September 2, 2017 – Hudson, NY
Length: Approximately 2.5 miles
Max elevation: 479 ft.– total elevation gain approximately 213 ft.
Route type: Circuit
Map: Olana State Historic Site map
GPS location: 5720 NY-9G, Hudson, NY 12534
Olana State Historic Site was the home of Frederic Edwin Church (1826–1900), one of the major figures in the Hudson River School of landscape painting. The centerpiece of Olana is an eclectic villa composed of many styles, difficult to categorize, which overlooks parkland and a working farm designed by the artist. The residence has a wide view of the Hudson River valley, the Catskill Mountains and the Taconic Range. Church and his wife Isabel (1836–1899) named their estate after a fortress-treasure house in ancient Greater Persia, which also overlooked a river valley.
First time that I ever heard of Olana was on the I Love New York commercials a few years back. Being the inquisitive type, I Googled it to find out more. Since then it has been on my list of places to visit. That list is quite long, but I am whittling away at it best as I can. On a road trip in the Catskills area to check a few off my list, I visited Pratt Rock the previous day. We got up bright and early in order to arrive before visitors dotted the landscape. Tours were being offered at 10:00 am, we got there shortly after 8:00 am, when the gates open. It was a beautiful Saturday morning in the Hudson Valley on Labor Day weekend. When we arrived, the only cars in the parking lot must have belonged to employees because we didn’t see anyone else on the grounds.
This was more of a wandering around and trying to discover the most scenic spots than it was a hike. I like to freestyle at times and let the wanderer in me loose. First off, we headed towards the villa so we could capture some images before anyone else jumped in our frame. Walking around to the front of the home, we were greeted with a nice view of the Hudson River and the surrounding valley.
The view west, just across the river isn’t bad either. The Catskill Mountains make a perfect backdrop.
We walked down a carriage road to an art exhibit that looked interesting. It seems to have been constructed of surgical tubing and invited visitors to walk through it. It is titled “Penetrable.”
From this area is where I captured the best image of Olana.
We continued down the carriage road which looped around to the east. We stopped at a spot where Frederic Edwin Church painted one of his landscapes from. Not quite Church, but you get the picture.
We cut across the field, downhill to the paved entrance road and walked towards the scenic lake.
We then turned left on Farm Road to check out some out buildings that have been converted into an education center. A little further down the road is an old barn.
An old hay rake sits nearby just begging to be photographed.
We retraced our steps and made our way to the lake. A very scenic spot and we had it all to ourselves.
We then walked a carriage road that hugs the lake. Such a tranquil place, now I know why Robert Deniro touted Olana’s charm in the I Love NY ads.
At the southern end of the lake, there is a spot where you can gaze through the trees and see Olana perched high up on the hill.
We walked back out to the paved entrance road, cut across the field uphill to another paved road, turned right then turned left on another carriage road, known as Ridge Road on the map. Staying right at the fork, we headed north.
Ridge Road comes out by a clearing that affords a a great view of the Rip Van Winkle Bridge, the Hudson River and the Catskill Mountains.
Ridge Road passes by another field then curves and begins to head south. There I saw a footpath on the right and decided to take it uphill. That footpath leads to the parking area where our hike began.
The lot was now pretty much filled and there was a crowd waiting to take the tour. It was a few minutes before 10:00 am and we were done with this hike.
What an attractive place for an early morning walk. So many visually appealing things to see and I am sure that we missed a few. I can now check this off my list, but far from done for the day. The day was still young and we still had more hiking to do. Off to Alder Lake…….stay tuned. Please don’t forget to follow my blog and I welcome your comments. Now get out there and take a hike!