5 Amazing Upstate Leaf Peeping Spots for New Yorkers

Photo by billwinterscine


    Want to get in some leaf peeping this year? Make sure you plan ahead so you know when and where to get the best views. The New York Fall Foliage Report has already launched, allowing you to track the progress of the color change across the state. The foliage tends to start changing color in the northern parts of New York first, with tree transformation working its way south to Brooklyn by late fall.

    leaf peeping fall foliage

    Fall Foliage Report for the week of September 29. Image by I Love NY

    If you want to start your color viewing season before the trees of Brooklyn start changing, you may want to plan an trip upstate in October. To help narrow down the overwhelming options, we have picked five spots that should be on your list of foliage-inspired day trips from Brooklyn.

    1. Old Croton Aqueduct State Park
    Old Croton Aqueduct State Historic Park runs from Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx to the Croton Dam in Cortlandt, following the trail of the system which brought fresh water to New York City in the 1840s. More than 20 miles of tree-covered trails wind past historic scenic views and features of the aqueduct system. The paths can be hiked and mountain biked.

    How to Visit
    Address: The trail can be picked up in many locations, including at the Keeper’s House Visitor’s Center at 15 Walnut Street in Dobbs Ferry, N.Y.
    Hours: Sunrise to sunset, year round
    Admission: Free
    Directions: Take Metro North to Dobbs Ferry, then walk about 10 minutes to the Keeper’s House. Dobbs Ferry is about 1.5 hours by car from Brooklyn via the Saw Mill River Parkway. If you want to start elsewhere on the trail, a map can be obtained from Friends of the Old Croton Aqueduct.


    2. Olana State Historic Site
    Olana, the 1870s home and studio of Hudson River School painter Frederic Edwin Church, is set on top of a long slope overlooking the Hudson River. The 250-acre property offers stunning views of the river and surrounding valley as well as former carriage roads and trails that wind through a woodland landscape.

    How to Visit
    Address: 5720 Route 9G, Hudson, N.Y.
    Hours: The grounds are open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to sunset year round; the house is open Tuesday to Sunday from May to October and Friday to Sunday the rest of the year (advanced booking for house tours highly recommended)
    Admission: Free access to the grounds; house tours are $12 for adults, $10 for seniors and students, children under 12 free
    Directions: Take Amtrak to Hudson, then a taxi (about a 10-minute ride). By car, Olana is about 2.5 hours from Brooklyn via the Taconic State Parkway.


    3. Perkins Memorial Tower
    Constructed in the 1930s, the Perkins Memorial Tower is the major scenic lookout for Bear Mountain State Park. The tower is situated 1,305 feet above the Hudson River, and climbing it provides 360-degree views of the surrounding Hudson River valley. If the weather is clear, you might be able to spot the New York City skyline.

    How to Visit
    Address: Bear Mountain State Park
    Hours: The tower is accessible from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., April to November (weather permitting)
    Admission: Free
    Directions: Bear Mountain State Park is about a 1.5-hour car trip from Brooklyn via the Palisades Parkway. The Perkins Memorial Drive exit brings you right to the tower. If you are ready for a hike, you can catch a ShortLine Bus from Port Authority directly to the Bear Mountain Inn. From there it is about a two-mile hike to the tower.


    4. Walkway Over the Hudson State Historic Park
    If you prefer your hikes to be on pavement rather than trail but you still crave the foliage views, the Walkway Over the Hudson State Historic Park may be a good choice. The 1.28-mile-long elevated pedestrian bridge spans the Hudson River and provides spectacular views of the river and surrounding towns.

    How to Visit
    Address: Poughkeepsie, N.Y.
    Hours: Sunrise to sunset, year round (weather dependent)
    Admission: Free
    Directions: Take Metro North to Poughkeepsie and then walk about 15 minutes from the station to Upper Landing Park on North Water Street. A 21-story elevator takes you up to the walkway. The walkway entrance is about a two-hour car trip from Brooklyn via the Taconic State Parkway.


    5. Mount Beacon Park
    Ready for a more intense hike before enjoying a fall vista? The climb to the summit in Mount Beacon Park is not long, just about a mile, but it is mostly uphill and starts with a trek up a staircase. The remains of the Mount Beacon Incline Railway, once the world’s steepest funicular, provides some additional interest during the climb. At the top, you will be rewarded with panoramic views stretching from the Hudson Highlands to the Catskill Mountains. Continue your hike about a mile along the trail to reach the restored Mount Beacon Fire Tower.

    How to Visit
    Address: Beacon, N.Y.
    Hours: Sunrise to Sunset, year round
    Admission: Free
    Directions: Take Metro North to Beacon and then take a 10-minute cab ride from the station to the trailhead at the parking area and intersection of Route 9D and Howland Avenue. From Brooklyn it is about a 1.5-hour car trip via the Palisade Parkway.

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