Travel Guide: The Hudson Valley- Paradise of the River Hudson Near New York City

The city that bursts with urban life hosts in its backyard the natural treasure. The historical shine of the breathtaking natural beauty encompasses the Hudson Valley. It stretches north from New York City to the Capital District, Albany and Troy towards Yonkers in the south.

Considered one of the most beautiful rivers in the United States, there’s plenty to discover here. It’s such a historical place in America. Pretty towns like New Paltz, Catskill, Hudson, Troy, Hyde Park spell the charm. The capital of the New York State, Albany, lies on the west banks of the Hudson river.

The oldest winery in the country captures the picturesque views of the wine fields. The Valley is home to the Hudson River School of Painters. Many artists were enticed by the marvellous beauty of the Hudson Valley.

History of the Hudson Valley

Who knows how would New York City and Hudson Valley look like if they were still inhabitated by indigenous people? The Lenape, Wappinger and Mahican groups of the Algonquins tribe lived along the river.

Read also: The Indigenous People Of The World

The Lenape people (also called Delaware) sold the island of Manhattan to Henry Hudson. They inhabited the lower Hudson Valley, but today they mostly occupy the Oklahoma state with the Delaware tribe. The Lenape people were actually pushed away from their homeland during the American Revolutionary War.

The scenic view of the Hudson Valley in autumn
The scenic view of the Hudson Valley in autumn- Credit: Hudsonvalleylighting.hvlgroup.com

North from Manhattan to Poughkeepsie city lived the Wappingers. The Mahicans also occupied the north valley from Kingston to the lake Champlain.

Before the times of the USA, the Hudson river was called Mahicantuck, which means „the river that flows two ways“. The Navish fortress overlooked the Hudson river, among many others.

Dutch and British Colonization

The trade of Dutch people began with the fur business. The Hudson River didn’t suit them as the proper route for the Northwest Passage. The Dutch established the colony of New Netherland. Three major centres of fur trade were New Amsterdam, Wiltwyck (today’s Kingston) and Fort Orange (now the city of Albany).

The Hudson Valley became an agricultural treasure under British rule. Landlords were minimizing the costs of mansion rents. The main seaport was New York City, developing a trade of grain. The colonial merchants had monopolies over grain production.

The Industrial Revolution in the 19th Century

The Hudson Valley developed its industrial potentiality by building the Erie Canal. It opened the Hudson Valley to the Midwest and Great Lakes regions. The Mohawk and Hudson Railroad was established in 1831 as the first railroad in New York. It connected the cities of Albany and Schenectady to the Mohawk river. Other railroads that followed helped in the agricultural progress.

Many towns around the Hudson River hosted new factories, including Poughkeepsie, Newburgh, Kingston, and Hudson. Steamboats enabled the faster transport and the first one was the North River Steamboat in 1807.

Industralisation opened the wings to tourism in the early 19th century. Romantic hotels and paintings from the Hudson River School attracted numerous visitors.

Hudson River School enligtened three topics of American Romantic paintings. Discovery, exploration and settlement represent the American life of the 19th century. The realistic and detailed portrait of nature represents this time.

Hiking in the Hudson Valley

Fall is definitely the most enchanting time to hike in the Hudson Valley. Excaping New York City is easy with the magic wonderland around the corner. Hiking the Hudson Valley offers plenty of ideas for every level.

Harriman State Park

Harriman State Park is the perfect choice as it’s so close to NY and easily reachable. It’s the second largest state park in New York that bursts with hiking trails. The scenic roads intertwine with 31 lakes and two beaches spice up the charm. Covering 58 peaks, Harriman park offers an enchanting panorama of choice for every taste. The highest is Fingerboard Mountain (421m).

View from the Jackie Jones Fire Tower at the Harriman State Park
View from the Jackie Jones Fire Tower at the Harriman State Park- Credit: Hikethehudsonvalley.com

Located less than an hour from New York, it’s also a great starting point for the Hudson Valley. The most stunning views burst from Jackie Jones Mountain at Harriman State Park. Its fire tower shines out at the NYC skyline on one side and Lake Welch on the other.

The gorgeous lake Tiorati is one among the seven in Harriman Park. West Mountain is another popular spot offering stunning views of the Hudson river. Pine Meadow Lake Trail, as the name suggests, baths in fabulous vibes.

Anthony’s Nose

Overlooking the Bear Mountain Bridge, the fabulous shine is your invite. It was the first vehicular bridge that connected Hudson river between NYC and Albany. The smooth hike offers the best panoramic views in the Hudson Valley.

The trail takes about an hour to the top and it’s pretty easy even for solo-travellers. The only challenge is the steep hike at the beginning or the crowds during the weekends. The Anthony’s Nose covers an easy distance from NYC with the Metro-North train. But it’s not direct, as from Garrison, you’ll need to take Uber or Lyft. The scenic viewpoint includes a bit chilly wheather at the top.

Minnewaska State Park Preserve & Mohonk Preserve

Sitting on the Shawangunk Mountain Range, Minnewaska Park dwells in the dramatic, rocky terrain. Numerous waterfalls intertwine with the lush forests covering three gorgeous lakes.

Sam’s Point is the southern peak that soaks untouched natural beauty. The gorgeous touch of pine trees spells magic.

Mohonk Preserve is an abundant nature sanctuary that is privately owned. Sky Top Trail delights in the stunning panorama of the Shawangunk Ridge. It stretches to the crystal blue lake and Mohonk Mountain House. The River-to-Ridge Trail blends with the picturesque atmosphere starting in the lovely town of New Paltz. Biking is very popular here, covering the pastoral settings. Paying a fee when entering Mohonk Reserve is totally worth it.

Mohonk Mountain House is a famous spa hotel that shines with the luxury of a Victorian castle. Sitting on the edge of Mohonk lake you will feel like in the European countryside.

Sculpture Parks in the Hudson Valley

Two sculpture parks in the Hudson Valley delight with artistic charm. Storm King Art Centre stands as the largest sculpture park in the USA. It’s an impressive collection of more than 100 artworks. The modern sculptors like Calder, Moore, Smith, Nevelson or Serra enchant with creative power. The marvellous Storm King Mountain shines in the background.

Permanent installation Fallen Sky by Sarah Sze in the Storm King Art Centre
Permanent installation Fallen Sky by Sarah Sze in the Storm King Art Centre- Credit: Tanyabonakdargallery.com

Andy Goldsworthy’s Storm King Wall and Maya Linn’s Storm King Wavefield totally stand out. The Netflix show Master of None captures the magnificent beauty of the park. The park developed as the outcome of the Hudson River School by Ralph E. Ogdden in 1960.

Opus 40 is an ecological park in Saugerties made by the artist Harvey Fite. It’s actually one large sculpture with platforms, ramps and bridges that shines in the bluestone quarry. Harvey Fite spent almost 40 years creating the sculpture.

Sleepy Hollow Town

Lovely village in the Hudson Valley baths in the natural beauty. It’s the home of Washington Irving, the author of the famous novel The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. Sleepy Hollow starts its story in 1996 when North Tarrytown changed its name.

This historic village attracts numerous visitors to the authentic spirit of Native America. Beekman Avenue bursts with shops, galleries and restaurants but looks the most enticing at the weekly farmers market.

Lyndhurst Castle in the fairy tale village Sleepy Hollow
Lyndhurst Castle in the fairy tale village Sleepy Hollow- Credit: lyndhurst.org

The elegant mansion Tour Kykuit Estate is the most exquisite example of New York royalty. Built in 1913, it shines above the hills of Sleepy Hollow. Its owner, John D. Rockfeller, was the master of the petroleum industry.

Sleepy Hollow cemetery offers stunning views of the Hudson river and the rolling hills. Philipsburg Manor is a place that dwells in the 18th century. The Rockfeller State Park Preserve dwells in the panorama of natural beauty.

Bannerman Castle

Bannerman Castle lies on Pollepel Island as an abandoned military storage. This beautiful castle was built by Francis Bannerman in 1901. The boat ride takes 30 minutes from a dock in Beacon in New York. Several kayak tours also offer the opportunity to visit the castle.

An abandoned Bannerman castle at the Bannerman Island
An abandoned Bannerman castle at the Bannerman Island- Credit: Roadtrippers.com

Guided tours of this majestic castle enlighten the history of the island and start at the top of the hill. The castle experienced several fires and now stays in the ruins. Visitors cannot go inside the castle, only in the Bannerman’s home.

The castle is nowadays in the hands of the New York state. Bannerman Castle Trust organizes the tours and raised millions of dollars to keep up the castle. The Trust also hosts movie nights, lectures, special dinners and theatre shows at Bannerman castle.

Walkway Over the Hudson River

The Walkaway over the Hudson River is the world’s longest, elevated pedestrian bridge. It took life in 1889 as a double track railroad bridge. Damaged by fire in 1974, it reopened in 2009 as a pedestrian walkaway.

Read Also: The Most Historic Bridges In The World

It connects the cities of Highland on the west and Poughkeepsie on the east, so its other name is Poughkeepsie Bridge. A glass elevator leads to the bridge, which today stands as a lovely park.

The largest pedestrian bridge in the world, Walkaway Over the Hudson River
The largest pedestrian bridge in the world, Walkaway Over the Hudson River- Credit: Scenichudson.org

The round trip takes 3 miles (or almost 5 km), which means about 2h walking. The benches offer a relaxing atmosphere while enjoying the breathtaking views. The bridge hosts several special events, such as the Walkaway Marathon, the July 4th Fireworks Spectacular and the Starry Starry Night gala. At these times, a fee is required. Frozen Caboose Ice Cream shop on the Highland side delights with the local ice cream.

Innisfree Garden

Innisfree Garden in Millbrook is an enchanting reflection of Asian art. It was created by Walter Beck, inspired by the Chinese painter Wang Wei. The glacial lake connects the scenic images of the garden. The stunning colours touch its terraces, rocks, waterfalls and plants. The name Innisfree is inspired by the poem The Lake Isle of Innisfree by W.B. Yeats.

Innisfree Garden in Millbrook
River flowing in the Innisfree Garden in Millbrook- Credit: Innisfreegarden.org

„One of the world’s best gardens“ is the title that Innisfree Garden earned. Streams and waterfalls were designed with the help of the lake. Landscape architect Lester Collins from Hardward University deserves the alluring design. Once a private property, now it’s a public place and open from May to October.

Cohoes Falls

Cohoes Falls is the Niagara of New York State and its second largest waterfall. Located on the Mohawk river it stretches between the city Cohoes and the Waterford town.

Cohoes Falls in the Hudson Valley
Cohoes Falls in the Hudson Valley- Credit: Iloveny.com

Harmony Mills in Cohoes is the largest cotton mill complex in the world that exists from 1872. Now it belongs to the apartment complex. Cohoes Falls were the major connecting point while transferring goods between New York City and Albany. That’s why the Erie canal was created.

During the spring time, Cohoes Falls are at the highest level, which is the best time to visit.

Covering the Falls Views Park, the area offers scenic walking trails. The fantastic 200-foot bridge overlooks the waterfall. Falls View Park is closed entirely from November till April.

Visiting Farm-to-Table Movement

The food grown locally is pretty popular in the Hudson Valley, the model we should all follow. The Culinary Institute of America cooperated with many small farms and orchards. The Culinary Institute of America even offers classes of preparing food. Their enriching contribution made them a premier culinary institution in the world.

Several restaurants in the campus require a reservation and the classes are expensive. The baking classes are specifically fulfilling.

Rustic stone house of the Blue Hill Farm in Hudson Valley
Rustic stone house of the Blue Hill Farm in Hudson Valley- Credit: Theworlds50best.com

Blue Hill Farm shines as the pioneer in the food-to-table movement and produces the unique grain types. With their two restaurants, the delightful experience needs to be considered.  Bradley Farms is another exquisite restaurant during the summer with communal farm-to-table meals.

Conclusion- Hudson Valley, the Tranquil Paradise Near New York City

The landscape that inspired numerous painters truly deserves a discovery. It’s a place where many galleries shine with an exquisite vision of American art. One of the pioneers of unique American art is Thomas Cole. The Thomas Cole National Historic Site is a lovely weekend trip from New York City.

The Hudson Valley Centre for Contemporary understands the social issues. The large ambience hosts the high-quality exhibits. The lovely house in Nyack is an art centre dedicated to the American painter Edward Hopper.

The Hudson Valley dwells in a charming atmosphere that blends modern life and native heritage. Visiting the Hudson Valley is a way to discover the history of New York City. It’s the world full of lush nature and stunning viewpoints. Most people skip it when coming to New York City as the hidden treasure shines.

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