One-Day Highlights Tour

Art Trail Sites: Thomas Cole Historic Site, Frederic Church’s Olana, Kaaterskill Clove and Kaaterskill Falls.

See some of the most spectacular sites, all in one day. Start at the Thomas Cole National Historic Site where the founder of this nation’s first major art movement lived and worked. Take in the panoramic view of the Catskill Mountains from the porch of the Main House and take the 10 am guided tour of Thomas Cole’s home and studio. Don’t miss a special exhibition of Hudson River School masterpieces on view in the New Studio building from May through November. Next, head to Frederic Church’s Olana, the home of Cole’s student and Hudson River School artist Frederic Church, which is less than 3 miles away and walkable via the Hudson River Skywalk. At Olana, explore the artist-designed landscape and take the 12 pm guided house tour. Brace yourself for one of the most beautiful views in all of North America from the top of the hill. Guided tours at both sites do sell out. We recommend reserving tickets ahead of time online. Stop for lunch in nearby Hudson or Catskill, which both offer historic Main Streets with restaurants, shopping and accommodations. After lunch, hop in the car and head to the mountains for a view of the majestic Kaaterskill Clove. Leave your car there and take the 1-mile hike up to see the towering 260-feet Kaaterskill Falls. Compare the view to Thomas Cole’s famous 1826 painting of the same, then make your way back down the trail to the sights and sounds of tumbling waters all the way.


One-Day Family Adventure

Art Trail Sites: Thomas Cole Historic Site, Kaaterskill Clove, Kaaterskill Falls, North-South Lake, and the Catskill Mountain House

Your first step into the world of the Hudson River School is at the Thomas Cole National Historic Site in Catskill, New York where your Art Trail Passport awaits. Pick up your passport booklets at the gift shop located in the visitor center and watch a short intro film about the Hudson River School. Your passport booklets will allow you and your family to collect rubbings at each Art Trail Site and draw the magnificent views. Stop at nearby Circle W or the Catskill Country Store, both located on Main Street in Catskill, to grab sandwiches, salads and more for a picnic lunch on the Art Trail. Hop into the car and drive into the heart of the Catskill Mountains. Along the way, imagine how Cole would walk all the way from his home to the these very sites. Drive along Route 23A until you cross over a large waterfall and come to a small parking lot on your left, located approximately 15 miles from Catskill. Park and walk to the far side of the lot where you can see a view through Kaaterskill Clove. There you will find an exhibit panel with several paintings of the same view. Using your passports and a pencil, you can make a rubbing of the metal plaque that is attached to the sign. If you have older children, leave your car right there and walk back along Route 23A to the trailhead to Kaaterskill Falls. As the largest cascading waterfall in New York State, it is little wonder Cole and many of his fellow artists stopped here to capture on canvas their first impressions of the Catskills. The one-mile hike along a well marked trail offers iconic views of the Falls, and places to stop and sketch or enjoy your picnic lunch. However, it is steep in places and not appropriate for small children. At the end of your hike, stop by the Art Trail Marker to complete the passport rubbing before getting back in the car and heading to North-South Lake. The North-South Lake Campground is a popular destination that offers swimming, boating and fishing, perfect for a day of family fun. A small day-use fee is required at the entrance gate where you should request a map of the campground and nearby hiking trails. Drive to the edge of the lake and record the sights and sounds of the journey in your passport, just like Thomas Cole did. On his sketching trips, Cole recorded sketches and notes about the color of flowers, trees and the sky before returning to his studio to paint. Enjoy the family-friendly atmosphere of North-South Lake, go for a swim, enjoy your picnic if you have not already done so, and then head to the former location of the Catskill Mountain House. The trailhead is located at the campground and follows the Catskill Escarpment Trail to a ledge rising 1,600 feet above the Hudson River Valley. Complete your Catskill Mountain House Site rubbing and enjoy the inspiring view that on a clear day encompasses five states and remains almost unchanged since Cole’s time thanks to extensive preservation efforts.


“Into The Wild” Weekend

Day 1: Mohonk Lake, Eagle Cliff near Artist's Rock, Shawangunk Mountains from Sky Top, and Frederic Church’s Olana

Day 2: Thomas Cole Historic Site, Kaaterskill Falls, North-South Lake, and Sunset Rock

Day 1: Escape to nature and hike to some of the most magnificent views on the East Coast. Start at the Mohonk Mountain House, a resort that dates back to the 19th-century. Ask for a trail map at the gate house and explore the beautifully maintained trails with 100-mile views of the region, encompassing Art Trail sites Mohonk Lake, Eagle Cliff near Artist's Rock and Shawangunk Mountains from Sky Top. Enjoy an outdoor barbecue for lunch at Mohonk’s The Granary overlooking New Paltz’s Lake Mohonk. Drive approximately one hour to Frederic Church’s Olana, and brace yourself for one of the most beautiful views in all of North America from the top of the hill at Olana. Take a tour (reserve in advance online) of the home and studio of the artist Frederic Church, and then head to dinner in nearby Hudson or Catskill, which both offer historic Main Streets with restaurants, shopping and accommodations.

Day 2: The next day, start at the Thomas Cole National Historic Site where the founder of this nation’s first major art movement lived and worked. Take in the panoramic view of the Catskill Mountains from the porch of the Main House and take the 10 am guided tour of Thomas Cole’s home and studio. Don’t miss a special exhibition of Hudson River School masterpieces on view in the New Studio building from May through November. Head to lunch on Catskill’s historic Main Street, then drive up to Kaaterskill Falls, located in the 300,000-acre Catskill Forest Preserve. Park in the parking lot and hike the one mile trail up to Kaaterskill Falls, a double waterfall that combined reaches 260 feet, the highest waterfall in New York State! Compare the view to Thomas Cole’s famous 1826 painting of the same, then make your way back down the trail to the sights and sounds of tumbling waters all the way. Drive around into the North-South Lake State Park, get a trail map at the gate house, and start your two-hour round-trip hike along the Escarpment Trail, with views that encompass the length of the Hudson River and three states including Art Trail Site Sunset Rock. Return the way you came and reward yourself with a hearty dinner in nearby Hunter or Tannersville.


Three-Day Grand Tour

Day 1: Jasper Cropsey’s Home and Studio

Day 2: Hudson River from Vanderbilt Mansion National Historic Site, Olana State Historic Site and Mount Merino and the Catskills

Day 3: Sites Thomas Cole Site, Kaaterskill Clove and Kaaterskill Falls

Day 1: The grand tour of the Hudson River School Art Trail offers an in-depth exploration of the places that inspired America’s first artistic style. Start at the charming home and studio of painter Jasper Cropsey. Take a guided tour of both Cropsey’s home and studio, known as “Ever Rest,” by appointment on weekday mornings. To reserve a tour, phone (914) 478-1372. Take a break and walk or drive the mile to nearby MacEchron Waterfront Park on the Hudson River. Picnic or stop at any one of the nearby restaurants and enjoy the inspiring views before heading back to Jasper Cropsey’s Home and Studio for a tour though the museum’s collection of Cropsey originals. The museum, shown by appointment only, houses a large collection of Cropsey paintings. See some of the best views and compare Cropsey’s painting Ravine at Hastings to the exact spot the artist captured. Head into the historic town of Rhinebeck and continue the search for your own Hudson Valley treasures in antique shops, find art supplies and jewelry, as well as clothing shops and outdoor gear. Enjoy an overnight stay at the Beekman Arms, a stately inn located in the heart of the historic village. Reminisce about the day’s delights in front of a roaring fire or relax outside on the stone patio before dinner at The Tavern at the Beekman Arms.

Day 2: Day two of the grand tour will find you following in the footsteps of the Vanderbilts and German-born Hudson River School painter Johann Hermann Carmiencke. The painter, who had already achieved success in Denmark, emigrated to the United States when war broke out between Germany and Denmark in the mid-1800s. One of Carmiencke’s most famous paintings, Hyde Park: View Up the Hudson, was painted from what would become the west portico and grounds of the Vanderbilt Mansion National Historic Site on the Art Trail. For $8 per person, enjoy a guided tour of the house and grounds year-round, and enjoy Carmiencke’s vista from the great lawns. Children 15 years and younger can take the tour for free. After touring, head to Frederic Church’s Olana – the former home of the prolific Frederic Edwin Church, one of the Hudson River School’s most celebrated painters. Find the medallion in the visitor center and make your rubbing before heading to Mount Merino and the Catskills, on the banks of the Hudson River in Promenade Park. Located at the foot of Warren Street just a few miles from Olana, the scenic vista was captured by Sanford Robinson Gifford in 1864 in his painting titled, South Bay, on the Hudson, Near Hudson, New York. Enjoy wandering the cosmopolitan, yet charming city of Hudson for legendary antique shopping and great restaurants for dinner before checking in for the night at one of the many bed and breakfasts.

Day 3: Day three of the grand tour will find you visiting the home of Thomas Cole and touring along some of the first vistas captured by Hudson River School painters. Begin the day with a visit to the Thomas Cole National Historic Site in Catskill, a 9-minute drive from the City of Hudson that takes you over the beautiful Hudson River Skywalk. Open your Art Trail passport and make a rubbing of the medallion at the Thomas Cole Site, enjoy the scenic vista as well as tours through both Cole’s house and his studio. Take a walk on the Hudson River Skywalk from the Thomas Cole Site over the Rip Van Winkle Bridge, which is less than a mile’s walk or drive from the Thomas Cole Site, and enjoy the stirring views of the Hudson River Valley and the Catskill Mountains. Head back toward Catskill, and stop at Frank Guido’s Port of Call and enjoy a casual lunch along the Hudson River waterfront or visit Catskill’s historic Main Street for a quick bite. Traveling from the river to the mountains, head to Kaaterskill Clove. Located on Route 23A in Palenville, the 10-mile drive from Catskill to the trailhead is dotted with scenic views. Captured by Asher B. Durand in 1866 and many other artists before and since, the Clove remains a stunning and well-preserved landscape. Cloves, which are clefts in the mountains, are distinctive to the Catskills, and were often painted by Hudson River School artists. Don’t forget to do the medallion rubbing at Kaaterskill Clove. From Kaaterskill Clove, head to Kaaterskill Falls – the largest cascading waterfall in New York State and your final stop on the grand tour. Painted first by Thomas Cole in 1826, and then by his many followers, Kaaterskill Falls remains a majestic and inspiring landmark destination for all who travel in Thomas Cole’s footsteps. Do the rubbing and then head for home. You have completed the three-day grand tour.