Top Ten Views of the Hudson River, From the Ten Most Unexpected Places
As it flows south from Lake Tear of the Clouds in the Adirondacks, to the Atlantic Ocean at
Manhattan’s tip, New York’s Hudson River offers more than 300 miles of picturesque views.
But there are many other off-the-beaten-track river views worth seeking out. Ranging from north to south:
With 42 stories, this is the tallest building in New York State outside of Manhattan, a beacon among the New York State Capitol and Museum, and eleven other buildings comprising the Nelson A. Rockefeller Empire State Plaza. In addition to great river views, you’ll get an expansive look at downtown Albany, the foothills of the Adirondacks, the Catskills, and even the Berkshires of western Massachusetts.
Olana, the 19th century home of Hudson River School artist Frederic Edwin Church, is perched high above the river, with expansive views of the Catskill, Berkshire and Taconic Mountains. After you take in the scenery from the Persian-style mansion, you have 250 acres to find a quiet picnic spot. Not many people take the carriage road trail which leads to Crown Hill, where you get a framed view back to the main house.
Not only can you sit over the water, on the deck of this 1869 landmark beacon, you can stay in the lighthouse overnight as a B&B guest, in a river-view room. If all you need is a view of the sunset over the Catskills, take the half-mile nature trail out to the lighthouse before dusk. You can picnic on the sandy beach along the trail, and on the island adjacent to the lighthouse.
It's said that Washington Irving came up with the idea for the "Rip Van Winkle" tale here while gazing at the distant Catskill Mountains. In addition to offering great opportunities for bird watching and nature study, this park has two miles of trails which meander through meadows and woods. Consult the park’s trail map online, and follow the suggested path to Flagpole Lot for the best views of the river, the Kingston-Rhinecliff Bridge, and the Catskills.
This tiny island in the middle of the Hudson, about 50 miles north of Mahattan, was thought by Native Americans to be haunted. That didn’t stop Frank Bannerman from building a castle as a warehouse for his military surplus business. Bannerman Castle Trust now offers tours of the island, where you can enjoy 360° river views while supporting its efforts to preserve the building.
The first place settled by Europeans in Orange County, NY is located here, half way between Cornwall and New Windsor. Because you can’t see this spot from the road, it’s mostly overlooked. But once you begin exploring this 102-acre park, you’ll find 2,000 feet of sandy beach directly on the Hudson River.
This historic, Federal-style estate is open April through December, providing visitors access
to several different vistas, the most well-known from the front of the mansion. Lesser known are the southern-oriented view from the West Meadow (pictured), and several spots along the Woodland Trail. Boscobel’s grounds – although normally closed on Tuesday - are free to artists the second Tuesday of every month. Painters are welcome to capture the views on canvas.
Blink, and you may miss this stop along the Bear Mountain Parkway on the way north to the bridge which connects Cortlandt Manor to the town of Bear Mountain. But do stop, and park in the small lot perched on a bluff overlooking the river facing southwest. If you’re there during the summer, you’ll likely be joined by an ice cream or hot dog truck.
This extraordinary landmark -- home to four generations of the Rockefeller family – is justly named for the Afrikaans word for “lookout.” The tour of the six-story stone house, situated on the highest point in the hamlet, includes the West Terrace, which indeed looks out onto a birds-eye panorama of the river, with the Tappan Zee Bridge to the south.
South of the Tappan Zee Bridge, serene marshes flank the foot of the historic, mile-long
Erie Pier at the mouth of Sparkill Creek You access the marsh via a trail at the base of the
mountains in Tallman Mountain State Park, and you can even canoe the waters. In addition to the view of the river, this spot also offers great bird watching, especially water fowl.