It’s getting harder to remember a time when the Hudson River Valley Ramble wasn’t an annual institution in our region. What started as a one-week celebration of the creation of the Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area has blossomed into three full weeks’ and four weekends’ worth of hikes, bikes, paddles, nature talks, historic site tours, fairs and festivals throughout the Valley. You can find your ideal Ramble among hundreds using the search tool on the website at https://hudsonrivervalleyramble.com, but in the meantime here are a few mid-Hudson opportunities for this weekend:
In Ulster County, on Saturday, September 12, gather at the Prediger Road Trailhead in Elka Park at 9 a.m. to join the Rip Van Winkle Hiking Club for a moderate four-to-five-mile hike to Jimmy Dolan Notch, with an optional side trip to Indian Head. A less-strenuous Mushroom Ramble (to learn identification, not to collect) takes off, also at 9 a.m., at the Esopus Bend Nature Preserve in Saugerties. Or come to Slabsides at the John Burroughs Nature Sanctuary in West Park at 10 a.m. for a Geology Ramble with Vassar professor Jeff Walker. At 5 p.m. at Esopus Meadows in Ulster Park, there’ll be a family-friendly Sunset Seine and Sing, hosted by environmental educators from Clearwater.
For an exciting hike and scramble through Rock Rift, one of the most magical places in the Mohonk Preserve, meet at the Spring Farm Trailhead in High Falls at 9:30 a.m. on Sunday, September 13 (and be prepared to pay a $12 day use fee if you’re not a Preserve member). Not far away, at 2 p.m., you can meet up at the D & H Canal Museum in High Falls for a free guided tour of the Five Locks Walk.
There’s plenty to do in Dutchess and Columbia Counties this weekend as well. If you’re itching to get out on the water, come to Norrie Point in Staatsburg at 11:30 a.m. either Saturday or Sunday for a sea kayaking tour on the Hudson; it’ll last two-and-a-half hours and cost you $50, with boats and all gear provided. Or come to Tivoli North Bay at 12 noon on Sunday for a guided tidal marsh tour; canoes are provided and the trip is free, but you must preregister. If you own your own nonmotorized watercraft, meet up at 5 p.m. on Sunday to join the free evening paddle to the wetlands of the Greenport Conservation Area.
Cyclists can enjoy a self-guided Historical Bicycle Tour of Olde Fishkill both days, with three different levels of length and difficulty; pick up your free map at the Van Wyck Village Homestead Museum. Among the weekend’s many walks in Dutchess are a hike along the Harlem Valley section of the Appalachian Trail, taking the Boardwalk that crosses the Great Swamp and ending up at the 300-year-old Dover Oak, the largest tree on the entire AT. Meet at 9 a.m. Saturday at the Pawling Metro North station. There will also be an exploration of the cavern called the Dover Stone Church, setting out at 1 p.m. on Saturday from the Ponds in Dover Plains.
The Hudson River Valley Ramble continues through September 27, with a mind-boggling array of activities from the Capital District to New York Harbor. Details on the above and all other 2015 trips, including leader contact information and how to register, can be found at https://hudsonrivervalleyramble.com.