Peak leaf color is popping in New York right now. Orange, red, burnt sienna, gold, tangerine, lime green—these are just some of the shades you’ll see popping as you turn your back to the city and drive up the Palisades Interstate Parkway toward some of the season’s most vibrant foliage.
Head off to one of a handful of parks within an hour of New York City, add a little elevation, and you’ll have a view of a multi-colored nirvana as you look over the Hudson River Valley.
The sites below make for a perfect driving tour that lets you can take in the vibrant views of New York's fall foliage from the comfort of the front seat, or you can park at any number of spots and jump on a trail.
Cross over the George Washington or Tappan Zee Bridge and pick up the Palisades Interstate Parkway. The first quick stop is at State Line Lookout in Palisades Interstate Park. To get there, you’ll pull off Palisades Interstate Parkway just a mile or so south of the actual New York-New Jersey border.Don’t be surprised if you feel like you’re intruding on a photography class when you walk over to take in the river views. Everyone here will have a camera, and you won’t want to leave without a memento of this lower Hudson River Valley favorite. Grab a snack or a cup of coffee at the café on site as you head out and settle in for a gorgeous 30-mile drive that takes you straight into the entrance of Harriman State Park.
Harriman State Park
Harriman State Park's 46,613 acres make it the second largest state park in New York. You can circle around the western side of the park via Route 17 or go straight through on Seven Lakes Drive. Make a stop at any of the lakes—Sebago Lake, Lake Kanawauke, Lake Skannatati, Lake Askoti, Lake Tiorati, Lake Nauwahunta, Silver Mine Lake—for a walk, a hike, or to have a picnic. There are plenty of picnic table areas along Seven Lakes Drive, meaning plenty of opportunities to hop out of your car and enjoy the colorful setting.
Bear Mountain State Park
If you follow Seven Lakes Drive to the northern end of Harriman state Park, you’ll spill right over into Bear Mountain State Park , well known for it's incredible mountain top views. For one of the best Hudson River lookouts take Seven Lakes Drive to Perkins Memorial Drive. The winding road takes you to Perkins Tower, with miles of fall color views.
If you are looking for a serious hike with a great view at Bear Mountain cross the Bear Mountain Bridge and head for Anthony’s Nose. It is an 899 feet high peak that has you looking straight down on the bridge and miles and miles and miles of scenic views. It is accessible only by foot and puts you for part of the hike on a portion of the Appalachian Trail. It's a moderate hike with a steep start and depending on where you start it can be anywhere from a 90 minute hike to 2.5 hours. You can pick up the blue-blazed Camp Smith Trail right behind the Bear Mountain Bridge Toll House.
Clarence Fahnestock State Park
From the eastern side of the Hudson River it’s another 17 miles north to Fahnestock State Park. Fahnestock is home to the popular Breakneck Ridge, a challenging hike with awesome mountain and river views.