Hudson Valley Parks:
29+ of the Best Places you can Enjoy the Outdoors

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 its just not in my DNA.

So my plan now is to start visiting Hudson Valley parks and slowly work my way into hiking. And with so many Hudson Valley Parks to choose from, it is tough to decide where to go first.

Each of these Hudson Valley Parks offers something unique and exciting. Famous for its picturesque locations, the Hudson Valley is home to some of the North East’s most scenic views and vast open spaces.

This is why I created this list of popular Hudson Valley parks that you should put on your must-visit list!

If you’re planning to take a morning or a full day to explore any of these wonderful Hudson Valley Parks, here is what you can expect to find during your visit:

  • Forest Trails
  • Waterfalls
  • Scenic views
  • Picnic areas
  • Historical properties & ruins
  • Shorelines, River views, and Mountains

This article contains an affiliate link or two. I make a small commission for purchases made through links at no extra cost to you. Read my disclosure for more info.

Hudson River view while on Ferry to Bannerman Castle and Tour

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 by creating state parks, along with some unique historical sites. These historical sites will impress anyone who comes to visit them.

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How many Hudson Valley Parks are there?

Not including local, community or county parks, the Hudson Valley boasts:

  • 1 State Forest
  • 18 State Parks
  • Many 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 and the most popular places people flock to all year long.

What can you do at Hudson Valley Parks?

Hudson Valley Parks give so much to people who visit.

There are so many things to do at these great outdoor spaces. Some include:

  • Biking & Mountain Biking
  • Walking, running and jogging
  • Hiking
  • Kayaking
  • Canoeing
  • Row boating
  • Paddle boating
  • Snowshoeing
  • Cross Country Skiing
  • Ice Skating
  • Picnicking
  • Nature Study
  • Wildlife Watching

Below are just a few popular Hudson Valley parks in the Region:

Bear Mountain State Park (Rockland Co)

Park is OPEN year-round

This state park is perfect for everyone. I cannot think of one person that has not enjoyed time at Bear Mountain State Park. For a small 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 Hudson Valley park.

Read my article about my visit to Bear Mountain State Park

Paddleboats on Hessian Lake at Bear Mountain State Park

Black Creek Preserve (Ulster Co)

Park is OPEN year-round
Open daily, sunrise to sunset

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. This unique feature brings many people searching for unique Hudson Valley parks to explore.

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

Blauvelt State Park (Rockland Co)

Park is OPEN year-round
Open daily, sunrise to sunset

Blauvelt State Park is 590 acres of forested green space in Rockland County. Hiking trails provide the only access and afford spectacular views of the Hudson Valley.

The park is undeveloped: there are no bathrooms and there is limited parking.

Bob Shepard Highland Landing Park (Ulster Co)

Park is OPEN year-round

This former oil tank farm is now a local destination for relaxing on the riverfront an enjoying the views. Bob Shepard Highland Landing Park links to the Walkway Loop Trail.

Catskill State Park (Greene Co)

Park is OPEN year-round

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.

[RELATED: The Ultimate Guide to Hudson River Walks]

Charles Flood Wildlife Management Area (Columbia Co

Park is OPEN year-round

Visitors can explore Charles Flood Wildlife Management Area‘s myriad natural treasures — grasslands, forested bluffs and ravines, tidal wetlands and segments of 11 Hudson River tributary streams. Standing on its uplands, you also can enjoy panoramic views of the Catskill, Taconic and Berkshire mountains. That’s one of the best features of this amazing Hudson Valley Park.

Clarence Fahnestock Memorial State Park (Putnam/Dutchess Co)

Park is OPEN year-round
Open daily, sunrise to sunset

Clarence Fahnestock Memorial State Park is a delight for outdoor enthusiasts. This 14,086 acre park, covering land in Putnam and Dutchess counties, boasts hiking trails, a beautiful beach, picnic areas, scenic campground, and abundant opportunities for boating, hunting, fishing, and birding.

The park is also home to the Taconic Outdoor Education Center which provides high quality environmental programming and Fahnestock Winter Park which includes 15 kilometers of groomed trails for cross country skiing and snowshoeing, and an area for sledding. This is a local favorite park in the Hudson Valley.

Clausland Mountain Park (Rockland Co)

Park in OPEN year-round

History buffs will enjoy the remains of a Nike missile base atop the mountain. During the Cold War, Clausland Mountain Park protected Manhattan from Soviet attack.

Clermont State Park (Columbia Co)

Park is OPEN year-round
Mansion & Visitors Center are CLOSED
Grounds open year-round: 8:30am – sunset

Seven successive generations of the family left their imprint on the site’s architecture, room interiors and landscape.

In addition to the Clermont family home, Clermont State Park has five historic gardens restored to their early 20th century appearance and five marked trails for the outdoor enthusiast. Both hikers and cross country skiers will enjoy the same trails the Livingston family developed as carriage roads, farm roads or as recreation trails for their varied guests.

Creekside Park (Dutchess Co)

Park is OPEN year-round

Creekside Park has hiking trails, a pavilion, and newly built restrooms. Best known for hosting their Summer Concert Series, this great park is available for rental and easy to explore.

Drayton Grant Park at Burger Hill (Ulster Co)

Park is OPEN year-round

This 70+ acre park in Rhinebeck, is a sledding paradise. The panoramic views from the summit of Drayton Grant Park at Burger Hill are amazing — stretching from the Berkshires to the Catskills. And when the snow disappears, trade the sled for binoculars to enjoy this bird mecca.

Esopus Meadows Preserve (Ulster Co)

Park is OPEN year-round

Esopus Meadows Preserve is a 96-acre preserve that offers your pick of trails — trek through a rolling forest landscape or hug the shoreline to a dramatic river lookout. After your hike, arrive at the preserve’s Hudson River Greenway Water Trail site in time for lunch beneath its pavilion.

Sign located at Esopus Park

Esplanade Park (Westchester Co)

Park is OPEN year-round

The Esplanade Park in Yonkers in a 1,000 foot walkway that has spurred the city’s downtown revitalization. It’s home to the city’s historic Municipal Pier.

The Blue Door Artist Association has invited outdoor sculptors to install their work along the Yonkers waterfront. Sculptures are loaned to the City of Yonkers. We hope to make the waterfront an exciting destination for both residents and visitors to the city.

Franklin D Roosevelt State Park (Westchester Co)

Park is OPEN year-round

Franklin D. Roosevelt State Park offers day-trippers a day of fun and relaxation. The park’s spacious picnic areas can be reserved in advance. The park’s mammoth pool can hold 3,500 bathers at one time! In addition the park offers a host of other activities for people of all ages to enjoy. 

The park’s oases of blue water, Mohansic Lake and Crom Pond, provide excellent freshwater fishing and boating.

Franny Reese State Park (Ulster Co)

Park is OPEN year-round

Franny Reese State Park is a 250+ acre park was named after Frances “Franny” Reese who dedicated much of her life to protecting the Hudson Valley’s natural and historic treasures. After all, we conserved this magnificent bluff-top forest to prevent a massive residential development from destroying it.

Trails follow a historic carriage road that passes ruins of a 19th-century estate, while an overlook affords superb views of the Mid-Hudson Bridge and Walkway Over the Hudson. A link connects the park to the Walkway Loop Trail.

Harrier Hill Park (Columbia Co)

Park is OPEN year-round

Harrier Hill Park’s ridgetop location makes this a standout for savoring the grandeur of the Catskill Mountains.

And don’t forget your binoculars: The surrounding meadows (also protected by Scenic Hudson) support a wide variety of birds, including the Northern harrier, the hawk for which the park is named. Perfect for picnicking, walking and wildlife watching.

High Tor State Park (Rockland Co)

Park is NOT OPEN year-round
Open seasonally in July & August

Hudson Valley Parks

High Tor State Park, a day-use facility for picnicking, swimming and hiking, affords spectacular views of the Hudson River.

The Long Path passes through the park just before the trail heads inland to the Catskills.

Hook Mountain State Park (Rockland Co)

Park is OPEN year-round

Hook Mountain State Park is the site of a 676-acre undeveloped park stretching through almost seven miles of waterfront and cliff slopes. At 730 feet, its summit offers spectacular views of Rockland Lake and the Hudson River valley.

It is also a prime location for watching various types of hawks: sharp-shinned, Cooper’s, Northern Goshawks, Red-shouldered, Broad-winged, Red-tailed. The Audubon Society estimates that an average of more than 12,000 hawks fly by Hook Mountain each Fall. The Long Path makes its way through the park and passes over Hook Mountain’s summit.

Innisfree Garden (Dutchess Co)

Garden is NOT OPEN year-round. Visitors are welcome starting in the Spring.

Millbrook Garden
Innisfree Garden

Innisfree Garden is a beautiful location. Part park, part preserve, part ‘garden’, this immensely popular 185-acre garden is jewel in Dutchess County, NY. Of all the open spaces I have visited in the Hudson Valley, Innisfree garden definitely feels the most open and ready to be explored (if that makes any sense).

Due to its expansive grounds (185-acres), this is a place that is best enjoyed and explored with time of your side. There is so much to see that I’m sure several visits are needed in order to ingest it all.

Read my article about my visit to Innisfree Garden

James Baird State Park (Dutchess Co)

Park is OPEN year-round

Situated on farmland, James Baird State Park has much to offer.

There are spacious open and wooded picnic areas and two picnic pavilions that can be rented by reservation. There is a playground as well as a sports complex where visitors enjoy playing basketball, softball, tennis and volleyball.

Outdoor enthusiasts will find the seven miles of scenic wooded trails ideal for hiking in the warm months and cross country skiing and snowshoeing in the wintertime.

Kensico Dam Plaza (Westchester Co)

Park is OPEN year-round

Kensico Dam in the Hudson Valley

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.

Lake Taghkanic State Park (Columbia Co)

Park is OPEN year-round

Lake Taghkanic State Park, nestled next to Lake Taghkanic in the rolling hills and lush forests of Columbia County, offers a wonderful variety of recreational activities. The park has tent and trailer campsites and cabin and cottage lodging facilities.

The park includes an abundance of summer and winter recreational activities including a swimming beach, picnic areas, boat launch sites, rowboat, paddleboat and kayak rentals, playgrounds and sports playing fields. In addition, the park has hiking, biking, swimming, fishing, hunting, cross-country ski and snowmobile trails. Ice skating and ice fishing are permitted when conditions are appropriate.

Madam Brett Park (Dutchess Co)

Park is OPEN year-round

Fishkill Marsh furnishes a home for amphibians and aquatic mammals and provides hunting grounds for ospreys and bald eagles and a stopover for migratory birds. A waterfall on the creek is especially impressive, and raucous, in spring or after heavy rains. Madam Brett Park is the perfect place for walking and fishing.

Martin Van Buren National Historic Site (Columbia Co)

Park is OPEN year-round

Martin Van Buren was the eighth President of the United States (1837-1841) and a native of Kinderhook. Following his defeat for a second term, he returned to Kinderhook and moved into Georgian-style Lindenwald, where he entertained politicians and dignitaries until his death in 1862.

Both the visitor center and Lindenwald, Martin Van Buren’s home, are open seasonally. The visitor season runs from late-May to the end of October at Martin Van Buren NHS. Tours are suspended at this time.

Mills Norrie State Park (Dutchess Co)

Park is OPEN year-round

The Mills Norrie State Park comprises more than 1,000 acres full of recreational opportunities.

The numerous trails that thread through the grounds of both Mills and Norrie State Parks are ideal for walking, jogging, hiking, cycling, cross country skiing, and snow shoeing – treating visitors to fabulous views of the Hudson River which runs directly along the parks’ western boundaries.

Orange County Arboretum (Orange Co)

Park is OPEN year-round

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 article about my visit to Orange County Arboretum

Poets’ Walk (Dutchess Co)

Park is OPEN year-round
Closing hours are dependent on the season

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.

Rockland Lake State Park (Rockland Co)

Park is OPEN year-round

Rockland Lake State Park’s lake is located on a ridge of Hook Mountain above the west bank of the Hudson River.

The park offers a new water complex featuring a huge 25,000 square foot zero entrance swimming pool with diving boards, a spray ground and two large water slides. A playground for children 12 and under has been added to the picnic area in parking lot 2. The park also has picnic areas with tables and a few grills, a car top boat launch dock, hiking trails with breath-taking views of the Hudson Valley, six tennis courts and two 18-hole golf course.

Scenic Hudson’s Long Dock Park (Dutchess Co)

Park is OPEN year-round

Beacon Long Dock Park

Long Dock Park is a super-popular place to launch kayaks, picnic, stroll through rehabilitated wetlands and meadows, drop a fishing line, explore an intriguing sculpture by renowned artist George Trakas, or just sit and admire the river.

The park’s restored 19th-century red barn — the only historic holdover — is now Scenic Hudson’s River Center, which hosts arts and environmental-education activities. This is one of the most popular Hudson Valley Parks in the area.

Scenic Hudson Park at Irvington (Westchester Co)

Park is OPEN year-round

Scenic Hudson Park at Irvington have walking paths with superb views stretching from the Manhattan skyline to the Tappan Zee.

Featuring ball fields, a senior center, kayaking, canoeing and walking.

Scenic Hudson RiverWalk Park at Tarrytown (Westchester Co)

Park is OPEN year-round

Scenic Hudson Riverwalk Park at Tarrytown is a waterfront site that was turned into a public park offering magnificent views stretching to the Manhattan skyline.

Features include a riverside esplanade, grass terraces and lawns, and an “eco-corridor” filled with native plants. The parks is a segment of the county’s planned 51-mile RiverWalk and adjacent to Tarrytown’s Pierson Park.

Schodack Island State Park (Rensselaer Co)

Park is OPEN year-round

Hudson Valley Parks
Schodack Island State Park

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.

Shaupeneak Ridge Park (Ulster Co)

Park is OPEN year-round

This preserve offers a cornucopia of treats for nature lovers — wildflower-filled grasslands, woods, a waterfall and pond, stunning rock formations and an abundance of wildlife, including beaver, deer, coyotes and turkeys.

Just as impressive are the vistas, stretching to the Hudson River and, once the leaves fall, the Catskill Mountains. This natural splendor, combined with the rugged terrain, makes Shaupeneak Ridge one of the region’s prime destinations for mountain biking and trail running.

Sleightsburgh Park (Ulster Co)

Park is OPEN year-round

Excellent fishing and breathtaking views abound at Sleightsburgh Park.

Short trails parallel Rondout Creek, leading through a wooded peninsula to a spit of land extending far out into the river — proving you don’t need a boat to get the full Hudson experience.

Stony Point Battlefield State Historic Site (Rockland Co)

Park is OPEN year-round
Hours depend on the season

Visit the site of the Battle of Stony Point, one of the last Revolutionary War battles in the northeastern colonies. This is one of the most popular Hudson Valley parks in the area.

Stony Point Battlefield State Historic Site features a museum, which offers exhibits on the battle and the Stony Point Lighthouse, as well as interpretive programs, such as reenactments highlighting 18th century military life, cannon and musket firings, cooking demonstrations, and children’s activities and blacksmith demonstrations.

Taconic State Park – Copake Falls (Columbia Co)

Park is OPEN year-round

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.

Tallman Mountain State Park (Rockland Co)

Park is OPEN year-round

Tallman Mountain State Park comprises wooded country on the easterly slope of the Palisades uplands overlooking the Hudson and Piermont Marsh, which lies between the river and the slope.

The marsh is part of the Hudson River National Estuarine Research Reserve. The park operates as a day-use area, offering a running track, tennis courts, playfield, cross country skiing, a walking trail, hiking and picnic areas.

Vanderbilt Mansion National Historic Site (Dutchess Co)

Park is OPEN year-round

The Vanderbilt Estate in Hyde Park, New York is perhaps the best, most intact example of the types of estates constructed by wealthy industrialists in the 19th century.

The fully-furnished, 54-room mansion is placed in a wondrous landscape with breathtaking views of the Hudson River and distant Catskill Mountains.

The site includes 211 acres of the original larger property (once around 600 acres) situated on a bluff overlooking the Hudson River and includes manicured lawns, formal gardens, woodlands, and numerous auxiliary buildings. Although tours are suspended at this time, this continues to be one of the most popular Hudson Valley parks in the area.

Read my article about my visit to Vanderbilt Mansion

Walkway over the Hudson State Historic Park (Ulster/Dutchess Co)

Park is OPEN year-round

The outstanding vistas you’ll enjoy along the 1.28-mile bridge are just part of the fun when visiting the Walkway over the Hudson State Historic Park. The views are from the Hudson Highlands to the Catskills. This is the world’s longest pedestrian walkway and is one of the best views in all the Hudson Valley Parks listed here.

Read my article all about my visit to the Walkway over the Hudson State Historic Site

Washington Park (Albany Co)

Park is OPEN year-round

Hudson Valley Parks
Washington Park

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.

West Point Foundry Preserve (Putnam Co)

Park is OPEN year-round

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. This is definitely one of the most intriguing of the Hudson Valley parks listed here.

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:

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 to fun at all New York State Parks, all year long.

You can choose from several options, such as:

  • One Season
  • Multi-Season

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.

Beacon Long Dock Park

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 one-season Empire Pass costs $80 per season.

A Multi-Season Empire Pass costs are as follows:
– 3-season pass is $205
– 5-season pass is $320

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.

Read more about parks in each county:

Discover the beauty of parks in Rockland County NY

Until the Next Adventure…

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