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7. Waterfall ChasingSometimes you just want to hike to a spot to stand in awe of the magisterial force of water rushing over rocks and falling into pools. There are innumerable waterfalls to chase in the Hudson Valley. The biggest of them is Kaaterskill Falls, the 260-foot, two-stage fall just east of Hunter. The gently cascading falls and swimming holes of Vernooy Kill Falls are also worth the trek into the Catskills. High Falls, located in the heart of the eponymous village, and Awosting Falls, a 60-foot plunge just a 15-minute hike from the entrance of Minnewaska Park, are two of the more accessible falls in the region. Follow the stream from Awosting to arrive at Sheldon Falls, visible from an old power station and dam. The tallest waterfall in the Shawangunks is Verkeerder Kill Falls, 187 feet tall and accessible via a three-mile trail in Sam's Point Preserve.
8. Swimming HolesSummer seems like a gift as we emerge from the long winter, but come the first big heat wave—when the humidity accosts you and beads of sweat form every time you step outside—the season can feel like a curse, and the mind turns to the cool, blue relief of a swimming hole. Some of our favorites include: Lake Awosting (Minnewaska State Park Preserve), Rudd Pond (Taconic State Park), Kaaterskill Falls (Greene County), Peekamoose Blue Hole, Vernooy Kill Falls, and Split Rock Falls (Ulster County), Zabriskie's (Annandale-on-Hudson), and Little Deep (Woodstock). Be sure to carry out what trash you carry in, as abuse of public swimming holes in recent years has led to closures and restricted access.
- Photo: Peter Crosby
- Fishing the Willowemoc Creek at Livingston Manor Fly Fishing Club; a modern day interpretation of a Catskills Fly Fishing Club. Open for private groups, individual bookings on select weekends, and a number of intimate member events each annum.
9. Fly FishingThe Catskills are the birthplace of fly fishing in America, and although angling never really died out in the region's streams and creeks, the pastime has seen a wide increase in popularity in recent years. In the process of this resurgence, fly fishing has become increasingly chic (look no further than the membership-based Livingston Manor Fly Fishing Club, which leads expeditions and hosts events at its headquarters on the Willowemoc), though with your waders, a pole, a map, and a bit of patience, you could find your own way, too. For those in need of guides, Esopus Creel, in Phoenicia, offers an instructional crash course as part of its half- and full-day fishing trips in the Esopus Creek.
10. Horseback RidingWhether you're a newbie equestrian or you've got your horses out back, there are lots of places to saddle up in the Hudson Valley. Westchester Trail Rides is a family-run equestrian trail guide service, while Netherwood Acres, Kirby Hill Farm, and Ivy Rock Farms are full-service riding and boarding facilities with lessons. Newcomers can also head to Juckas Stables in Pine Bush for beginner-friendly trail rides (there's plenty for experienced riders, too). The Rocking Horse Ranch Resort offers an Old West overnight experience with more than 500 acres of trails, and Pine Ridge Dude Ranch provides a rustic equestrian experience in Kerhonkson. Saddle Brook Farm Animal Rescue rehabilitates horses at its horse motel before taking them out on the trail.
- The Great Newburgh to Beacon Hudson River Swim.
11. The Great Newburgh to Beacon SwimEach summer, some 150 to 200 swimmers push off from Newburgh riverfront to traverse the Hudson for the annual mile-long swim. Now in its 16th year, the Great Newburgh to Beacon Swim has become something of a mid-Hudson Valley tradition. It's charitable, too: each swimmer must raise a minimum of $100 in donations, in addition to the $60 registration fee. It takes about an hour to swim across, but the reward, in the middle of the river, "is a feeling of being nowhere and everywhere at once," says Nita Rae of River Pool at Beacon, the nonprofit that organizes the swim and is the charitable recipient. "The magnificence of the world around you and a sense of your own infinitesimal place." This year's swim will be held on July 20 (rain date: July 21), and registrations are open now.