Hudson Valley Hiking Trails: Top 23 Most Unique Spots | Stanton House Inn
Late fall along one of the best Hudson Valley hikes

Hudson Valley Hiking Trails: Top 23 Most Unique Spots

Bear Mountain overlook, along the Appalachian Trail

The Hudson Valley, a stretch of natural splendor from Westchester County to Albany, is a haven for hikers of all stripes. It’s home to 18 state parks and a trove of hiking trails for every level of outdoor enthusiast. Here, you can:

  • Immerse yourself in wild forests

  • Take in panoramic views from towering peaks

  • Cross picturesque bridges

  • Explore historic ruins that echo the past

Summer in the valley is a hiker’s dream. There are so many trails leading to waterfalls, mysterious caves, historic mountaintop ruins. And the occasional inviting swimming hole.

For a summer or fall adventure, the Hudson Valley’s trails are a perfect choice. Wander around shimmering Upstate NY lakes, tackle the Appalachian Trail, and climb the mountain ranges. Ascend at least one fire tower for a hawk’s-eye view of the landscape. Hiking in this region is a chance to engage in a natural workout that outshines any indoor exercise.

Don’t set off without a trail map, an essential guide to navigating the best Hudson Valley hiking trails. Map in hand, your journey through the great outdoors is sure to be unforgettable.

Ready to explore the best Hudson Valley hikes? Let’s get into it:

Quick hits

  • The Hudson Valley is a trove of trails, perfect for both novices and experienced hikers. It offers stunning vistas, historical sites, and a natural workout that rivals any gym.

  • Many trails, like the Old Croton Aqueduct Trail and Bear Mountain Loop Trail, are easily accessible by public transport from New York City.

  • Post-hike, the Hudson Valley’s quaint towns await. Cold Spring, Beacon, and New Paltz offer unique local charm. Here, visitors can indulge in delightful dining and browse through eclectic shops.

Best Hudson Valley Hikes

Hudson Valley Hiking Trails

Step into the Hudson Valley and enter a paradise for outdoorsy types. The region boasts a diverse array of trails, each offering its own unique adventure. Whether you’re a casual walker or a seasoned hiker, there’s a path just right for you.

In this lush playground, every trail paints a stunning picture of the valley’s grandeur. The valley attracts nature lovers from near and far. And it doesn’t matter if it’s your first time lacing up hiking boots or if you’re a veteran of the trails. The Hudson Valley has something special in store for you. So grab your water bottle, embrace your sense of wonder, and let the trails of the Hudson Valley guide you through nature’s wonders.

Westchester County Hikes

Bear Mountain Loop Trail

Outsiders equate Westchester County, near the mouth of the Hudson River Valley, with suburbia. In reality, it presents some of the most picturesque hikes in the area. Its unspoiled natural landscapes pair with a historical context. It all creates an enriching hiking experience in Westchester County.

The county offers hikers a fusion of breathtaking beauty and captivating historical narratives. And all while passing through several of the most charming Westchester County towns.

Rockefeller State Park Preserve

A tree along a country carriage road in Rockefeller State Park Preserve, one of the best hikes in the Hudson River Valley

Rockefeller State Park Preserve near Tarrytown, NY, offers an escape into a historical landscape. Over 25 miles of carriage paths wind through 1400 acres, where the Rockefeller family once rode in horse-drawn carriages. These paths now welcome everyone for:

  • Strolling

  • Jogging

  • Horseback riding

  • Hiking

And even cross-country skiing when winter blankets the ground.

Bird enthusiasts will rejoice with 180-recorded bird species. The diversity earned the park an Important Bird Area (IBA) designation from the National Audubon Society.

The park’s trails are a gentle introduction for new hikers yet still offer a sense of wilderness for the experienced. Dog owners can enjoy the scenery with their leashed pets.

Begin with a serene walk around Swan Lake, where turtles lounge and waterfowl glide. For more vigor, trails like Deer Run, Peaceful Path, David’s Loop, Ridge Trail, and Ash Tree Loop provide deeper forest immersion.

Come in the peak of the summer months, when raspberries line the trails.

The journey to Eagle Summit is the ultimate reward. Trails like the Pocantico River Trail, 13 Bridges Loop, and the Eagle Hill trail lead to panoramic views that make every step worthwhile.

North County Trailway & South County Trailway

For another family-friendly hike, the North County Trailway and South County Trailway are top-notch choices. These trails are almost entirely paved. They’re perfect for strollers and relaxed walks tracing the historic route of the New York Central Railroad. The South County Trailway offers a 14.1-mile stretch from New York City’s border to Greenburgh. It passes through Yonkers’ Tibbetts Brook Park and by the Dunwoodie Golf Course. It’s a peaceful journey through time. Head from Greenburgh to Briarcliff, and the pathway becomes the North County Trailway. This trail extends for 22.1 miles through Yorktown Heights, NY, and Somers, with highlights like:

The trail then continues as the Putnam Trailway, inviting you to explore further north.

Old Croton Aqueduct Trail | Croton Harmon

Croton Gorge Park

Stretching over 26.5 miles, the Old Croton Aqueduct Trail offers a unique hiking experience. This variable elevation trail winds its way through lush forests and charming towns. It’s a meandering glimpse into the region’s natural beauty and cultural heritage. One of the trail’s most notable features is the breathtaking Croton Dam waterfall, a sight sure to leave you spellbound.

The Old Croton Aqueduct Trail is also a haven for joggers, cyclists, and casual walkers. Thanks to its well-maintained and generally good-draining terrain, the trail is accessible all year round. And the best part? You can access it via car or taxi from the Croton Harmon train station. So whether you’re planning a walk or an intense run, the Old Croton Aqueduct Trail is the perfect destination.

Anthony’s Nose | Manitou

View from the summit of Anthony's Nose

Anthony’s Nose in Manitou is a must-visit for a hiking trip into neighboring Putnam County. This 2-mile trail may be short, but it packs a punch with stunning views and a challenging ascent. The trail offers panoramic lookout points overlooking the Mountain Bridge and the Hudson River.

The trail is not just for hikers, though. It’s also a popular spot for joggers and cyclists, thanks to its variable elevation and well-maintained terrain. Plus, with parking available along Route 9D, accessing the trail is a breeze.

Orange County Hikes

Storm King Mountain Loop Trail

Orange County is the ultimate playground for trail enthusiasts. Each path in Orange County offers a unique adventure. They’re a perfect blend of challenge and natural splendor for every nature lover.

Storm King Mountain Loop Trail  | Cornwall-on-Hudson

The Storm King Mountain Loop Trail is a prime destination for hiking enthusiasts. This 2.4-mile trail offers a diverse array of terrain and stunning vistas, making it a favorite among hikers. You’ll encounter variable elevation and breathtaking lookout points with panoramic views of the surrounding landscape.

An added benefit is that Storm King Mountain Loop Trail is close to the Storm King Art Center. After a fulfilling hike, inspire yourself a different way with a visit to this renowned art center. You can appreciate large-scale sculptures and installations set against a backdrop of rolling hills, woodlands, and fields.

Bear Mountain Loop Trail | Peekskill

Fall Hudson Valley hikes

For a more challenging hike, the Bear Mountain Loop Trail is an excellent choice. This 3.8-mile trail is not for the faint-hearted. With an elevation gain of 1,150 feet, the trail offers a rigorous workout for even the most seasoned hikers. The effort may be considerable, but the reward justifies it. As you ascend, you’ll be greeted by panoramic views of:

  • The forest

  • Hessian Lake

  • Anthony’s Nose

  • The iconic Bear Mountain Bridge

The Bear Mountain Loop Trail is a popular destination for Manhattaners seeking a break from city life. That said, the trail’s steep ascents and descents mean it’s best tackled by experienced hikers. And with over 1,000 stone steps on the Appalachian Trail section, you’re sure to get a good workout!

Major Welch Trail | Bear Mountain State Park

Bear Mountain Bridge

For those looking for a more challenging hike, the Major Welch Trail is a must-try. Located in Bear Mountain State Park, this 4.1-mile trail will test your endurance and agility with its steep ascents and rocky terrains. But don’t let the challenge deter you. The views from the trail are nothing short of breathtaking, offering an unparalleled panorama of the Hudson Valley.

The Major Welch Trail isn’t just about the challenge, though. It’s also about the experience. As you navigate through the trail, you’ll pass by:

  • thickets of mountain laurel

  • steep rocky ascents

  • several scenic viewpoints offering vistas of Hessian Lake, Anthony’s Nose, and the Bear Mountain Bridge.

And when you’ve completed your hike, why not explore the rest of what Bear Mountain State Park has to offer? From picnicking groves and lake fishing to the Trailside Museums and Zoo, there’s something for everyone in this beautiful state park.

Putnam County Hikes

Breakneck Ridge

Putnam County is an adventurer’s playground, offering a heart-racing array of trails. Imagine yourself as a nimble mountain goat tackling steep climbs. Or take a jaunt through the woods, harmonizing with the local birdlife. Putnam County caters to every hiker’s whim with its diverse trails.

Bull Hill | Cold Spring

Bull Hill trail

Nestled in the charming town of Cold Spring, NY, Bull Hill offers a hiking experience unlike any other. This 4.3-mile trail takes you through steep ascents, panoramic views, and breathtaking natural beauty. As you navigate the trail, you’ll be treated to stunning views of the Hudson River and the mountainous surroundings. Whether you’re an experienced hiker or a novice explorer, the trail at Bull Hill promises an adventure you won’t forget.

Breakneck Ridge | Philipstown

If you’re up for a challenge, head out on a Breakneck Ridge hike. This 1,440-foot high rock scramble is just 2 miles north of Cold Spring. As you navigate the steep ascents and descents, you’ll be treated to panoramic views of the forest and the Hudson River.

One of the most striking features of Breakneck Ridge is its accessibility. You can easily reach the trail via the Peekskill train stop, making it a popular destination for Manhattaners seeking a break from city life. But don’t let its popularity fool you. With its rugged terrain and steep inclines, Breakneck Ridge is a trail that demands respect.

Cornish Estate Trail | Hudson Highlands State Park

Ruins along the trail

For a more relaxed stroll, or if you get lost on the way down from Breakneck (right here), the Cornish Estate Trail is a perfect choice. Located in Hudson Highlands State Park, this 1.8-mile trail offers a gentle hike that’s suitable for all ages. Wander along the trail to come across the Cornish Estate Ruin, a historic site that adds a touch of intrigue to your hike.

The Cornish Estate Trail offers:

  • A hiker’s paradise

  • A haven for history buffs

  • Remnants of the former estate, offering a glimpse into the region’s past

  • A unique blend of natural beauty and historical intrigue

Ninham Mountain Fire Tower | Carmel Hamlet

If you’re looking for a hike that offers stunning views, the Ninham Mountain Fire Tower trail is a must-try. This trail offers a unique hiking experience, with a 1.4-mile stretch that takes you to the top of the fire tower. As you ascend the trail, you’ll be treated to panoramic views that are sure to take your breath away.

The trail is not just for hikers, though. Thanks to its well-maintained terrain, the Ninham Mountain Fire Tower trail is also a popular spot for joggers and cyclists. And with parking available at the trailhead, accessing the trail is a breeze. So whether you’re planning an intense run or a leisurely walk, the Ninham Mountain Fire Tower is the perfect destination.

West Point Foundry Preserve | Cold Spring

Old ruins at the West Point Foundry

For a unique hiking experience, the West Point Foundry Preserve is a must-try. This 1-mile hike takes you through rugged terrains. The end point is a view of the waterfall that used to power the Foundry. Whether you’re an experienced hiker or a novice, the Foundry Brook Waterfall trail offers an adventure that you won’t want to miss.

Not only does the Foundry Brook Waterfall trail offer stunning views, but it’s also rich in history. Navigating through the trail, you’ll pass remnants of the former industrial ruins.

Dutchess County Hikes

Mt Beacon Fire Tower

Dutchess County is a hiker’s dream, offering a rich mix of history, culture, and natural beauty. You’ll find breathtaking views from the Mt Beacon Fire Tower and tranquil moments at the Dover Stone Church. Each trail is a unique chapter in the county’s diverse adventure book, ready to enchant you at every turn.

Mt Beacon Fire Tower | Hudson Highlands State Park

For those seeking a challenging hike with stunning views, the Mt Beacon Fire Tower trail is a must-try. This 4.4-mile trail offers a unique hiking experience, with a steep ascent that takes you to the top of the fire tower. As you navigate the trail, you’ll be treated to panoramic views that are sure to take your breath away.

The trail is not just for hikers, though. Thanks to its well-maintained terrain, the Mt Beacon Fire Tower trail is also a popular spot for joggers and cyclists. And with parking available at the trailhead, accessing the trail is a breeze. So whether you’re planning an intense run or a leisurely walk, the Mt Beacon Fire Tower is the perfect destination.

But the Mt Beacon Fire Tower trail isn’t just about the hike. Once you’ve conquered the trail, you can explore the various landmarks along the route. The trail offers a glimpse into the region’s rich history and natural beauty, including the remnants of the Mount Beacon Incline Railway.

Dover Stone Church | Dover Plains

Discover the enchanting Dover Stone Church in the Hudson Valley on an easy 1.2-mile hike. With minimal elevation, it’s a walk in the park for hikers of any skill level. You can park at Dover Elementary School for free—no strings attached! The trail is a welcoming path that unfolds into an extended loop, offering scenic views that’ll have you reaching for your camera.

Mills Mansion/Staatsburgh State Historic Site | Staatsburg

If you’re looking for a hike that offers a blend of history and natural beauty, the Mills Mansion trail is a must-try. Located in Staatsburgh State Historic Site, this trail offers a unique hiking experience, with stunning views of the Hudson River and the historic Mills Mansion. As you navigate the trail, you’ll be treated to panoramic views that are sure to take your breath away. And, added benefit, there’s a trail along the Hudson River from here to Mills Norrie State Park.

Ulster County Hikes

Fall along the Mohonk Mountain House hiking trails

Ulster County is a hiker’s wonderland, bursting with trails that serve up ‘wow’ moments and dashes of ‘oh my.’ Here, each trail is like a unique chocolate in an assorted box – you’re always in for a delightful surprise!

The Labyrinth & Lemon Squeeze | New Paltz

Imagine yourself as the star of an “Indiana Jones” adventure while tackling the 7-mile loop trail near Mohonk Mountain House. This trail isn’t just a walk in the park—it’s an exhilarating climb, ascending 1,410 feet into the sky. You’ll:

  • Navigate through snug crevices

  • Clamber over bold rock formations

  • Scale tall wooden ladders that lead to spectacular views

Be prepared to pay an advanced fee to preserve the tranquility of the trail and keep those breathtaking panoramas all to yourself. It’s worth noting that this trail isn’t suitable for furry friends due to the ladders. Don’t worry about getting there from the City. Public transport has got you covered, followed by a brief 15-minute taxi ride from Grand Central Station. Gear up for an unforgettable journey where every step feels like a scene from a blockbuster movie!

Sky Top Trail | Mohonk Preserve

Bonticou Crag at Mohonk Preserve, part of Mohonk Mountain House

Bonticou Crag at Mohonk Preserve, part of Mohonk Mountain House, is your gateway to the outdoors in the Shawangunk Mountains. Boasting over 70 miles of carriage roads and 40 miles of trails, it’s a hiker’s paradise where your boots will feel right at home. The Sky Top trail, a crowd-pleaser, begins near the luxurious Mohonk Mountain House. It offers a visual feast featuring the Shawangunks, the stately hotel, and the serene Mohonk Lake. The Mohonk Gatehouse is the ideal starting point for treks that promise Instagram-worthy moments.

Sam’s Point Ice Caves Trail | Sam’s Point Preserve

Embark on a 3.3-mile trek through the Sam’s Point Ice Caves. This hike has a moderate difficulty and a 530-foot elevation gain that feels like a seesaw ride through nature. The path winds up to rock staircases framed by towering cliffs—a scene straight out of a fantasy tale, minus the ice sculptures. Alas, this trail isn’t a year-round affair; it closes in winter when conditions would make even a snowman shiver. For alternate routes, the Verkeerderkill Falls trail stands by, offering its own brand of rugged charm.

Verkeerderkill Falls | Minnewaska State Park

Embarking on the 6.0-mile trek through Minnewaska State Park is like stepping into a living postcard of the Shawangunk region. The majestic Catskill mountains play peek-a-boo on the horizon. With each step of the 700-foot elevation gain (and loss), you’re not just hiking; you’re climbing a staircase to the clouds. And for the modest sum of $10, you can park your trusty steed at Sam’s Point Parking Area. Then, join the ranks of nature enthusiasts who flock here when:

  • The leaves put on their autumnal fashion show

  • Or when spring breathes new life into the waterfalls

These seasonal spectacles are as popular with the locals as pumpkin spice lattes in October.

Gertrude’s Nose | Minnewaska State Park

Scenic outlook in Minnewaska State Park, one of several fantastic New York State Parks in the Hudson Valley

Embark on the 7.5-mile loop hike at Minnewaska State Park for a challenge that’s as exhilarating as a roller coaster ride. With an elevation gain and loss of 1,100 feet, this trail is not for the faint of heart. You’ll find parking at the Upper Parking Area for a $10 entrance fee. As you conquer each ridge, you’re rewarded with valley views that’ll steal your breath away—views so stunning, you’ll want to frame them. It’s an adventure where each step feels like a personal triumph, and the panoramas are the cherry on top of an already glorious day. Ready to feel like you’re on cloud nine? This trail is your stairway to heaven!

Walkway Over the Hudson | Highland

Hudson Valley's most unique walkway over the Hudson River

This 3.2-mile journey across the Hudson River unfolds on a pedestrian bridge that is anything but ordinary. Offering stunning panoramic views, it’s a leisurely path that anyone can enjoy. The hike is a breeze with barely any elevation gain. And you’ll find convenient parking in areas such as Poughkeepsie, Washington St., Upper Landing Park, and Highland, NY. The best part? It’s absolutely free and welcomes visitors from all over. That’s true whether you’re a Hudson Valley local or a globetrotting tourist.

How to Get to the Hudson Valley Hiking Trails

Getting to the Hudson Valley hiking trails is a breeze. Most trails are easily accessible by car within a 3-hour drive from New York City, making them ideal for day trips or weekend getaways. If you don’t have a car, don’t worry. Public transportation is also a viable option for some hikes.

With its wide array of trails, each trail in the Hudson Valley is a distinct combination of natural splendor and historical fascination. It may very well leave you with the delightful dilemma of deciding which to explore first.

Best Towns in the Hudson Valley to Explore after Your Hiking Trip

Bench in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery

After a day of hiking, there’s nothing better than exploring the charming towns of the Hudson Valley. Each town offers its unique blend of charm and character.

And if you’re looking for a touch of history, don’t miss Hyde Park, the home of Franklin D. Roosevelt. If you prefer a base for your outdoor adventures, Phoenicia and Woodstock are your ideal destinations. No matter which town you choose to explore, you’re sure to find something that captures your heart in the Hudson Valley.

Cold Spring, NY

Hudson River near Cold Spring, New York

A quaint town located just 2 miles north of Indian Brook Falls, Cold Spring, NY, is a must-visit after your hiking trip. The town features:

  • West Point Foundry Preserve, where you can explore the remnants of a 19th-century ironworks

  • Unique shops where you can wander and explore

  • Charming restaurants where you can enjoy a delicious meal

Make sure to add Cold Spring to your itinerary for a memorable experience.

Cold Spring is the perfect place to relax and unwind after a day of hiking.

Beacon, New York

Mist on the Hudson River near Beacon, New York

Beacon, a hipster industrial town in Dutchess County, offers a vibrant mix of restaurants, bars, and shops along its Main Street. The town is also home to Beacon Falls, a must-see attraction that adds a touch of nature to your post-hike exploration.

Beacon’s lively atmosphere and stunning natural beauty make it a perfect destination for unwinding after a day on the trails.

New Paltz

Cliffs near Mohonk Mountain House in New Paltz, New York

New Paltz, New York, a funky, artsy town nestled in the Shawangunk Mountains, is an ideal base for outdoor adventures. The town offers hiking opportunities in Minnewaska State Park or Mohonk Preserve. It’s the perfect destination for combining your hiking adventures with a touch of culture.

After a day of hiking, you can explore the town’s unique shops, dine at one of its many restaurants, or simply enjoy the stunning mountain views.

Phoenicia

Shot along the Panther Mountain Trail in Phoenicia, NY

Phoenicia, a charming town nestled in the heart of the Catskill Mountains, is the ideal base for your outdoor adventures. The town offers many trails, perfect for hikers of all levels. After a day on the trails, you can indulge in some local cuisine at the Phoenicia Diner or enjoy a locally brewed beer at Woodstock Brewing.

Phoenicia is the perfect destination for those who want to immerse themselves in nature and enjoy the local culture.

Woodstock:

Village square in Woodstock, NY

For a touch of history and culture with hippie vibes, Woodstock is a must-visit. Known for its artistic charm, this town offers:

  • A vibrant arts scene

  • Quaint shops and galleries

  • Historic landmarks

  • Beautiful natural surroundings

Despite not hosting the famous 1969 Woodstock Music and Art Festival, Woodstock still retains its artistic charm to this day.

Whether you’re:

  • Exploring its unique shops

  • Enjoying a meal at one of its many restaurants

  • Or simply soaking in the town’s charming atmosphere

Woodstock is sure to be a memorable visit.

Tl;dr

The Bear Mountain Loop Trail offers thigh-burning climbs. And the Dover Stone Church provides a serene sanctuary. The Hudson Valley is akin to a hiker’s box of assorted chocolates—each trail is a unique sweet surprise. Whether you’re a seasoned veteran or a first-time hiker, the paths here are open books filled with natural splendor and historical whispers. They promise adventures that make your heart skip a beat. So, grab your boots and a sense of wonder, and step into the great outdoors of the Hudson Valley. Here, every step tells a story, and every view is worth a thousand words.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take to hike Kaaterskill Falls?

It takes about 20 minutes to hike to Kaaterskill Falls, following the yellow trail alongside Spruce Creek on your left. Enjoy the scramble and the stunning waterfall at the end of the trail!

What is the hardest place to hike?

Are you ready for an adventure that’ll make your legs quiver and your heart race? Look no further! Angel’s Landing in Zion National Park is where you’ll grip chains on a slender rock spine with drops that’ll make your head spin. Then there’s the Mist Trail to Half Dome in Yosemite National Park—this isn’t just a hike, it’s an epic scramble up a granite beast that dares you to look down. Over on Vancouver Island, the West Coast Trail awaits with its muddy paths and bear encounters, offering a marathon’s worth of rugged beauty. And for a humbling experience, the Grandview Trek in the Grand Canyon’s South Rim makes you feel like a tiny wanderer in a land of ancient giants. Each of these trails offers more than just a walk; they’re a dance with nature, complete with breathtaking encores.

How long is Fishkill Ridge trail?

The Fishkill Ridge trail is 8.1 miles long and offers beautiful views of the Hudson River. So, it’s quite a lengthy trail, but the scenery is definitely worth it!

What is the hardest hike in the Hudson Valley?

The hardest hike in the Hudson Valley is Breakneck Ridge. Its vertiginous rock scrambles will test your coordination and nerves, making it a challenging trek for hikers.

What are some of the best hiking trails in the Hudson Valley?

Oh, the trails of Hudson Valley, where every step tells a tale and every path sings a song. Take the Old Croton Aqueduct Trail, a place where history and nature intertwine beneath lush greenery. Then there’s the Bear Mountain Loop Trail, which offers a challenging climb rewarded by a summit view that’ll make your Instagram followers swoon with envy. Don’t overlook the Storm King Mountain Loop Trail, where you’ll stand tall and feel like royalty surveying the land. Each trail is a chapter from an adventure novel crafted by Mother Nature, featuring a lively cast of hikers, joggers, and woodland creatures. Whether you’re seeking inner peace or a break from urban life, Hudson Valley has the perfect trail with your name on it. So tie up those laces, pack your favorite treats, and get ready to share some stories with the local squirrels and birds!

 

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