* AS OF MARCH 16TH, GOVERNOR CUOMO HAS WAIVED ALL PARK FEES AT ALL HUDSON VALLEY PARKS AND ACROSS NEW YORK STATE UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE
I’m going to let you know a little secret about me that no one knows: I would love to become a hiker and visit and hike the majority of Hudson Valley Parks.
But there is one little problem with that plan. I’m NOT a hiker and am not a big fan of exercise in general.
So my plan now is to start visiting parks and slowly work my way into hiking.
With so many Hudson Valley Parks, it is tough to choose where to go first.
Each offers something unique and exciting.
This is why I created this list of ten popular parks in the Hudson Valley that you should put on your must-visit list!
If you’re looking for a more extensive list of Hudson Valley Parks, sign up for access to my Hudson Valley Directory. Here is where you will find a full database full of things to do in the Hudson Valley.
If you’re planning to take a morning or a full day to explore a wonderful Hudson Valley Park, here is what you can expect to find during your visit:
- Forest Trails
- Scenic views
- Picnic areas
- Historical properties & ruins
- Shorelines, Riverviews, and Mountains
The landscape in the Hudson Valley can vary more than people might expect, from the beautiful mountain region to amazing lakes and, you can’t forget about views of the Hudson River.
New York State has recognized many of these magnificent places at state parks, along with some unique historical sites. These historical sites will impress anyone who comes to visit them.
How many Hudson Valley Parks are there?
Not including local/community parks, the Hudson Valley boasts:
- 1 State Forest
- 18 State Parks
- National Historic Sites that have open spaces
With so many choices, it’s no wonder that Hudson Valley Parks are one of the favorite places tourists come to visit.
What can you do at Hudson Valley Parks?
Bring your bike, running/jogging shoes, kayak, canoe, snowshoes and/or skis. Bring a picnic and enjoy the day at any one of these exquisite parks.
10 Popular Hudson Valley Parks
Below are just a few popular parks in the Hudson Valley Region:
Bear Mountain State Park (Rockland Co)
This location is worth repeating (See Rockland County). For a parking fee, you can enjoy what Bear Mountain State Park has to offer. Some activities may charge an additional fee (Pool, Merry-Go-Round, & Boat/Paddle Boat Rentals). The Trailside Museum & Zoo is free (suggested donation of $1 per person). There is plenty of space to hike, bike ride and picnic when visiting this wonderful state park.
Constitution Marsh Audubon Center (Putnam Co)
Take a short hike and walk along the boardwalk to view the splendor of the Hudson River with a visit to Constitution Marsh Audubon Center in Garrison, NY. Open year-round, this is a great place for some photo ops but a quick visit is recommended as parking is limited and this is a popular place during the warmer months.
Kaaterskill Falls (Greene Co)
Explore a two-stage waterfall located in the Eastern Catskill Mountains with a hike to Kaaterskill Falls, in Hunter, NY. The waterfalls are one of America’s oldest tourist attractions and has been the subject of paintings, books, essays and poems of the early 19th century. It’s a popular ‘Instagram’ spot, but the hike itself, although short, is not an easy one.
Kensico Dam (Westchester Co)
Kensico Dam forms the Kensico Reservoir. Open year-round, the Dam and park area is a unique area to visit if you are ever in Valhalla, NY. It hosts special ticketed events throughout the year, such as Westchester Winter Wonderland and Fourth of July Festivities, as well as, several cultural events. It is the site of “The Rising”, a September 11th Memorial.
Mohonk Preserve (Ulster Co)
This nature preserve is located on the famous Shawangunk Ridge. Attracting hikers and rock climbers from all around, the Mohonk Preserve is a favorite spot for many. Other activities that you can do on the trails are cycling, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, & horseback riding. The Visitors Center is the hub of the preserve and is open year-round. It offers information and exhibits. The trails in the immediate area of the Visitor’s Center & the Butterfly Garden are open to the public for free. Land further out of the Visitor’s Center are accessible with a day pass or membership.
Orange County Arboretum (Orange Co)
Open year-round, the Orange County Arboretum, located in Montgomery, is situated in the County’s Thomas Bull Memorial Park. This arboretum showcases spectacular raised gardens, many pathways connecting the gardens and more. The Remembrance Walkway & Garden is a memorial of September 11th
Poets’ Walk (Dutchess Co)
Take in the views and become inspired by Poets’ Walk Park in Red Hook, NY. Open year-round, this 120-acre park offers amazing views of the Hudson River and Catskill Mountains, as well as, wooden benches meant to evoke creativity in all who visit. In addition, you can hike from the Pavilion, to the Summerhouse and then the Flagpole. This is a great place for walking, picnicking, wildlife watching, & dog walking.
Schodack Island State Park (Rensselaer Co)
Enjoy seven miles of Hudson River and Schodack Creek, and a portion of the park shelters a Bird Conservation Area (BCA) that is home to bald eagles. Open year-round, this over 1,000-acre site offers trails, campsites, bike trail, volleyball nets, and s much more. Schodack Island State Park is a great place to spend the day, and don’t forget your picnic.
Taconic State Park – Copake Falls (Columbia Co)
Discover a state park that is within an area of protected open space spanning three states. This vast piece of land known as the Taconic State Park, located in Copake Falls, attracts many hikers & campers. There are 45 tent sites, 25 tent platforms, 36 trailer sites, and 18 cabin sites (Seasonal/For an Additional Fee). As the oldest state park in the Taconic Region, visitors love to walk, hike, & bike over to the Massachusetts border. You can also find the Copake Iron Works Museum here. In the winter, you can enjoy skiing, snowshoeing and snowmobile trails.
Washington Park (Albany Co)
Catch a festival at Washington Park in Albany, NY. This magnificent 80+ acre park embodies many of the same attributes of Central Park in NYC. It has monuments, a fountain, and memorials. Open year-round, this is a popular location to play tennis, basketball, boccie, volleyball, and handball. Ice skating is allowed on Washington Park Lake, weather permitting.
What is New York State Empire Pass?
New York State has a magnificent park pass called the “Empire Pass”. For an annual fee, people who hold the Empire Pass have access fun at all New York State Parks, all season long.
You can choose from several options, such as:
- One Season
- Lifetime Access
This seasonal pass can be shared with an entire household and is not car-specific. That makes it easier to enjoy NY State & Hudson Valley Parks and what they have to offer.
How do I get an Empire Pass?
You can order an Empire Pass either online or at a New York State Park. You can pay by cash, credit card, check or money order.
How much does an Empire Pass cost?
A 2020 Empire Pass costs $80 per season.
A 2020 Multi-Season Empire Pass costs are as follows:
– 3-season pass is $205
– 5-season pass is $320
The cost for a Lifetime Pass is a one-time payment of $750 (2020 price).
Because some of the New York State Parks charge an entrance fee, the Empire Pass covers that fee for the duration of the plan you purchase.
What others are saying about Hudson Valley Parks
According to TripAdvisor, people are saying the following great things about Hudson Valley Parks:
“Packed some food and drinks and took the entire family for a fun day in the sun. The place is nice and clean and absolutely peaceful. Has a lake you can rent a pedal boat and just chill in the water or race with the kids.” (Bear Mountain State Park)
“This is a beautiful place to visit. The beach is clean and the grounds are beautiful. The foliage is getting there but not peak yet.” (Taconic State Park – Copake Falls)
“Went to Poets Walk Park in Red Hook NY. Nice easy hike through flowered fields and shade trees. Beautiful Hudson River views.” (Poets’ Walk)
TIPS FOR AN AMAZING VISIT TO HUDSON VALLEY PARKS:
> Check the weather before your outing.
> Pack essentials in the car before heading to your destination.
> Dress for the weather and in layers, if it’s on the chillier side
> Confirm availability of activities available at the park before you go
> Comfortable shoes is always a must, as well as, sunblock for sunny days
Sharing is Caring!
When visiting local attractions, be sure to tell them that you found them on Hudson Valley Exposed!
Explore My Hudson Valley Map
My interactive map features all of the attractions, parks, museums and businesses I’ve personally visited and written about to date. The blog posts written about each location are linked within the corresponding pin.
Be sure to zoom in and/or out in order to see all the locations.
Until the Next Adventure…
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