Enjoy Art With a Scenic Hudson River View at the Skywalk Arts Festival

Photo by Susan De Vries


    As the weather begins to cool off and we look ahead to fall it’s the perfect time for a hike in the Hudson Valley. If you prefer to stick to the pavement while getting your fresh air and views you can head to the Hudson River Skywalk.

    The skywalk, which had a grand ribbon-cutting in June, connects the homes of two Hudson Valley school painting luminaries. Over two miles of walkway stretches from the home of Thomas Cole in Catskill to Frederic Church’s Olana near Hudson. A large portion of that walkway heads across the Rip Van Winkle Bridge and its refurbished pedestrian pathway boasts views toward the very landscape that has inspired generations of artists. Taking advantage of this, the walkway has been branded with the tagline “America’s First Canvas.”

    hudson river skywalk

    Illustration via Hudson River Skywalk

    To mix even more art and history into a stroll you can time your visit to the Skywalk Arts Festival on Sunday, September 22 from 12 to 4 p.m.

    The bulk of the celebration will take place on the Catskill side of the skywalk at the Rip Van Winkle Bridge toll plaza. There will be art exhibited and for sale, beginner art lessons and live music. You can also watch art in action as plein-air artists will be at work along the bridge pathway. For more details on the event visit the Historic Bridges of the Hudson Valley.

    hudson river skywalk

    hudson river skywalk

    The Rip Van Winkle Bridge Toll Plaza

    While a toll plaza might not strike you as an appealing spot from which to celebrate a fall day, this one has scenic vistas and charming 1930s Dutch Colonial-style structures. It also has one of the parking lots that serve the pathway, the other is on the west side of the river near a new roundabout and a landscape that boasts vintage-inspired fixtures, landscaping and scattered benches.

    Walking the full length of the trail and then back to a parked car will rack up some steps but if you want to hit both historic houses it is worth the stroll. On the day of the festival both the Thomas Cole Historic Site and Olana will be open and have tours and activities available.

    hudson river skywalk

    hudson river skywalk

    If you want to start the day of the festival early, head to Olana for their monthly yoga session in the midst of the sweeping landscape. The gentle beginning to a busy day begins at 9 a.m. and registration is required. For more information head to the Olana events page.

    While walking through the landscape make sure to check out the newly refreshed walkways surrounding the house. The deep burgundy-colored crushed stone mimics the rich colors found on the house and brings the experience closer to Church’s vision of the landscape. If you want to pop into the house itself or get a guided tour of the landscape, make sure to book a tour because they sell out quickly.

    hudson river skywalk


    Over on the east side of the river the Thomas Cole Historic Site is launching its latest exhibition, SHI GUORUI Ab/Sense-Pre/Sense, with an opening reception from 2 to 4 p.m. the day of the festival. The exhibition features a series of large-scale landscape photographs by contemporary artist Shi Guorui. More information on the opening and other events at the site can be found on their website.

    For more general information about the Hudson River Skywalk, parking and trail attractions make sure to check out their website.

    [Photos by Susan De Vries unless noted otherwise]

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