The historic Hudson River flows more than 300 miles, starting from Lake Tear of the Clouds on the upper slopes of New York’s highest point (5,344-foot Mount Marcy) all the way to the tidal waters of New York Harbor. On the journey from the heights of the Adirondacks’ High Peaks Wilderness Area to the heart of the world’s largest metropolitan area (by urban landmass), the Empire State’s marquee waterway serves up endless paddling opportunities. And if you know where to look, you can find as many destination-worthy options across different paddling disciplines as there are fall colors along the Hudson’s banks. Whether you’re after whitewater in its headwaters, tranquil flats mid-state, or estuarine options closer to the coast, this diverse river corridor presents a melting pot of paddling fun for all ages and abilities (and all within reasonable driving distance of the New York metro area). Following are a few hotspots to add to your list, starting from the closest, simplest options in the greater New York Tri-State Region, before heading to more technical (and distant) waters upriver.
Sea Kayaking the Big Apple
Don’t overlook the best of the Hudson’s big-water, big-city options. These unexpectedly scenic and secluded urban escapes can often include some of the best views of the New York skyline. Go on your own if you have the skills to handle dynamic, tidal-influenced (and sometimes heavily trafficked) water, or head out with an outfitter like Kayak Hudson. Following are a few local paddlers’ favorite trips.
Utilize a Boathouse
Whether you’re a novice or a pro, you can benefit from the services of a boathouse along the Hudson, established to help people experience Manhattan from the water. Many offer lessons, rentals and storage, making it easier than ever to enjoy the water. One favorite: the all-volunteer/nonprofit Downtown Boathouse in Tribeca, built in 1994 to provide free public access for kayaking the harbor (it’s helped launch a half-million people on the water). Find it at Pier 26 Boathouse at North Moore St.
Tour Sleepy Hollow
Yes, paddle in the wake of Washington Irving’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow as you stroke past the historic Tarrytown Lighthouse, built in 1883, and the 3-mile-long, cantilevered Tappan Zee Bridge connecting Westchester and Rockland counties. Put in at Kingsland Point Park in Sleepy Hollow (an hour north of Manhattan).
Cruise the Croton River
Explore a tributary of the Hudson while training your binos on such birds as osprey, hawks and herons. Fun fact: You’ll also pass the historic Van Cortlandt Manor, a pre-revolutionary estate. Put in at Croton-on-Hudson, and combine your tour with a night camping at 500-acre Croton Point Park (10 miles upriver of Sleepy Hollow), situated on a peninsula overlooking the river with cabins and tent sites.