August 7, 2016 – Red Hook, NY
Length: approximately 2 miles
Route type: circuit
Poets’ Walk Park consists of 120 acres which includes rolling meadows, forests, and a ravine. It is operated by Scenic Hudson which maintains many parks and trails in the Hudson Valley. Its 2 miles of trails takes you through woods and rolling meadows with rustic cedar pavilions, footbridges, and many hand made benches along the way to relax and take in the views. The park has been visited by Fitz-Greene Halleck and many literary contemporaries, including Washington Irving, William Cullen Bryant and Jack Kerouac. It is referred to as a “romantic landscape,” intended to celebrate the connection between landscape and poetry. I figured what the hell, the Hudson River, scenic views and a short hike on a hot Sunday morning. I decided to pay a visit and see for myself. The parking lot is a decent size and there was plenty of room to park when we arrived at approximately 10am, but when we were leaving around noon or so the lot was almost filled to capacity. Rule of thumb is that if it’s easy and picturesque, it gets crowded. We did encounter quite a few people along the hike, but mostly at points of interest.
We started out at the trailhead that had an informative kiosk along with some benches. A large map of the trails is available for viewing or you can print one from Scenic Hudson’s website. I didn’t bother to print one and just saved it to my phone. It is difficult to get lost here.
The trail for the first 1/4 mile or so was a wide footpath with a crushed stone base. It seems as they are currently doing some work as there was some heavy equipment on the property. It was easy walking and from the info on their website it is wheelchair accessible.
It was a gorgeous Sunday morning as we walked on the well maintained trail. It was still early and relatively mild. After a short walk along the winding trail we came upon an open meadow with a large gazebo on the hill with the Catskill Mountains as a backdrop.
There were a few people sitting on the built in benches in the gazebo as we approached. No doubt that they were enjoying the view along with their day. We didn’t linger too long there and let them have their space. I didn’t take any photographs of the gazebo until we were on the way back because I am not in the habit of including strangers in the images I capture. These are some shots I took on the way back.
This gazebo was like a work of art. It looked like it had been handcrafted from fallen trees from the area. It was massive and solid.
An old inoperable water spigot stood nearby as well.
I have to say that the view from this spot was probably the best in the park. Due to the minimal elevation and the height of the trees along the rest of the hike, most views were partially obscured. So if you are just looking for some views no need to go any further.
From the gazebo we headed downhill through the wide mowed path.
After a short walk downhill we came to a sign.
As we approached the sign I saw a couple turn left, so we continued on towards the summer house. In no time we entered the woods which provided much needed shade as the morning grew hotter. It was a tranquil walk through the woods, although we passed several couples going in the opposite direction. We crossed a wooden bridge along the way.
Shortly thereafter we crossed a stone bridge.
We continued through the woods until we came to a fork in the trail. According to the map the spur trail that veered right was where the summer house was located. There was a sign on the tree which indicated that, but it was only visible if you were coming from the other direction. I had read that Washington Irving had walked through these woods and had spent some time at the summer house, which wasn’t anything more than a glorified gazebo.
At this point we were close to the Hudson River and there were some partially obstructed views. There was a woman resting on one of the benches looking out towards the river so we didn’t spend much time there.
We returned back to the main trail and proceeded on. This section of the trail was a little more rugged. Not rugged compared to most trails I have hiked, but compared to the rest of this hike it was. Nevertheless it was short lived and still pretty easy. We crossed another wooden bridge along the way.
Shortly after crossing the wooden bridge we came out of the woods and walked up the grassy hill to the flagpole lot which had 2 benches and what I assume is the flagpole.
We rested here for a little while taking photographs of the scenery. We would have spent more time here except that we were exposed to the glaring sun. To be honest I expected some awesome views, but like I stated earlier the best views were from the first gazebo. The trail map shows a trail that curves along the edge of the property then veers left to connect back to the hill that leads from the flagpole lot. We took the aforementioned trail, but it was overgrown and there was nothing really to see. The best way back is to walk up the grassy hill and turn around on occasion to check out the landscape you just left.
We headed up the hill and back to the gazebo which was deserted for the time being. I was able to get my shots which I posted previously above. We sat in the gazebo for a bit enjoying the shade and the breeze. It wasn’t long before others came to do the same. It was time to move on. We retraced our steps back to the lot which was now getting full. We passed more people the last 1/4 mile than we did the entire hike. This is a nice park, especially for non hikers. I prefer less populated areas and that usually comes with a higher level of difficulty. I probably wouldn’t visit this park again, but I am glad to have seen what it has to offer. Until next time folks, keep on trekking……..