Fall is a delight in Westchester and we are so fortunate to live in a county where we have abundant opportunities to enjoy the season’s stunning colors and gorgeous vistas. Here are three easy family hikes that will quickly reward you with some absolutely spectacular autumn scenery.
Rockwood Hall Trail, Rockefeller State Park Preserve, Sleepy Hollow (nysparks.com and friendsrock.org) –
The Rockwood Hall section of the Preserve is good for strollers (jogging strollers are best), there are fields in which to run and romp, an old foundation to explore, and an incredible weeping beech tree that just begs to be climbed. There are several, interconnecting trails here and the loop I suggest begins with the Foundation Trail just across from the parking area, to the right of the trail kiosk and heads slightly uphill. Upon rounding the bend, you are immediately treated to a sweeping view of the Hudson River where there are several idyllic picnic spots. The trail continues past the weeping beech and the old foundation of Rockwood Hall where it bears left to connect with the middle
trail and then continues left along the river to the lower trail. The loop ends at the trailhead kiosk. To reach the Rockwood Hall trails, take Rte. 117 west to Rockwood Road. The road ends at the parking area near Phelps Memorial Hospital.
Turkey Mountain Preserve, Yorktown Heights –
Follow the white blazes and in less than a mile, and under 30 minutes, you will find yourself at the summit of Turkey Mountain. If the day is clear you will have views of the Manhattan skyline, the Hudson Highlands and the Croton Reservoir and there are several flat rocks that are a nice spot to sit for a spell and have lunch or a snack. This is a perfect kid-sized hike – not too steep, yet challenging enough to feel like a real accomplishment – and they get to say they climbed a mountain! The way down on the blue trail is a bit longer, but less steep. Turkey Mountain Preserve is about 2 miles from Rte. 202 off of Rte. 118, just across from the sign for Peter Pratt’s Inn.
Poet’s Walk, Rhinebeck (scenichudson.org) –
This hike offers a wonderful, autumn field trip about an hour north to the town of Rhinebeck in Dutchess County. If you’ve never visited Rhinebeck it is a jewel of village with fantastic little shops including my girls’ favorite, Al Stickle’s Five and Dime. Nearby in Red Hook is Grieg Farm where you can pick apples. It’s a great place to spend a weekend. Poet’s Walk features approximately 2 miles of connecting trails that are flat and wide and offer incredible views of the Catskill Mountains, the Kingston-Rhinecliff Bridge, and the majestic Hudson. The blue trail, beginning right off the parking area, leads to a large gazebo called the Overlook Pavilion. This part of the trail is fine for jogging strollers. Beyond that there is a short loop of trails, one leading to the Summerhouse and one leading to the Flagpole Lot. The two link-up and loop back to the Overlook Trail and are not stroller friendly. This is a very pretty section of trail that leads through the woods. To reach Poet’s Walk, head north on Rte. 9 from the village of Rhinebeck and bear left onto Montgomery Road. Continue straight and Montgomery Road becomes Mount Rutsen Road and then becomes River Road. Continue straight through the stoplight at Rte. 199. The Poet’s Walk parking lot will be on the left in about half a mile.