Olana State Historic Site
GOOD FOR: Ages 5-8

Source:Outdoors with Kids New York City (AMC Books)
Address:5720 NY Route 9G, Hudson, NY
Hours:8 A.M. to sunset daily
Fee: $5 per car on weekends and holiday Mondays, April through October (free with an Empire Passport); free all other times. House tours: adults, $9; children under age 12, free
Bathrooms: Visitor center
Water/Snacks: Water fountain near the restrooms; snacks and beverages in the gift shop

Carriage paths wind through the grounds and woods of a landmark antebellum residence that has captivating views of the Catskill Mountains and Hudson River Valley.

Olana State Historic Site
Photo by: Cheryl and William de Jong-Lambert

For artist Frederic Edwin Church, the hilltop where he built his Moorishstyle home was both the inspiration for his painting, and a canvas itself. He first visited the property in 1845, as an 18-year-old protégé of Thomas Cole, a founding artist among the Hudson River School painters. In 1860, he bought an unprepossessing farm plot that he turned into a bucolic paradise, and in 1867, he acquired the hilltop.

Over these 250 acres, Church developed orchards, gardens, a 10-acre lake, stretches of woods, and a network of carriage roads thoughtfully laid out to capitalize on the landscapes and views throughout. The 1.5-mile Ridge Road loop will take you through the vistas that inspired Church’s art, as well as the walks and views that he designed to captivate his well-heeled guests.

From the visitor center, follow the wide gravel path a short distance to the main paved road. Cross the road and enter the carriage trail just behind the wooden barricade and fire lane sign. Follow the woodsy path to a Y intersection and go left onto Ridge Road. This route soon opens out onto a panorama of the Hudson River Valley, with the Rip Van Winkle Bridge at its center. It is easy to see how views like this inspired the Hudson River School artists.

A little farther on, the path curves to the left, into a heavily shaded stretch. A hairpin turn breaks off to the right; pass this and stay on the main path, which soon leads out to the paved road. Turn left and walk along the grassy bank until you come to a path with a bench where Church’s studio once stood. You could follow the paved road back up to the parking lot, but take the gravel garden path up to the left. In a short distance, the path curves right, and before you emerges a view of the house that makes you stop in your tracks. This is the effect that Church was striving for. Remember: Bicycles are not permitted on the paths.

Plan B:

If the views of the Hudson River make you want to walk over it, head south to Walkway Over the Hudson (Trip 84).

Where to Eat Nearby:

Olana is a perfect setting for a picnic, and bringing one is encouraged.



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