When the first soft breezes of spring beckon and wildflower tendrils peek through the soil, it’s only natural to want to venture outside. The first weeks of spring are a great time to wander outside and watch foliage unfurl. Fortunately, the Hudson Valley has many places to observe nature’s promising changes. Here are a few of our favorites.
1. poets’ walk, 776 river road, red hook
Poets’ Walk has been described as a “poetry reading in motion.” German-born landscape architect Hans Jacob Ehlers designed the landscape as a succession of romantic vistas. Two miles of trails through forest and meadows offer remarkable views of the Rhinecliff Bridge and the Hudson River. The park opens at 8:30am year-round. From March 14 to April 30, closing time is 7:30 p.m. From May 1 to Sept. 30, the walk closes at 8:30 p.m.
2. ashokan reservoir, reservoir road, shokan
The reservoir’s three-mile path curves around the reservoir, offering a breathtaking succession of mountain views and the shimmering reservoir. The paths are wide and well-paved, perfect for strolling at your own pace.
3. lighthouse park at esopus meadows preserve 255 river road, esopus
This riverfront park offers gorgeous views of the Hudson and the Esopus Meadows Lighthouse. From there you can follow two bucolic miles of hiking trails through Esopus Meadows Preserve. The park is open year-round from dawn to dusk.
4. minnewaska state preserve, 5281 route 44-55, kerhonkson
Situated on the Shawangunk Mountain Ridge, this preserve has dramatic vistas, beautiful waterfalls, sky lakes, and forests. With more than 30 marked trails, the preserve offers everything from rock climbing to casual strolls. From April 4 to June 5, the park is open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
5. the strand rondout river walk broadway, kingston
If you’re up for a short urban walk, followed by a tasty lunch or cup of coffee, meander along the Rondout River, which feeds into the Hudson. It’s less than ten minutes each way. Feed the returning ducks, check out boats that are moored there, walk past a tugboat propped on land and possibly the Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, visit The Hudson River Maritime Museum and eventually nearby eateries.
6. mohonk preserve strolls 3197 state route 55, gardiner
The short, self-guided trails around the Visitor Center are designed to give you a quick and easy introduction to the ridge. The J & S Grafton Sensory Trail is a 1/4-mile, easy, level loop. Interpretive stations along the way encourage you to touch, look, and listen to nature. The Weinstein Butterfly Garden along the Sensory Trail attracts a colorful display of wild butterflies. Take a rest and see the flowers that butterflies like. The LaVerne Thompson Nature Trail is a 1/3rd–mile rolling loop that forks off from the Sensory Trail. A free trail brochure (available at the Visitor Center or start of the trail) leads you along the path’s 16 stops, where you can learn about the plants, animals, and geology of the ridge.
7. black creek preserve winding brook road, esopus
A picturesque suspension bridge leads to the 130-acre wooded preserve, with mostly gradual trails that culminate in beautiful views of the Hudson River. Visit in the spring and frogs sending out mating calls may serenade you. The stone walls that hikers encounter are left over from a time when the preserve was all farmland. Open from dawn to dusk year-round.
8. wallkill valley rail trail
The 22-mile naturally surfaced trail offers a variety of excellent views, spanning rivers and passing by farmland and historic industrial sites. The trail crosses the famed Rosendale Trestle, 150 feet above The Rondout Creek. It links villages and towns including the Historic Huguenot District in New Paltz, the towns of Gardiner and Rosendale, and then ends in the City of Kingston. There are several places from which to start the trail, including New Paltz, Binnewater Kiln (just north of Rosendale), and Gardiner.
For more info, contact Scenic Hudson at scenichudson.org or visit the National Park Service at nps.gov/index.htm