Background you can feel free to skip: I consider Red Wing Recreation Area to be one of the benefits of creating this web site, because I never would have found out about this local gem otherwise. I’d driven by the trailhead a million times without realizing that it was a trailhead at all (though perhaps the cars often parked there should have been a tip-off).
Then Julian Diamond posted a photo to this site’s Facebook page, saying that Red Wing was: “…good for an hour in the woods on a nice day, when time constraints don’t allow for epic adventures. Decent overlook, maybe a 2.5 out of 5 on the ‘scenery’ scale. A couple active geocaches as well, if you’re into that. Just a thought!”
And a very good thought at that!
Thank you, Julian! This is the second trail guide I owe entirely to your good recommendations. (The first being High Falls Conservation Area.)
At first, I confused Julian’s suggestion with Red Wing Park in East Fishkill. Turns out, Red Wing Recreation Area is not the same thing as Red Wing Park, even though they are both on Route 82, separated by 6.5 miles. At first, I figured we ran out of names for our parks around here, in the same way we ran out of numbers for our roads (see Rt 9, Rt 9D, Rt 9G, Rt 9W, Rt 9H, and Rt 9N). As it turns out, though, we owe thanks for these parks, among many others, to Red Wing Sand and Gravel.
Thank you, Red Wing Sand and Gravel! Next time I need gravel, know where I’m gettin’ it? That’s right. Home Depot. Kidding! You guys! Seriously, you are my all-time favorite sand and gravel company right now. Thanks for all the awesome parks.
And Red Wing Recreation Area is an awesome park. I’m going to see Julian’s 2.5-star recommendation and raise him another half-star. Who would have guessed that there was a 3-star overlook tucked just around the corner from the busy intersection of Rt 55 and Rt 82 in Lagrangeville? (The official address is Billings, which is apparently a real place, but I’m skeptical. Show me one person from Billings, NY, and we’ll talk.)
The hike I’ll outline below makes a nice loop up to the overlook and back down a different way, right next to an active football field (go Hudson Valley Knights and Hudson Valley Admirals!). I’ve never seen a game in progress here, but if you happen to stroll past when one is going on, you can expect the vibe to be considerably less naturey.
If you wanted to mix things up, there are many access points, trails and options available at Red Wing (though just one money spot, I believe). Here’s a picture of a trail map posted to a tree in the park (near step #3 below), in case you’d like to check it out for reference (I couldn’t find that same map online, though it may exist somewhere).
If you’re local to the area, the trails and overlook at Red Wing Recreation Area might well be an unknown gem for you, as they were for me. Everyone who likes hiking around here probably already knows about Breakneck Ridge, but I’m guessing a fair percentage of folks, even those who drive right past it regularly, don’t know about Red Wing. If you fall into that category, I hope you enjoy checking it out! You might just find you have a new favorite sand and gravel company, too.
1. From the entrance gate at Rt. 82 (see “Directions to the trailhead” below), army-crawl under the gate (or walk around it, if you prefer), and follow the paved road into the park.
See that cell tower up on the hill?
That’s where we’re headed. Are your loins sufficiently girded? (That’s rhetorical – you can keep the answer between you and your loins.)
2. Follow the road as it ventures away from Rt 82.
In less than five minutes, the road crosses a small (seasonal?) stream. Immediately thereafter, turn left to hop on the trail that runs through a break in a little stone wall.
3. Once you leave the road, the trail dead-ends in a few feet – turn left, toward the creek, to continue on your way.
4. Enjoy the creekside amble for the next few minutes. (UPDATE March 2019: According to Eero’s comment below, this stretch of trail used to house a railroad that ran alongside Route 82 from the 1800s to mid-1900s. Interesting! Thanks, Eero!)
When you come to a fork (five minutes or less after hopping off the road) with a big horizontal log thingie (technical term), take the fork on your right, NOT the fork with the log thingie.
5. Ready to climb that hill? Good! From here, there’s just 400 vertical feet between you and the money spot. Follow the (occasional) red markers up, up and up.
6. Keep on chugging, ignoring any offshoot trails, including the yellow-blazed horse trail that departs on your left in a few minutes.
You’ll see some creative signage around this park, especially on this stretch. If you have your pet bull with you, carrying out his waste in a baggie might not be good enough – apparently, you’re supposed to prevent any bovine elimination entirely.
As a responsible and semi-respectable hiker, I thought some of these signs were a little heavy-handed, similar to the ones in the front of your elementary school bus (riding that bus was a privilege, not a right!). We’ll revisit this issue at the money spot, though, where I found some clarifying evidence about why these signs needed to be hung.
About the time you see a “TRAIL NARROWS” sign, you’ll also notice a gravel road running parallel to your right. This is the road we’ll be taking back down later today.
For now, keep climbing until the trail bends sharply to the left, where you’ll continue to the left, ignoring the road on your right.
7. The trail rises and takes some switchbacks toward the top, dotted with red blazes that guide your way. Feel free to start running in this section, especially if you want to ditch your old, slow dad.
8. In 10-15 minutes from the sharp left next to the gravel road, you’ll arrive, huffing and puffing, at a well-marked intersection, with VELIE RD to your left and OVERLOOK to your right.
Take a right here to head toward the overlook.
9. Just past the “STEEP SIDES” sign, the view begins to open up on your right.
And then, in just another moment, shabwango! (Technical term.) The money spot invites you to grab a seat on this well-placed bench, and to heed the danger of falling off the cliff directly in front of you (some might say the DANGER signs are a wee excessive, but hey, if I owned a park, I’d want as few people as possible to die there, too).
Take several moments to chill with any available homeslices.
The view here is better when the leaves are down, but I wouldn’t classify it as “seasonal,” which would imply that you can’t see diddly during the summer. Even when the leaves are up, the view here is very nice, and you can see clear across to the Hudson Highlands on your extreme right. (Perhaps more importantly, you can see the plaza at Rt 55 and 82 that houses Pizza Express and some other restaurants, in case you’ll be in the market for some grub soon.) Oh, and I see you over there too, Red Wing Sand and Gravel. Thanks for the park!
There’s also a nice picnic table just above the money spot.
Perhaps the most depressing sign I’ve seen in the Hudson Valley rests atop that table.
It reads, in part: “PLEASE DO NOT THROW BENCHES OVER CLIFF. THE STATE POLICE HAVE VIDEO OF ALL ACTIVITIES UP HERE. SMILE FOR THE CAMERA!”
The bench-tossing apparently happened enough times to warrant creating this sign. If you visit this beautiful place and find yourself with the urge to throw a bench over the cliff, you should first take out your phone, call your parents (or another trusted loved one), and ask them what went wrong with you. Your reception should be good, since you’re standing right next to the cell tower.
For the rest of us non-bench-throwers, hopefully the camera will just capture images of us picking up any litter we might find up there.
10. When you’re done taking in the views and NOT throwing benches over the cliff, walk toward the giant tower just behind the picnic table.
11. Facing the tower, with the money spot directly behind you, you’ll be taking a right to head downhill on the gravel road, following the power lines.
12. As you descend the hill, you’ll see opportunities to hop on a red-blazed trail. To keep things simple, let’s just ignore the Red Trail and keep heading straight on the gravel road.
13. In less than ten minutes, at a left bend in the road, you may recognize the trail from earlier today off to your right. Just ignore it and keep heading down the road, which will bring you to a football field in just another minute.
14. Venture around the gate, past the scenic sheds and dumpster, and hut, hut, hike your way past the football field, sticking to the road.
On your left, a wide meadow opens up, asking why you forgot to bring a kite today.
The gravel road gives way to pavement, then dead-ends back into the road where you started your adventure today.
15. Turn right onto the paved road. In less than five minutes, you’ll arrive back at the Rt. 82 gate. Welcome back! Your car missed you.
What a cool place, right? Definitely a local gem. Now, did someone say something about pizza?
Directions to the trailhead: From the intersection of the Taconic Parkway and Route 55 in Lagrangeville, head east on Route 55. In 1.3 miles, you’ll arrive at the intersection with NY-82. Turn left (north) at the light onto 82. The pull-off is about .2 miles from here – drive past a few driveways on your left, looking for the black gate (which is almost always closed) blocking the entrance road to the park. (Here’s a Google Street View picture of the gate on the left, with Red Wing Sand and Gravel on the right-hand side.) Pull off onto the gate (west) side of the road, parking on the ample shoulder or closer to the gate, leaving room for the gate to swing open, should it need to while you’re adventuring.
Hop out and let the adventure begin!
You can also get directions by checking out the Red Wing Recreation Area entry on the HiketheHudsonValley.com Google map.
Sorta nearby address for your GPS: The address for Red Wing Sand and Gravel, which is directly across the street from the park, is 2332 Route 82, Billings, NY 12510. Google Maps chokes on that address for some reason (at least it does for me), so you can also try:
Rt 55 and Rt 82
Even though we’ve already established that Billings isn’t a real place, this address seems to work. The pull-off is just a hop-and-a-skip north on 82 from that intersection. (And if you’re from Billings, I mean you and your awesome town no disrespect. If Billings exists, it is a beautiful place.)
GPS coordinates of parking area: 41.67278, -73.75979 (Clicking will open in Google Maps or the Apple Maps app, depending on your browser/device.)
Super-cool Google Earth flyover of hike route:
Google Terrain Map of hike route:
Related resources: If you’re looking for actual facts and/or useful information, visit these resources:
- The Red Wing Sand and Gravel Community Service page, which talks about this park and others (and thanks for the awesome parks, dudes!)
- I think that’s it. This park needs a publicist.
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Want to support trails in the Hudson Valley? Here’s one great way: Visit the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference homepage and click on Volunteer, Donate, or Shop! (Then you can volunteer, donate, or shop, depending on your mood.)