I’ll kick this off by saying that hiking has not always been one my favorite activities. Let’s call a spade a spade: it’s just walking uphill. But as I’ve hiked more, I’ve come to appreciate not only the view from the top, but also the meditative process of taking in nature along the way.
While the Adirondacks and Catskill Mountains get the most press for hiking in New York (and rightfully so!), you don’t have to venture too far out of the city to get into nature. The Hudson Valley is a quick train ride away, and offers some really beautiful hiking spots — both for hardcore hikers and nature walkers alike. This is far from a comprehensive list, but here are some of my favorite hikes in the Hudson Valley.
Breakneck Ridge (Cold Spring)
I’ll preface this by saying that Breakneck Ridge is not for the faint of heart. If the name is not indication enough, it’s one of the hardest hikes in the Valley. It involves a lot of rock scrambling that borders on straight up rock climbing, so you’ll definitely want to make sure you’re wearing proper footwear before attempting it. That said, there are several summits along the way that will reward you with sweeping views of the Hudson River and the mountains across the way.
Length: 3.7-5.9 mile loop, depending on the trail you take.
Duration: Allow for at least four hours.
Mt. Taurus (Cold Spring)
If you’re not quite feeling up to hiking Breakneck Ridge, try its next-door neighbor instead. Mt. Taurus (also known as Bull Hill) is located right near Breakneck Ridge and while it’s not an easy hike, it doesn’t involve any rock scrambling. This is a medium-to-difficult hike that will make you work without actually killing you. There are also nice viewpoints along the way as well as an abandoned quarry, so you’ll see some cool sights even if you don’t make it all the way to the top.
Length: 3.6 miles, out and back.
Duration: 2-3 hours.
Ferncliff Forest Fire Tower (Rhinebeck)
Compared to the other hikes on the list, this is more of a nature walk. A nature walk that will leave you huffing and puffing, but a nature walk nevertheless. Simply follow the trail from the parking lot, and when you reach the pond, continue walking up the trail to your right. You’ll reach a fire tower that looks a little sketchy, but just climb up and don’t look down. The view from the top is really amazing, expanding across the Hudson River to the Catskill Mountains to the north. This hike is especially nice in the fall, but expect crowds during this time of year.
Length: 1.6 miles, out and back.
Duration: 1 hour.
Lake Minnewaska Loop Trail (Kerhonkson)
If you’re visiting the Hudson Valley in the fall, be sure to head to Lake Minnewaska. There are several different trails you can take, but the simplest one is the two-mile loop around the lake itself. The autumn foliage is stunning against the crystal clear water, and you are guaranteed to get several Instagram-worthy shots. It’s also a very easy hike, so most small kids will be able to handle this one without issue.
Length: 2 mile loop.
Duration: 1-2 hours, depending on how long you pause to take in the views.
Have you ever hiked in the Hudson Valley? What are some of your favorites?