By Andrew Vitelli
For many of us, this writer included, the fall months are a little bittersweet. With summer over, we know that the refreshingly-moderate temperatures mean winter is just around the corner. But one saving grace is the beauty of this region’s fall foliage. People come from throughout the U.S. to see the beautiful colors of the Hudson Valley and nearby Catskill Mountains, but Armonk residents can enjoy it without leaving town, or going just a short drive away. Here are a few of the many spots to go this season (the second week of October until the end of the month is usually best) before the leaves fall.
Wampus Brook Park and Betsy Sluder Nature Preserve
These are two places you can see the beauty of autumn without leaving the Town of North Castle. At Wampus Brook Park, you can find a nice day to take advantage of the park’s gazebo and picnic grounds to relax and enjoy the scenery. At Betsy Sluder Nature Preserve, located off Old Route 22, you’ll be able to take a walk through the woods to take in the beauty which surrounds you.
Rockefeller State Park Preserve
Just a 20-minute drive from Armonk, Rockefeller features 1,600 acres of woodlands, wetlands and waterways, made even more beautiful in the fall. Originally purchased by John D. Rockefeller in 1893, the park was deeded to New York State 33 years ago. You can walk along the 55 miles of carriage roads and enjoy the nature all around. The park is open every day from 7 a.m. to sunset, with a $6 parking fee.
Hiking in Cold Spring
So this requires a little bit of a drive –about 45 minutes. But if you’re the hiking type, a trip up to the Hudson Highlands is a must. One of our favorite hikes, Anthony’s Nose, offers a great view of the Bear Mountain Bridge, the Hudson River and the highlands surrounding it. A slightly tougher hike is Breakneck Ridge, a few miles north, which will also give you breathtaking views of the Hudson Valley.
Kensico Dam Plaza and Cranberry Lake Preserve
A county park, Valhalla’s Kensico Dam Plaza offers not just views of the dam but of the reservoir and the nature around it. The plaza is also perfect for picnicking or anything else requiring large, open spaces. If you want to get a little bit into the woods, the plaza is a short drive from Cranberry Lake Preserve, another county park where trees line the edge of the water above the Kensico Reservoir.
In our last issue, we ran an article on Westmoreland Sanctuary, a 640-acre preserve located on the border of three towns including North Castle. If you didn’t get a chance to make it over there this summer, make sure to get there this fall. Especially beautiful this season is the “Lost Pond,” with the leaves reflecting off the water.
Andrew Vitelli is a Westchester native and editor of Inside Armonk Magazine.