Difficulty: 3 out of 10 (leisurely meander with some inclines)
Highlights: Views, gazebos, roses, violets
Distance: 2.4 miles, partial loop
Approximate roundtrip time: 1 hour
Total ascent: 305 ft
Max elevation: 221 ft above sea level
This hike is for you if: You’re looking for some beautiful views without having to do too much sweating.
Super-cool Google Earth flyover of hike route:
Google Terrain Map of hike route:
Background you can feel free to skip: If you venture to Poets’ Walk on a sunny weekend afternoon, you won’t be the only one there, and for good reason. This is one of the most popular places to take a stroll in the Hudson Valley, with its beautiful views, picturesque meadows and a gazebo that looks like it was stolen from a Lord of the Rings movie set.
When we used to live in Rhinebeck, we’d come here quite often, and there were times when we’d find the sizeable parking lot completely full. But we’d still find a spot to park along the driveway, because even a crowded day at Poets’ Walk beats a regular day just about anywhere else. (And on a weekday evening, you can sometimes have the place to yourself.)
We loved to bring guests here for an afternoon stroll, even if they weren’t the biggest fans of hiking. The land is relatively flat, so you have to burn very few calories to be rewarded with awesome views of the Catskills and the Kingston-Rhinecliff Bridge. This is a primo fall foliage spot, too, but really, it’s beautiful no matter what time of year you visit.
I used to wonder if this place was named after any poet in particular, but it doesn’t seem to be. It’s just a cool name to describe a beautiful spot that just might inspire the artist within. After a pleasant afternoon spent wandering these trails, you shouldn’t be too surprised to find that you have been turned into a bit of a poet, whether or not you know it.
**UPDATE November 2016** Please see Alicia’s comment below for details on recent updates to the park. Thank you, Alicia, for the helpful information! (Especially the part about this being “Poets’ Walk,” not “Poet’s Walk,” like I used to have it written all over the place — it’s now corrected! Apologies to all the other poets I left out with my original apostrophe placement.)
1. This is one of those hikes where I feel silly writing a trail guide, since the trails are very well-marked, there’s a great Scenic Hudson Trail map available online and you’d have a really hard time getting lost at Poets’ Walk, even if you were trying to. But I’ll go ahead and fire one up anyway, since you’re here.
2. From the parking lot, head out on the gravel trail. In a moment, you’ll come to some nice signage (marked as the “arbor” on the trail map) explaining all about Poets’ Walk.
3. Keep going straight on the trail, which is now taking you to the gazebo. If it’s been rainy, you might find some muddy patches along the way. Good thing you’re so hard core that you barely even notice. The view helps, too.
4. Take a moment to check out the gazebo. I wish I had a fort like this when I was kid. The benches just outside are a tough spot to beat for catching a sunset.
5. Keep heading past the gazebo and in a moment, the trail splits. This is the beginning of a loop, so whichever way you take, you’ll end up right back here. We always went left, which seemed better for taking in the views. I’ll be assuming that you went left through the rest of these instructions, but you can go right if you’re feeling like a rebel.
6. Head towards the river and take it all in.
7. Don’t forget to look left, too. Check out the little matchbox cars on the bridge.
8. Once the loop starts heading to the right, parallel to the river, you’ll find yourself plunging into the woods, and the best views are behind you. Still, there are some neat little bridges to check out in the woods, and the Summerhouse gazebo to explore.
9. The loop brings you back to where you started, near the gazebo. From here, retrace your steps back toward your car.
10. By the time you stroll back into the parking lot, you have walked the Poets’ Walk. But doth thou talk the poet’s talk?
Directions to the trailhead: From the intersection of Market St (Rt 308) and Rt 9 in the village of Rhinebeck, head north on Route 9. In about five blocks, bear left onto Montgomery Road (if you’re still on Rt 9 as you roll past the Northern Dutchess Hospital, you just missed it.) Keep going straight and Montgomery Road becomes Mount Rutsen Road which becomes River Road (County Rd 103). Take River Road for a few hundred yards and you’ll come to a stoplight at the intersection with 199. Go straight here and find the well-marked Poets’ Walk parking lot on your left in about half a mile.
You can also get directions by checking out the Poets’ Walk entry on the HiketheHudsonValley.com Google map.
Sorta nearby address for your GPS: The well-marked parking area is on River Road (County Rd 103) about a half-mile north of the intersection of River Road and Rt 199 in Red Hook, NY. My old-ish Garmin Nuvi lets me put in an intersection as a destination, so hopefully yours does, too.
GPS coordinates of parking area: 41.98173, -73.91841 (Clicking will open in Google Maps or the Apple Maps app, depending on your browser/device.)
Related resources: If you’re looking for actual facts and/or useful information, see the following resources:
- The official Scenic Hudson Poets’ Walk page
- The official Scenic Hudson trail map.
- Dang! This hike has its own Wikipedia page. It is officially much more noteworthy than me.
- There’s also some good information in this Hudson Valley Net write-up.
More Poets’ Walk pictures from the hike’s Picasa album:
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