See the Hudson Valley fall foliage in all of its splendor!
Here are some super fun ways to leaf peep with the kids or without.
1. Apple and Pumpkin Picking
The Hudson Valley is filled with farms to pick sweet, crisp apples and hunt for the perfect fall pumpkin. Many of our farms not only provide a gorgeous backdrop of fall color but all sorts of kids’
activities: corn mazes, bouncy tents, face painting, hot apple cider and donuts, farm animals, pumpkin canons, and the list goes on. It’s the quintessential fall activity, and it never gets boring—no matter what one’s age. And, best of all, you get to bring your treasures home—so clear the counter for carving and baking!
2. Catskill Mountain Railroad
What kid, big or small, doesn’t love a train ride? Hop aboard this historic train at its Mount Tremper depot and relax during this five-mile, 45-minute ride to Boiceville on the old Ulster & Delaware train route. From September 25 to October 25, take advantage of their fall foliage specials. You have your pick of riding in either their vintage or open-air car, both of which offer spectacular fall views and colors that you just can’t get from your car. For a complete schedule, visit catskillmtrailroad.com/fallfoliage.php.
3. Zipline at Frost Valley or Hunter
Ziplining is gaining popularity for those young and old kids who want a little height and a lot of thrill. When you tire of rock climbing on Frost Valley’s 50-foot Y-shaped tower (and, yes, climbs of all difficulty levels will lead you up), rest your legs and clip into the 300-foot long zipline. Wheeee! If rock climbing is not for you, the inside tower staircase can also get you to the top. You can find more details at frostvalley.org. Zipline canopy tours are also available at Hunter Mountain. Here you have some choices: the mid-mountain tour with six ziplines, four rope bridges, and nine aerial tree platforms; the daring sky-riding tour that is over four miles long and 600-feet high and reaches speeds of 50 miles per hour; or the vertical obstacle course that spirals up the 60-foot adventure tower. Visit ziplinenewyork.com for more information. Whatever your pleasure, be sure to look around and take in the view as you whiz through time and space!
4. Ferncliff Forest Fire Tower
Many people drive by this 200-acre game refuge and forest preserve on Mount Rutsen Road in Rhinebeck, not realizing the treasure that awaits for them a mere 30 minutes or so from the parking lot. A network of spidery trails leads to the top, where sits a 1933 Carnegie steel fire tower that was moved from Orangeburg, South Carolina. Standing 80 feet tall, this tower is perfect for taking in the autumn hues of the Hudson River and Catskill Mountains. The hike is completely manageable for little ones, who will feel nothing but pride for their big accomplishment of climbing to the top of the world!
5. From Walkway over the Hudson
It’s simply breathtakingly beautiful on this 1.28 mile retired train trestle. After 16 months of construction to transform this railroad bridge into a pedestrian’s dream, it’s solid as a rock, and parents need not worry about their little tikes here. The railing is plenty high—four feet, six inches—to keep everyone safe and secure. It’s also ADA accessible and easy to push a stroller on the walkway. Ten benches made from reclaimed wood from the Coney Island boardwalk provide a place for both children and adults to rest and take in the view.
6. Hudson River Cruises
If you’d rather view the Hudson from a boat, you’re in luck, for a cruise on the river delights the young and the old. Sit back and enjoy the lull of the river as you view spectacular reds and golds and oranges and greens. The 300-passenger Rip Van Winkle sails nearly every day from the historic Kingston Rondout Landing on the East Strand, and this narrated cruise along the Hudson will point out historic sites. Keep an eye out for blue herons as you pass the Kingston Lighthouse. On October 24, a special “Kids Kruize” features a DJ, magician, and face painting; check the schedule at hudsonrivercruises.com. Kingston is also the home port for the Clearwater sloop; check out their sailing schedule at clearwater.org to climb aboard this historic replica of a 106-foot vessel and symbol of the grassroots Hudson River conservation movement.
7. Saugerties Lighthouse
A visit to this historic 1869 landmark might just be the perfect outing with your child. The 1/2 mile gentle stroll leads over wooden boardwalks and through deciduous trees, shrubs, grasses and ferns—all changing their colors in the fall—and a glimpse through the trees of the mighty Hudson to the east means you are nearing this iconic lighthouse. On Sunday afternoons or by appointment, enjoy a guided tour of the lighthouse, complete with a climb up the tower ladder to a 360-degree view. A place to picnic awaits you down below, and during low tide a small beach offers the perfect place for little feet to wade and play in the sand. Here’s a link to the tide table to help you plan your visit: saugertieslighthouse.com/tide-table-2/.
8. Overlook Mountain in Woodstock
The vista from atop the fire tower on Overlook Mountain is pure magic. Unadulterated views allow you to see the Shawangunks to the south and the Catskills to the west—and on a clear day the Ashokan Reservoir and Hudson River. There is even a useful map of the mountain ranges in the cab of the tower to help orient you. However, earning this view takes a bit of work. This 2.5-mile carriage road is quite steep at times—you’ll gain 1400 feet in elevation. Fortunately, hotel ruins about two miles up the trail make for a great distraction and reconnoitering mission for the kids. Here is the place to grab some water and rest for a moment. The kids will completely forget they’re tired as they start to explore the hotel. From this point, the summit is easily within your reach, and the last 81 steps up the fire tower steps are well worth it. Just near the summit, a small museum is usually open on the weekends, and volunteer
interpreters are often available to answer any questions. To access the trailhead, travel north on Route 33 from Woodstock, which turns into Meads Mountain Road, where you’ll find parking across the street from The Buddhist temple.
9. Mohonk Mountain House Sky Top Tower
During the autumn months, a climb to the top of Sky Top provides the perfect ending for little feet. There are several ways to access the memorial tower, and all are well-marked.
EASY: Walk on Sky Top Path, (passing the playground, where you can stop on the way down). The walk up to the tower is quick, but you’ll definitely want to linger either at the top or at one of the many tiny wooden summerhouses offering magnificent views of changing leaves, the Mountain House, and the lake.
MEDIUM: Begin behind the ice skating rink, and follow Pinkster Path to Sky Top Road. Definitely take a breather at the Lily Pond—remain quiet and perhaps catch a glimpse of a frog or two. Continue on about 15 minutes and the tower will come into view.
HARD (but way fun!): Scramble through the Mohonk labyrinth—a combination of climbing over and under huge boulders and through gaps in between rock slabs—and then squeeze through a narrow rock crevice known as the Lemon Squeeze. After climbing 50 feet on ladders inside the Lemon Squeeze, you will surface below the base of the tower on a giant rock slab with a view that takes your breath away.
No matter which path you choose, don’t leave the Mohonk House grounds without stopping by the Victorian maze in the formal gardens. Made out of juniper trees, the maze delights any age. Don’t worry if your child gets temporarily lost here—thrills of delight will soon reveal his/her location! If not staying at the historic hotel, stop at the gatehouse to purchase a day pass. Park in the day hiking lot next to the gatehouse, and a shuttle will bring you up to the hotel. Arrive early because the lot fills up quickly and day passes are not available for advance purchase. Go to mohonk.com for more info.
10. Van Lueven Cabin on the Mohonk Preserve
When walking with kids, a fun destination always helps guide those little feet, and the Van Leuven Cabin is just the place. Built in 1889, this wooden plank house immediately transports you back in time. Childrens’ imaginations quickly take over as they pretend to be a Van Lueven family member and re-enact all the family did to survive, such as cutting stone and wood, shaping hoops for barrels, picking and selling berries, tending gardens, churning butter, and more. Park at the West Trapps parking lot on Route 44/55, and take the meandering Trapps Mountain Hamlet path. About 3/4 of the way there, you will need to cross Clove Valley Road, so make sure your little ones are within sight here. When you hear the spray of the Coxing Kill and the crunch, crunch of autumn leaves under your feet, you’ll know you’re almost there.
11. Bonticou Crag on the Mohonk Preserve
This has to be one of the best hikes in the Hudson Valley. Even kids who whine when hiking will totally forget all cares when they begin the ascent up this rock scramble. A small body may need an adult’s helping hand at times, but lithe little children—and definitely adolescents and teens—almost always have an easier time than adults when it comes to maneuvering up the rocks. Just be sure to follow the marked path—it is the path of least resistance! Flat stretches of rock offer an opportunity for rest along the way, or at least a place for your kids to stand and say, “Hurry up! Let’s go!” as you negotiate your hand and foot placements. The panoramic view at the top won’t disappoint, and you are bound to see a raptor gliding below you. You can either hike the easier but longer Cedar Trail back down, or—if the kids have any say—descend back down the rock scramble the same way you climbed up. To access Bonticou, park at the Spring Farm parking lot on Upper 27 Knolls Road. If not a Preserve member, consider joining if you plan to hike on the Preserve multiple times throughout the year—it can save you money in the long run. Otherwise, pay the day-use fee at the kiosk, where you can also grab a map. Details at mohonkpreserve.org.