Hiking is a great way to get outdoors, to spend time with friends, and to get some exercise while taking in the stunning scenery the Hudson Valley has to offer. But for the new hiker, choosing a spot that's both skill-level appropriate and cool might be a challenge. Here are four places to check out that are perfect for beginners:
The Hudson Valley Rail Trail
A 4-mile path extending from Highland into Poughkeepsie, the rail trail offers a beautiful nature walk that can be enjoyed year-round. It has plenty of entrances and exits along the way so one can customize exactly how long of a walk one wants to take. The trail also includes the Walkway over the Hudson, a railroad bridge built in the late 1800s turned into a modern pedestrian walkway that provides a 360-degree view of the Hudson River and surrounding area. For those seeking a scenic trek but not necessarily an incline, the Hudson Valley Rail Trail is the right spot.
Little Stony Point
Little Stony Point is a short, simple hike located just off of Route 9D in Cold Spring. Approximately a mile long with a 150-foot ascent, it gives the new hiker the opportunity to take in some awesome mountaintop views without too much effort to get there. There is also a small beach area where one can hang out and go for a swim. Because it's so easily accessible and a great spot for hikers of all skill levels, Little Stony Point can get a bit crowded, especially on weekends. So if you want to beat the crowds, try going at some point during the week.
Another short but somewhat steep hike is Anthony's Nose, located in Peekskill near Bear Mountain. It may seem a bit daunting at first, but rest assured, it's only steep for the first half-mile or so. After that, one will enjoy a relatively simple, relaxing walk to the top where there is a spectacular overlook of the Hudson River and Bear Mountain Bridge. The summit is wide and roomy, so even on the occasionally busy day, Anthony's Nose is the perfect place to go and maybe have a picnic in a peaceful, secluded environment.
Butter Hill Trail
The Butter Hill Trail, part of Storm King Mountain, is the ideal beginner-intermediate hike. The trail is in the form of a 2.5-mile loop with a moderately steep ascent that requires some rock scrambling. Getting to the top is well worth the effort, though. From there, one will be able to take in a spectacular overlook of the Hudson River, as well as surrounding towns and other hiking spots (look across the river to see Little Stony Point). The entire hike will take a couple hours, not counting how long one will want to hang out at the cliff top, but the Butter Hill Trail will definitely not disappoint. For a good time, just follow the orange blazes.