In Cold Spring, N.Y. it's all about the river.
This Hudson Valley village of stunning natural beauty is home to an array of arts, culture, history and culinary attractions, all set against the majestic backdrop of the Mighty Hudson River. Downtown there are shops filled with quirk and character, European style cafes, and riverside dining opportunities. Right outside the village there are several nature trails, where intrepid hikers, willing to work up a sweat, will be rewarded with panoramic views of the Hudson River and surrounding hills and mountains. Located in southeastern New York (just 50 miles north of Manhattan), the village is a great place to explore over the course of a day, or even a weekend.
On my most recent trip to the area, foliage had just began to work its multicolored magic on the leaves. The village's Main Street slopes gently downwards to the Hudson River, and gravity and your curiosity constantly pull you towards the water. From many points on Main Street you have views of the river and can see it cutting through the countryside, flanked on both sides by towering mountains. It's the type of panoramic scenery normally only seen in movies and even then only in movies filmed in the soaring highlands of places like Scotland, or New Zealand. This time of year the scenery is made even more impressive by the fiery colors of autumn burning red and orange on the hilltops and then being reflected in the shimmering waters of the Hudson.
But enough about the scenery, I didn't start writing travel stories in order to look at nice views, I did it for the excuse to consume massive amounts of food and beverage in the name of field research — and Cold Spring provides many research options.
At Go-Go Pops at 77 Main Street, owners Greg and Lynn Miller, make a mouthwatering variety of handmade ice pops. Many of these pops are made from locally grown ingredients and several flavors have no, or little added sugar. During my trip to the store, I tried out the Milla Vanilla pop and after one taste I'm hooked — I only wish I could order their pops by mail. At Hudson Hil's Cafe and Market at 129 Main Street you can wash down breakfast or lunch with a mimosa or bellini. At the Cold Spring Depot at 1 Railroad Avenue, guests can enjoy drinks in a beer garden over looking the Hudson.
One of the things Cold Spring is noted for is its antique shops and although I passed many interesting looking storefronts, I didn't venture inside. As a child my mother told me I was not allowed to touch antiques, and since she's never rescinded the order, I've abided by the terms of that command ever since.
Historic Heritage, Great Hikes
Cold Spring has a rich historic heritage. Village myth holds that George Washington inspired the village's name after he stopped at a local spring and said it was refreshingly cold. It is home to the West Point Foundry, an iron foundry where many munitions were manufactured during the Civil War and where Robert Parker Parrott manufactured the Parrott gun, a brutally effective artillery weapon that played a major role in the war between the states. The village is located just across the river from the United States Military Academy at West Point.
This history is evident on the streets of Cold Spring today, which are lined with many historic houses with old bricks and shuttered windows. The place has an old upstate New York, Sleepy Hollow type feel. It's the type of place you'd love to celebrate Halloween and where you can picture yourself smoking a pipe on one of the village's many stoops, never mind the fact that you don't actually smoke pipes.
About two miles outside of town along Route 9D, ambitious hikers willing to work their leg and arm muscles can test their endurance and their bravery by attempting to hike/climb up Breakneck Ridge mountain. The trail can be accessed a mile or so outside the village of Cold Spring. It's a steep climb upwards to the peak of the mountain and it provides great views of the Hudson Valley and river below. Be warned, however, the mountain's name, Breakneck Ridge, is well deserved. A hike to the summit is an intense one that requires you to use your hands to hoist yourself up at many points. You'll remember the views from the summit, but unless you're in great shape, you'll also feel the burn of the climb in your legs for days.
Breakneck Ridge does hold some attractions for more timid hikers. Near the beginning of the trail the park forks — one path goes upwards and to the left, the other goes right and towards the Hudson. If you follow the path to the right within a few minutes of relatively easy walking you'll find yourself on a giant cliff of rock that sits right next to river. There's great views to take in and it's a short, maybe 10 minute walk, that won't leave you panting. Just remember to watch your step as you enjoy the views.
By the time the sun set on my day in Cold Spring and the place receded in the rear view mirror of my car, I already missed it and began making plans to visit again soon. A trip to Cold Spring is definitely well worth it and it certainly won't leave you cold.