Except for the dropping temperatures and a few lonely street trees turning yellow, it’s easy to miss the arrival of fall in New York City. I love Central Park but even there it’s hard to experience the full glory of the foliage. My favorite place to escape the city and immerse myself in fall is the area outside the village of Cold Spring, New York. Hiking the Breakneck Ridge Loop right over the Hudson River is spectacular at any time of the year but you can’t beat the breathtaking views during peak foliage.
Getting there: The Breakneck Ridge Loop is only a one-hour drive north from Manhattan. You can also take the Metro North Hudson Line. On weekends and holidays, some trains stop at the Breakneck Ridge station, a short distance north of the trailhead. Otherwise, you have to get off at Cold Spring and walk north to get to the trail.The hike: The loop is only about 2.8 miles but the first part of the hike is steep and strenuous. You’re climbing on rocks, often on all fours. But the panoramic vistas are worth the effort. There are a few viewpoints where you can stop and catch your breath. Once on top though, it’s more or less a regular walk in the woods. If you’re lucky to be hiking on a sunny day, the whole valley below you looks ablaze in its colorful mantle. Take in the scenery and smell the decaying leaves. There is no better way to experience fall.