Where to Take a First Day Hike in the Hudson Valley

Rockefeller State Park Preserve in Pleasantville is just one of the NYS parks offering New Year’s hikes. Photo by Joe Golden
 

Start the new year on the right foot—literally—with a picturesque January 1 hike at one of these local New York State parks.

By Matt Moment and Kathryn Walsh

No New Year’s Eve partying for you? That’s great. You’ll stay safe and feel rejuvenated for New Year’s Day. One great way to spend January 1 is on a first day hike at a New York State Park, where you can follow along guided tours, do a little bird watching, or simply stroll along well-trodden trails.

Whether you’re setting the intention to get out and about more in 2023 or you just love a good winter hike, these are prime options for an excursion.

Franklin D. Roosevelt State Park

Yorktown Heights

Franklin D. Roosevelt State Park - @cmaala15 (IG)

No reservations are required for this brisk, two-mile hike. Located in the heart of Westchester County, it’s a great choice for hikers traveling from the Big Apple.

John Jay Homestead State Historic Site

Katomah

Dawn to dusk, take a self-guided landscape tour of this historic site in Westchester. While you won’t get the full John Jay experience—the Bedford House, visitor center, and Discovery Center are open May through October—the grounds alone are well worth a visit in all their winter glory.

Rockefeller State Park Preserve

Pleasantville

Photo courtesy of the Friends of the Rockefeller State Park Preserve

Rockefeller State Park Preserve offers two glorious first day hikes. The 9 a.m. stroll along the Hudson River also crosses the beautiful landscapes of Rockwood Hall. Larry Trachtenberg of the Saw Mill River Audubon Society guides the walk, pointing out bald eagles, red-tailed hawks, and other wildlife along the way. Be sure to register in advance.

Old Croton Aqueduct State Historic Park at Croton Reservoir and Dam

Cortlandt

This easy, breezy, two-mile loop around the Old Croton Aqueduct is certainly not short on views. Not only will you be spending time around nature, but you’ll get to see an iconic Westchester landmark for yourself. How better to start off your year than with a bit of nature and history? Register online for the hike, which begins at noon on New Year’s Day.

Hudson Highlands State Park Preserve at Little Stony Point

Cold Spring

Celebrate the arrival of 2023 at the majestic Hudson Highlands with a hike as well as “free hot cocoa, coffee, snacks, music, fireside warmth.” Opt for the mile-long Little Stony Point trail, or hike three miles round-trip via the Cornish Estate trail for a little local history.

 

Olana State Historic Site

Hudson

Photo by Olivia Waldron

When better to discover the beauty of Frederic Edwin Church’s architectural masterpiece than on New Year’s Day? Attendees must register in advance online to partake in this mile-long tour of Church’s 250-acre property. Early birds can join on the 10 a.m. hike, whereas late risers may prefer to take the 1 p.m. tour. What’s more, first day hikers can also learn about the winter exhibition, “Chasing Icebergs,” which features “Church’s iceberg sketches from his 1859 intrepid voyage to the Arctic” in addition to thematically comparable work by four contemporary artists.

Taconic State Park – Copake Falls Area

Copake Falls

There’s nothing like a brisk waterfall hike on New Year’s Day. Head out to Bash Bish Falls and join a guided three-mile hike beginning at 1 p.m. The walk will take place rain or shine, and pets are invited, too! The trail also highlights the historic Copake Ironworks. Call ahead to 518.329.3993 for inquires and registration.