On Fall's Trail in New York

What to Do & Where to Do It

Hike the High Peaks

The Adirondacks boast 46 high peaks, and many, including the highest, Mt. Marcy, are within the ability of even novice climbers. The views from 5,344-foot-high Mt. Marcy and its sister peaks are outstanding in any season, but the crimsons, golds and purples of the Adirondack autumn will suck the film right out of your camera. But don't forget the views from ground level, especially when mirrored against Tupper Lake, Saranac Lake or world-famous Lake Placid.

Access: Route 73 off the Northway (I-87) offers a number of great hiking trails, as does Route 30 and Route 86
Peak color: Last two weeks in September

Bike the Hudson Valley

The Hudson Valley's celebrated beauty spawned an entire school of art, and an autumn bike tour of this historic and picturesque region will show you why. Stately estates, farmers markets, state parks and incomparable views are just a few of the delights awaiting the cyclist. On the east bank, a tour beginning in Hyde Park takes you past the Vanderbilt Mansion, and the Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome. On the west bank, bike through leafy yellow tunnels formed by the overhanging trees along Harriman State Park's Seven Lakes Drive and gape at the views of the Hudson from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

Access: Various points of departure along Route 9W in Rockland and Orange County and Route 9 in Dutchess County
Peak color: Second and third weeks in October

Paddle the Delaware River

The upper Delaware River winds its way through the wooded hills of the western Catskills and Pennsylvania, where it's not uncommon to see bald eagles soaring overhead. This National Scenic and Recreational River is tailor-made for rafting, canoeing and kayaking, with plenty of riverside outfitters offering instruction, equipment and transportation. If you want something to do something other than paddle as you slide by the foliage, pack a fly rod, since the Delaware is also home to scads of wild rainbow and brown trout.

Access: New York Thruway (I-87) to Route 17 to Hancock
Peak color: First two weeks in October

Drive the Seaway Trail

Motor along the shores of Great Lakes and historic rivers as you take in the brilliant birches, maples and oaks along the way. The 454-mile long Seaway Trail begins along the banks of Lake Erie and winds along the shores of the Niagara River, Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River all the way to Canada. The trail is littered with points of departure for bikers, hikers, anglers and boaters. Enjoy eye-popping vistas from Rainbow Bridge at Niagara Falls, the 1000 Islands International Bridge at Collins Landing and the observation tower on Barnhart Island.

Access: Follow the green and white Seaway Trail signs from Route 5 in Shore Haven to Robert Moses Parkway in Niagra Falls, then Route 18 to Rochester, then Lake Road to Sodus Point, then Route 104 to Mexico, then Route 3 to Sackets Harbor, then Route 12 E to Cape Vincent, then Route 12 to Morristown, then Route 37 to Massena
Peak color: Last week in September to the end of October

Hike the Finger Lakes Region

The Finger Lakes region abounds in nature centers and wildlife preserves with thousands of acres set aside for hiking, canoeing and other outdoor pursuits. Good bets include the Beaver Lake Nature Center in Baldwinsville, The Howland Island Wildlife Management Area in Cayuga and The Limehollow Nature Center in Cortland. A must-see for leaf peepers is the Genesee Gorge in Letchworth State Park, the 17-mile-long"Grand Canyon of the East" whose blue waters are sandwiched between blazing hills.

Access: Interstate 90 West to I-81, I-390 and various other routes south
Peak color: First two weeks in October

Hike the Shawangunks

The Labyrinth Trail at the Mohonk Preserve offers a rock scrambling experience up the side of Skylight Mountain, one of the many worthwhile hikes in the Shawangunk Mountains. The trail leads hikers over and under boulders and rocks before climaxing with a climb through the "lemon squeeze," where you scale a ladder up a steep crevasse and surface through the narrow exit. You emerge just below the summit, which rewards you with one of the most stunning views in New York State, particularly during the full flame of fall's colors. And if the views leave you breathless, you can forgo the Labyrinth Trail for a gentle footpath back down.

Access: New York Thruway (I-87) to New Paltz, then Route 299 to Route 44 and Route 55
Peak color: Last two weeks in September

Paddle Cattaraugus Creek

If you really want to get away from it all this fall, it's hard to beat the spectacular Zoar Valley in the Chautauqua-Allegheny region of southwestern New York. Cattaraugus Creek carves its way though this rocky valley, where tree-crowned shale cliffs shoot hundreds of feet straight up in spots. Although hordes of white-water rafters ply the swollen creek in the spring, the fall's lower water levels make for a more solitary and forgiving ride through one of the region's most remote areas.

Access: Interstate 90 West to Buffalo, then Route 62 to Gowanda
Peak color: Last week in September to the first week in October

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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