As we creep into the lazy, heady vibes of late summer, Hudson Valley residents everywhere are getting out to enjoy the end-of-summer weather. While the area offers endless locations to hike your heart out during the day, sometimes you don’t have the time or energy to plan a lengthy (and tiring) trip. Sometimes it’s nicer to wait for the heat to dissipate, and take a short stroll for a look at a Instagram-worthy sunset and a light pollution-free the stars.
To help you in that endeavor, here are our picks, in no particular order, of the Hudson Valley’s best spots to watch the sunset or stargaze. Feel free to check them out next time you want to stare contemplatively at the skyline.
Nimham Fire Tower, Carmel
As you leave the busy suburbs of Carmel, snake your way around the West Branch Reservoir to find this hidden relic. This popular hiking destination is Instagram-worthy, to be sure, but not for the faint hearted. The tower was once used as a vantage point to scope out forest fires in the distance. The Nimham Mountain trek lasts 10 to 15 minutes, and while it’s a steep walk, the path is semi-paved and very manageable.
Scour the steps of the 82.5 foot tall firetower for one of the best views in the Hudson Valley. At the apex of your journey you get a flawless 360 degree view of the east and small bodies of water and homes appear miniature atop this monolith. With a small amount of effort, this view could be yours.
Bull Hill, Cold Spring
This gem is nestled among a variety of popular hiking locations in the Hudson Highlands State Park. While Breakneck Ridge is breathtaking, it’s no walk in the park. Little Stony Point (LSP) barely qualifies as a hike, but offers a close-up, cliffside view of the Hudson River. Bull Hill is the perfect balance between the two and is right across the street from LSP. The path was recently groomed and paved, making the terrain more manageable on this short, steep incline.
After about 15 minutes, the journey is well worth it. You are greeted by a circular clearing filled with small brush and trees, sitting under an imposing cliff, that will make you stop in your tracks. To the right there is a safe pathway to the cliffside where you can gaze across the river as the sun slowly rests. Be careful not to get too close to the cliff’s edge—it’s an unforgiving drop.
Minnewaska Lookout Points
If you drive on either side of State Route 59 near Minnewaska State Park, you will notice two parking points carved into the shoulder of the road near the top. Cruising through the thick green tunnels of foliage is gorgeous, but it pales in comparison to the two scenic stops on the roadside.
The area nearest Kerhonkson showcases the lush valley surrounding Rondout Creek: watch the sun melts into the towering mountain range in the distance. When you park, look to the left to see sloping rocks across the road, offering alternative seating arrangements to your car (be very wary of the blind curve). When the sun sets, drive towards New Paltz to check out the other lookout in the dark.
Victory Wyras Park, Poughkeepsie
After an evening out in the city, it might be a nice idea to digest near the Hudson River waterfront on a bench on this beautiful park. During the day, the park is a lovely place to hike, bike around, or enjoy a nice picnic. But as night falls you can marvel at the FDR Mid-Hudson bridge lit up like a christmas tree or the historic Walkway over the Hudson on the other side. The reflection of the city lights against the water gives the sun some stiff competition for beauty itself. Additionally, there are plenty of mountains in the background to give you the outdoorsy feel even when you’re so close to urban life.
Long Dock Park, Beacon
This next sunset spot is extremely accessible for a quick trip, located right next to the Beacon Train station to suit folks coming up from the city. Once essential to early 19th Century aquatic travel and industrial purposes, the park is now open to the public to enjoy. Biking and Kayak rentals are available in the nearby area and the recently renovated red barn, now the Scenic Hudson's River Center, hosts arts and educational events.
One interesting feature of the park is a boat like structure called Beach Point designed by artist George Trakas. This poolside seating area structure is a popular attraction and a perfect location for your sunset viewing. If relaxation is your goal, you’ll find plenty of it absentmindedly staring the Newburgh Bay and Hudson Highlands in the golden hour.
Kowawese Unique Area at Plum Point, New Windsor
Positioned on the Western Banks of the Hudson River, this last location boasts beautiful views of the Hudson Gorge. The gorge is known for its rugged, steep cliffs and the rolling valleys that accompany the riverside. The park is ideal for a number of summer activities such as hiking, fishing, and boating.
For the history buffs, make sure to check out the Revolutionary War-era batteries, where soldiers defended the shores with clumps of cannon fire. Sink your toes into its 2,000 foot long sandy shorelines to scope out the best place to stake for the sunset. The most manageable hike is on the Outer Gooley Take-Out Trail which is only a 0.1 mile hike to the south end of the water.
Did we miss your favorite spot? Snap a picture and tag us on Instagram @Chronogram to share the view.