For centuries, the Catskills and Hudson Valley have been a beloved destination for artists, writers, and nature enthusiasts alike. From the rugged mountains to the lush valleys, this area offers a wide range of hiking trails that showcase the natural splendor of the region. Discover some of the most spectacular hikes in the area, including hidden gems like Brace Mountain, well-known favorites like Overlook Mountain, and distinctive spots like the Shawangunk Grasslands National Wildlife Refuge. You’ll also explore natural wonders like the Verkeerderkill Falls, expansive vistas, and the oldest-growth forests in the Hudson Valley. Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or a nature lover looking for an adventure, these hikes offer something for everyone.
Brace Mountain | Millerton
Sitting 2,311 feet above sea level, Brace Mountain in Millerton boasts the highest point in Dutchess and may just be the county’s hidden gem. If you’re up for the challenge, a relatively quick yet steep hike will reward you with panoramic views of the Hudson River and Catskills, northern farmland, and the Berkshires. You’ll get most of the hoof out of the way in the first mile by way of the less-maintained Quarry Trail (marked yellow). A bit of scrambling is required here, but don’t let that challenge deter you from continuing on. If you’re lucky, you might even catch a paraglider taking off, depending on the time of year. 3.6-mile roundtrip.
Sam’s Point to Verkeerderkill Falls | Cragsmoor
The popular Sam’s Point Area is in the southernmost area of the Minnewaska State Park in Cragsmoor. Expect a good crowd, but don’t let that deter you from enjoying the wildlife, rock formations, and views along the way on the highest section of the Shawangunk Ridge. Park at the visitor’s center and head right, up a set of switchbacks for a moderate to strenuous stroll and you’ll almost be at the famous Sam’s Point Overlook. The trail heads downhill and will take you through a rare Dwarf Pitch Pine Barren, one of the few remaining in the world. Continue on to the 187-foot waterfall at Verkeerderkill Falls, one of the tallest in the region. Six-mile out and back or 8-mile loop.
Acra Point and Batavia Kill Loop with Burnt Knob Lookout | Maplecrest
This is one of the most beautiful hikes in the Catskills, a charming loop that follows the Batavia Kill for the first mile, winds uphill over Acra Point with its wonderful view of the Blackhead Range, and then branches out briefly to an even more spectacular view below the summit of Burnt Knob. The descent through terrain marked by beautiful streams and hemlock stands is an intensely sweet finish. Six-mile loop.
Overlook Mountain | Woodstock
Minutes away from the town of Woodstock, the underwhelming Overlook Mountain trail (old carriage road) pays off when you reach the top. You’ll gain all your vertical while working the steep incline during the first 2.5 miles, but, overall, you’ll feel relaxed on this non-technical hike. The fire watchtower, built in the 1950s, will greet you at the top. Check out the Overlook Hotel Ruins and take a picnic to enjoy on one of the benches. With views of the Catskills, Ashokan Reservoir, and the Hudson Valley, you will see why this spot was a favorite among the 19th-century Hudson River School artists. 4.6-mile roundtrip.
Inspiration Point | Palenville
Very close to Kaaterskill Falls, the aptly-named Inspiration Point in Palenville is one of the most spectacular scenic locations in the Catskills. The trail from Scutt Road winds down through classic Catskills forest terrain, heading through the junction to Kaaterskill Falls and the Layman’s Monument before passing a number of stunning lookouts perched high above the incredibly steep Kaaterskill Clove. Ruins of the old Kaaterskill Hotel are close by. Five-mile loop.
John Burroughs Nature Sanctuary | West Park
Pioneering literary naturalist John Burroughs built his cabin, Slabsides, here in 1895 as his writing retreat and source of inspiration for many of his well-known essays. The trails of this West Park preserve travel through 191 acres of protected lands provide surprisingly almost effortless strolling, considering the ruggedness of varied natural features. Thick forests, ridgelines, rock formations, and wetlands throughout this loop are perfect for seasoned and budding naturalists to explore while getting fresh air. Great for the whole family. 4-5-mile loop.
Ferncliff Forest | Rhinebeck
If you’re looking to climb a fire tower and don’t want too much of a hike to get there, Ferncliff Forest in Rhinebeck is the right place. The less-than-strenuous hiking makes for a great outing with the whole family or wildlife watchers, and you’ll be amongst one of the oldest-growth forests in the Hudson Valley. With over 200 acres of preserved land now maintained by the Ferncliff Forest non-profit, this trail system offers four miles of well-marked hiking with a variety of options to explore. The fire tower is one of the best sunset spots in the Hudson Valley. 2.6-mile loop.
Shawangunk Grasslands National Wildlife Refuge | Wallkill
A hidden gem in plain sight! The reason you come here is not necessarily to up the heart rate. Formerly the Galeville Military Airport, this flat, grass trail system in Wallkill is well-maintained year-round by the Fish and Wildlife Service and is a popular spot for birders and photographers. Don’t forget your gumboots if you head out after wet weather passes through. It’s a great spot for grassland birds and is home to the short-eared owl, which you may be able to spot this time of year. 3.9-mile loop.
Whether you’re hiking the craggiest Catskill peaks or walking the lowlands of the Shawangunks, always respect the wilderness and your own abilities and practice follow Leave No Trace principles.