Fall is probably my favorite season of the year, and I’m sure many others share this preference. In addition to the amazing colors, the air is crisp, the flying insects are all but gone, and I can finally have my morning coffee after 5am! There are lots of places to photograph the autumn foliage in the Hudson Valley, and I thought I would share a few of those here for anyone living in or visiting the Hudson Valley. This is not the definitive list, but just some ideas that can keep any photographer of nature lover busy for the season. Thanks to Thomas DiBuono for the motivation!
1) Palisades Interstate Park– otherwise known as Harriman State park, a great location only 45 miles north of NYC with lots of variety and color variation. With numerous lakes, trails, creeks, and waterfalls, there is something here for everyone. Favorites include Silvermine Lake, Lake Tiorati, and if you don’t mind a very long but enjoyable hike, Island Pond. This area also tends to change color very late in the season, and I’ve often visited at the end of October or early November with good results.
2) Minnewaska State Park / Mohonk Preserve– another great area with lots of varying terrain, lakes, waterfalls, and the best hiking trails in the region. I especially love Lake Awosting, and the view from Castle Point is one of the best anywhere. You can find these location on the Minnewaska map, but they will require some hiking, so allow extra time. I usually prefer overcast or somewhat rainy days where you can shoot all day without worrying about harsh sunlight. The Peters Kill Trail is a must do hike, with streams and scenic lookouts of the whole region.
3) Little Stony Point- sitting right on the Hudson River with a beach and one of the best views of the dramatic mountains in this area, Little Stony Point is worth a visit in the fall. Both sunrise and sunset can work here, and it all depends on which side of the river has the best color. Try to plan your visit during low tide for more variety and space to move around on the beach. Find a small trail that leads onto the rocky summit in the middle of the park, and you’ll have a nice birds eye view of the river from south to north.
4) Nyack State Park- with a river side trail amongst high cliffs, this park is great during the sunrise as it located on the west side of the river. Good color variety and cliff faces add nice background texture and details. You can also hike up to the cliff tops for a magnificent view of the Hudson. Lots of easy hiking and with the right conditions, the hours will fly by. Hook Mountain State Park is also nearby and has plenty of photographic potential.
5) Black Creek Preserve- You can read all about this park on the Scenic Hudson website, but it is a “must visit” place for me every fall. It has a wonderful “forest” feel while being right on the edge of the Hudson. Varying terrain, small sand beaches, and nice hiking provide everything needed for a good photo shoot. Sunrise is definitely best combined with low tide.
6) Poets Walk Park- picturesque setting with views of the Hudson, Catskill mountains, and the Kingston-Rhinecliff Bridge. Great, great place to visit anytime of year, and the fall is no exception. Whether alone or with the family, I highly recommend it.
7) Mills Norrie State Park– probably my favorite park in all of the Hudson Valley. Hudson River shoreline, great kayaking, views of the Esopus lighthouse, Catskill mountains, and mile of forested trails with a nice combination of deciduous and evergreen trees, there is always color here regardless of the season. I usually park at the Staatsburg Mansion, and follow the trails south along the river – never disappointed.
I hope this provides some ideas for those who want to capture more of the valley this fall. Of course, there are many more locations I have not mentioned, as well as those I’m discovering myself. Any of the Scenic Hudson Parks will provide ample opportunities for great photography. My goal was to provide a starting point and expand this list in the future. The most important thing to remember is to just get out with a clear mind and enjoy any setting where nature always provides inspiration.
The secret is to become aware enough, the rest is easy.