The Hudson Valley bursts with vibrant reds, oranges, and yellows each fall. People flock to the area to admire the changing foliage from roadside viewpoints, but why not try something new and exciting? Don’t get us wrong—the roadside view is beautiful, but consider biking, hiking, or climbing to get a unique and exhilarating glimpse of the region’s beautiful autumn bounty. Here are eight adventurous ways to enjoy the Hudson Valley’s fall colors:
1. SPEND A DAY ON THE WATER
You could spend a typical fall day baking pumpkin bread, or you could rent a boat and bring that bread along for a ride on the Hudson River. Board Hudson River Cruises’ Rip Van Winkle in Kingston, and enjoy the cool breeze of a fall day during a sightseeing cruise at $23 per adult. Or, Hudson Cruises, based out of Hudson, offers sightseeing cruises and lighthouse tours at $22 per adult, plus charter services. Charter services start at $175 for a two-hour group cruise with 14 passengers, maximum.
You could also charter a sailboat by hopping on the Black Swan, a 36-foot Catalina sailboat owned by Black Swan Sailing. Prices and lengths of sail time vary, starting at $60 per person for two-and-a-half hours. Or, try the Osprey. It sets sail from Kingston, starting at $500 for three hours, up to six people. Just add champagne and strawberries.
Hudson River Cruises: 5 Field Court, Kingston; 845-340-4700; hudsonrivercruises.com
Hudson Cruises: 518-822-1014; hudsoncruises.com
Black Swan Sailing: 845-542-7245; blackswansailing.com
Osprey Marine: 845-255-8737; ospreymarine.com
2. cling to a cliff for some great views
If you want to get really close to the trees, you’ve got to climb. The Shawangunks and Catskills are your playground when it comes to rock climbing.
Alpine Endeavors sets newcomers up with American Mountain Guides Association-certified and state-licensed climbing instructors to tackle the Gunks and Catskills. Weekend, full-day, and half-day outings are available for up to 14 people. Prices vary.
Vitti Mountain Guides, run by experienced local climber Joe Vitti, offers guided climbs of the Shawangunks and Catskills and instruction on topics like basic anchor building and self-rescue. Prices range from $300-$550 for full-day outings.
Alpine Endeavors: 877-486-5769; alpineendeavors.com
Vitti Mountain Guides: 845-901-3687; vittimtguides.com
3. explore the hudson valley on bike
Hitting a local trail by bike is a great way to discover a chunk of the region’s beauty in a short amount of time. Don’t have a bike? There are a number of rental options available to you, depending on where you would like to explore.
The Hudson Valley Rail Trail, extending from New Paltz to Highland and continuing on the Walkway Over the Hudson, is perfect for a daylong bike ride. You can rent a bike at the Bicycle Depot in New Paltz for $40 for the day, or you can pay $27 after 2pm to rent it for the afternoon.
Water Street Market in New Paltz has a limited supply of bikes that they loan out for free. Simply leave your ID at the Antiques Barn, and the bike is yours from 10am-6pm.
If you want to spend a day taking in the history of Kingston and the Rondout area, try Kingston Bike Rentals. Monday through Thursday, bike rentals are $7 per hour and $28 per day. Friday through Sunday, they’re $10 per hour and $40 per day.
Perhaps you want to check out the Beacon area and the Hudson Highlands with a loop including the Cold Spring village. If so, Peoples Bicycle, which uses Spinlister, an Airbnb-style bike rental service, can help you with that trip. Prices are around $35 for the day, and hourly options are also available.
For those staying near Rosendale, Favata’s Table Rock Tours can give you the skinny on Williams Lake and other nearby mountain biking opportunities. Their rate is $20 per hour or $40-$50 per day, depending on the type of bike.
For some intense mountain experiences, try Overlook Mountain. Check out Overlook Mountain Bikes for rental options. Prices vary from $15-$25 per hour, $50-$100 per day, and $200-$400 per week, depending on the type of bike. Plattekill Mountain also offers bike rentals and morning and full-day packages for beginner riders. Their rate is $30-$105 per day or $110-$190 per two days, depending on the type of bike.
The Bicycle Depot: 15 Main Street, New Paltz; 845-255-3859; bicycledepot.com
Kingston Bike Rentals: 25 Broadway, Kingston; 845-514-2599; kingstonbikerentals.com
Peoples Bicycle: 430 Main Street, Beacon; 845-765-2487; peoplesbicycle.com
Favata’s Table Rock Tours: 1066 Route 32, Rosendale; 845-658-7832; trtbicycles.com
Overlook Mountain Bikes: 93 Tinker Street, Woodstock; 854-679-2122; overlookbicycles.com
Plattekill Mountain: 469 Plattekill Mountain Road, Roxbury; 607-326-3500; plattekill.com
4. fly above the fall foliage
Few people can claim they toured the Hudson Valley in the seat of a World War I-era biplane. Biplanes are fixed-wing aircraft in which the two main wings are stacked on top of each other.
The Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome offers rides in these historic aircraft through October. Strap in to find yourself soaring above the Rhinebeck area, getting classic views of nearby sites like the Vanderbilt Mansion and the Staatsburgh State Historic Site.
Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome: 9 Norton Road, Red Hook; 845-752-3200; oldrhinebeck.org
5. adventure among the clouds
Trees are not the only pops of color in the distance each fall; colorful hot-air balloons frequently grace the skyscape, carrying those who seek a smooth and slow journey among the clouds.
Blue Sky Balloons has been flying balloons as a Federal Aviation Administration-certified outfit for more than 40 years, boasting a perfect safety record. Flights are $225 per person and occur just after sunrise and just before sunset. October is busy, so be sure to schedule in advance.
In Orange County, Above the Clouds’ FAA-certified pilots fly folks across the Lower Hudson Valley. Flights begin at Randall Airport in Middletown and can reach up to 3,000 feet, sometimes higher. Trips vary from the Champagne Flight—which includes a toast—to the 20-30 minute Short Flight or the one-hour Flight for Two with champagne and a take-home video. Prices vary, starting at $199 per person for the Short Flight.
6. go on a hang gliding expedition
Get an entirely new view of the Shawangunk Ridge as the wind guides you safely to the ground. Mountain Wings takes off from the Ellenville area and offers gliders three hills facing different wind directions for optimum gliding opportunities. It also offers lessons, where teachers will show you how to run downhill, take off, get airborne, and land. A one-day intro lesson is $220.
Fly High Hang Gliding—also in Ellenville—has been giving people the chance to fly since 1985. Its certified instructors offer lessons ($250 for the introduction) designed to get people off the ground for short flights. For those seeking an immediate thrill, tandem flights are available out of Hangar 3 in Middletown.
Fly High Hang Gliding: 355 Awosting Road, Pine Bush; 845-744-3317; flyhighhg.com
Hangar 3: 100 Airport Road, Middletown; 917-270-5669; hangar3.net
Mountain Wings: 77 Hang Glider Road, Ellenville; 845-647-3377; mtnwings.com
7. zip through the trees
Darting across a chasm is an exhilarating experience, especially when you are flying past a collage of autumn hues. New York Zipline Adventures has been zipping people through tree canopies since 1997 and has several adventure options. The Mid-Mountain Tour includes six ziplines, with the longest at 650 feet long and 60 feet above the forest floor.
The serious Skyrider Tour takes people—at up to 50 miles per hour—across five ziplines that span nearly five miles. Zipline experiences start at $69.
New York Zipline Adventures: 64 Klein Ave, Hunter; 518-263-4388; huntermtn.com
8. experience the valley on horseback
If you’d prefer an experience somewhere closer to the ground, try a horseback ride. Shakespeare described riding horseback as trotting through the air.
The Ashokan Riding Club provides lessons in its 10-acre small ring, which is enclosed by trees and rubber fences. Trail lessons are also provided. Appointments are necessary.
Rocking Horse Ranch in Highland offers riding trails for every level of experience in its all-inclusive vacation package. Guests can stay in the ranch’s Main Lodge or Oklahoma Building. Plus, the indoor waterpark is open year-round.
Since opening in 1965, Juckas Stables has offered its 117 acres to those seeking some quality farmland time, preferably aboard a horse. Take a horseback riding lesson, or rent one of their horses by the hour.
Ashokan Riding Club: 363 Beaverkill Road, Olivebridge; 845-657-8021; ashokan.com Rocking Horse Ranch: 600 Route 44/55, Highland; 845-691-2927; rockinghorseranch.com Juckas Stables: Route 302, Bullville; 845-361-1429; juckasstables.com
9. PLUNGE INTO THE HUDSON VALLEY
Imagine feeling the greatest rush of your life as the wind whips past your body some 13,500 feet in the air. Then, as you activate the ripcord at 6,000 feet, the colors appear before you while you sail to the ground.
Skydive the Ranch has been bringing folks up into the clouds so they can jump back down for more than 30 years, with trained instructors doing tandem skydives with all first-time jumpers.
The first tandem skydive is $219; video and photography is extra. Skydive the Ranch: 55 Sand Hill Road, Gardiner; 845-255-4033; skydivetheranch.com