Constitution Marsh & Indian Brook Falls

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Cold Spring, New York, weather forecast

Scenery: 4 cameras out of 5

Difficulty: 3 out of 10 (short hike with some rough, rocky sections)

Highlights: Scenic marsh boardwalk, beautiful waterfall

Distance: 1.7 miles, up-and-back

Approximate roundtrip time: 1.5 hours

Total ascent: 313 ft

Max Elevation: 241 ft above sea level

This hike is for you if: You want to visit some beautiful and unique places without burning too many calories.

Pooch proclivity: No doggies allowed at the marsh.  If you want to take your dog to a boardwalk, you might have to go to New Jersey instead.

Background you can feel free to skip:  I wonder if the residents of Cold Spring know how good they have it.  There are no fewer than four really nice hikes within a couple miles of the town center, and that’s if you count Constitution Marsh and Indian Brook Falls as one (the others are Breakneck Ridge, Bull Hill and Little Stony Point, and there are more around).

This hike is great if you just want to get out into nature, but don’t have a whole lot of time or energy to burn.  It also makes a nice appetizer for a bigger hike in the area, like Breakneck Ridge or Bull Hill.

According to the sign as you enter Constitution Marsh, this is an Important Bird Area.

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As you wander out onto the boardwalk, taking in the views of Storm King and Breakneck Ridge dipping down to meet the river as endless acres of rushes sway in the breeze in-between, please take a moment to say hello to the Important Ducks.

“Good afternoon, Important Duck,” is the kind of greeting they’re accustomed to.  Let’s not commit any social blunders out there, folks.

Otherwise, just enjoy the beautiful waterfall and the pleasant stroll over some small hills and rocks out to the marsh boardwalk, which really is a one-of-a kind place.

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There are plenty of worse ways to spend an afternoon.  I’m not immediately thinking of too many that are better.


Trail guide:

1.  Let’s visit the waterfall first, since it’s a nice warm-up that gives an immediate payoff.

As you drive into the parking area, you’ll see a large sign that invites you to turn left to “Drive to Waterfall Trail.”  The parking area for the falls is only a few hundred yards up there (the parking area is just on the far side of the Route 9D bridge, which is high above to your left as you drive in), so it’s your call if you’d rather just walk up there or drive it.  With or without your car, turn left up the dirt road here and head towards the falls.

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2.  You’ll come to a seriously uncosmetic trailhead on the right, complete with graffiti and a rickety old gate.  If you drove your lazy bones up here (like I did), park in front of the gate.  If you brought your spray paint, tag a nearby sign.  (Kidding – please don’t do that.)

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3.  Walk around the gate and across the little bridge just beyond.  Behind you, the Route 9D bridge looks way bigger than it does from the road.

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4.  Follow the trail through a left turn after the little bridge, heading upstream just beside the creek.

5.  Boom!  There it is.  Indian Brook Falls.  It’s funny – the Internet contains very little information about these falls, but this is such a nice spot.  And it’s a short enough hike that you can lug out a tripod and slow that shutter down just a bit.

Here’s a shot of the falls taken with a normal shutter speed:

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And here are a couple of shots from a tripod, with the camera set to Shutter Priority mode and the shutter speed set as low as the camera could handle:

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That’s about the only trick I know how to do with a camera, but still, it’s not a bad trick.  If you didn’t already know how to do that, it’s a nice way to make your waterfall pictures look more postcardy.

6.  When you’re finished checking out the falls, head back to the graffiti trailhead.

7.  Either via car or foot, head back down to the Constitution Marsh parking area, where that big wooden sign is.  If your car isn’t already there, leave it there now.

8.  Head down the driveway, towards the Hudson River.  You’ll see plenty of signs letting you know that you’re going the right way.

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9.  Towards the bottom of the hill, you’ll see the Audubon Society building, with a blue-diamond trail marker in front.  Take a right to follow those blue diamonds across the yard, past the educational signage and across the little footbridge.

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10.  Keep following the blue diamonds through the woods.  Keep your eye on them, too.  This is a short trail, but you can lose it if you aren’t careful.

11.  If you’d like to play Forrest Gump of the Marshlands, enjoy a seat on this very cool homemade bench with a view of the Hudson River and West Point on the other side.

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12.  The trail wraps around this little spit of land and drops you off onto the main event: The Constitution Marsh boardwalk.

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13.  Stroll around.  Take pictures.  Read educational signs.  Befriend Important Birds.

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14.  When you’re done, retrace your steps back to your car.  I tried opening the door to the Audubon Society building (the sign said “Open”) on our way out, but the door was locked.  Not sure what’s in there, but the people who run this place sure do a nice job of maintaining it.  Thank them if you get a chance.  And if you’re not on your way to another hike in the area, a stroll around the shops on Market Street in Cold Spring might be a perfect way to end the day (we stuffed our faces at Cold Spring Pizza and didn’t regret it for a second).


 

Directions to the trailhead: From the village of Cold Spring, head south on Route 9D.  Not even a mile out of town, you’ll pass Boscobel, a big old historic Hudson River estate, on your right.  Shortly after Boscobel, take your second right onto Beverly Warren Road.  This road dead-ends in a moment, where you’ll take a left turn to arrive at the Constitution Marsh parking area, straight ahead.

You can also get directions by checking out the Constitution Marsh/Indian Brook Falls entry on the HiketheHudsonValley.com Google map.

 

Sorta nearby address for your GPS: The Constitution Marsh Sanctuary has its own address.  Far out!

127 Warren Landing Road
Garrison, NY 10524

 

Related resources: If you’re looking for actual facts and/or useful information, visit the Constitution Marsh homepage.


More Constitution Marsh and Indian Brook Falls pictures from the hike’s Picasa album:

Was this trail guide useful to you?  Please leave a comment!


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5 thoughts on “Constitution Marsh & Indian Brook Falls

  1. This was pretty helpful, except we totally missed the waterfall on our way to the marsh (thank you, narrow, windy, one lane road). It was actually easier to see it on the way back. It was a great way to spend the afternoon.

    • Glad you had a great day, Michelle! If there’s anything I can do to make the trail guide clearer to help other people avoid missing the falls as well, please let me know!

  2. Hello! We’ve been enjoying your website and checking out the hikes… We have a 3.5 year old and a 15 month old. Is this trail stroller friendly or should I put him in the pack?

    Thanks for all your work!

    • Glad it’s been useful to you, Krystle! You could maaaybe pull off a stroller on the way to the falls, but you’ll most definitely need the pack to get to the boardwalk. I’d leave the stroller at home and just use the pack. Hope your family has a great day out there!

  3. I just did this hike a few days ago. I wanted to point one thing out and I think this is probably how Michelle (one of the other previous comments) may have missed the falls. That really nice sign you showed that points one way to the falls and the other way to the marsh isn’t there. The sign that is there is this one here (https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-yDYrkrJNxnE/VBnn8y63NTI/AAAAAAAAGdA/vabTFyQ_FIg/w1185-h889-no/20140917_155802.jpg). And it doesn’t mention anything about the falls. I actually had to ask someone who happened to be walking nearby where the falls were. Also, I don’t think you are allowed to drive to the falls anymore because when I did there were no parking signs everywhere. Well there wasn’t one on the gate itself so I just parked in front of it anyways. But technically I don’t think I was supposed to. But even still, for anyone else who may do this hike, it really isn’t a far walk at all from where the parking area is to where that gate is. Once you park, just turn left and walk up the road until you hit that gate and it’s a very easy and short walk to the falls. Everything else about your guide was spot on and very easy to follow. I really enjoyed it.

    One other question though. At the falls it seems like the base of the falls is deep enough that you could wade in the water and cool off on a hot day. Do you know if it’s safe to do so? I only ask because I was recently in Hawaii and every tour book I read said not to do so due to some kind of parasite that lived in the water there. Wasn’t sure if we had something similar here. Thanks.

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