10 best places to take a hike

The scenic Hudson Valley is a prime location for outdoor recreational adventures. Our region’s parks offer countless trails for hiking, biking or even leisurely walks. This month, pack a lunch, gather the kids and get ready to explore your own backyard.


At the end of your day out, don’t forget to do a tick check! Check the head and hairline, behind the ears, underarms, groin, knees and elbows. For more tips visit www.stopticks.org.

Bear Mountain State Park

Rte. 9W, Bear Mountain. 845-786-2701; www.nysparks.us

Bear Mountain State Park features miles of hiking trails with some of the most breathtaking views of the Hudson River you’ll find. Let your kids discover the wonder of nature on the park’s nature trails, or wander down to the zoo for an afternoon of adventure. If you’re looking for a quiet day in the woods, this isn’t it, but the park has lots of options besides hiking, including a beautiful Merry-Go Round, playground, pool, and boat rentals.


Black Rock Forest

Rte. 9W, Cornwall. 845-534-4517; www.blackrockforest.org

Northwest of West Point, Black Rock Forest has marked and unmarked trails ranging from short walks to long hikes. First-time visitors will find maps and other materials available at the parking lot on the southbound lane of 9W. This is not an excursion for very young walkers, unless mom or dad are willing to carry or have a backpack. Older kids will enjoy the outing.


Black Creek Forest Preserve

Winding Brook Acres Rd. (off Rte. 9W), Esopus. 845-473-4440; www.scenichudson.org

Entering this 130-acre nature preserve via a 120-foot suspension footbridge over the Black Creek may seem intimidating, but the journey is well worth the initial push over a fairly steep hill. Marked trails through the woods take visitors more than two miles right to the Hudson River. Bring a picnic so you can rest and watch boats and tugs glide by. You can either return the way you came or take an alternative (but similar length) route.


Sam’s Point Preserve

400 Sam’s Point Rd., Cragsmoor. 845-647-7989; www.nature.org

This 5,000-acre preserve in the northern Shawangunk Mountains has a great information center to help you get acquainted with the area you’ll be exploring. Trails lead to a spectacular, almost panoramic view at Sam’s Point. If the kids are up to it, continue on to Verkeerderkill Falls and the famous Ice Caves (open seasonally and not appropriate for little hikers).


Historic Hyde Park Trail


By walking all or parts of the Historic Hyde Park Trail your children will not only get some exercise but a sense of Hudson Valley history and heritage as well. More than ten miles of trails link the beautiful historic sites that line the Hudson River in Dutchess County, including the Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Site, Vanderbilt Mansion, Eleanor Roosevelt’s Val-Kill, Hackett Hill Town Park, Pinewoods Town Park, and Riverfront Town Park. The grounds are open and free to explore year round, but for a more in-depth look into the Hudson Valley’s past you can register for a tour at each historic site and discover up-close our area’s rich legacy.


Harlem Valley Rail Trail

Wassaic to Millerton. 518-789-9591; www.hvrt.org

The Harlem Valley Rail Trail has been transformed into a linear park from what was once the New York and Harlem Railroad that was built in 1852. Now, more than thirty miles of trail in two sections provides a scenic path through Dutchess County’s lush landscape. Whether your child is old enough for a long hike or only a short stroll, the Rail Trail is a perfect place for a family excursion. If the kids would rather roll along, bring along the bikes for a ride on this paved trail.


Clausland Mountain Park

10 Nike Lane, Upper Nyack. 845-359-5100

This sprawling park in Upper Nyack covers more than 500 acres of natural wildlife and stunning terrain. Not only are there a plethora of hiking trails but there is also a long path hiking trail, natural trails, geological studies and scenic vistas. Pack a lunch and some good hiking boots and let your child take in this natural environment. Try and identify with your child all of the different trees and animals around the park to make your hike an educational adventure.


Blauvelt State Park

East Greenbush Rd., Blauvelt. 845-359-0544

Hike the trails at Blauvelt State Park to get spectacular views of the Hudson Valley. There are trails for all different levels – some can be easy strolls for the younger kids or more difficult climbs for those who are a little bit older. The park is undeveloped, so your family will really get a sense of nature in its simplest form.


Basha Kill Wildlife Management Area

Haven Rd., Wurtsboro. www.thebashakill.org

Go for a different kind of hike through the Basha Kill Wildlife Management Area and see the many types of animal life that inhabit the wetlands. Try and catch a glimpse of a bald eagle or wild turkey, or even colorful plant life and rare fish such as the Sea Lamprey and Bowfin. Your child will love seeing the different surroundings of Basha Kill that they won’t see in their own backyard.


Minisink Battleground Park

County Rd. 168, off Rte. 97, Highland. 845-794-3000, ext. 5002; www.minisink.org/minisinkbattle.html

The site of one of few battles fought in the Hudson Valley during the Revolutionary War, the Minisink Battleground Park offers hiking trails and walking paths but also picnic areas, pavilions and an Interpretative Center. Take a self-guided tour through the park to discover what the Battle of Minisink must have been like for American soldiers during the Revolutionary War. Visit the Minisink website to find the full history of the Battle of Minisink and share it with your children before you go!

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