Great local autumn walks

autumn leaves

It's peak time for a walk.

We're big fans of autumn walks. There's the foliage, of course (we refuse to use the term "leaf peeping" -- it just sounds wrong). But we also love the cool air, the warm sun, the bright blue sky, and the crunch of leaves.

Here are a few of our favorites places to take a walk this time of year...

Rensselaerville (map)
The town with the name that sounds like it should be in a different place (it's actually in far west Albany County.) It seems like it should always be autumn in this place -- the village just looks right with all the foliage. A little outside of town is the beautiful Rensselaerville Institute and the Huyck Preserve, which has a trail that leads to the Rensselaerville Falls. And, hey, you never know when you'll see Andy Rooney.

Thacher State Park (map)
A great place to escarp for the afternoon. (Oof, we know, bad geology joke.) And, hey, you only have another month until the Indian Ladder trail closes for the season. Admission for a car load is $6.

Saratoga National Historical Park (map)
Ponder the turning point of the revolutionary war or just look at the leaves. You can bike, hike or drive through the Saratoga National Historical Park. If you're in it for nature, just wander. If you want a little history, you can start at the visitors center for a short orientation film and a map. Tour road is 9.5 miles. The hiking trail is 4 miles. There's also an 8 mile trail. It's $5 for cars, $3 for bicycles and hikers.

Prospect Mountain (map)
If you're up for a trip to Lake George, you can hike part of Prospect Mountain. It's $7 per car to get on the mountain. Then you drive to a plateau where you can hike or take the bus to the top. There are trails to wander and on a clear day you can see the Empire State Plaza and the mountains of Vermont.

Peebles Island (map)
Even though it's located right the middle of the Capital Region, this park seems to very often be overlooked. It's a beautiful spot at the confluence of the Hudson and Mohawk. It's $6 for cars.

Albany Rural Cemetery (map)
This is another overlooked spot right in the middle of things (Menands isn't so rural anymore.) You can wander among the grave stones for hours and not see another soul. We like to walk a loop that swings by the grave of President Chester A. Arthur.

A few other spots that make for nice walks this time of year: Oakwood Cemetery in Troy, Central Park in Schenectady (near the rose garden), Corning Preserve, and the "hiking trail" at Capital Hills golf course in Albany (it's hilly).

Got a favorite spot for walk this time of year? Share!


Don't overlook Five Rivers in Bethlehem! It's especially good for kids because you can check out the visitors' center too.

I haven't been there in years, but I remember it used to be nice to go to Ann Lee Pond by the airport. There's trails that lead to a bridge over the pond.

Are any of these dog friendly? *(on leash of course)* My dog loves to walk... and I love going for long walks with her.

We saw a 500-year-old oak tree last week at the Landis Arboreteum in the lovely little village of Esperance. A nice place for a walk to be sure.

@Emily: Thacher, Peebles and the Albany Rural Cemetery are all dog OK (on a leash).

I know Pebbles Island is dog friendly and it's a great walk.

Take a stroll up to the top of the small hill at Indian Ladder Farms in rural Albany County and say hi to Rosie the Cow either before or after cider donuts. Definitely check out Five Rivers Nature Center in Bethlehem/New Scotland for a variety of loops, with a personal fave -- the Beaver Pond Trail. Don't forget the Albany Pine Bush for an excursion into a unique place. The Normanskill Farm in the City of Albany is a hidden gem as well -- that offers a wild experience next to the Normans Kill -- it makes you forget you are in the City. Plus you may get a glimpse of the police horses and some cows as well!

@Jen and Emma, Normanskill farm is one of my favorite places to take my pooch.

May I also suggest North South Lake Campground in Catskill State Park? There are trails with breathtaking views of the Hudson Valley as well as a hike to Kaaterskill Falls; the highest waterfall in NYS at 260 feet. For nicer weather, there is a lake where you can swim, boat and fish, public restrooms, and BBQ pits, and that's if you just want to spend the $6 per car (I believe) to go for the day. Camping is $21 a night. It's one of my favorite places.

I second North South Lake and Kaaterskill Falls.

Here are some pics of both. Great scenery any time of year.

Some good suggestions here. For cemeteries in the area, none can really compete with Oakwood Cemetery in Troy...just past Freer Park as you drive north on Oakwood. Beautiful scenery including ponds, waterfalls, and a grand vista looking up the Mohawk Valley (including a view of Cohoes Falls). And of course the burial site for the one and only Uncle Sam!

Great pics B. One cool thing about those falls, is that you can hike up to the top of the middle tier and swim in the pool; usually best attempted when the falls are at low volume in midsummer. I have some pics too.

Does regular html work here? This is my first attempt.

@bob: come on Bob, don't be shy, you have nice pictures of the Oakwood Cemetery :) I recommend the place too, and I have a few photos to prove it :) Not shot with a nice DSLR, but you get the idea... Watch the crows though. Damn' crows.

I'll add that while you can climb to the pool at Kaaterskill falls, it's not exactly recommended and several people have died doing so. A slightly easier path is from the North South Lake trails but it's still dangerous. But, there are few sights in New York like it. As long as you live.

Aahh, Kaaterskill Falls. Lost my sunglasses in the process, but had a damn fine picnic on that huge rock once I reached the top of the falls (R.I.P. Mezzo sandwiches).

I agree that hiking up to the Kaaterskill pool is VERY dangerous, and I should have mentioned it before. I used to do it in my younger days with little to no worry, but the last time I did it (just last summer) I freaked out a little bit. But man, when you reach that

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