A Tisket a Tasket Get Out Your Picnic Basket
by Rochelle Riservato
Food always seems more palatable when picnicking outside under the glistening of the sun’s rays or accompanied by nature’s background of wind through the trees or water rushing through a stream. There are plenty of good, healthy foods to ingest that’ll give you more energy for all the other amenities offered at the areas we chose for you to visit. And most of all, make it not only a picnic on nature’s greens, but make it a “green” event by buying eco-friendly utensils, tablecloths, reusable plastic containers, cloth napkins, and dish towels. And, if you must buy disposables, buy those made of recycled paper.
Picnic Ulster County
Ashokan Reservoir – The blue and purple majestic hues of the Catskills is the perfect place for a relaxing picnic. Private and peaceful there’s always a place to put down a blanket and open that picnic basket as you nosh and gaze at the aerator fountains and picturesque spillway. This reservoir is the oldest New York Cityowned reservoir in the Catskills, located only 13 miles west of Kingston. Exit 19 on the NYS Thruway. Fishing is allowed with a public access permit.
Belleayre Beach at Pine Hill Lake – Enjoy a picnic at the lake plus a day of summertime sensations. Swimming, horseshoe pits, and volleyball and basketball courts. Plus rentals on rowboats, pedalboats, and kayaks. Walk-ins only $2 per person and a carload gets in for $8. (Eightpassenger vans a bit more). Highmount. 800-942-6904 or 845-254-5600; belleayre.com/summer/lake.htm
Franny Reese State Park – A new park in Highland featuring 250 acres that boast a broad array of tree species, carriage trails, and historic stone walls. Picturesque picnics can be a wonderful beginning to a day of hiking on 2.5 miles of woodland trails, viewing estate ruins and scenic vistas. A trail leads to the property from the Town of Lloyd’s Johnson-Iorio Park, located immediately north of the Mid-Hudson Bridge’s Ulster County side. The path takes visitors under the bridge and connects them to a carriage trail that accesses the site. Dog-walking on leashes allowed. scenichudson2.org/whatyoucando/visitourparks/frannyreesepreserve
Kingston Point Rotary Park – It’s almost as if the majestic iron gate leads you to a “secret” place as you walk down a path that opens up to a small pedestrian bridge, cookout area, and benches. So whether you picnic under the pavilion, under a gazebo, or on the lawn, you’ll enjoy a scenic view where the Rondout Creek flows into the Hudson. It’s as if the water surrounds the park with peaceful grace. Wooded trails and an inlet provide nature’s backdrop. Open May 15 to October 15 from 7am to 8pm. Lower Delaware Avenue in Kingston. 845-331-1682.
Minnewaska State Park Preserve – Ready for a delicious picnic on a dramatic Shawangunk Mountain ridge with vistas more than 2,000 feet above sea level? This is one of the most unique and picturesque parks featuring waterfalls, three crystalline sky lakes, and more cliff-edge views than imaginable—plus 35 miles of carriageways and 25 miles of footpaths to bike, walk, or hike after your picnicking pleasures. 5281 Route 44/55, Kerhonkson. 845-256-0579;lakeminnewaska.org.
Shaupeneak Ridge at Louisa Pond – This 56-acre park is not only a beautiful mountain forest that you can picnic in while viewing the eastern Hudson River shore and Catskill Mountains—it also features a pond, waterfall, hiking trails, and is a virtual outdoor classroom. And it’s a terrific place to mountain bike and burn the calories from your leisurely picnic menu—or stroll and bird-watch among nature surrounded by the 572-acre Shaupeneak Preserve. Park 2.5 miles from intersection of 9W and Old Post Road in the Town of Esopus. 845-473-4440; scenichudson2.org/whatyoucando/visitourparks/shaupeneakridge
Sleightsburgh Park – Picnic on a 79-acre peninsula at the mouth of the Rondout Creek in the Town of Esopus. This spectacular narrow strip of land almost reaches to the Kingston Lighthouse and provides a wooded environment with trails great for birding, nature studies, and hiking with views of the lighthouse. It also offers a deep-water boat access ramp and fishing on the creek. Dogs allowed on leashes. 845-473-4440; scenichudson2.org/whatyoucando/visitourparks/sleightsburgh
Tongore Town Park – A family picnic paradise offering a pavilion with tables and barbeques, along with a playground,basketball and volleyball courts, ball fields, and horseshoe pits. Also provides lifeguard supervision for swimming in July and August from 10:30am to 6pm. Regular park hours 8am to 8pm. Located on Tongore Road in the Town of Marbletown. 845-687-7830.
Willow Kiln Park – A small, quiet park sitting below the old kilns and mountainous rock structures of the old cement business that made the town famous in the 19th century. Pets are allowed on leashes and it’s a great informal place for picnics with barbeques and tables and a fresh air environment. After picnicking you can treat yourself to browsing and shopping at the boutiques aligning Rosendale’s Main Street. Special events go on throughout the spring and summer season. Located in back of the Rosendale Theatre off Hasbrouck Avenue with lots of convenient parking. For more information call Town Hall at 845-658-3159.
Wilson State Park – A scenic park with picnic tables and grills plus hiking trails and secluded, wooded campsites and many outdoor activities. Campers can enjoy a hike on the nature trails, ride on the mountain bike trail, or inner tube on the river. Plus nearby Woodstock and Phoenicia offer fabulous shops and restaurants. Dogs need rabies certificate and cannot be left unattended and are not allowed in facility structures, on the beach, or in day use areas. Day-use fee $6 to $10. 859 Wittenberg Road, Mt. Tremper. 845-679-7020.
Picnic Dutchess County
Burger Hill – A beautiful hilltop park rising 550 feet, boasting panoramic vistas of the Hudson River Valley including the Shawangunk Ridge, Catskill and Taconic mountains, Stissing Mountain, and the Berkshires…a picnic-perfect paradise. Also offers all-season activities of hiking, sledding, and cross-country skiing. The park is 76 acres of open meadows and rural, scenic beauty for bird-watching and picturetaking located in Rhinebeck. 845-876-4213; winnakeeland.org/Burger Hill Park.htm
Clarence Memorial State Park – A year-round outdoor enthusiast’s delight on 13,086 acres in Carmel. Besides a fabulous place to pleasurably picnic on grasslands or in the picnic pavilion, there’s hiking trails, a gorgeous beach, scenic campground, and an abundance of opportunities for boating, hunting, fishing, and birding. Dogs are permitted on trails on a leash not more than 10 feet, but not permitted on beach or in picnic areas. Vehicle entrance fee: $7/car. For hours of operation call 845-225-7207; nysparks.state.ny.us/parks/133/ details.aspx
Fishkill Ridge – The gateway to the fabled Hudson Highlands provides a respite to stop and picnic in the 1,900-acre home to eagles, falcons, and numerous rare species. With 11.5 miles of trails, Fishkill Ridge connect to thousands of acres in Hudson Highlands State Park and the summit of Mount Beacon, featuring some of the valley’s best hiking opportunities, including the access to two of the highest peaks east of the Hudson River. So put down your blanket where you can get the best panoramic views of the
Hudson River and Catskill Mountains and relax—unless you’re among the determined who tackle this ridge’s rugged terrain. Year-round daily dawn to dusk. 845-473 4440; scenichudson.org/parks/fishkillridge
Long Dock Beacon/Beacon Point Park – A 16-acre riverfront park (currently under improvement), but still available for picnics, fishing off the pier, hiking, and canoeing/ kayaking with access to the Beacon Shoreline Trail. Also see George Trakas’ dramatic new riverfront sculpture with its terraced angling deck, boardwalk, and restored bulkhead. 518-475-7202 x11; cityofbeacon.org/albums/20
Madam Brett Park – An urban oasis along the Fishkill Creek in Beacon featuring tranquil trails and a beautiful waterfall to have a peaceful picnic. This 12-acre park connects to the “Beacon Shoreline Trail” providing a link between Dennings Point, Long Dock Beacon, and the Beacon train station. One mile of trails along the Fishkill Creek lead to scenic overlooks of tidal marshes and Tioronda Falls. Also great for trail walking and picture taking. Open from dawn to dusk with a parking area. 845-473-4440; scenichudson.org/parks/madambrettpark
Mills Norrie State Park (Margaret Lewis Norrie) – A serene wooded area with glimpses of the river providing an ideal location for picnicking complete with tables and pavilions. And if you have an appetite for other outdoor activities—you can bike, hike, camp in trailers, tents or cabins, fish, or powerboat. A marina consisting of slip space and a boat launch ramp is a popular area for boating. Staatsburg. 845-889-4646; nysparks.state.ny.us/parks/171/details.aspx
Mount Beacon – Picnic at the highest peak of the Hudson Highlands. A total of 234 acres provides the defining backdrop for a picnic in a historic area that was prominent during the Revolutionary War. After a healthy picnic—go bird watching, hiking on walking trails, and relish the scenic views. Parking area and trailhead are located at the intersection of Route 9D and Howland Avenue in the City of Beacon. 845-473-4440; nysparks.state.ny.us/parks
Poets’ Walk – Take your picnic basket filled with goodies and enjoy the romance of rolling fields and quiet woodlands that inspired generations of writers and artists. Created in the 1840s, the surrounding park of 120 acres is nestled in the region’s National Historic Landmark District offering breathtaking views of the Hudson River. If this respite inspired Washington Irving’s classic Rip Van Winkle it is certain to inspire you to take a 2-mile walkthrough woods and fields—or perhaps sit in rustic cedar pavilions. A perfect place for landscape artists. Open daily at 9am, however closing time varies by season and gates are locked at this time. April 1 to Memorial Day closed at 7pm. Memorial Day to Labor Day closed at 8:30pm. Red Hook. 845-473-4440; scenichudson.org/parks/poetswalk.
Walkway Over the Hudson Historic Park – Wow, are you in for a treat when choosing to picnic at one of the newest sensations in the Hudson Valley. This park not only provides areas to picnic, jog, and walk your dog (leashes no longer than six feet), but you can also take a leisurely, picture-taking stroll across a 1.28-mile long elevated pedestrian bridge that’s 212 feet above the river’s surface—the longest in the world. The park closes at sunset and is accessible from both the western Highland side and the eastern Poughkeepsie side. 845-834-2867; nysparks.state.ny.us/parks/178/details.aspx
Wilcox Memorial Park – Have a picnic with the options—as this park has four covered picnic pavilions offering everything from the privacy of Pavilion A to the attached bathrooms, kitchen, and a picturesque view of the beach at Pavilion D. Tucked away in the tiny town of Milan, this 615-acre, family-friendly delight was once an 18th-century estate that boasts two small sparkling lakes. Fish from the shore or from a rented boat, or view the “resident heron” by renting a paddleboat. And…you can swim off those picnic calories from Memorial Day to Labor Day on a sandy beach with lifeguard facilities, a bathhouse, and the lower lake’s snack bar. Route 199, Milan. County-resident vehicles $5; Non-resident $10. 845-758-6100.
Picnic Greene County
Kaaters kill Falls – Spend the day picnicking, hiking, and enjoying one of the most impressive and highest dual waterfalls in New York state. A two-tiered falls, the upper falls drop 175 feet and the lower falls drop 85 feet. The self-guided trail to the falls is about 1/2 mile and requires a careful scrambling over logs and rocks. So put on your hiking shoes, backpack your picnic menu, and get ready for the most amazing scenic area to put down a blanket and ingest the views and some healthy foods. For directions and more information, visit en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kaaterskill_Falls.
Giant Ledge – A unique and large mountain ledge in the Catskills located on Panther Mountain. Its awesome 3,218-feet altitude provides a visual feast on the way to your own picnic banquet. As you hike to the ledge you’ll marvel at a combination of an unadulterated old-growth forest mixed with flowers and foliage in new-growth pathways. Talk about feeling awe and humbleness toward nature. Guaranteed to make you hunger for that picnic and rest on a blanket as you marvel at one of the most incredible vistas in the Catskills. For a great at-home view, visit youtube.com/watch?v=RuSlUznBwck for a virtual experience of Giant Ledge in Shandaken in its full glory.