Just one hour north of Manhattan, vibrant foliage and crisp fall air set the scene for fabulous fall hikes along hundreds of miles of Orange County, N.Y. trails.
Seven New York State Parks and dozens of local parks and preserves lie within Orange County’s borders. Follow trails to views of the New York City skyline and both the Hudson and Delaware Rivers. Orange County is the only place in the Hudson Valley that can deliver all three!
Take the Appalachian Trail from Warwick, a designated Appalachian Trail Community, then continue for a bird’s-eye-view of Greenwood Lake or walk along the paved section in the Bear Mountain State Park Zoo, where the famous trail was founded in 1923. Some trailheads are accessible via train or bus from New York City and within short walking distance of Orange County hotels and B&Bs. If you don’t want to drive, consider visiting trails in Bear Mountain State Park, Harriman State Park, Schunnemunk State Park, Port Jervis Watershed Park and the Heritage (Rail) Trail. Bear Mountain, Salisbury Mills, Goshen, Monroe and Port Jervis are locations with lodging choices close to the trails. “Lace up your hiking boots and get away from it all!” suggests Orange County Tourism Director, Amanda Dana. “Orange County’s trails are close to the New York Metropolitan area, but they’ll take you far from the hustle and bustle. Come climb a mountain or wander a gentle woodland path. We have trails for everyone.” Some excellent hiking spots in Orange County, N.Y. include: Schunnemunk Mountain State Park, 339 Otterkill Road, New Windsor: Explore 25 miles of hiking trails along 3,300 acres of rolling meadows and spectacular mountaintops including Schunnemunk Mountain, Orange County’s highest peak. Eight marked trails offer hikers thrilling 360-degree views of adjacent valleys, portions of the distant Hudson River and surrounding forest and farmlands. The park extends from Cornwall through Woodbury, Blooming Grove and Monroe. For more information, visit www.palisadesparksconservancy.org . Sterling Forest State Park, 115 Old Forge Road, Tuxedo: Comprised of 20,000 acres of nearly pristine natural refuge, Sterling Forest is among the largest contiguous forests in New York State. The park offers varying trail lengths, including 10, 8, 7, 4, and 3 miles. See historic ruins of the iron mining industry that once flourished here. Go on your own or register for guided hikes on select weekends. Stop by the Lautenberg Visitor Center for some tips from the park rangers. For more information, visit www.palisadesparksconservancy.org . Storm King State Park, Route 9W, South of Cornwall: This undeveloped park made headlines in the 1960s and 1970s when Storm King Mountain inspired the ecological movement in the United States. Climb the steep, rocky trails for breathtaking views of the Catskill Mountains and the Hudson Valley. For more information, visit www.palisadesparksconservancy.org . Port Jervis Watershed Trails and Park, 1 Skyline Drive, Port Jervis. More than 35 miles of hiking trails meander through forest, streams and old logging roads in this park encompassing over 2,000 acres in Port Jervis and Deer Park. Take in spectacular views of the Delaware River, Tri-State region and historic Port Jervis. Follow the Outdoor Club of Port Jervis for open-to-the-public guided adventures. For more information, visit www.ocopj.org . Hudson Highlands Nature Museum and Trails at the Outdoor Discovery Center, 120 Muser Drive, Cornwall: Perfect for families with children, three miles of trails winding through or along forests, meadows and wetlands, enhance special programs at the Hudson Highlands Nature Museum Outdoor Discovery Center. There is a universally accessible bird-observation platform. For more information, visit www.hhnm.org . Visit www.OrangeTourism.org for more outdoor recreation and a full list of lodging, activities, and attractions. Orange County Tourism’s Facebook page: Orange County Tourism NY is a fabulous guide to up-to-the-minute postings of area events and activities, great times, and memorable experiences available to visitors.