by Dylan Taft
on Friday, October 21st, 2011 at 1:42pm.
Autumn is an amazing time to visit the Hudson Valley region! Mother Nature takes center stage in the fall, showing off with vivid colors and bountiful harvests. It’s a season of crisp, sunny days, and clear, sometimes spooky nights. Here in Ulster County, NY, we celebrate and indulge in all that our environment gives us this time of year, knowing that winter is right around the corner. The best thing about the local autumn activities is that they’re tailor made for families and kids. Whether its apple & pumpkin picking, trooping through a corn maze, or going on a hayride, fall in the Hudson Valley equals outside activity that the whole family can enjoy!
The Hudson Valley's Bountiful Harvest
The fabled home of the legendary Johnny Appleseed, here in the Hudson Valley we have some of the tastiest apples on earth. The Stone Ridge / High Falls, NY area is the local Mecca for NY apple picking. One need not veer off State Route 213, which connects both towns, to be within an apple’s throw of two of the finest orchards in Ulster County, NY. In Stone Ridge, NY there is the aptly named Stone Ridge Orchard, which features not just apples, but sweet cherries, peaches, nectarines, plums, and Asian pears. They also feature small fruits like strawberries, blueberries, gooseberries, red, yellow, and black raspberries, arctic kiwis, and melons making Stone Ridge Orchard a veritable encyclopedia of organic culinary delight. Down the road about a mile in historic High Falls, NY, you’ll find Mr. Apples. Billing itself as a “friendly, small-town size, non-commercial operation”, Mr. Apples grows “low-spray apples” (Google it) and has an exhibit showcasing the history of the farm and a “How to Make Cider” display. Ulster County, NY apple orchards are a great way to get outside and enjoy a tasty and healthy local delicacy
Apple Picking & Corn Mazes & Pumpkin Cannons, Oh My!
If you’re after larger game and picking pumpkins is more like it, check out Gill’s Farm on Route 209 in historic Hurley, NY. No place else offers pumpkin picking with such a bang, literally! A giant artillery-grade, air-powered pumpkin cannon stands ready to fire pumpkins upwards of more than 3,000 feet at something like 600 mph. Why? We here in the Hudson Valley like to think of it as a 1-Gun salute to the fall season. When it goes off (call ahead to find out the schedule), the boom reverberates for miles around. Now that’s ushering in the harvest season in unique, Ulster County, NY fashion! Gill’s Farms also offers more traditional (ho-hum) pumpkin picking and other seasonal farm stand items and flowers.
Want to escape the daily grind and get lost in nature? There’s nothing like being hopelessly adrift in a corn maze to put things in perspective and make one consider their place on this planet (or more specifically, this cornfield). The Catskill Corn Maze, also located in Hurley, rests on over 500 beautiful acres. Each year they unveil a new, professionally-designed corn maze to baffle minds and senses of direction across the Hudson Valley. This year they honor our troops with a US Navy Seals themed maze. Not just a corn maze however, the Catskill Corn Maze offers full-moon adventures, walking trails, and zip line rides. So grab a friend or loved one and enter the maze, if you dare!
There are no shortages of fall fun around the Hudson Valley region. These local establishments offer an increasingly rare experience, outside activities for the family. A fresh bushel of apples or a plump orange pumpkin are some of nature’s gifts to us, so get out there and enjoy them! And if you’re looking for a blog that updates you on local happenings, look no further – you’ve found it!