Magnificent views of the Hudson Highlands — and even Manhattan's skyline — provide ample compensation for the rigors of hiking through this rugged terrain.
BEACON, Dutchess County (1,011 acres)—Fishkill Ridge isn't suitable for a casual stroll, but if you feel like heading out into some true wilderness, it doesn't get any better than this. On the preserve's well-marked trails you can walk beside a stream to an impressive waterfall, scramble up rocks and step onto outcroppings affording some of the most breathtaking long-range vistas in the Hudson Highlands. For most of your trek you'll be so cocooned in nature that civilization and its stresses will fade from memory (though shops and restaurants in downtown Beacon await your return). Fishkill Ridge also is a great destination for exploring the Hudson Valley's geological past — the rounded boulders and bare summits encountered on your hike were sculpted by glaciers that passed through the region 12,000 years ago — and extraordinary birdlife, especially its large raptors. There's a good chance you'll spot turkey vultures, bald eagles and falcons engaged in aerial reconnaissance throughout your overland excursion. Fishkill Ridge is owned by the NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation and its trails are maintained by the NY-NJ Trail Conference.
When to visit
Year-round daily dawn to dusk. Allow a minimum of 3 hours.
From intersection of Route 9 and Route 52, take Route 52 west through Town of Fishkill. Left onto Old Glenham Rd and then left onto Maple Street. After crossing bridge and at "Y" in the road, turn left onto Old Town Road. Right on Sunnyside Road. At end, bear left, then right. Continue up unpaved hill to parking area.