Student Achievement

Out & About: Marist Students Reveal Top Picks for Hiking & Nature Escapes

Michelle Eggink, Assistant Director of Content Marketing & Communications
Zoe Fernandes ’24 overlooking the Hudson River. Photo by Nelson Echeverria/Marist College.

April 2, 2024 — Spring is in the air, and the outdoors are calling. For many Red Foxes, the appeal of the Hudson Valley’s natural landscape makes being at Marist all the more special. Get inspired by some of the Marist community’s favorite outdoor spots, all located around an hour or less from campus, and plan your next hiking adventure or nature outing.

The land surrounding Marist is home to mountains, forests, river valley views, and other scenic places to explore and have fun. We surveyed the Student Encouraging Environmental Dedication (SEED) club, spoke with students from the Marist Outing Club, and chatted with a number of other juniors and seniors to get the inside scoop on the best nature walks and hikes not far from campus.

Overlook Mountain Wild Forest
Woodstock, NY

The Overlook Mountain Wild Forest boasts a historic fire tower, mountain house ruins, and stunning views of the Hudson Valley and central Catskills, all within a five-mile hike. Its captivating scenery, beloved by writers and artists, helped pioneer a wilderness ethos in the United States.

Student photo of Overlook Mountain.

Overlook Mountain. Photo taken by Tinsley Stewart '24.

“One of my favorite hikes I’ve done is the Overlook Mountain trail near Woodstock,” said Tinsley Stewart '24. “It’s a steep road for most of the hike, but near the top, there are ruins to explore, a fire tower to climb, and an incredible view of the Hudson River.”

Image of Marist Outing Club at Overlook Mountain.

Kat Christy '24 and Avalon Johnson '24 with Outing Club group members at Overlook Mountain. Photo courtesy of Kat Christy '24.

“Overlook Mountain is one of the first hikes I did when I got to Marist and the old hotel ruins on the way up make it so unique,” said Kat Christy '24. “It’s also the first hike we did with the outing club because it’s not too hard and very rewarding with the views!

Minnewaska State Park Preserve
Kerhonkson, NY

The Minnewaska State Park Preserve has leafy hiking trails that fringe a glacial lake, with sheer cliffs, waterfalls, open meadows, and welcoming lakeshores all nestled in the Shawangunk Mountains. The park offers miles of hiking trails suitable for all skill levels.

Image of Emily Liguori ‘25 at Minnewaska State Park.

Emily Liguori '25 at Minnewaska State Park. Photo courtesy of Emily Liguori. 

“Minnewaska State Park is absolutely beautiful!” said Emily Liguori '25. “I have so many great memories of spending time with my friends and family there!”

“Gertrude’s Nose in Minnewaska State Park was the first hike I went on when I arrived at Marist and it remains one of my favorites”, said Avalon Johnson '24. “A quick 30-minute drive from campus and stunning cliff-side trails make this 8-mile hike an awesome Saturday activity.”

Breakneck Ridge
Cold Spring, NY

A challenging rock scramble hike, Breakneck Ridge features panoramic views in the Hudson Highlands State Park. Very popular, many describe Breakneck Ridge as a strenuous but doable hike that is thrilling and beautiful.

Image of Jack at Breakneck Ridge.

Jack Gordon '25 at Breakneck Ridge. Photo courtesy of Jack Gordon.  

"The Breakneck Ridge trail between Beacon and Cold Spring is my favorite hike in the Hudson Valley," said Jack Gordon '25. "It is a challenge to climb all the way up, but the views along the way and at the peak make every moment worth it!"

Kaaterskill Falls
Hunter, NY

Located in the Catskill Park Forest Preserve, Kaaterskill Falls is loved by locals and tourists alike. Kaaterskill Falls has captivated the hearts of creatives for years. In one of his most renowned paintings, Thomas Cole, the founder of the prestigious Hudson River School of Art, depicted a solitary warrior overlooking the Kaaterskill Falls.

Image of Zoe Fernandes ‘24 at Kaaterskill Falls before taking a swim.

Zoe Fernandes '24 at Kaaterskill Falls before taking a swim. Photo courtesy of Zoe Fernandes.

"Kaaterskill Falls is known for its breathtaking waterfall," said Zoe Fernandes '24. "I start my journey at the top and follow a steep set of stairs down to the other levels of the waterfall. It’s a perfect getaway on sunny spring days because you can take a dip in the cool waters there!"

Vanderbilt Mansion National Historic Site
Hyde Park, NY

The Vanderbilt Mansion Estate in Hyde Park is a historic landmark with a Gilded Age mansion, once home to Frederick Vanderbilt. The meticulously landscaped gardens and expansive grounds surrounding the mansion create a captivating fusion of architectural grandeur and natural beauty to explore.

Image of gardens at Vanderbilt Estate.

Gardens at the Vanderbilt Mansion Estate. Photo courtesy of Emma Denes '25.

“Beyond the grand interior of Vanderbilt Mansion, the outdoor portion of the site boasts Italian gardens and terrific aerial views of the Hudson River Valley,” said Emma Denes '25. “I especially enjoy walking down the paved path that leads straight down to the river, where picnic tables – and an up-close look at the passing train – await.”

“I enjoy going to Vanderbilt mansion, especially in the springtime,” said Sarah Marques '24. “There is also so much history when you walk through the park areas.”

Rhinebeck, NY

Ferncliff Forest has a serene pond and a historic fire tower within its 200-acre nature preserve. Visitors can enjoy twelve miles of trails for walking and mountain biking, providing opportunities for outdoor exploration and peaceful immersion in nature.
Image of Haley Merrill '24 on top of the Ferncliff Tower

Haley Merrill '24 on top of the Ferncliff Tower. Photo courtesy of Haley Merrill.

“The Ferncliff hike is beautiful!” said Haley Merrill '24. “My favorite part is the lookout tower at the top. I would recommend going in the fall so you can see all of the beautiful foliage that the Hudson Valley has to offer.”

Fern Tor
Marist College, Poughkeepsie

Spanning across 13 acres and residing on the Northmost end of the Marist campus, Fern Tor serves as both an academic tool for many environmental science majors in research and also as a source of natural beauty on campus.

Image of Sara Rabinowitz looking at the Hudson River at Fern Tor.

Sara Rabinowitz looking at the Hudson River at Fern Tor. Photo courtesy of Sara Rabinowitz '24.

“I enjoy the Fern Tor nature preserve trail because it’s a great place to go if you need a peaceful place to chill that is right next to campus!” said Sara Rabinowitz '24.

As local hiking expert and Marist alum Derek Dellinger '07 states, “We are spoiled with choices for easy, moderate, and simple walks/hikes in that perfect realm of not too challenging but still beautiful and still invigorating. The area also has options for every range of difficulty that you might want to explore.”

Bonus: Dutchess County’s Urban Rail Trail
Poughkeepsie, NY

Students have also mentioned their excitement for using the newly opened first phase of Dutchess County’s urban trail project in the City and Town of Poughkeepsie as the weather warms up. The trail stretches just east of campus, spanning 1.2 miles from the new Hudson Heritage Plaza to Parker Avenue (State Route 9G).

Interested in more hiking spots? Read Hudson Valley Magazine’s latest Top-Rated Hikes in the Hudson Valley.


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