A few months before Hike the Hudson Valley went online in 2010, I built a prototype of the site that I thought looked pretty awesome, but was actually a monstrosity.  My old college roommate, Josh Perlson (an interactive designer extraordinaire), looked at it and said, “Nice try, for an amateur.”

He then took it upon himself to build the site that became Hike the Hudson Valley.  It was eye-catching, intuitive, and functional, a million-percent upgrade over the prototype.  I’m still forever in his debt.

That site served the hikers of our region very well for the next eight years, and helped to turn Hike the Hudson Valley into a resource that reaches more people than I ever would have imagined possible.  (It had 1.6 million page views last year, about 1.59 million more than a reasonable person might have predicted.)

But over the years, Hike the Hudson Valley started to show its age (eight Internet years is equal to three hundred human years).  On a big screen, it still looked pretty good, but to use it on a mobile device, you had to have highly advanced pinching and squinting skills.

I started looking around for local creative folks who might be able to help spruce the place up.  In late 2017, I reached out to Kingston Creative to see if they’d be up for designing a cool Hike the Hudson Valley T-shirt, partly because I wanted a cool T-shirt, but also because I wanted to get a feel for the kind of work they did.

Late last year, they launched a Kickstarter campaign with some awesome custom-designed Hike the Hudson Valley gear.

“Wow, I just ordered one to be nice, but these shirts are AWESOME!” my sister said.  (And thanks to everyone who ordered stuff – hope you’re still enjoying it!  We’ll figure out how to make some more swag available sometime soon, in case you missed the boat on that one.)

After the success of that project, Kingston Creative and I started discussing a revamp of the site.  They already had some awesome ideas: besides being super-cool creative people, they were also already avid hikers and users of the site.  They put many months of blood, sweat, and code into the revamp, and the (initial) results are what you now see before you.

We hope you enjoy playing around on the new Hike the Hudson Valley!

New features include:

  • Mobile-responsive design
  • Faster load times
  • Larger pictures
  • Improved navigation within the trail guides
  • Cooler graphics
  • “Last updated” dates on all trail guides
  • Better commenting system
  • An email sign-up in case you’d like be notified of new trail guides going online, occasional site announcements, etc.
  • Ability to filter hike searches by several criteria (length, difficulty, scenery rating, etc.) on the new Search Hikes page
  • A new Recent Comments page that gathers all comments left across the site in the last thirty days
  • A new Hikes page that lets you flip through thumbnails and summaries of all the trail guides on this site
  • The ability to sort by scenery rating, difficulty, and distance on The Hikes page by clicking the column headers
  • The ability to click a highlight on The Hikes page to bring up a list of all hikes with that same highlight (for example, try clicking “Fire tower” or “Waterfall“).  (This feature only works on non-tiny-screened devices, because the “Highlights” column doesn’t have room to display on mobile.)
  • A homepage with current site news and recent updates
  • The existence of this blog that you’re currently reading
  • Better everything else, too
  • The bad jokes are all still here, though. Sorry about that.

I hate it just as much as you do when websites launch new versions.  “You ruined my life!” I yell at the screen, until I get used to it the next day.

But I really, really love this redesign, and I hope you do, too.  A sincere thanks to Kingston Creative for the many months of hard work, discussions, design, coding, thoughtfulness, and creativity they’ve put into this site update.  As hikers and professionals, they wanted to make this site an even more useful and beautiful resource for our granola-munching community.  In my opinion, they’ve knocked it out of the state park.  (If you agree, let ’em know in the comments below!)

A special thank-you also to all of the readers and commenters who have sustained this site over the years.  Your comments and observations keep the trail guides up-to-date, and your encouragement has been the GORP that has fueled this whole endeavor.  THANK YOU!!!

I hope you enjoy the new site, and find it to be even more useful in planning your next adventure.

Here’s to many more Hudson Valley adventures to come!


Comments (30)

Was this trail guide useful to you? Please leave a comment!
  1. Sally Coenen

    WOW! What a website!!! I’ve looked at so many hiking sites through the decades and nothing comes even close to this one! It’s like you read my mind — how far, how hard, how long, how good and where! And all the answers are readily accessible! Fabulous photos, too. SUPERB. Thank you, thank you!
    My one complaint is that you make it way too hard to choose a hike! Yep, I gotta choose cause I’m just visiting the area and unlike you, can’t bebop over the the Catskills any time I want. (I can, however, get to the GA mountains and SC Mountains – yes, we DO have mountains in these parts! Check out the SC’s Mountain Bridge Trail system.) Anyway…my husband and I will be in the taking our first trip to the Catskills during May 29 thru June 3. For the hike on the 29th, I’m trying to choose between Bear Mt Preserve and Sam’s Point. FYI – We’re both 69, experienced hikers and in decent shape, but difficulty levels in the 6/7 range are about our limit. If we decide on Sam’s Point, would you recommend forgoing the waterfall or ice cave. Sounds like going to all three place makes for a pretty long day. My current thinking is we could see equally impressive falls on a different hike, but you can talk me out of that. Also, do you know if there is some sort of reserve parking sign-up system that is in the process of being set up for Sam’s Point
    I’d appreciate any/all advice you’d like to share. Many thanks!

    1. Mike

      Sally, wow, what a comment!!! Thanks so much for your very kind words. You’ve really made my day. So glad to hear that this site has been useful as you plan your upcoming visit.

      Sam’s Point would be an absolutely wonderful choice, but it is true that many, many people also make that wonderful choice. I’ve just updated that trail guide with information on the upcoming reservation system, which will be in place from May – October on weekends and holidays. If you can visit on a weekday, that would be ideal. Otherwise, be sure to check the official State Parks homepage for Sam’s Point so that you can grab a reservation for your visit.

      It’s true that I am partial to that waterfall — it is just so beautiful when the water is really flowing. But the trail leading to it is very rocky, and it meanders downhill most of the way, so that you have a strenuous, rocky climb back uphill after viewing them. You might find the ice caves to be more of a sure bet for a nice day out there — you’ll still have wonderful views along the way, and the caves themselves are fun to explore. You might trust your gut and go with that idea, especially if you have nice waterfalls in your area.

      I hope this helps, and I also hope you have a wonderful visit to the Hudson Valley! Thanks so much for taking the time to brighten my day, and enjoy your adventures here!

        1. Mike

          Hi, Bill! I’m afraid I’ve never been to this trail (or that park) before — if you find it’s a winner, would love to hear about it! Sorry I can’t be more (or any) help with this one right now, though I appreciate you putting it on my radar. Happy adventures out there!

  2. Roger

    2.0 looks great!!! Thanks for posting all of the valuable information that your site has to offer. I’ve been using 1.0 for the last 4 years and have always made it a go-to-site in trying to come up with ideas for my next day hike. Keep of the terrific work.

    1. Mike

      I really appreciate the kind words and encouragement, Roger! Thank for being an early adopter of both versions of the site 🙂

  3. Franco N

    Aaahhh thank you for this redesign! Been using your site since 2014 and I’ve long wanted for a way to sort the hikes via difficulty, distance, etc.

    Really appreciate the work you do here and I’ve actually encountered a lot of other hikers who use your site.

  4. Kacie

    Congrats on the redesign! I’m the president of Fordham University’s Outdoors Club and I’ve been using your trail guides to find hikes and lead groups for the last two years. There’s no way I would’ve been able to find all the best rock scrambles, waterfalls, and money spots without it – no other hiking guides online compare! Thank you for making the Hudson Valley so accessible, and PLEASE make swag available soon! I will personally buy and also tell the club!

    1. Mike

      Sounds like you’ve planned some great trips, Kacie – thanks so much for everything you do to help people experience some of the awesome places around here! Here’s wishing you many more awesome trips. We’ll figure something out on the swag front, too. Thanks for all the nice feedback!

  5. Jared Beloff

    Hey, I love the new update. I developed some good pinching and squinting skills, but I’m glad that I don’t have to rely on them as much on the trail. I just saw the updates and missed the kickstarter! Is there a way to still get the merch?

    1. Mike

      Jared, hope you can find another spot to put those finely honed pinching and squinting skills to use! Really glad you like the new site. We’re still working out the kinks on the merch front, but hope to get a more permanent solution out there before too long. Thanks for checking!

  6. Dot Pinckney

    We have been following your website pretty close to its inception. This New Look is great! Us “older hikers” especially like the photos……and detailed instructions. We haven’t been lost yet! Thanks for all your wonderful wit, good humor and writing. Here’s a funny for you…. when we did Wittenburg/Cornell Mountain, we had your web directions in hand. Can’t tell you how many people we passed along the way noticed and said “we follow him too!” Keep up the good work.

    1. Mike

      Thank you so much for all the kind words and feedback, Dot! So glad the site has been useful for you, and that the jokes didn’t drive you away 🙂 Cool to hear that you’ve seen other folks using the site out there, too! Here’s to your continued adventures…

  7. Anya

    Love the new design! My family has been using the site for many years, it’s so thorough and helpful and your recommendations are always spot on. Thanks Mike!!

  8. Caitlin MacCrate

    Been using this site since the start of my pinky-toe-dip into the Catskills which was a WHOLE four years ago. New site looks awesome!! My partner and I love your funny and informative delivery. Thanks!!! Keep it up!!! Also I’d LOOOoooOOOOOve a t shirt so looking forward to seeing them available so that we can support HTHV!!

    1. Mike

      Thank you so much, Caitlin! We’ll see what we can do about the T-shirt thing, too — thanks for your support!

  9. Matt

    Haven’t ventured onto this site since October 2017 and came back today thinking I was on the wrong site. Absolutely LOVE the new site and all its new features that are making me plan my week of hudson valley hiking a bajillion times easier. Many thanks.

    1. Mike

      Matt, that’s awesome! I was worried folks would complain about the old site being gone, and it’s really nice to hear that you dig the new design, and that the new features are useful to you. Happy adventuring (and planning)!

  10. Michael

    I’ve been a fan of you site for awhile now. I came across the site today and I wasn’t sure I was on the same site. Nice job! It’s been a HUGE resource for finding hikes as well as details of the trail. So I’m glad to see the refresh. Also, just an FYI, I’m a designer/art director, if you want to chat design things, hit me up anytime!

  11. Kira

    When I went to this site today, I was sure I had typed in the wrong URL. But no, just a totally surprising design overhaul! It does look great, congratulations. It makes my heart happy on how dedicated you still are to this. I’m very much looking forward for more trails, your fantastically bad jokes, and that second batch release of those shirts to come out!

    1. Mike

      Kira, this comment makes my heart happy! Thanks so much! (Your autocorrect accidentally added some characters between “fantastic” and “jokes” though — I hate it when my phone does that, too.) Seriously, I really appreciate the nice feedback. Thanks for taking the time to leave it here!

  12. Johan E

    Amazing redesign! Love the new look.

    Just a bug I found, seems like the “Save my name, email…” checkbox isn’t working on the comment form.

    Regardless, the new look is outstanding!!!

    1. Mike

      Thanks so much, Johan! Really appreciate the feedback (and the beta testing :-). We’re looking into the bug with the email subscriptions and hope to get it squared away shortly. Glad you dig the redesign!

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