Ferncliff Forest is one of the most beautiful and underrated places in New York State, but not many people know about it.
If you’re looking for a fantastic place to visit that’s off the beaten path, Ferncliff Forest should be at the top of your list. This forest is home to some of the most diverse and unique plant and animal life in New York, and it’s a great place to get away from civilization for a while.
Visiting Ferncliff Forest is an experience you’ll never forget. The peace and tranquility of this natural wonder will leave you feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.
Visiting Ferncliff Forest
The Ferncliff Forest is located about 2 hours north of New York City in Rhinebeck. The 200-acre old-growth forest preserve deciduous and hemlock trees are the only one of its kind in the Hudson Valley. It was initially owned by the Astor Family until 1964 when it was donated as a forest preserve and game refuge.
Today Ferncliff Forest is maintained by a private nonprofit organization. It is a great place to spend some time during your visit to Rhinebeck. What makes Ferncliff Forest unique is that you can hike, climb the tower and even go camping, all for free. (And you know how I feel about free).
With miles of hiking trails, it is the perfect place to stretch your legs and go for a great hike.
The History of Ferncliff Forest
The Ferncliff Forest has a long history. In the early 1900s, John Jacob Aster created Ferncliff Farm by purchasing land in Rhinebeck and surrounding areas to preserve the forest for future generations.
The property was inherited by Vincent Astor, who continued to expand the property until it reached over 2800 acres.
The property was ultimately donated and is now maintained by a nonprofit organization.
The Ferncliff Forest Towers
The first tower in Ferncliff was an old stone observation tower built by the Astors at the highest point in Ferncliff Forest, 350 feet above sea level.
A second tower was constructed for the U.S. National Geodetic Survey to assist map-making.
A third tower was built during World War II by the United States Army Corps of Engineers. This tower was built as a watchtower and was used to watch out for planes attempting to attach to President Roosevelt’s home. It was also helpful to keep an eye out for planes approaching New York.
After the war, the tower became a popular attraction; however, in 2006, it was deemed unsafe and was replaced by the current tower in 2007. Today visitors from all over come to Ferncliff Forest to climb the tower and enjoy the panoramic views of the Kingston Rhinecliff Bridge and Catskill mountains.
Where is Ferncliff Forest located?
Ferncliff Forest is located in Rhinebeck, NY, approximately two hours north of New York City.
How to get to Ferncliff Forest
From New York City, Take I-87 North to exit 19. From Exit 19, take US-209 N/United States Rte 209 N and NY-199 E to Mt Rutsen Rd in Rhinebeck. The Ferncliff parking lot is located off of Mt. Rusten Road.
What is the best time of year to go to Ferncliff Forest?
Ferncliff Forest is open year-round; however, the best time of year to go is in the fall when the fall colors put on a show. Ferncliff Forest is also a great place to go in the spring and summer as it is home to many beautiful birds, butterflies, and other wildlife.
Things to do in Ferncliff Forest
There is so much to do in Ferncliff for the nature and adventure lover. Ferncliff Forest is open year-round, so there is always something to do. There are miles of trails for hiking and mountain biking. In the summer you can go fishing and camping. And in the winter you can go skiing.
Climbing the Fire Tower
One of my favorite activities is climbing Ferncliff Forest’s fire tower. The tower is free to climb, and the tower is 80 feet tall, and those that dare to do the climb will be rewarded with stunning views of the Hudson Valley.
From the top of the tower, you will see the Rhinecliff Bridge, Hudson River, and scenic views of the Catskill mountains. It is definitely a treat, and did I mention it was free.
Hiking in Ferncliff Forest
Another great activity in Ferncliff Forest is to hike the many trails. Ferncliff has various trails, most of which are easy hikes. You can find a trail map here.
Hiking the East Tower Trail/Yellow Blazed Trail
The most popular trail in Ferncliff Forest is the East Tower Trail or Yellow Blazed Trail. Walk towards the kiosk past the gate from the Ferncliff Forest parking lot. Follow the yellow markers (now you know why it is called the yellow trail) that will take you to Mt. Rutsen Pond and back around towards the tower. That is why it is also sometimes referred to as the circle trail. Keep a lookout for the sign-marked tower as you make your way down the hiking trail.
Camping at Ferncliff Forest
If you want to spend the night in Rhinebeck, you can go camping at Ferncliff Forest. There are camping shelters that are available to campers that are interested in staying the night. To camp at Ferncliff forest, you need to get a camping permit, and you can request a camping permit here.
Things to do near Ferncliff Forest
When you are done visiting Ferncliff Forest, there are some fun things to do in Rhinebeck. You can visit the Rhinebeck Village, one of the oldest historic districts in New York State.
There is something for everyone in Rhinebeck. Not only is it a foodies paradise, but there is a wide range of shops where you can find everything from household goods to vintage fashion.
Where to stay near Ferncliff Forest
If camping is not your jam, but you’re interested in making a weekend of your visit to Ferncliff Forest, then check out Rhinebeck Village, where you can find great places to spend the night.
The Mirbeau Inn & Spa Rhinebeck
A visit to Mirbeau will have you feeling like you’ve been transported to Paris. The Parisian-inspired hotel is a great place to get away from the hustle and bustle of New York City living.
You can find rates and availability for The Mirbeau Inn here.
Beekman Arms & Delamater Inn
Located in Rhinebeck, this 18th-century property will transport you back in time. Like the Mirbeau, this property has a classic and European feel, making it the perfect place to get away without going very far.
You can find rates and availability for the Beekman Arms & Delamater Inn here.
Visiting Ferncliff Forest in the Hudson Valley
If you love nature, Ferncliff Forest is the place for you!
Ferncliff Forest is a beautiful forest that’s home to a variety of different plant and animal species. It’s also open to the public, so be sure to stop by and check it out!
The forest offers plenty of opportunities for hikers, birdwatchers, and photographers. So if you’re looking for an outdoor adventure, Ferncliff Forest is the perfect place for you!
So will you be visiting Ferncliff Forest anytime soon?