Looking for the best winter hiking near New York City? Here are places to go walking in the Hudson Valley with Instagrammable features like waterfalls, river views and architectural elements. Also included are things to do near the trailheads. Plan to spend the whole day exploring these getaways from NYC.
I love hiking in winter. Wait. Let me start again. I love hiking in winter when the temperature’s not below zero and the wind’s gently blowing. If my teeth are chattering, I’m staying inside by the fire.
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In the Hudson Valley we usually have a number of climate-comfortable days to get bundled and go for a walk in the woods. NYC dwellers will be happy to know you don’t have to travel to the upstate mountains in the Catskills or Adirondacks to get out and about.
Here are super easy winter hikes in the area that are kid- and pet-friendly. They’re a great way to get started on your New Year’s resolutions!
Best Winter Hikes Near NYC
I’ve put together a list of my favorite places to go for a wander in the winter in the Hudson Valley. Some are accessible via MetroNorth, making them easy to access from New York’s Grand Central Station.
For others, a car’s necessary. Information about parking is included. I like short hikes in winter, so these are under an hour in duration but many can be extended. I’ve also included things to do nearby, so you can plan your day in the Hudson Valley.
Here are 5 hikes in the Hudson Valley and why they’re best enjoyed in winter.
1. Arden Point, Garrison
When the leaves are off the trees, you’ll have a fantastic view of the U.S. Military Academy from Arden Point. One of the trails located in the East Hudson Highlands region, Arden Point is easily accessible from the Garrison Metro North train station.
Look for two stone pillars at the south exit for the station and follow the blue blazes. You’ll cross two bridges: a wooden one over a small brook and a metal one over the train tracks.
The roundtrip to and from the station took me 45 minutes. It’s kid- and pet-friendly.
Extend your day either before or after your hike by visiting nearby Cold Spring, New York. It has a number of excellent shops (Endless Skein, Archipelago and Old Souls are 3 of my favorites) and super restaurants. If you only have time for one bite to eat, check out The Depot. It’s cozy and delicious.
2. Poet’s Walk, Red Hook
You’ll feel like your walking through a Hudson River landscape painting while strolling the Poet’s Walk in Red Hook. Back in the 1800’s, two estate owners created a landscape between their two properties. It looks much the way it did back then, thanks to the preservation efforts of Scenic Hudson.
Total trail length is 2.5 miles and includes the things you like to see on a winter hike: bridges, structures and sweeping vistas. Small children love the Poet’s Walk because of the wide open fields, perfect for running off energy.
It’s very “pup-ular.” If your dog’s a barker or a puller or ill-behaved in other ways, you’ll have troubles because the trail attracts lots of dogs.
The parking lot is small, so go early or you’ll have to wait for a spot to open up.
Nearby Rhinebeck is a 4-season destination with a charming downtown, the Dutchess County Fairgrounds and the Old Rhinebeck Aerodome.
3. Pelton Pond, Clarence Fahnestock State Park
The 1.5 mile trail around Pelton Pond in Clarence Fahnestock Memorial State Park is one of my favorites to hike in winter. It’s short; the loop usually takes me 40-45 minutes, depending on how much sniffing my dog does. But it’s beautiful.
And it has its challenges. The trail is narrow. There are some elevation changes. And there are plenty of stones and roots to navigate. What I like most about the Pelton Pond trail is that, even in the dead of winter, there are reminders of life everywhere. I feel a fresh sense of “I can make it to spring!” when I see bright green moss patches, tiny mountain laurel shrubs and towering pines.
Wear your hiking shoes for this one. Or your snowshoes after a healthy snowfall. Parking’s free and there’s a comfort station.
If there’s snow on the ground, head to the Clarence Fahnestock Winter Park for snow tubing, hot cocoa and a campfire.
4. Fitzgerald Falls, Monroe
The easy hike to Fitzgerald Falls is part of the Appalachian Trail. So even newbies can brag about hiking the AT! Access is not clearly marked; use Greenwood Lake Middle School to set your GPS; the trailhead is about a quarter mile north of the school – you’ll see cars parked on both sides of the road.
The trail to the falls is on the east side of busy Lakes Road. It’s an easy walk for kids and pets. The sound of rushing water overtakes the traffic noise. Follow the white blazes. The trail was moved at some point so you may veer off and find the blazes stop. Re-route yourself.
You can ooh, aah and snap selfies and be back in the car in about 15 minutes. Alternatively, cross the stream (be careful!) and climb the rock staircase to continue your hike for as long as you want before turning back. It’s more difficult once you’ve climbed the stairs. I would have had difficulty if I’d had my dog with me since I needed both hands to scramble up and around some rocks.
The trail is equidistant (about 15 minutes) from two areas worth exploring if you’re making a day of it. Head to charming Warwick village to explore its Main Street restaurants and shops. Or, if you’re a professional shopper, head to the Outlets at Woodbury Commons.
5. Rockefeller State Park Preserve
I’m a huge fan of the Rockefeller State Park Preserve and often take guests here to introduce them to my neighborhood. The preserve consists of over 1700 acres of land donated by the Rockefeller family. Trails are wide carriage paths covered in crushed stone. The park is not only dog-friendly, but horses are welcome too.
There are approximately 45 miles of trails throughout the Rockefeller Preserve, so it’s hard to get bored. Download the park trail map before you head out. For first-timers, I recommend the loop trail around Swan Lake.
The parking lot is small, so go early or later in the day. Parking is $6.