEWASKA STATE PARK preserve New Paltz. 845-255-0752.

20,000-acre park runs along the Shawangunk Ridge. Hiking, cross-country skiing, biking, horseback riding, rock climbing; lakes for swimming, boating, scuba diving. Some activities require permits. Swimming permitted Father’s Day-Labor Day. $7/car; rest of year, $6/car. Daily, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

 

MOHONK PRESERVE Gardiner. 845-255-0919. www.mohonkpreserve.org

Largest member- and visitor-supported nature preserve in NY. Visitors can hike, run, cross-country ski, and rock climb. Carriage roads for biking and horseback riding. Visitor Center open Apr.-Oct., Tues.-Sun., Mon. holidays 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Preserve open daily, dawn to dusk; day entry pass or annual membership required.

 

SAM’S POINT DWARF PINE RIDGE PRESERVE Cragsmoor. 914-244-3271.

Owned by the Nature Conservancy. 5,000 acres; one of world’s best examples of ridgetop dwarf pine barrens. Trails, waterfalls, unique geological features. Grounds year-round, dawn to dusk. Visitors center (845-647-7989) Apr.-Oct. The Sam’s Point Conservation Center features interactive exhibits focusing on the unique ecology of the Shawangunk Ridge.

 

SHAUPENEAK RIDGE RECREATION?AREA Esopus. 845-473-4440. www.scenichudson.org

Owned and co-managed by Scenic Hudson. 570 forested acres in the Marlboro Mountains offer views, hiking and biking trails, picnicking, wildlife watching, fishing, hunting in season with permit. Glacially carved pond has osprey, waterfowl, beaver lodges. Call for free visitors guide/trail map.

 

WESTCHESTER

CROTON POINT NATURE CENTER Croton-on-Hudson. 914-862-5297.

At 504-acre Croton Point Park. Exhibits on area’s natural, human history. Nature programs on weekends, weekdays for school groups by appt. Open year-round, Tues.-Sat. 9 a.m.-4 p.m. $7.

 

EDITH G. READ NATURAL PARK & WILDLIFE SANCTUARY Rye. 914-967-8720.

170 acres; brackish lake, woodlands, meadows, shoreline on Long Island Sound. Known for spring bird migrations and insect garden. Interpretive building. Weekend nature programs, weekdays for schools. Tues.-Sat. 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

 

franklin d. roosevelt state park Yorktown Heights. 914-245-4434.

A scenic haven, Mohansic Lake and Crom Pond provide freshwater fishing and boating. Picnic area. Large pool holds up to 4,000 bathers. Biking, hiking, boat rentals, snowmobiling, and ice-skating. Weekdays from June 1-Labor Day, 9 a.m.-sunset. All other times, 8 a.m.-sunset.

 

MIANUS RIVER GORGE Bedford. 914-244-3271.

Purchased in 1955, this was the pioneer land-protection project; 719 acres includes an example of a steep gorge ecosystem, cathedral stands of Eastern hemlock, lush fern gullies, and a waterfall. At Hobby Hill Quarry, exposed white and pink quartz, mica, and feldspar are remnants of an 18th-century mining operation. Apr.-Nov., dawn to dusk.

 

WARD POUND RIDGE RESERVATION Cross River. 914-864-7317.

4,700 acres; meadows, wetlands, ponds, forests. 35 miles of trails for hiking, horseback riding, cross-country skiing. Camping shelters (permits required), museum, library. Year-round, 9 a.m.-dusk. Entrance and parking fee.

 

Rail Trails

DUTCHESS

HARLEM VALLEY RAIL TRAIL Millerton. 518-789-9591. www.hvrt.org

Two routes: Metro-North station, Wassaic-Millerton, Dutchess (10.5 miles); Under Mountain Rd. in Ancram-Copake Falls, Columbia (4 miles). Both noted for frequent wildlife sightings, natural beauty. Paved paths provide easy hiking, biking, cross-country skiing and rollerblading.

 

HYDE PARK TRAIL Rte. 9, Hyde Park. 845-229-8086. www.hydeparkny.us

13-mile trail runs from Mills Mansion to Norrie Point, and the Vanderbilt Mansion to the Franklin Delano Roosevelt home and Eleanor Roosevelt’s Val-Kill home. Part of the Hudson River Greenway. Brochure with map available at Vanderbilt and Roosevelt mansions. Open 9 a.m. to dusk.

 

GREENE

HUCKLEBERRY TRAIL Tannersville. Greene County Tourism: 518-589-5850.

2.3 miles of gravel-packed trail follows bed of old Huckleberry Line Railroad. Curves around Rip Van Winkle Lake and Gooseberry Creek. Bicyclers, hikers, walkers and horses welcome.

 

ORANGE

ORANGE PATHWAYS Goshen. 845-294-8886.

10 miles of paved trail leads past historic landmarks, meadows, and a bird/wildlife sanctuary on its way from Goshen to Airplane Park, Monroe. Another 2.5 miles of unpaved trail extends toward Middletown. Enter at Goshen, Chester, or Monroe.

 

ROCKLAND

HOOK MOUNTAIN/NYACK BEACH BIKEWAY Palisades Park Commission: 845-268-3020. www.nysparks.com

2 miles of paved path extend from Nyack Beach to Rockland Lake in Congers. Part of Hudson River Greenway Trail. National Natural Historic Landmark. May-June: weekend fee collection; June 25-Labor Day: daily fee collection.

 

UlSTER

D&H CANAL HERITAGE CORRIDOR D&H Heritage Corridor Alliance: 845-331-2102. www.dhheritagecorridor.org

Part of the O&W Rail Trail, which extends from Kingston to Ellenville. 35 miles of crushed cinder path through farmland and forest.

 

HUDSON VALLEY RAIL TRAIL Highland. Hudson Valley Rail Trail Association: 845-691-8666.

Seven-mile trail, when completed, will extend from Mid-Hudson Bridge through the Town of Lloyd to Rte. 299. 2.5 miles of paved trail suitable for wheelchairs, strollers, and rollerblades. No motorized vehicles.

 

HURLEY RAIL TRAIL Hurley. 845-331-7474.

Scenic and relaxing crushed-gravel trail stretches about 18 miles to Marbletown, 2 miles paved. Trailhead is on Rte. 209, half-mile north of the village of Hurley.

 

WALLKILL VALLEY RAIL TRAIL New Paltz. www.gorailtrail.com

12.2 miles of unpaved path, leading from Gardiner to Rosendale. Elevated rail bed offers views of woodland ponds, the Wall­kill River, and the Shawangunks.

 

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