The Hudson Valley is a hiker’s paradise. Although it is just one to two hours north of New York City, it is a world away in terms of what it has to offer. Scenic overlooks, rock scrambles, woodland strolls, and much more.
Skip straight to the best hikes in the Hudson Valley
Trails for hiking in the Hudson Valley range from easy strolls around the shores of lakes to challenging hikes that include scrambling up, over, under and around rocks and ledges and squeezing up narrow crevices, and everything in between.
Whether you are a beginner hiker or a hard-core trekker, or just someone who wants to have a fun day out in nature, there is a hike for you in the Hudson valley.
Hiking in Hudson Valley FAQs
Where are the trails?
There are several key areas with hiking trails. Hudson Valley, NY has the Shawangunks, which are especially famous for rock climbers, since the cliffs offer perfect climbing conditions. However, the surrounding Mohonk Preserve and Mohonk Mountain House have multiple trails all around the cliffs and woods. Nearby Minnewaska State Park also has plenty of trails, and a lovely lake. Scenic Hudson is an organization that manages several pockets of nature throughout the Valley, laced with trails.
Because many of these places have several trails, the trails are usually colored and marked with trail blazes or affixed markers. If you aren’t sure how to read these markers, check my Guide to Reading trail Markers before you set out.
How to get to the Hudson Valley hikes?
You really need a car to hike Hudson Valley because there is often no other way to get to the trails. If you don’t have a car of your own, you can rent a car online here. Before you book your car, read my guide on How to Save Money on Car Rental.
What do I need to know and need to take with me on hikes in the Hudson Valley?
If you are a beginner hiker, I recommend reading my Intro to Hiking and Beginners Guide to Hiking. Also, check out my Guide to Hiking Etiquette 101 so you don’t make any unintentional faux pas.
Even for short hikes, you should make sure you have appropriate clothing and gear (including adequate water) with you. Check my Essential Day Hike Packing List to make sure you have everything you need.
In addition, some other key things to take are:
I didn’t use hiking poles for a long time, but when I was doing the French Valley hike in Torres del Paine, a fellow hiker lent me his for the part of the hike and I became a convert. They were light and help stabilize me when I was on uneven ground and took some pressure of my knees when I was descending.
There are things you need to consider when choosing hiking poles including the weight, material, price, pole design, grips and straps, tips and shock absorbers durability. I like the Foxelli ones – they are lightweight, shock absorbent and collapsible with cork grip handles. Check prices on Amazon here.
I like to take binoculars with me when I hike. I am not a serious birdwatcher, but nonetheless, I use binoculars to see an interesting bird, a distant animal, or a view up close.
The best binoculars for the money are the Vortex Optics Diamondback 10×42 Roof Prism Binoculars. Check them out on Amazon here and read my detailed guide to buying the best binoculars for the money here.
For cheaper options, I have also written detailed buying guides for the best binoculars under $200 and the best binoculars under $100.
Good Hiking Boots/ Shoes or Sandals
Even if you are doing short hikes, good boots make a difference. If you are doing longer hikes or the rock scrambles, comfortable, well-fitting, boots with ankle support and a strong grip are essential.
I have written a detailed guide to the Best Hiking Shoes & Boots and the Best Hiking Sandals . If you’ll be hiking in the winter, you will need my Guide to the Best Winter Men’s Boots and Best Winter Women’s Boots.
The best of the best for comfort, durability and fit are:
Best Hiking Shoes
Best Hiking Boots
Best Hiking Sandals
Best Winter Hiking Boots
How much does it cost to hike in the Hudson Valley?
This depends on who owns/ runs the area you are hiking in. Some of the hikes listed here are free. Others you pay for a day pass or, if you will be hiking several times in a year, a season pass. Prices are listed for each of the Hudson Valley hikes described below.
Hike the Hudson Valley Map
The Best Hiking in Hudson Valley
There are so many candidates for the best hikes near NYC, but these are my personal favorites.
Black Creek Preserve
When hiking Hudson Valley, NY, you’ll notice that there are only a few trails that have direct access to the Hudson River. Black Creek Preserve is one of them. There are three connected fairly flat trails through the woods that end at the Hudson River with a small sandy beach and wonderful views.
Poets’ Walk is named after the poets who have been inspired by its beauty. It is a created landscape with Arts and Crafts pavilions, views of the Kingston-Rhinecliff bridge, and places to sit and enjoy the scenery. It’s easy to see why this is making it one of my picks for best hikes, Hudson Valley.
Shaupeneak Ridge Trails
Shaupeneak Ridge has several interconnected trails, all of which are easily some of the best Hudson Valley hikes. Hike to an overlook with a view of the river, walk around a lily-filled pond or walk through verdant fern gullies.
Bonticou Crag & Northeast Trail
Bonticou Crag is one of the best hikes in Hudson Valley and one of the most popular hikes in Mohonk Preserve. The hike offers stunning views and a fun rock scramble if you are up for it (or a less challenging path if you aren’t).
Minnewaska Lake Loop
The loop around Lake Minnewaska is one of my favorite hikes in the Hudson Valley. In spring it’s resplendent with pink mountain laurel, in fall it’s ablaze with fall foliage, and in summer there’s a beach to swim at.
High Peters Kill Trail
Another of the top Hudson Valley hikes, this trail, while strenuous, has four incredible viewpoints with sensational views over Minnewaska State Park and Mohonk Preserve.
Table Rocks Trail, Mohonk Preserve is an easy, but rewarding option for hiking the Hudson Valley that takes you through meadows that are typically covered in colorful wildflowers throughout the spring and summer, then into the woods and eventually to Table Rocks.
These enormous sloped slabs of rock are separated by deep crevices that you can easily walk over.
Stake your spot to have a picnic, enjoying sensational views of the Catskill Mountains.
Don’t miss the lovely mossy glen at the far end.
- Distance: 4 miles/ 6.4 km out and back
- Elevation change: 574 feet/ 175 meters
- Time: 1.5 hours
- Difficulty: Easy
- Trailhead: Spring Farm Trailhead
- Highlights: Wildflowers, large sloped rocks with views of the Catskill Mountains
- Fee: $15 day visitors. $60 annual membership is also available
- Open: Daily from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. for members and from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. for day-use visitors. Trailhead parking lots are closed and locked at 7 p.m.
Walkway Over The Hudson
This is a different take on hiking Hudson River Valley. The Walkway Over the Hudson is an easy walk over the longest elevated pedestrian bridge in the world. The bridge spans the Hudson River between Highland on the west bank and Poughkeepsie on the east bank, and runs parallel to the Mid-Hudson (traffic) bridge. It dates from 1889 when it was a rail bridge until a fire put it out of commission in 1974. In 2009 it was repaired and reopened as a pedestrian bridge.
There are parking lots on both sides and an elevator on the Poughkeepsie side that, when open, goes down to the waterfront.
It is an easy, basically flat walk. There are educational signs along the way, and amazing views of the river from 212 feet/ 64.5m above it, as well as the Hudson Highlands and the Catskill Mountains in the distance. There is no shade, of course, so I recommend doing this walk on a cloudy day.
My favorite thing to do (when the elevator is open) is to park on the Highland side, walk across the bridge, take the elevator down to the river, and walk a short distance to a riverside restaurant. Then, after a leisurely lunch, do the whole thing in reverse.
Even if that isn’t possible, walking across the Hudson River is worth it for the experience and the views. The bridge is ADA handicapped accessible.
- Distance: 2.56 miles/ 4.1 km out and back
- Elevation change: 66 feet/ 20 m
- Time: 1 hour
- Difficulty: easy
- Highland entrance: 87 Haviland Road Highland
- Poughkeepsie entrance: 61 Parker Avenue, Poughkeepsie
- Upper Landing Park (Elevator Entrance): 83 N. Water St., Poughkeepsie
- Highlights: Views of the Hudson River, Catskill Mountains and the Hudson Highlands
- Fee: Free
- Open: 7:00am – sunset. Elevator is open when health safety permits 9:00am until 90 minutes before closing. Check their website for exact hours and elevator opening/closing.
Breakneck Ridge Trail
Easy access from NYC, a vertical rock scramble and stunning views of the Hudson River and Hudson Highlands make this perhaps the most popular hike in the Hudson Valley.
The bulk of this trail is a very challenging vertical rock scramble. It is not the faint-hearted or those with a fear of heights. Much of the hike is open to steep drop offs and requires you to choose careful handholds and footholds in order to leverage upwards.
The first part goes up to an area with a flagpole. You may think you are done, but you are not. Keep climbing. When you come to the yellow Undercliff Trail, the most extreme of the ascents are behind you.
The shortest loop back is to take the red trail to your left. This takes you to the yellow Wilkinson Memorial Trail (left, downhill). This emerges on the road, from where it is a short walk back to the trailhead.
You can drive, but many New Yorkers take the train there. It’s an 80-minute ride on Metro North from Grand Central. On weekends and holidays, the train stops at the Breakneck Ridge stop (use the last carriage). Other times, you need to get off in Cold Spring (a cute town worth a visit). It is a short hike from there.
- Distance: 3 miles / 4.8 km (4.2 miles/ 6.8 km or 5.5 miles / 8.9 km for longer loops)
- Elevation change: 1,442 feet / 440 m
- Time: 3.5 hours
- Difficulty: Difficult/ strenuous
- Trailhead: Breakneck Ridge Trailhead (use this link – don’t follow GPS to Lake Surprise Road. This is a private road). The trailhead is near the 9D highway tunnel.
- Highlights: Vertical rock scramble for the first mile; views of the Hudson River, Storm King Mountain and other Hudson Highlands peaks, and West Point Academy.
- Fee: Free
- Open: The trail is part of Hudson Highlands State Park. Trail always open
- It isn’t recommended to take dogs on this trail due to the vertical rock scramble.
- Avoid this if the rocks are wet – it can be very dangerous
Labyrinth & Lemon Squeezer
The Labyrinth is a well-named rock scramble at Mohonk Mountain House. It involves clambering over rocks, climbing narrow wooden ladders, crawling under low overhangs and squeezing between large boulders.
The final section is called the Lemon Squeezer because it involves ascending a narrow crevice and then pulling yourself up several feet through a crack in the rocks.
This is a highly interactive and challenging rock scramble that is incredible fun, but should not be attempted by those with a fear of heights.
The views at the top are sensational – topped only by even better views when you climb the 100-step Sky Top Tower for 360° vistas over Mohonk Lake, the Mohonk Preserve and the Hudson Valley beyond.
The descent is via a much tamer wide trail past several ‘summerhouse’ gazebos perched on the edge of the cliff overlooking the fantastical Mohonk Mountain House hotel below.
Because the rock scramble is on private hotel property, you need to pay for a day hiking pass. It is not cheap, but is worth it! There are several other trails on the property, so you can make a whole day of it (or couple it with a day spa or brunch/ lunch).
- Distance: 0.5 miles/ 800 m labyrinth – 2 miles/ 3.2 km loop returning via Sky Top Trail
- Elevation change: 300 feet/ 91 m
- Time: 45 minutes labyrinth plus about 20 minutes to descend via Sky Top Path
- Difficulty: Difficult
- Trailhead: Labyrinth Trailhead near Mohonk Mountain House
- Highlights: Rock scramble, views of Mohonk Preserve and the Hudson Valley, views of the Victorian-era Mohonk Mountain House
- Fee: $29 adults/ $24 children for day hiking pass
- Open: 7:00am – dusk
- There can be ice on the rocks though to late spring. Check at the Mountain house before attempting
- Wear shoes with good grip/ traction
Do you have any other favorite hikes in the Hudson Valley? I’d love to hear about them. Comment below.
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About the author
Ian James is a Hudson Valley local. He’s been to 82 countries and all 7 continents, but there is truly no place like home and he loves to spend weekends and staycations continuing to discover all that the Hudson Valley has to offer.
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