A Gym with a View

Tuesday, August 29, 2017 -- Scenic Hudson

Exercise makes you feel better physically and mentally. It’s a powerful investment in your well-being. Research shows that being outside, in nature, eases stress, inspires us and provides overall positive feelings.

Get Fit Hudson Valley is a 6-week fitness challenge from Sept. 9 to Oct. 11 to encourage the Hudson Valley community to be active and stay in shape. Scenic Hudson, as a Get Fit Hudson Valley ambassador, invites you to use our numerous Mid-Hudson parks as dynamic and fun venues for fulfilling your Get Fit challenge.

Finding your way in a Scenic Hudson park is easy. Each of the parks that is part of Get Fit Hudson Valley is listed here on the website along with its address and directions. Several, as noted below, are accessible via Metro-North trains. See below also for Scenic Hudson parks that are universally accessible for those with mobility challenges.

The parks feature well-maintained and marked paths. Look to a kiosk at the entrance of each park for trail information and a story of the land that forms the park you’ve chosen to visit. Depending on the park you visit, during your exercise you’ll enjoy—stunning views, often of the Hudson River; sights and sounds of wildlife; forests, ridgelines and open fields; streams or ponds; benches, gazebos, walking bridges and more.

Again, depending on the park you visit, you can walk, run, hike, mountain bike, canoe or kayak, and fish. All of our parks, except one in Irvington, Westchester County, allow you to bring your dog—on a leash—to join your outdoor workout. See our dog policy for more details.

Here are some Scenic Hudson parks within the Get Fit Hudson Valley geography.

SCENIC HUDSON PARKS IN DUTCHESS COUNTY

Poets’ Walk Park, Red Hook—120 acres in the Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area that offer 2 miles of trails—including a universally accessible trail—through woods and rolling meadows with rustic cedar pavilions, footbridges and benches, and Hudson River vistas.

Hyde Park Trail River Overlook, Staatsburg—Part of the Hyde Park Greenway Trail, the overlook is reached from the 1.85-mile trail that begins at Mills-Norrie State Park in Staatsburg. Your walk amid 72 acres will pass through a peaceful, wooded ravine and cross a small but pleasantly noisy stream before reaching this overlook and its magnificent views of the Hudson River and Esopus Island.

Scenic Hudson’s Long Dock Park, Beacon—Scenic Hudson transformed an abandoned, contaminated former industrial site into a riverfront destination. There you can experience universally accessible walking trails that pass through rehabilitated wetlands and meadows that attract wildlife. A kayak pavilion offers kayak and paddle board rentals available through Mountain Tops Outfitters, our official paddlesports concessionaire, and a beach for launching paddle-powered watercraft. There’s also a shoreline boardwalk and platform, created by a renowned artist, that’s perfect for fishing and enjoying uplifting views of the Hudson River and Hudson Highlands.

SCENIC HUDSON PARKS IN ULSTER COUNTY

Falling Waters Preserve, Glasco—The 149-acre preserve is an excellent place to explore the rugged beauty of the Hudson River, hiking atop rock ledges that slant precipitously into the water while occasionally descending to the shoreline. On your way to (or from) the mile-long trail hugging the river, you’ll pass other scenic treasures, including a meadow affording outstanding views of the Catskills and a picturesque waterfall. Created through a unique partnership between the Dominican Sisters of Sparkill, Esopus Creek Conservancy and Scenic Hudson, this park has roughly 2 miles of varied trails that include a gravel road with views of the Catskills and a carriage road that used to provide access to a riverfront ice house as well as the riverside footpath.

Esopus Meadows Preserve, Ulster Park—Explore 96 acres that offer a great place for introducing children to the glories of nature along the Hudson River. Four trails totaling 2 miles allow you to tailor a trek to the stamina of young legs. Begin by hiking through a forest alive with birdcalls and a gurgling stream, or follow the shoreline to a dramatic lookout. Whichever route you choose, on the midpoint of your outing you’ll arrive at a pavilion and tables perfect for a rest and a picnic. Enjoy the views—Esopus Meadows Lighthouse looms in the distance downriver, while grand Mills Mansion is slightly to the left across the Hudson.

High Banks Preserve, Ulster Park—These 287 acres contain bluffs offering superb vistas of the Hudson River as well as extensive wetlands, wildflower-filled meadows, hardwood forests and shoreline along Esopus Lake. The universally accessible gateway takes visitors to an overlook of the Hudson River and informational signs that explain the history of the site and its ecological importance. A steep trail climbs 200 feet to the upper parkland with features that include additional Hudson River views, former carriage roads that lead to the lake, and a 110-foot boardwalk spanning a wetland. The trail network totals 3 miles.

Black Creek Preserve, Esopus—A great destination for a family-friendly hike, despite a few uphill climbs that may elicit groans from the under-10 contingent. Still, kids will love crossing the dramatic suspension bridge that spans the creek and exploring the Hudson River shoreline, whose flat stones are tailor-made for skipping. But the 130-acre preserve and its 2 miles of forested trails also provide a perfect place to explore some of the region’s threatened species—from blueback herring and alewives that journey from the ocean to deposit their eggs in Black Creek to tall hemlocks under siege from the insect woolly adelgid. Information about these and other endangered plants and animals, as well as the creek itself, appears on kiosks throughout the preserve.

SCENIC HUDSON PARKS IN PUTNAM COUNTY

Foundry Dock Park, Cold Spring—At just 0.7 acre, it’s hard to believe this riverfront oasis—a perfect spot to marvel at the Hudson Highlands—was the busy loading dock of the West Point Foundry (see below). Park visitors can view a simulation of the foundry’s rail line and enjoy wildlife attracted to a variety of native plants. For paddlers, this is a great place to begin excursions into Foundry Cove and Audubon New York’s Constitution Marsh Sanctuary, a haven for waterfowl and migratory birds. Kayak, canoe and paddleboard rentals are available through Hudson River Expeditions, our official paddlesports concessionaire. Both Foundry Dock Park and West Point Foundry Preserve are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. A short, universally accessible walking path rings Foundry Dock Park. A connecting trail to West Point Foundry Preserve is accessible from the northbound platform of the nearby train station.

West Point Foundry Preserve, Cold Spring—Hikers at the 87-acre preserve enjoy the gentle murmur of Foundry Brook. That’s a far cry from the din greeting 19th-century visitors to the sprawling West Point Foundry. Established in 1817 to supply the U.S. government with artillery, the ironworks’ hundreds of employees produced some of America’s first steam engines and locomotives, as well as pipes for New York City’s water system and Parrott guns, cannons credited with winning the Civil War. Today 1.5 miles of trails follow old rail beds and pass extensive foundry remains that led to the preserve’s inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places. New interpretive features—including a full-scale sculptural model of a 36-foot water wheel—tell the site’s exciting story. A universally accessible trail leads from Cold Spring’s Metro-North Station past Foundry Cove and the foundry’s 1865 office building. Two miles of additional trails pass more foundry ruins and take visitors to related sites in Cold Spring, including Scenic Hudson’s Foundry Dock Park, The Chapel Restoration (originally a church built for the foundry’s Catholic employees) and well-preserved foundry-era buildings in the village.