Whether you want to see the colors of fall from the comfort of your car, take in the views after challenging hike or bike across a new path in the Empire State Trail system, Putnam County, an hour’s drive from New York City, offers some of the best outdoor adventures around.
1. Route 301 offers a stunning drive across the county. From the hills of Carmel in the East to Philipstown on the Hudson River in the West, beautiful vistas just stream by as you drive along Route 301. Reservoirs line both sides of the road, offering distant views of colorful hills.
2. You can stop along the way to hike, picnic or birdwatch at Fahnestock State Park, which recently expanded its parking areas and access to trails, including the Appalachian Trail. The park has picnic spots and lake views and depending on the season, you can rent a rowboat or cross-country ski.
3. Stonecrop Gardens, on Route 301 in Cold Spring, is open through late October. A 15-acre garden high on a hilltop in the Hudson Highlands, Stonecrop is an incredible botanical garden, featuring woodlands and water gardens, English flower beds and a conservatory.
4. For some, reaching the Village of Cold Spring, with its sweeping views of the Hudson River is the highlight of the drive. But for those who are up for a serious challenge, the fun starts at Breakneck Ridge, a nationally known hike. While the views of the Hudson Highlands are rewarding from Breakneck, this is a very steep and difficult hike. It is not for novices, and local first responders frequently rescue unprepared hikers. Luckily, there are also easier hikes. You can park at Boscobel House and Gardens on Route 9D and hike down to Constitution Marsh Audubon Center and Sanctuary. Some trails at the Manitoga Preserve Trails in Garrison are open to the public at no charge, but if you want to visit the home of mid-century designer Russel Wright at Manitoga, tickets and reservations are required.
5. For kayakers, put-in to the Hudson River at Cold Spring and paddle around Foundry Cove before heading under the Metro-North Railroad bridge to enter Constitution Marsh. A quiet paddle through the Marsh reveals an amazing amount of bird and wildlife. Because paddling under the railroad bridge is the only way in and out, you must check the tide chart before planning a trip.
6. After all that exercise, reward yourself with a stop at one of the many restaurants in Cold Spring. From Hudson House River Inn with its waterfront views to Depot to Cold Spring Depot in the old train station at the foot of Main Street to the popular Hudson Hil’s Cafe on Main Street, there is no shortage of wonderful places to eat and relax.
7. As you head back east in the county, stop at Tilly Foster Farm and Education Center in Brewster. This historic county-owned farm is a gem and a great favorite with families. You can visit the farm animals and, in season, pick up some organic produce at the vegetable stand. The farm is also home to Tilly’s Table, where a cocktail on the deck overlooking the farm is a fall delight.
8. In the eastern part of Putnam County, at the border of Connecticut, you’ll find the Michael Ciaiola Conservation Area, where the autumn colors of the woods line a hiking trail to a rushing waterfall. You can enter the preserve in the Town of Patterson, via Haviland Hollow Road.
9. An iconic stop on the way to the Michael Ciaiola preserve is Red Rooster on Route 22 in Brewster. The red and white striped drive-up burger and ice cream joint with an adjoining miniature golf course has recently expanded and offers indoor seating as well as its traditional picnic tables on the back lawn.
Another popular spot is Las Mananitas restaurant on Route 22. Perched on a hilltop, the restaurant has several large outdoor patios and offers views of the East Branch Reservoir that stretch for miles. And, New York City and Westchester residents, that’s where your drinking reservoirs on the West side of the Hudson River.
10. The Maybrook Trailway bike path opened on January 1 and offers some of the most unspoiled views in the state. Part of the 750-mile Empire State Trail system, the Maybrook Trailway is easily accessible from the Metro-North Railroad station in Brewster. Head north on the trail through woodlands and rock outcroppings to Ice Pond. In the pre-refrigeration days, ice from the pond was cut into blocks, stored in a huge building and shipped via railroad to New York City. Continue your ride through parts of The Great Swamp, the headwaters of New York City’s reservoir system, and an incredible refuge for wildlife and birds. Take some time to spot the beaver dams and the turtles that line up on logs in the sun. Putnam County is just an hour’s drive from New York City and easily accessible by Metro-North Railroad, making it the perfect destination for a day trip this fall.
By car or by train, take a day trip to Putnam County, where there’s always another reason to say “I
Love New York.”
Visit visitputnam.org for more information about Putnam County.
Visit iloveny.com for more information about a New York State getaway.