It’s all up to Mother Nature, but the brilliant oranges, bright yellows, golds, auburns, and flaming reds add the punch and pizzazz most leaf-peepers love—typically starting in late September and peaking in the second and third weeks of October in the upper Hudson Valley and Catskills. Peak color intensity averages about four days, so the most dazzling colors last about two weeks in each area. For a “Fall Color Report” call 800-225-5697.
CRUISE The HudsonHudson River Cruises, KingstonYou can’t beat the “Leaf Peeper” Cruise from October 12 through October 31 that departs at 2:30pm from Kingston’s historic Rondout area. A two-hour relaxing water journey aboard the Rip Van Winkle cruise boat gives a leisurely view of the dramatic array of fall colors flanking both sides of the River. For more information: 800-843-7472; hudsonrivercruises.com.
CAMP on the Lake North/South Lake, Haines FallsNorth-South Lake is the biggest and most popular state campground in the Catskill Forest Preserve, offering extraordinary fall foliage and historical sites, such as: Alligator Rock, Kaaterskill Falls, and the former site of the Catskill Mountain House. Explore trails or take a row on the lake. 518-357-2289. dec.ny.gov/outdoor/24487.html
STROLL Nature Trails to the RiverBlack Creek Preserve in Esopus, Esopus130-acre Ulster County park with nature trails leading down to the Hudson River with views of Mills-Norrie State Park and Esopus Island. Stroll under a canopy of colorful foliage on three separate nature trails that wind around vernal pools; all easy 1/2-mile hikes. One trail features a dramatic suspension bridge. Winding Brook Rd. off of Route 9W. scenichudson.org/whatyoucando/visitourparks/blackcreek.
CLIMB or hike the Shawangunks Mohonk Preserve, GardinerThose who wish to be overwhelmed and surrounded by fall’s color, West Trapps Trailhead offers an easy hike through the forest’s autumn abundance. Loop around beautiful trails, cliffs, and summits to view the surrounding countryside in all its colorful glory. Go to the Visitor Center for a pass and use West Trapps Trailhead Parking. Arrive early as the lot fills quickly. 845-255-0919; mohonkpreserve.org; alpineendeavors.com.
HIKE on trails & carriage ways Minnewaska State Park, New PaltzHike on trails and carriage ways through a colorful dramatic display perfect for passionate peepers. The dense hardwood forest showcases spectacular fall hues and encases two lakes located in the Shawangunk Mountain ridge. The terrain is rugged and rocky with clear streams cutting into valleys, chiseling cliffs and swelling into cascading waterfalls. Open year round from 9am to varied closing times; call for closing times. Route 44/55, New Paltz. 845-255-0752.
BIKE the country roads Country Roads Fall Foliage Bike TourPerfect for those who want to be on the move while they enjoy the Valley’s color. Take any of four choice routes on uncrowded roads through the varied landscape of Ulster and Orange counties. Routes are tailored to ages and experience. Sunday, October 3 at 8:30am. Brotherhood Winery, 100 Brotherhood Plaza, Washingtonville. Registration and info online at ocbicycleclub.org.
SEE the panoramic views Sam’s Point Preserve, EllenvilleWant to see an abundance of fall color all at once? Atop the sedimentary cliff of the highest point in the Shawangunk Mountains—at 2,255 feet—you’ll be privileged with the most amazing panoramic views of the colorful vistas of the Valley below. What’s more, you won’t have to climb up; you can also walk. nature.org/samspoint.
ENJOY the woodlands & rolling hills Poet’s Walk Park, Rhinebeck. The magnificent flush of fall colors viewed from this 120-acre Dutchess County park in the National Historic Landmark District are only rivaled by the distant vistas of the Hudson River and Catskill Mountains. Enjoy two miles of trails through quiet woodlands amidst rolling fields that have inspired artists and writers for generations. Rustic cedar pavilions for resting throughout the park. Labor Day to October 31 open 9am to 7pm. Parking gate closed at 7pm. River Road, Rhinebeck. scenichudson.org/whatyoucando/visitourparks/poetswalk.
FLY in a vintage biplane Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome, Red Hook. Imagine the opportunity to experience an aerial view of the Hudson Valley’s fall foliage from a vintage 1929 open-cockpit four-passenger biplane. Rides are on a “first come-first serve” basis only on weekends from 10am. Reservations may be made for pre-arranged weekday rides. $65 per person, weather permitting. Open through October 17. Weekend air shows from 2 to 4pm. Museum open daily, 10am to 5pm. 9 Norton Road, Red Hook. 845-752-3200. oldrhinebeck.org.
RIDE the rails MTA Metro-North Railroad Hudson Line. An interesting option for leaf-peeping pleasure, plus a wonderful way to travel to the Hudson Valley’s full fall color bloom. The MTA tracks the color-trail traveling along the Hudson River for the most moving view of the breathtaking foliage along a route that extends 74 miles north of Grand Central Terminal from New York City to Poughkeepsie. For schedules and prices call 212-532-4900. mta.info.
TOUR The Hyde Park Trail, Hyde Park. See two historic parklands with one easy trail connecting three units of the Roosevelt and Vanderbilt National Historical Site. The “Roosevelt Farm and Forest Trail” allows you to traverse a self-guided tour over the grounds, gardens, and trails of the 300-acre Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Site over to the 211 acres of parklands of the Vanderbilt Mansion’s historic grounds boasting centuries-old tree plantings, stunning Hudson River and Catskill Mountain views, and Italian Gardens of the Vanderbilt Mansion Historic grounds. A total surround of fall color and historic grandeur. Pets allowed on leashes. Grounds open 7 days, year round from sunrise to sunset. 4097 Albany Post Rd., Hyde Park. Get info weekdays at Park Headquarters. 845-229-9115. nps.gov/vama/planyourvisit/index.htm.
WIND through romantic gardens Locust Grove, PoughkeepsieLandscapes that turn heads as the colors turn with fall’s foliage exhibit. Three miles of carriage roads and footpaths wind through romantic gardens and shady groves. The 180-acre estate of Samuel F.B. Morse not only quenches the thirst for color, but the passion of history with an Italianate villa surrounded by stately trees, rolling hills, and picturesque views on the highest bluff above the Hudson River. Grounds open from 8am until dusk year-round. 2683 South Road, Poughkeepsie. 845-454-4500. lgny.org.
PICNIC at the arboretum Montgomery Place, Annondale-on-Hudson. A National Historic Landmark surrounded with the opulence of 434 acres and magnificent Hudson River and the Catskill Mountain views. Take colorful woodland walks to the falls of the Sawkill and have a picnic by an arboretum laid out in the mid-19th century. River Road, Annandale-on-Hudson, Red Hook. Open daily, January through December, 9am to 4pm. Free. 845-758-6338. hudsonvalley.org—click on Montgomery Place.
VIEW both sides of the river Walkway Over the Hudson. A perfect bird’s eye view of both banks of the Hudson River bursting forth with fall color. Walk the beautiful concourse, a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark, standing 212 feet above the river’s surface and 6,678 feet (1.28 miles) long, making it the longest elevated pedestrian bridge in the world. This NY State Park opens at 7am and closes at sunset. You can walk, jog, bike, roller skate, in-line skate, dog walk on leashes 6 feet or less, and bird watch. There are two entrances to the park, one on each side of the Hudson: Dutchess County’s east side at 61 Parker Ave., Poughkeepsie; Ulster County’s west side at 87 Haviland Rd., Highland. 845-834-2867. walkway.org.
DRIVE the scenic byways. Fall Foliage Scenic BywaysThere are roads that seem custom made for fall, offering majestic leaf-peeping on the way to that favorite state park or mansion. One such route is located in Dutchess County on River Road (Route 103), travelling from Rhinebeck to Annandale-on-Hudson. Another colorful car trip in Ulster County runs along Route 44, which crosses the Shawangunk Mountains between Bentons Corner and Kerhonkson. mtnscenicbyway.org.
TASTE your way through the valley Hudson Valley Wine Country. What better way to enjoy the fruits and foliage of the autumn than touring through the Valley’s wineries? There are many to choose from with festivals and wine-tasting events. One such event is the Highland Hudson Fest 2010 on October 9, 10am to 6pm, which will celebrate the Rail Trail’s eastern spur with vendors lined up on the historic trail at the entrance to the Walkway Over the Hudson. Call or go online for complete details of all the tours, tastings, and other vineyard happenings in the Valley. 914-474-7780. hudsonvalleywinecountry.org.
CHUG ALONG the countryside Catskill Mountain Railroad. “Fall Foliage Valley Voyages”: Savor an awe-inspiring panoramic plethora of autumn’s array with a countryside backdrop. Ride in closed vintage coaches or open-air cars while leisurely leaving transportation to our engineers—a great advantage for all ages. The Fall Foliage special excursions operate from October 1 to October 31. Catskill Mountain Railroad Co., Kingston. For a brochure, more info, fees, and departure times visit catskillmtrailroad.com or call 845-688-7400.