Where is Hudson Highlands State Park
Hudson Highlands State Park is a non-contiguous state park located on the east side of the Hudson River in New York. The park runs from the eastern section of the Hudson Highlands, from Annsville Creek in Peekskill in Westchester County through Putnam County to Dennings Point in Beacon -- all just an hour and a half from New York City. The address for Hudson Highlands State Park is at 3011 Route 9D Cold Spring, NY 10516.
How Big is Hudson Highlands State Park
Hudson Highlands US State Park is a mostly undeveloped preserve around 7,500 acres entirely in New York State. The park land was heavily logged, mined, and quarried in the past. The land of the park ranges from salt marshes to mountain summits. The south summit of Beacon Mountain is the highest in the Highlands at 1,610 feet. Because of its panoramic views of the Hudson valley and proximity to NYC, it has become a popular destination for day hikes.
Hudson Highlands State Park Weather
In Hudson Highlands State Park, the summers are warm and often wet, the winters are cold, and it can be partly cloudy year-round. It is rarely below 4°F or above 90°F. During the warmer months, look along the trails or waterfront to enjoy the area’s wildlife. The most commonly seen animals are prairie warblers, red-eyed vireos, black-crowned night herons, bald eagles, and Needham’s skimmer dragonflies. The best trail to view wildlife is the South Beacon Mountain Trail via Breakneck Ridge and Wilkinson Memorial Trail. However, this expansive park offers vistas of the Hudson River Valley on a lot of their trails. You can see West Point, Bear Mountain, and on a clear day, even the New York City skyline.
When did Hudson Highlands Become a State Park
New York first started creating state parks in the Hudson Valley between 1910-1920. At first, larger areas were focused on like Harriman State Park and Bear Mountain. The Hudson River Conservation Society worked to preserve these lands from those trying to harvest minerals. The biggest land acquisition was between 1960-1970 where the park began to come together like its present-day self.
Things to do in Hudson Highlands State Park
Hudson Highlands State Park is chock full of things to do. There’s plenty of trails to tackle, hunting, fishing, canoeing, kayaking, and birdwatching. The park’s extensive hiking trails range from easy to challenging and are the most popular thing to do.
- Breakneck Ridge -- The park’s most popular trail has been featured as one of the top 10-day hikes to do in America. The 5.5-mile trail gains 1,250 feet in elevation in only a ¾ stretch. The summit offers views of Storm King and Newburgh Bay but please note the trail does require rock scrambling.
- Appalachian Trail -- The long-distance trail that goes from Georgia to Maine has a section in this state park. A 5.1-mile portion of the trail passes through the southern portion of the park near the Osborn Preserve. It ascends Canada Hill before descending to the US 9/NY 401 Junction.
- Wilkinson Memorial Trail -- This is the longest trail in Hudson Highlands State Park at 9.5 miles. It begins just north of Breakneck Ridge and gradually ascents to the summit of Scofield Ridge, the highest peak in Putnam County.
- Bird Watching -- There is a 270- acre bird sanctuary within Hudson Highlands State Park called Constitution Marsh where you can enjoy seeing some of the 300 species of birds. Wood Ducks, American Black Ducks, Mallards, and the Mute Swan are also commonly seen here.
- Kayaking and Canoeing -- A popular side paddle from the Hudson River is Constitution Marsh. It’s named after the adjacent Constitution Island, the site of a Revolutionary War fortress. Paddle your way through cattails and purple-flowering peckelreed here.
When to go to Hudson Highlands State Park
Hudson Highlands State Park is primarily used for hiking, rock climbing, and nature trips. While the State Park can be enjoyed at all times of the year, it’s best-utilized from April until November. Because some of the most popular trails involve rock scrambling, the trails aren’t recommended during rainy weather as the rocks are slippery during rain. Kayaking and canoeing are available in the park but are recommended to do from May to September. The area is still beautiful during wintertime, but because they can experience harsh winter conditions, it’s recommended you check the local forecast before beginning your journey there.
Must-Have things to Bring to Hudson Highlands State Park
Hudson Highlands has an expansive trail guide, but oftentimes they can require serious hiking. Our National Park Visitors Guide wants you to always be prepared whether you are setting off on foot, in a canoe, or fishing. Proper equipment, gear, food, and safety supplies should always be on hand when traveling.
- Water -- List of Parks recommends an equate of water is imperative when setting out on hikes, especially more challenging ones offered in Hudson Highlands State Park.
- Food/Snacks -- Because there is no food source directly by this state park, make sure you are packing proper food or snacks before you set off for an adventure here.
- Park Maps -- Trail maps can be found at most trailheads and at the Hudson Highlands office. They are also available for digital download on Avenza PDF Maps.
- Proper Hiking Boots -- Some trails in this area require serious rock scrambling or passing through streams. Proper footwear is highly recommended before you set out hiking.
- Cold Weather Attire -- If you are heading to Hudson Highlands State Park, know that it can be cold and oftentimes rainy. Have adequate cold weather clothes and a jacket in case you encounter rain.
- Warm Weather Attire -- Temperatures in the summer can be hot and sunny, so ensure you have sunglasses, sunscreen, and an outfit that is appropriate for warmer weather. Also, a large hat to protect you from the sun is a good idea to include.
- Binoculars -- If you’re interested in checking out the area’s 300 bird species, binoculars are a must-have to include in your items for this state park.
- Bug Spray -- Bug spray is essential to pack if visiting the park in warmer months because this state park sits right on the water and can experience mosquitos in the area.
- Toilet Paper and Plastic Bags -- Whether camping or hiking, it’s always a good idea to include toilet paper and plastic bags in your essentials. Please leave the park as you found it and use your plastic bags to collect trash and discard it properly.
Where to Stay in Hudson Highlands State Park
If you’re looking to camp, there are plenty of campgrounds to choose from ranging from 15-45 minutes away from the state park, with the closest one being nearby Clarence Fahnestock State Park. If you’re looking to stay in hotels, look towards nearby towns Beacon or Cold Spring. They’ll offer smaller inns and bed and breakfasts.
Food Nearby Hudson Highlands State Park
Hudson Highlands State Park is situated between two charming towns in the Hudson Valley. Just south of the park is the small town of Cold Spring while just north is the town of Beacon. Each offers plenty of dining experiences from casual cafes to popular restaurants. However, it is always a good idea to keep plenty of snacks on you if you are headed out on one of the many trails.
Airports near Hudson Highlands State Park
Because of Hudson Highlands State Park’s proximity to New York City, it makes it extremely easy to access. It’s just an hour from Westchester County Airport and approximately an hour and a half from New York City’s three major airports. You don’t even need a car to access this state park’s most popular trail -- the MTA has a weekend-only Breakneck Ridge stop from NYC’s Grand Central.