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Hudson Valley Parks: 10 Beautiful & Popular Parks

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* UPDATE: (4-16-2020) Many of the most popular trails/parks/preserves in the Hudson Valley have closed during the COVID-19 crisis.
Parking restrictions are also in place at many trailheads/parks/preserves.
It is recommended that visitors stay home during this crisis, which is absolutely the safest choice.

UPDATED 5-23-2020

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. I’ve started doing some walking exercises at home in order to build my stamina and I’ve seen an improvement already.

With so many Hudson Valley Parks, it is tough to choose where to go first.

Chairs at a popular Hudson Valley Parks

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 jam-packed with 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
  • Waterfalls
  • Scenic views
  • Picnic areas
  • Historical properties & ruins
  • Shorelines, Riverviews, and Mountains
Hudson River view while on Ferry to Bannerman Castle and Tour
Long Dock Park, Beacon, NY

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
  • Many 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)

Paddleboats on Hessian Lake at Bear Mountain State Park
Paddleboats at Bear Mountain State Park

[MANY ROADS AROUND BEAR MOUNTAIN STATE PARK ARE CLOSED]
*Seven Lakes Drive is still open.

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.

Read my post all about the activities at Bear Mountain State Park

West Point Foundry Preserve (Putnam Co)

Hiking at the Bear Mountain Zoo

Take a hike along the grounds of what was once a major American ironwork and machine shop site. Located in Cold Spring, NY, it operated from 1818 – 1911.

Open year-round, West Point Foundry Preserve is a beautiful place and is called an “outdoor museum”. It is maintained by Scenic Hudson. It’s 90+ acre offer beautiful wooded areas and house ruins of foundry buildings.

Catskill State Park (Greene Co)

This enormous state park covers areas within Delaware, Greene, Sullivan and Ulster Counties. Catskill Forest Preserve is located within Catskill State Park.

Catskill State Park has great hiking trails, running trails, mountain biking trails and more.

Kensico Dam Plaza (Westchester Co)

Kensico Dam Plaza – Courtesy of Wikipedia

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.

Black Creek Preserve (Ulster Co)

Sign located at Esopus Park
Espous Lighthouse Park near the Black Creek Preserve

Right off of Route 9W, this nature preserve is located near Esopus, NY. Attracting hikers of all skill levels, the Black Creek Preserve is best known for a suspension bridge that crosses the Black Creek.

Bordering the banks of the Hudson River, with outstanding views. It is a favorite place for families with kids.

Orange County Arboretum (Orange Co)

Tree and bench located at the Orange County Arboretum in Montgomery, NY
Orange County Arboretum
Fountain and flowers with statue at Orange County Arboretum
Orange County Arboretum

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 the tragedy of September 11th.

Read my post about my visit to Orange County Arboretum

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)

Shodack Island State Park – Courtesy of Wikipedia

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 so 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)

Washington ParkCourtesy of Wikipedia

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.

There are 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.

Swans at the bear mountain state park

How can you enjoy the parks without actually visiting them?

What do you do if you can’t physically visit any New York State Parks?

You can easily take 360 degree virtual tours of your favorite local and not-so-local New York State parks by visiting: http://nystateparkstours.com/.

A few of the parks showcased on this site include:

  • Niagara Falls
  • Buttermilk Falls
  • Watkins Glen
  • Bear Mountain
  • and 127 more New York State Parks

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
  • Multi-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.

Long Dock Park, Beacon

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.

Sunset View of the Hudson River from Bannerman Castle
Hudson River from Bannerman Island

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

OTHER POSTS YOU MAY ENJOY:

> Bear Mountain State Park Activities that everyone will love
> Why Orange County Arboretum is the best place to visit in Orange County

Sharing is Caring!
When visiting local attractions, be sure to tell them that you found them on Hudson Valley Exposed

Where to Next?

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.

Map of places in the Hudson Valley
Map Key for the Hudson Valley Exploring Map

Until the Next Adventure…

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Learn all about the Hudson Valley Parks that are both beautiful and popular. Things to do in Hudson Valley | Hudson Valley, NY | Hudson Valley NY Places | New York | New York State

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About Author

Jackie is the HV blogger behind Hudson Valley Exposed, featuring the hottest things to do, places to see and weekend getaways. Get information from a local who is seeing it all! She lives in the Mid-Hudson Valley Region with her hubby, kids, and doggies.