Whether this season's fall foliage is brilliant or muted, depends upon where you view it. But either way, autumn is the ideal time to get outside to take a walk or simply admire a view. These 10 Hudson Valley destinations will more than do the trick, but be advised, they are also popular, so head out early or opt for an off time, such as a weekday.
Find info on the best fall foliage train trips, and suggestions for daytrips to upstate New York, where forecasters predict the leaf change will come a little earlier and be more dramatic than downstate.
New shuttle in the Adirondacks
For those heading to the Adirondacks, there's a new, free shuttle service for visitors that will run to several popular peeping sites. Shuttles will run the first two weekends in October from the Frontier Town Gateway in North Hudson to the Giant Mountain, Roaring Brook Falls, and Rooster Comb trailheads, as well as the Marcy Field Parking Area.
The October shuttle will operate on a loop Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 1 and 2, and Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, Oct. 8, 9 and 10 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Dogs are not permitted. Each shuttle can accommodate 20 riders and seating is available on a first come, first served basis. Find more info on the shuttle and routes at dec.ny.gov/lands/
Where to check out fall's beauty in the Hudson Valley
1. Innisfree Gardens, Millbrook
You might not think of a "garden" as the best place to view fall foliage, but this Millbrook property, which merges Modernist ideas with traditional Chinese and Japanese garden design principles, is spectacular in autumn. Go: Visit innisfree garden.org for schedule and fees. 362 Tyrrel Road, Millbrook.
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2. Schunnemunk Mountain State Park, New Windsor
Take a hike and reward yourself with a 360-degree view of the Hudson River, farmlands and parks at this 3,300-acre park, which features rolling meadows and mountain tops as well as eight marked trails for hikers. It extends from Cornwall through Woodbury, Blooming Grove, and Monroe. You will not be disappointed. Go: The park is open through daylight hours only. Schunnemunk Mountain State Park, 339 Otterkill Road, New Windsor; 845-351-5907; parks.ny.gov/parks/schunnemunk/details.
3. Walkway Over the Hudson State Historic Park, Poughkeepsie
You won't find a bad view of fall from wherever you stand on this pedestrian bridge, which connects Poughkeepsie and Highland: you can see trees for miles. Visit the bridge often to compare the color changes on both sides and bring your camera. Weather permitting, the Walkway is open daily from 7 a.m. until sunset, and pets are permitted on a leash. Go: Poughkeepsie entrance: 61 Parker Ave., Poughkeepsie, walkway.org.
4. Staatsburgh State Historic Site, Staatsburg
Admire the views of the Hudson River from the outside, then check out the inside of this historic site, which offers guided walks through the estate's grounds and tours of the mansion that was once home to the Mills family. The grounds are public and open when the site is open. Reservations are required for tours, Go: Staatsburgh State Historic Site, 75 Mills Mansion Drive (off Old Post Road), Staatsburg, 845-889-885; millsfriends.org.
5. Vanderbilt Mansion National Historic Site, Hyde Park
There's a reason Gilded Age financiers built their mansions along the Hudson River: they loved the views. Now the public can, too. Walk the grounds at this National Historic Site in Hyde Park and make sure to admire the breathtaking views from front and back. While you're there, check out Greg Wyatt’s sculptural portraits of Hudson River School artists Thomas Cole, Thomas Moran, Albert Bierstadt, and Sandford Gifford which are sited on the grounds as part of a new exhibit. Info on tree walks, trail maps and more is available on the website. Tours of the mansion are limited, offered Thursday through Sunday between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. by ticketed reservation. Go: The grounds are free and open daily until sunset. Entrance gates located at Vanderbilt Mansion National Historic Site, are closed 30 minutes prior to sunset. The grounds will continue to remain open to pedestrians until sunset. 4097 Albany Post Road, Hyde Park, 845-229-7770; nps.gov/vama/index.htm.
6. Mill Brook Covered Bridge, Margaretville
Also known as the Grants Mills Covered Bridge, it was originally constructed in 1902 over the Mill Brook, a single span of 66 feet. Owned and maintained by the Town of Hardenburgh, the structure carries pedestrian traffic. This bridge was rehabilitated in 1991 by one of the great-grandsons of the original builder. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1998. Go: The bridge at the intersection of Davis and Mill Brook roads in Margaretville. Note: While owned and maintained by the town Hardenburgh, which is in Ulster, the bridge's address is in Margaretville, which is in Delaware County.
7. Catskill Scenic By-Way, Phoenicia
If you prefer to get your views from a car window, this 52-mile long route follows NY-28 from Phoenicia to Andes (with extensions along NY-214 and NY-42) and offers mountain scenery, waterways, rolling farmland and more. Go: www.visitthecatskills.com
8. Bear Mountain State Park/Perkins Memorial Tower
During prime fall weekends, expect traffic, traffic, and more traffic in all the approaches to this state park. That said, if you can get there super early or swing a trip during the week, there is no finer vista of autumn than from the top of this tower, located at the top of Bear Mountain. You can hike up from the Bear Mountain Inn, or drive. Either way, you will be awe-struck by the views. Climb the stairs of the tower, erected in 1934 in memory of George W. Perkins, the founder and first president of the Palisades Interstate Park Commission, and you can see the Hudson Highlands and Harriman State Park, north to the Catskills and all the way south to the top of Manhattan’s skyscrapers. The drive is open through Nov. 30 only, weather permitting. Check parks.ny.gov/parks/13/details.aspx for updates.
9. Poet's Walk, Red Hook
Many marriage proposals have happened here. When you see the view and the colors of those mountains, what will you be inspired to do? Go: The park opens year-round daily at 8:30 a.m. and park closing times vary seasonally: Until Oct. 31, 7:30 p.m., from Nov. 1 to March 13, 6 p.m. Poet’s Walk, 776 River Road, Red Hook, www.scenichudson.org/parks/poetswalk.
10. Lyndhurst National Historic Site, Tarrytown
In addition to offering spectacular views across the Hudson the Palisades beyond, this expansive estate is home to magnificent specimen trees including beeches. Added incentives include the fact that the grounds, and some rooms in the Gothic Revival mansion were used as filming sites for the HBO series, "The Gilded Age," and the site offers interesting fall and Halloween related events and tours. Go: 635 South Broadway, Tarrytown. For hours, info on events, admission and more, go to lyndhurst.org
To be kept up-to-date on the leaves, visit the ILOVENY.com website and sign up for their weekly ‘Fall Foliage Newsletter’
Lisa Iannucci is a Hudson Valley freelance writer. Contact her at email@example.com.
Karen Croke contributed to this story, firstname.lastname@example.org
This article originally appeared on Poughkeepsie Journal: 10 spots to catch the fall colors in the Hudson Valley in 2022