Best Places to See Fall Foliage in the Catskills
Hint, It’s Everywhere, But Especially These Places
Some of the best places to explore fall foliage in the Catskills are right here in Greene County. Whether you're looking for a drive-by photo op, or you're more adventurous and want to go for a walk in the woods, we've got just the spot for you.
Also known as HCP because who can pronounce Hannacroix? The nearest you can get is to say "Hannah-Craw," like Le Croix seltzer. Anyway, this place is straight up gorgeous in fall. Located in New Baltimore, the Hannacroix Creek Preserve spans 113 acres with a few miles of easy-to-explore trails – the Irving Trail and the River Trail. Irving is by far the bigger payoff – offering a nice meander that ends at a spectacular waterfall. Add in sunny skies and fall color – and you've got one breathtaking fall foliage experience in the Great Northern Catskills.
Literally where the first luxury resort in the Catskills was plunked down in the 1820s, offering guests never-before seen views of the Hudson River and the surrounding mountain vistas. Behind the hotel was North-South Lake, endless hiking in what – about 60 years later – would become the Catskill Park. As times changed, and air conditioning became more prevalent in the cities, fewer and fewer flocked to the cool trees of the Catskills and the Mountain House fell into disrepair. In the 1960s, the DEC burned the decrepit structure to the ground and all that's left is the magnificent view and a few "I wuz here" mementos carved in the rocky ledge. Lucky for us though, it's one of the most gorgeous views of fall foliage in the Catskills you'll find, and it's easy to get to from the North-South Lake State Campground.
If you've ever seen a painting of the Hudson River or Catskill Mountains, chances are it was painted by one of the disciples of the Hudson River School, a dreamy, idealized style that showcased the raw beauty and power of the natural world. The movement started with Thomas Cole, a painter from England who fell in love with the Catskills and relocated to paint the area full time. Recognizing the beauty of the Catskill region in autumn, Cole and the other Hudson River painters often captured the beauty of the Catskills fall foliage in their works of art. Today, the Thomas Cole National Historic Site is open for guests and is the first stop on the Hudson River School of Art Trail, a series of hiking trails that lead to vistas immortalized by Cole and practitioners of his style. Cole's depictions of the Catskill Mountains throughout the seasons helped inform early conservation efforts, and partly due to his brushstrokes, the views he captured are largely unchanged for today's visitor.
A clove is not just a spice or a type of cigarette you smoked with your buddies in college, it's a deep gorge special to the Catskills where Washington Irving imagined a young man laying down after enjoying some refreshment with the ghost of Henry Hudson and waking some 20 years later with a rusty gun and a long beard marking his peaceful slumber through time. Now the Kaaterskill Clove Experience is a self-guided, drive-to experience that lets you tour the Catskills breathtaking mountains and fall foliage from your car. Learn about the world-renowned artists and authors who found inspiration in the Catskills and enjoy short walks to scenic overlooks with informational plaques located at key points on the trail. From actors, to artists, to naturalists, come be inspired by the waters and woods of the Great Northern Catskills.
Okay, so this is technically a stop on the Kaaterskill Clove, but it's worth calling out in its own right too. Located in Tannersville, the Mountain Top Arboretum is a public garden with a unique environment that allows for different types of trees and flowers to flourish, which makes it a perfect stop during an autumn visit to the Catskills. Trails and boardwalks traverses the garden's 178-acres, showcasing meadows, wetlands, forests and Devonian bedrock. A new, frankly way cool, education center is going up at the garden, and kid and adult-friendly programs and events are hosted throughout the fall. Immerse yourself in the season and learn about lichens and native tree foliage when the leaves are at peak.