Hudson Valley Fall Foliage Guide:
The Best Views, What to Do & What to Pack
Leaf peeping Time or the enjoyment of the Hudson River Valley Fall Foliage Season is a favorite activity around these parts. Seeing the red leaves, orange leaves and yellow leaves makes many people very happy.
You can feel the buzz in our typically quiet small town as people flock up north to see the fall colors and participate in apple picking season.
When I began taking Weekend trips to different areas of the Hudson Valley and upstate New York, I never really thought about how many places actually exist in the area to view the vibrant colors of peak foliage in this beautiful area of the United States.
The Fall Season or Autumn Season can be tricky around these parts. Some years we have what my mother used to call ‘Indian Summer’ and other years, it has snowed in October. So the best way to approach an outing to see spectacular fall foliage is by being prepared.
Most importantly, though, where is the Best Hudson Valley Fall Foliage and the Best Hudson Valley Events during this wonderful time of the year?
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- When does the Hudson Valley Fall Foliage Change begin to happen?
- Tips for the Perfect Hudson Valley Fall Foliage Outing
- Before you begin your Hudson Valley Fall Foliage Outing
- The Best Hudson Valley Fall Foliage Locations
- Weather during Hudson Valley Fall Foliage Season
- Essential Packing List for a Weekend of Hudson Valley Fall Foliage Adventures
When does the Hudson Valley Fall Foliage Change begin to happen?
We notice the days getting shorter and shorter and the nighttime chill is beginning to settle in on us and that just means one thing in the Hudson Valley: It’s the annual preparation for the Hudson Valley Autumn season and the beginning of Hudson Valley Fall Foliage time.
The color change of Autumn leaves begin to happen and people throughout New England, including New York start preparing for the season by researching the best spots to see peak color.
Hudson Valley Fall Foliage Reports Through the ‘I Love NY’ Website
The ILOVENY.com website has a great ‘Fall Foliage Newsletter’ that’s sent out weekly during the season to keep everyone up-to-date on the changing of the leaves in the entirety of New York State.
This is probably the best way to keep tabs on the mix of peak and non-peak foliage area from New York City to Long Island to Niagara Falls. The good news is you can sign up for it right on their website.
You can also apply to become an Official Volunteer Leaf Peeper for your area in New York State. How cool is that? Each week you would submit a report to I Love NY detailing what the leaf conditions are in your area.
Hudson Valley Fall Foliage Reports Through SmokyMountains.com
SmokyMountains.com estimates the changing of the leaves for the entire United States, not just the Hudson Valley.
Since this tool is just an estimate, you can use it as a guide to not only check for peak weekends in the Hudson Valley, but also in neighboring states, such as Connecticut and New Jersey.
According to their website, the Hudson Valley should start seeing minimal change beginning the week of September 14th and we should be near peak and peak times by October 5th.
Tips for the Perfect Hudson Valley Fall Foliage Outing
Before we dive into the best spots to see the Hudson Valley Fall Foliage in the following areas:
- Lower Hudson Valley (Westchester County, Putnam County, Rockland County),
- Mid-Hudson Valley (Orange County, Dutchess County, Ulster County)
- Central New York (Albany County, Columbia County, Delaware County, Greene County, Sullivan County) and
- Upper New York (Finger Lakes Region, Adirondack Mountains, Cayuga Lake, Lake George, Lake Placid)
Here are a few tips for you. Whether you are going for the day or a weekend getaway, these tips are vital for success.
Before you begin your Hudson Valley Fall Foliage Outing
#1: Check the weather
Check out how the weather will be before you plan your outing.
I have made the mistake several times of leaving the house without checking the weather and regretted not being prepared (colder than usual/ warmer than usual/wet weather). Check out my list below for essentials that I always have with me.
#2: Make a list of Activities you will be doing
Make a list of some popular Hudson Valley Fall Activities & Events and how you can tie them into your leaf peeping adventure.
RELATED ARTICLE: These Hudson Valley Autumn Events are not to be missed!
#3: Pack what you may need according to the weather & the activities
Depending on whether you are doing a Day Trip or a Weekend Outing, there are certain things that you will need.
#4: Examine where you’ll be staying the majority of the time
Check and see if you’ll be spending the majority of your time in the city or in the country.
Why is this important? If you’re visiting the city, then you will have more resources at your disposal. You can always run into a coffee shop to warm up and a convenience store to pick up anything you may have left at home. You can also get away with taking less with you.
If you’re visiting the country, you will be out in the elements for longer periods of time without an indoor break and you will need to be better prepared because there will be limited stores around for some essentials.
Our experience has been that many bigger mini-marts are equipped with many things you may need when you are out on the road.
The Best Hudson Valley Fall Foliage Locations
#1: Route 9W up Storm King Mountain
If you have ever driven on Route 9W North from Fort Montgomery towards Cornwall, there are several scenic overlooks where you can stop safely and get a grand view of all the trees and towns below.
This is a beautiful spot to take in the view of the United States Military Academy at West Point and the surrounding area. It is mesmerizing to see the Fall Foliage Peak from higher elevations.
The main thing to keep in mind is to use the designated scenic overlook spots and not park right off the road because people drive very quickly through there and it can get dangerous.
#2: Take a Fall Foliage Train Ride on the Catskill Mountain RailRoad
The ‘Catskill Fall Foliage Train‘ boards in Kingston and takes you on the former Ulster & Delaware Railroad Corridor where you will see spectacular views. Offering both closed and open air cars, this is a unique experience everyone will enjoy.
In addition, they have a few days when they do the ‘Pumpkin Express’. During this special event, passengers get to pick their own pumpkin to take home and decorate.
#3: Take a drive through the Shawangunk Wine Trail
Starting in Ulster County, driving the Shawangunk Wine Trail is a great way to see the Mid-Hudson Valley Region and also a wonderful way to check out all the Hudson Valley Fall Foliage.
Starting approximately 60 miles of New York City, this trail consists of 15 wineries along a very scenic drive.
In addition to these wineries there are various stops along the way to catch sight of the changing leaves.
- Minnewaska State Park Preserve
- Mohonk Preserve
- The Walkway over the Hudson State Park: a pedestrian bridge that connects Ulster County and Dutchess County over the Hudson River.
Make sure to stop at Benmarl Winery in Marlboro. With its amazing views of the valley below this is one place you will definitely get spectacular photos of the Hudson Valley Fall Foliage.
#4: Head on up Hunter Mountain on their Scenic Skyride or Zipline Adventures
Imagine taking a chair lift up Hunter Mountain to view the Hudson Valley Fall Foliage from on top of a mountain. Not to ski… but to enjoy the view from the top.
Well, it’s possible. The ride itself from base to top is about 10 minutes, but the views are worth it. The best time to visit Hunter Mountain is during the area’s peak time.
Once at the top, you can take a hike to the highest fire tower in NYS. And see even better views from the top of the fire tower.
If ziplining is more your speed, then the New York Zipline Canopy Tours at Hunter Mountain should be next on your list.
As of the time of this posting, the Mid-Mountain Adventures were open and ready to welcome visitors.
#5: Drive along the Hawk’s Nest
On Route 97 outside of Port Jervis, NY sits a stretch of road that sits high above the Delaware River. The views are spectacular but the road is windy and should be driven with caution. According to Wikipedia, the name came about from the hawks that make their nests in the area.
#6: Drive on Route 9 Starting in Hyde Park
Starting in Hyde Park and heading north, the scenery on Route 9 changes drastically. Route 9 is the longest north-south highway in New York and forks off into Route 9G between Rhinebeck and Red Hook, NY. Located on the east side of the Hudson River, many beautiful historic sites are located on the banks of the Hudson River.
The drive from Hyde Park NY to Hudson NY, is approximately 1 hour long. Along the way, there are many places to stop and take in the Hudson Valley Fall Foliage.
Here are some places to stop and admire the amazing Hudson Valley Fall Foliage and the view of the Hudson River:
- Home of Franklin D Roosevelt National Historic Site
- Vanderbilt Mansion National Historic Site
- Staatsburgh State Historic Site
- Ferncliff Forest
- Poet’s Walk Park
- Clermont State Historic Site (off of Route 9G)
- Olana State Historic Site (Route 9G)
#7: Take a Hike up a Mountain
Some popular places for hiking that are prime spots for viewing Hudson Valley Fall Foliage include:
- Anthony’s Nose
- Mount Beacon
- Mohonk Preserve
- Breakneck Ridge
- Hudson Highlands State Park
- Bear Mountain State Park
- Harriman State Park
- Kaaterskill Falls
#8: Visit an Outdoor Art Center
I may be biased, but a trip to an outdoor art center is a good idea anytime the weather is good. So these places make the best spots to admire the changing colors of the season.
Storm King Art Center, located in New Windsor, is a popular place to not only view the outdoor sculptures but also the impressive natural landscape all around.
Art Omi, located in Ghent, houses an impressive collection of art amongst its more than 100-acre property and is the perfect place to visit in late October.
Opus 40, located in Saugerties NY, is not only an impressive place to visit but the views of the Catskill Mountains from the property are awe inspiring!
#9: Leaf Peep ANYWHERE along the Hudson River
With so many Historic Hudson River Towns up and down the river, there is no shortage of places to see the breathtaking fall foliage.
Some great places are:
For those willing to take it a step further, a tour of Bannerman Castle on the Hudson River makes the perfect trip for the ideal leaf peeping adventure.
West Point’s Trophy Point is a wonderful place and is the area that has inspired many artists since the early 19th century. In addition to the spectacular view, Trophy Point is also home to the Battle Monument, one of the largest columns of granite in the world.
#10: Go over one of the Many Bridges that go over the Hudson River
Instead of braving the elements, some people have a better time viewing the bright oranges and bright reds of the leaves from the comfort of their car.
While driving around the Hudson Valley many people enjoy going over the many bridges in the area. From the Taconic State Parkway to the Palisades Interstate Parkway (towards the George Washington Bridge), many have scenic byways that offer tremendous views.
- Bear Mountain Bridge
- The New TappanZee Bridge
- Mid-Hudson Bridge
- Newburgh-Beacon Bridge
- Kingston-Rhinecliff Bridge
Looking for the BEST Things to do in the Hudson Valley in November?
Take a look at this article of 10+ Incredible Experiences to have during the month of November.
Weather during Hudson Valley Fall Foliage Season
Fall weather in the Hudson Valley (Late September – Early December) can easily range from 30 – 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
Because of the three distinct areas of the Hudson Valley regions, the weather can differ and range drastically.
It’s always best to check the weather before making any plans and prepare accordingly. We’ve gone apple picking in t-shirts and shorts one year and coats and gloves another year.
The cooler temperatures are favorable, though, later on during the season.
Essential Packing List for a Weekend of Hudson Valley Fall Foliage Adventures
- A cardigan/sweater/sweatshirt for cooler days & nights
- Short and long-sleeved t-shirts
- Sunglasses and/or hat
- Crossbody bag
- Sneakers/Hiking Boots/Sturdy Shoes
- Socks for sneakers
- Long pants for cooler days & nights
- Insulated water bottle
- Bug Spray (if hiking and/or spending the majority of the day outdoors)
- Poncho for rainy days
MORE THINGS TO DO IN THE FALL IN THE HUDSON VALLEY:
TIPS FOR AN AMAZING TIME DURING HUDSON VALLEY FALL FOLIAGE SEASON:
- Check individual destination websites for updated days/hours of operation
- Have a Plan B in case the weather does not cooperate with your original plan.
- Bring and extra set of clothes/shoes on your outings.
- Be prepared for any kind of weather.
Until The Next Adventure…
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