The spectacular Hudson Valley leaf-peeper display beckons people from far and wide. There are so many ways to observe that pop of color—from climbing the mountainsides to touring the waters, and from hiking and biking to skyrides and ziplines. And definitely check out the ways that VISITvortex has discovered to leaf-peep in unrivaled and extraordinary ways.
Fly High for Color:
Belleayre Mountain Sky Ride – Take the Sky Ride for a spectacular view of the colossal magnitude of autumn colors in the Catskill Forest Preserve. Once at the top, enjoy a walk along the summit, picnic, and take amazing photographs of the mountains and wildlife. Hike back down or take the lift. The Sky Ride will be open only on October 6 & 7 at the 33rd Annual Fall Festival from 10am-5pm. Belleayre Mountain Road, Pine Hill. 845-254-5600; 845-254-5601; belleayre.com.
Hunter Mountain Sky Ride – For a truly “Cloud Nine” view take the chairlift sky ride. It’s the longest and highest in the Catskill region, whisking you 3,200 feet above sea level for a thrilling experience and breathtaking views of the fall colors. Saturdays & Sundays, 10am-4pm until October 14. 64 Klein Avenue and 23A, Hunter Mountain, Hunter. 800-486-8376; huntermtn.com.
New York Zipline Adventure – See the magnificence of autumn in the northern Catskills as only the birds have—by flying through the air, suspended from a cable and nylon strap, almost 600 feet above the ground at 50 mph. Recommended for the daring adventurer only. Year-round. 64 Klein Avenue and 23A, Hunter Mountain, Hunter. 518-263-4388; ziplinenewyork.com
Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome – Offers Fall Foliage Biplane Rides from the first glimpse of color in September until the closing of the Aerodrome on October 14. 9 Norton Road, Rhinebeck. 845-752-3200; oldrhinebeck.org
Plattekill Chairlift Sky Ride – Ascend up 1,100 feet of elevation and take in the colorful and majestic, panoramic autumn mountainside views. Once at the summit, go for a hike, have a picnic lunch, or hop back on the lift for a ride back down. Lifts operate from 10am to 5pm on weekends. $7. 469 Plattekill Mountain Road, Roxbury. 607-326-3500; plattekill.com
Walkway Over the Hudson – At just over one mile long, a stroll to the middle of the span puts you in the center of glorious fall foliage at 212 feet above the Hudson River on the longest elevated pedestrian bridge in the world. With the Catskill Mountains ablaze above and passing boats underneath—it’s an exhilarating experience no matter where you look. Highland entrance at 181 Galli Curci Road. Poughkeepsie entrance at 61 Parker Avenue. 845-454-9649; walkway.org
Hudson River Cruises – Hop onboard a leaf-peeper voyage on the Rip Van Winkle for a two-hour narrated cruise along the Hudson River. Boat launch at the end of Broadway, Kingston’s Rondout. 800-843-7472; hudsonrivercruises.com
CHARTER A BOAT – Check VISITvortex.com for last issue's full listing of boating venues. The shores of the Hudson offer mansions and bucolic farmlands in all their colorful autumn color.
Rondout Lighthouse – View the fall foliage in a unique way by taking a short boat ride to this 1837 historic lighthouse. Rides leave from the dock of the Hudson River Maritime Museum at 50 Rondout Landing, Kingston. Most weekends through September; call for schedule. 845-338-0071; hrmm.org
Saugerties Lighthouse – An 1869 landmark located along the Hudson River at the meeting of the Esopus Creek. The land surrounding the lighthouse offers an exceptional way to view fall’s colorful splendor. A trail leads to 17 acres of wooded grounds and tidal wetland flats. The resulting peninsula offers a scenic half-mile trail to the lighthouse. The trail is easily accessible by car or foot. You can also step back in time and sleep in a river-view room as the lighthouse also serves as a bed and breakfast. Saugerties. 845-247-0656; saugertieslighthouse.com
Clermont State Historic Site – Panoramic views await you at this estate that sits on the Hudson River with spectacular views of the colorful Catskill Mountains. The fall colors continue into the gardens and wooded paths where you can leisurely stroll and catch glimpses of critters storing their winter edibles. 1 Clermont Avenue, Germantown. 518-537-4240; 518-537-6240; nysparks.com/historic-sites/16/details.aspx.
Eleanor Roosevelt National Historic Site Valkill – While doing the mansion ground visits along Route 9, Valkill is adjacent to the FDR site. Its 180-acre grounds are a perfect place for a stroll during autumn’s colorful array. 4097 Albany Post Road, Route 9, Hyde Park. 845-229-9115; nps.gov/elro
Franklin Delano Roosevelt Historic Site – Fall visitors can immerse themselves in the fantastic hues of Mother Nature’s fall exhibit by taking a stroll around the grounds, gardens, and trails of this 300-acre site, which our 32nd president called home. And a stroll down to the bordering Hudson River offers an expansive view of the Catskill Mountains in their fall glory. The grounds are free and open 7 days from sunrise to sunset. 4097 Albany Post Road, Route 9, Hyde Park. 845-486-1966; nps.gov/hofr
Locust Grove – The grounds of the former Samuel Morse estate is set on a sharp bluff overlooking the Hudson River giving a fabulous panoramic vista of fall’s magnificent foliage show. Stroll along carriage roads that wind through the estate’s 150 acres. Free admission. Grounds open 8am-dusk year-round. 2683 South Road, Poughkeepsie. 845-454-4500; lgny.org
Montgomery Place – The 380-acre landscape has scenic trails, carriage roads with gazebos, and rustic seats to relax and view the serene beauty of the peaks of fall hues of the Catskills. The Hudson River provides a majestic foreground to round out the experience. Free. Daily 9am-4pm. River Road (CR 103), Annandale-on-Hudson. 845-758-5461; hudsonvalley.org
Vanderbilt Mansion – Stroll through the 211 acres of parkland that boast centuries-old tree plantings, Italian gardens, and stunning Hudson River and Catskill Mountain views all fired-up with blazing fall colors. The grounds are open 7 days year-round from sunrise to sunset. 4097 Albany Post Road, Route 9, Hyde Park. 845-229-7770; nps.gov/vama
Hikes and Trails:
Catskill Scenic Trail – A 19-mile converted stretch of a now defunct New York Central Railroad line is part of the Rails to Trails project that offers an exceptionally gentle grade—an enjoyable and scenic way to view fall color. Perfect for biking, hiking and horseback riding. The Catskill Scenic Trail has also become a popular destination for horse-and-carriage enthusiasts who appreciate the wide path and gentle grade. 21 Railroad Avenue, Stamford. 845-586-2929; catskillscenictrail.org
Kirkside Park – A small gem of a town park with 14 acres adjoining the Delaware River on Main Street in Roxbury—home to stately old homes, gorgeous autumn-hued shade trees, and the historic 1893 Gould Church. The park grounds are serene and a splendid site to become immersed in fall color. Main Street, Roxbury. 607-326-3722
Minnewaska State Park – With 21,000 acres of wild and scenic land how could there be a more prime place for a colorful visit during autumn. Waterfalls, sky lakes, forests, 35 miles of carriageways, 25 miles of footpaths to bike, walk or hike—with cliffs and ledges providing panoramic views of fall color. Opens daily at 9am with various closing times throughout the year. Route 44/55, New Paltz. 845-255-0752
Poets Walk Park – An easy walk through the romantic landscape of open fields and along meadow trails offers a panoramic view of the Catskill peaks ablaze with their annual fall-color show—a perfect backdrop to the bordering Hudson River. Whether from the rustic Overlook Pavilion or along the meadow trail, the views are amazing. Gazebos and benches available for resting and picnicking. Free. Daily 9am-dusk. River Road (CR 103), Red Hook. 845-473-4440; scenichudson.org/parks/poetswalk
West Branch Preserve – This 450-acre Nature Conservancy preserve offers mild meadow hiking trails and a more energetic climb that takes you up a mountainside and through forests. Whichever trail you take, you’re amidst mountainous amounts of autumn color. 10 Route 26, Hamden. 800-628-6860; nature.org
Black Creek Preserve – This 130-acre preserve is a fabulous destination for an easy family hike among the colors of fall. Kids love crossing the suspension bridge that spans the creek and also exploring the Hudson River’s shoreline with shades of orange, red and yellow. Year-round dawn-dusk. Route 9W and Winding Brook Acres Road, Esopus. 845-473-4440; scenichudson.org
Mohonk Preserve – For those adventurous leaf-peepers, the Shawangunk Mountain’s climbing cliffs are the way to go. Located on the Preserve they can be accessed from the West Trapps Trailhead with 1,000 routes and more than five linear miles of cliff face. Open year-round. Route 44/55, New Paltz. Fees/more info: 845-255-0919; mohonkpreserve.org. For guides or lessons try Alpine Endeavors or Rock and Snow in New Paltz: alpineendeavors.com; rockandsnow.com
North-South Lake – The biggest, most popular state campground in the Catskill Forest Preserve offers the most extraordinary scenic fall vistas and landscapes. Hiking trails, lakes, waterfalls, and a clear-day view of five states visible from many overlooks. Picnic tables, charcoal grills, showers, more. Open through October 20. Route 18, Haines Falls. 518-589-5058; dec.ny.gov or reserveamerica.com
Stratton Falls Campgrounds – Tent or RV camp right in the middle of the leaf-peeping season—and be right under the colors of fall as you camp near so many things to do. The Delaware and Ulster Railroad goes right through the campsite—so “all-aboard” for a ride through autumn color. 15 County Hwy 41, Roxbury. Info/rates: 607-326-4224; strattonfalls.net
Tracking Color by Rail:
Catskill Mountain Railroad – The Fall Foliage Special ride by rail lets you experience the panorama of the Catskills in their colorful fall grandeur without the hassle of driving. September 28-October 28. 5408 Route 28, Mt. Tremper. Ticket prices/directions/info: 845-688-7400; catskillmtrailroad.com
Delaware & Ulster Railroad at Arkville Depot – Anyone who enjoys trains or is seeking an out-of-the-ordinary experience to take in the county’s most fabulous fall landscapes will cherish a leisurely paced excursion through the legendary Catskill Mountains. Historic depot offers much more for a great family time through October. 43510 Route 28, Arkville. 800-225-4132; durr.org
Country Roads Fall Foliage Bicycle Tour – The Orange County Bicycle Club and Catholic Charities of Orange County join forces to bring you the 2012 Country Roads Fall Foliage Bicycle Tour on September 16. Meet at 9am at Warwick Valley High School. Proceeds will benefit Catholic Charities of Orange County and the Sanctuary for Animals. Take any of four choice routes on uncrowded roads in the varied landscapes of Orange and Ulster counties. OCbicycleclub.org
Plattekill Mountain Bike Park – A downhill mountain bike park offering a full line of bike rentals and 60 miles of lift-served biking trails. A most energizing way to be right amongst fall colors and experience fantastic views. May-November, weather permitting. 469 Plattekill Mountain Road, Roxbury. 607-326-3500; plattekill.com
Autumn by Auto:
Hudson Valley Scenic Byways – See fall in a fanciful way, avoid the traffic, and view the brightly colored leaves in a leisurely car ride in both Ulster and Dutchess counties. It’s as if these routes are custom-made for leaf-peeping. Dutchess County’s River Road runs from Rhinebeck to Annandale-on-the-Hudson; and in Ulster County take Route 44, which crosses the majestic Shawangunk Mountains between Benton Corners and Kerhonkson. For maps visit hudsongreenway.ny.gov
The Taste of Fall:
Hudson Valley Wine Country – The Hudson Valley is America’s oldest wine-making and grape-growing region. So why not take pleasure in the tastes of autumn’s bounty while basking in fall’s fabulous colors? See the complete map in this issue.
Color via Horseback:
Bear Spring Mountain State Park – New York’s only park specifically designed for use by horseback riders. Covers over 7,100 acres for leaf-peeping riding enthusiasts. Canter right through the color over 24 miles of trails. Open year-round. 512 East Trout Brook Road, Walton. 607-865-6989; greatwesterncatskills.com; greatwesterncatskills.com
The Stone Tavern Farm – Dedicated to horseback riding with miles of trails in an assortment of terrains to view the fall foliage on horseback. Pony rides available. Open 10am-6pm daily, year-round. 2080 Upper Meeker Hollow Road, Roxbury. 607-326-3600; stonetavernfarm.com