10 Great Fall Hikes Near Westchester for Families
While some people bemoan the end of summer, I have always preferred the fall: cooler, less humid weather, changing leaves, apple picking, pumpkin spice, and football.
Plus the kids are back in school; and if your kids are like mine, that just makes them more anxious to get outside. So why not take them on a nature hike, where they can blow off steam and you can enjoy the natural splendor of autumn. With that in mind, here are some great fall hikes for families in and around Westchester County.
And for more seasonal fun, be sure to see our guide to fall fun in Westchester.
Fall Foliage Nature Hikes Near Westchester County
Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge Path —Tarrytown / South Nyack
Enjoy breathtaking views on both shores of the Hudson River from the Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge Path, which links Westchester and Rockland counties. On a clear day you can see all the way down to the George Washington Bridge. The path features six scenic overlooks, and the landings on each side feature interactive displays, public art, and, importantly, restrooms.
Lenoir Preserve — Yonkers
If your kids, like mine, love animals, you can add some wildlife to your nature hike at Lenoir Preserve. Throughout this 40-acre preserve, which comprises woodlands and field habitats, you can experience hawk migrations, a butterfly and hummingbird garden, dragonfly pond, and other wildlife. And the view of the Palisades across the Hudson River provides a spectacular autumn tableaux.
New York Botanical Gardens — Bronx
Fall is the perfect time of year to visit this 250-acre preserve, easily accessible via the Bronx River Parkway. Among the autumnal highlights are the Thain Family Forest and Azalea Garden, which are just bursting with color. And children will enjoy the Everett Children’s Adventure Garden, where they can climb boulders, explore a maze, and participate in fun, hands-on science activities.
Rockefeller State Park Preserve — Pleasantville
Within the Rockwood Hall section of Rockefeller State Park Preserve are numerous activities for the kids, including fields in which to romp, interconnecting nature trails, several picnic spots, an old foundation to explore, and a weeping beech tree that the kids will just love climbing. If you are looking to tour the preserve on wheels, however, be forewarned: strollers are welcome, but bicycles are not allowed.
Turkey Mountain Nature Preserve — Yorktown Heights
From its summit of 831 feet, Turkey Mountain Preserve offers spectacular views of the Croton Reservoir and dam, the Hudson River, the New York City skyline, Bear Mountain, the Hudson Highlands, and even the ridge of the Shawangunks. But don’t let the height intimidate you; the hike up is not too steep, and less steep on the way down (although a bit a bit longer).
Walkway Over the Hudson — Poughkeepsie and Highland
The world’s longest elevated pedestrian bridge, the Walkway Over the Hudson links Dutchess and Ulster counties. As with the Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge path, you can enjoy spectacular views on both shores of the Hudson River as you traverse an elevated walkway suspended more than 200 feet over the river.
Hit the trails at Bear Mountain State Park for a bit of a challenge. Photo by Anne Gergo
Bear Mountain State Park — Bear Mountain
Situated in rugged mountains rising from the west bank of the Hudson River, Bear Mountain State Park offers dozens of trails catering to every liking. And once your kids get tired of hiking, there are plenty of other diversions, including a playground, merry-go-round, museum, paddleboat rentals, zoo, and multiple picnic areas.
Wander the perfectly manicured Untermyer Gardens.
Untermyer Gardens — Yonkers
Although this sprawling, scenic urban oasis can be enjoyed all year long, the scenery in autumn is particularly sublime. As with Lenoir Preserve, the view of the Palisades across the Hudson is breathtaking. While you take in the scenery, your kids will love climbing around the bridges and tunnels that make up the Temple of Love/Rock and Stream Garden. And there are benches for picnicking. A full walking tour guide is available on its website.
Poet’s Walk Park — Red Hook
Featuring approximately 2 miles of connecting trails, Poet’s Walk is a truly unique park; it’s a designed landscape, a series of “outdoor rooms” separated by stands of trees and stone walls, created in the 1850s. The trails are flat and wide, and they offer spectacular views of the Catskill Mountains, the Kingston-Rhinecliff Bridge, and of course, the Hudson River.
Hike along the paths in the park and over the bridge at Croton Gorge Park.
Croton Gorge Park — Croton-on-Hudson
At the base of the Croton Dam sits Croton Gorge Park, a 97-acre property that affords impressive views of the dam and spillway via a bridge that spans the Croton River and stands more than 200 feet high. In addition, the park provides direct access to New York State’s Old Croton Aqueduct, which begins here. Additional amenities include a playground and picnic area.
Unless noted, photos courtesy of the parks/gardens