Fall foliage and hiking are two of the things the Hudson Valley does best. In between the farms and orchards, the map is filled with hiking trails that meander through scenic mountains, valleys, and riversides nearly all covered in trees.
With over 20 different species of tree, a riot of colors, shapes, scents, and textures awaits boot-clad day hikers. But you only have a limited time to experience the colors of fall. Which of these autumnal pathways will you hit?
The best trails show off New York's brilliant array of arboreal life and more. With views for days, waterfalls, rivers, and caves, these are the trails that are worth the drive.
These two hikes have some the best views around. Trails may be crowded on the outset but usually thin out as you get past the first scenic overlooks.
This forest is dotted with hemlocks, sugar maples, oaks, mountain laurel and more. Leaf peepers can start on the 1.75 mile hike up Overlook Trail with expansive views of the Hudson River. It drops you off at a lookout point with sweeping northeast views of the Mid-Hudson Bridge and Walkway, almost into Pouchkeepsie.
Keep your heartrate up by following the connected White Trail, which loops Lambs Hill and Bald Hill in one direction or traverses a creek in the other. For a short, quick hike with a big payoff, walk the .8 mile up the steep Casino Trail to the top of Mount Beacon and find the tower where on a clear day you can see the skyline of Manhattan.
This trail was built for long haulers. It's a 9-mile or so out and back that usually requires two cars (to avoid turning it into an 18-miler) that's worth the extra effort. It takes about a mile and a half to get up the ridge with a kaleidoscope of blazing golds, crimsons, and ambers that dazzle you from the east and the west. The trail along the top is pretty steady but dips down to cross streams and rises back up to remix the views.
Seeing autumn through the eyes of your child is nothing short of nostalgic, but shorter legs may need shorter hikes and more to keep them entertained. These parks radiate in fall colors have a variety of trail features to make it easier to introduce your little ones to the joy of hiking in the fall.
This park that falls along the Shawangunk Mountain Ridge is built for active families. There are over 50 miles of trails for every level. Gertrude's Nose is a stunning 7-mile loop, mostly along the ridge with dramatic autumnal views of the valley as well as a creepy cave (where you might even see ice crystals), but you can just as well sign up for a flat 2-mile hike on a carriage road surrounded by the hardwoods of Lake Minnewaska or a quick mile jaunt to the Awosting Falls (it's relatively flat).
You're never too far from where you parked the car in this park, but you can be transported away in just a few steps. The shortest trail is a tree-lined quarter mile, and drops you off at a point with similar expansive views as harder-to-reach overlooks in the area. There are two more woodsy trails with Hudson River views you can accomplish in less than two miles, or you can wow your kids by taking the 4.5-mile Loop Trail that traverses the river where you can see the carpet of changing leaves on both banks.
Hiking in the fall isn't quite the same as in the summer.
The Hudson Valley has some of the best fall hiking in the U.S. and Karl Family Farms is lucky is located in between two of the best areas. The same land our cattle range freely on extends from the pasture to these mountains. We can't help but feel connected and want to explore. We hope you do too.