It’s hard to believe that it’s already fall, and leaf-peeping season is in full swing. Sadly, it will be over before we know it here in NYC and the Hudson Valley. Before we settle into the cold, dark days of winter, though, there is still plenty of time to enjoy the great outdoors. If you’re looking for your next outdoor adventure, check out one of these great spots below!
#1 Bannerman Castle
Situated on an island in the middle of the Hudson River, Bannerman Castle was once used by a man named Francis Bannerman to store his massive inventory of weapons, gunpowder, and other generally explosive materials (after it was deemed unsafe for him to continue to store them in Manhattan!) A massive explosion in the early 1900s blew apart one side of the castle, but much of the beautiful structure still remains. Today, you can visit the island for public tours, arriving either by the tour boat or on your own boat! Tours depart from Beacon, NY every weekend through October. Tour info.
#2 Croton Gorge Park
The Croton Reservoir once supplied NYC with much of its fresh drinking water, delivering it to the city via the Old Croton Aqueduct. At Croton Gorge Park, you can walk atop the 200-foot tall Croton Dam and take in the beauty of the reservoir, which still provides about 10% of NYC’s drinking water today. From the park you can also access the Croton Aqueduct Trail, a 26-mile trail that traces the path the aqueduct followed to NYC before it was taken out of use in the 1960s. Open daily from 8:00 am to dusk, year-round.
#3 Mohonk Mountain House
With 85 miles of hiking trails and a fairy-tale castle, the Mohonk Mountain House is the perfect Hudson Valley fall getaway. Located in New Paltz, NY, the Mohonk Mountain House welcomes both overnight guests as well as day guests who may only want to take advantage of the spa, golf course, or nearby trails. Day guests don’t have access to the inside of the Mountain House, but you really can’t beat the views of it from outside! Visit the Mohonk Mountain House website to book an overnight stay. Day passes must also be purchased in advance.
#4 Walkway Over the Hudson
In Poughkeepsie, NY, you will find the world’s longest elevated pedestrian bridge, the Walkway Over the Hudson. What is now the Walkway was once a railroad bridge that was the longest bridge in the world when it opened in 1889. A fire destroyed the tracks in 1974, and in 2009 the bridge was converted into what is now the 212-foot high, 1.28-mile long Walkway Over the Hudson. The Walkway is handicap accessible and open to both pedestrians and cyclists (and dogs!) The Walkway is free of charge and open 7 am to sunset, weather pending. Check the website daily for weather updates.
#5 Kaaterskill Falls
Kaaterskill Falls is a 260-foot tall two-tier waterfall located in Haines Falls, NY. A popular hiking destination in the warmer months (and especially beautiful in the fall), Kaaterskill Falls is an enjoyable place to visit in the winter, too! We visited the falls during our February 2020 trip to Kingston, NY and found them completely covered in ice, so this is a fine activity to consider even once the trees have completely shed their leaves. Kaaterskill Falls can only be accessed from the Laurel House Road and Scutt Road parking areas at this time.
#6 Five Locks Walk
Another great stop on our Kingston, NY trip was at the Five Locks Walk in High Falls, NY. Here you can follow a 1-mile trail along the remains of five locks from the old D&H Canal, which once connected the Delaware and Hudson Rivers. If you visit by the end of October, you can also stop by the nearby canal museum which is open 10am – 4:30pm for the rest of the month. The Five Locks Walk path is free of charge and open year-round from dawn to dusk. The museum is open May-October.
#7 Storm King Art Center
The Storm King Art Center sprawls across 550 acres in Cornwall, NY, which is located about an hour and a half from NYC. Founded in 1960, the Center is surrounded by rolling hills and mountains, which are especially beautiful in autumn when the beautiful fall colors light up the landscape. In addition to enjoying the sculptures, you can explore the hiking trails in the neighboring woods, too. Storm King is presently open Wednesday-Monday (closed Tuesday) from 10:00 am to 5:30 pm. You must reserve tickets in advance.
#8 Opus 40
Set on 6.5 acres in a backyard in Saugerties, NY, the Opus 40 sculpture is the product of one man’s creativity and many, many years of hard work. Designed by Harvey Fite, an actor and one of the founders of Bard College’s fine arts department, the Opus 40 sculpture was carved by Fite himself over the course of nearly 40 years. Today, you can walk on top of and within the sculpture and enjoy a quiet stroll in the surrounding woods. Open Thursdays through Mondays from 11 AM to 5 PM. You must reserve tickets in advance.
#9 Innisfree Garden
Innisfree Garden is located at the former country home of Walter and Marion Beck in Millbrook, NY. The Becks had an interest in Asian art, which is where they gained inspiration for the design of their garden. More specifically, Innisfree Garden was modeled after the 8th-century garden of Wang Wei, a Chinese poet, painter, and garden maker whose work Walter Beck particularly admired. Explore the lovely garden and then take the 1.3-mile circuit around the tranquil lake. Innisfree Garden will be open Wednesday through Sunday through November 1st, 2020. Advance reservations are required.
#10 Untermyer Park and Gardens
Untermyer Park and Gardens is situated atop a hill in Yonkers, NY at the site of the former Greystone estate, which included a 99-room mansion built in the 1860s. Though the mansion no longer exists (it was demolished in 1948), you can imagine how wonderfully situated it must have been on the hill, with sweeping views of the Palisades across the Hudson River. Today, the property is a public city park, free for all to enjoy! Open 11 AM to 5 PM on Friday, Saturday and Sunday by reservation. Tickets are released each Tuesday for the upcoming weekend.