If you are familiar with New Paltz, NY, you already know it is a haven for outdoor activities. If you haven’t heard of the charming town, you should undoubtedly add it to your travel list this year. Nestled in the Catskills, New Paltz is only 83 miles away (just about 2 hours) from New York City, making this small town an easy escape from the hectic city life. New Paltz shows us that you don’t need to travel far to find beauty in the great outdoors.
Although you can visit New Paltz and take advantage of this small town’s beauty any time of year, the warmer months will allow you to get your full taste of all New Paltz has to offer. And if you happen to visit in the fall, you’ll also get to take in the beautiful fall foliage of the Catskills – which many leaf-peepers drive from all over to see!
The below guide shares the 6 best outdoor activities for this picturesque mountain town. No matter what you choose to fill up your trip itinerary, you can’t go wrong with making New Paltz your trip away from home.
We can’t start this guide without first including hiking as there is no shortage of trails in New Paltz, making this a hiker’s dream escape. If you’re a first-time visitor to New Paltz, you should seek out these trails to best explore the town. With 50 miles of trails, Minnewaska State Park is one of our absolute must-see trails. You’ll find Minnewaska settled in the famous Shawangunk Mountains and there are no lack of waterfalls, crystal clear lakes, and forest trees to gaze at, making this a postcard-worthy backdrop. Another stop is Mohonk Preserve. You’ll see your fair share of pond and forest views on these trails, but this hike also adds cliffs and historic buildings to their scenery. At the Preserve, you can choose to hike to Sky Top Tower which boasts a sweeping view of New Paltz as well as 6 other states. Mohonk is made up of 8,000 acres and each year welcomes 165,000 visitors, so be sure to get in on the hype! Closing out our list is the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail. The entire trail is 22 miles long and connects several neighboring towns. In addition to passing by rivers, you’ll also pass by orchards and farms. The Rail Trail provides a different kind of scenery, while being a level trail, making for a great family-friendly hike (you don’t need to do the entire 22 miles, you’re able to turn around at any point!).
New Paltz is an extremely bike-friendly town and you’ll find that some of the hiking trails you encounter are also open to bikers! Our favorites are the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail, making the 22-mile trail feel more feasible to tackle on a bike in half the time, and the River to Ridge Trail which is slightly more challenging with hills, but also gives you the same stellar scenery to view as you bike. In addition to the Rail and Ridge Trails, you’ll find that many other hiking spots you are considering, also offer biking trails. If you’re looking for a bike rental, we recommend getting your rental from New Paltz Biking (https://npbiking.com/) – they are reliable, reasonably priced, and their team is terrific at recommending routes!
New Paltz is on the Walkill River, so seeing the town by water as you kayak, is the best way to relax and enjoy the fresh air. Kayaking is the perfect, peaceful escape we all crave on an outdoor trip. Grab a kayak from the friendly folks at New Paltz Kayaking (https://npkayaking.com/) – whether you’re part of a group, or traveling solo, they will make sure you are well equipped and that you’re ready for your day excursion.
4.) Wine & Cider Tasting
If you’re looking for a break from all your vigorous activities, there are wineries and cideries at your disposal to help you unwind after your day – and they all come with outdoor seating to take in the stunning landscape that surrounds you! Our favorites are Brooklyn Cider House and Kettleborough Cider House for your cider tastings. Brooklyn Cider House’s Brooklyn location closed in 2020, making the New Paltz site more desirable to visit and get your cider fix from! Kettleborough Cider House may be smaller, but it offers the greatest sunset view of the valley! For wine lovers, our favorites are Robibero Family Vineyards and Adair Vineyards. Robibero is set on 42 acres and is the perfect vineyard backdrop no matter the season. Be sure to purchase any wine you fall in love with because you can’t taste or buy their wine anywhere else! A smaller vineyard to visit to round out the wineries is Adair Vineyards which has the quintessential, Hudson Valley small-town feel. New Paltz is also home to Coppersea Distilling if you want a break from the wine and ciders and taste some in-house whiskies instead!
Given this is an outdoor town, we would be remiss if we didn’t highlight the beautiful camping New Paltz has to offer. You can camp right at Minnewaska State Park which provides you with the ability to wake up and hike right outside your front door, but there is also an abundance of other options including the 1772 Le Fevre House Homestead campsite or the Grotto View at Stone Mountain Farm, which all also provide stunning views to wake up to. To fully take in the beautiful landscapes, we recommend foregoing the hotel and staying at a campground to have the outdoors right at your fingertips!
And, finally, if after all the hiking, biking, and kayaking, you’re still looking for more adventure, New Paltz is home to one of the most renowned rock-climbing sites. Shawangunk Ridge (which you can hike or bike to) hovers over New Paltz and is widely recognized as a top rock-climbing location in all of North America! Whether you’re a rookie or veteran rock climber, be sure to check this out for your adrenaline fix!