With summer comes ample opportunities to explore the river, mountains and skies of the Hudson Valley. Whether you're looking for an adrenaline rush or prefer a laid-back tour, here are three outdoor adventures available in the area.
1. Experience the Hudson River by kayak
There's no better way to get up close and personal with the Hudson River than by kayak. Hudson Valley Outfitters in Cold Spring offers a number of tours suited to varied skill sets and interests (63 Main St., Cold Spring; 845-265-0221; www.hudsonvalleyoutfitters.com). The 2013 ongoing tour schedule includes a Bannerman's Castle Hard Hat Tour ($130) and camping trip ($230), a Fourth of July Fireworks Tour ($80), Yoga & Kayak Tours ($130), Beacon to Cold Spring Tours ($110) and and a Constitution Marsh Tour ($110), which outfitting manager Kevin Semple has said is the most popular. Offered most weekends through October, this four- to five-hour tour takes paddlers through the Audubon Sanctuary marsh, where they're sure to see plenty of wildlife and vegetation, and occasionally even a bald eagle. The tour, with a maximum of 10 boats and one or two instructors, breaks for a picnic lunch provided by the Foundry Cafe or another local restaurant at a waterfall, where everyone is invited to jump into the freshwater pool for a swim. There are stunning views of West Point, Dick's Castle and Boscobel along the way. Tours can be reserved by calling the store.
Like Hudson Valley Outfitters, Mountain Top Outfitters (144 Main St., Beacon; 845-831-1997; mountaintopsonline.com) also offers an Independence Day Fireworks Tour ($50), in which kayakers paddle underneath the Newburgh-Beacon Bridge for an ideal vantage point to see the show. Those looking for an intro to kayaking can try the group paddle ($20), which heads to a different destination every Wednesday evening starting June 6 through late-August.
Storm King Adventure Tours has options for early risers, night owls and everyone in between (178 Hudson St., Cornwall-on-Hudson; 845-534-7800; stormkingadventuretours.com). In business for seven years, company the kayak tours are open to everyone, including newbies, couch potatoes and 80-year-old ladies, said owner Kris Seiz. The Bannerman's Castle tours and the Moodna Creek Marsh paddles, both three hours long ($60), are the most popular, but regardless of the tour, "everybody comes back happy," she said.
2. Go for a flight in a vintage plane
Whether you want to watch an air show or go for a ride in a vintage plane, the Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome, a crown jewel of the Hudson Valley, has you covered (9 Norton Rd., Red Hook; 845-752-3200; www.oldrhinebeck.org). Founded in 1959 by pilot Cole Palen, the not-for-profit features one of the world's largest collections of early 20th century planes. And between June 8 and Oct. 13, abaout 500 spectators per weekend day watch an air show featuring planes from the pioneer era (Saturday) or World War I (Sunday).
For those who want more than the spectator experience, rides are offered throughout the flying season on a New Standard D25 biplane. A pilot takes passengers on a 20-plus minute flight up over the Hudson River and Catskill Mountains ($75 per person), an "unforgettable experience," says Erin Dinan, a museum docent and the assistant gift shop manager. Rides are offered for groups of two to four, by appointment during the week and first come first served on weekends from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. with a two-hour break for the air show. The show starts at 2 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday and lasts for about two hours ($20 adults, $15 teens/seniors, $5 kids 6-12, free for kids under 6). Group rates apply to groups of 15 or more.
3. Go ziplining with Big Bear
If you want to try a different type of flight that will really get your adrenaline going, ziplining might be for you. One of the more adventurous thing to do in the Hudson Valley, Big Bear Ziplines (817 Violet Ave., Route 9G, Hyde Park; 888-947-2294; www.bigbearziplines.com) offers a course with eight ziplines situated in 50 acres of scenic woodlands. Zipliners will soar at heights up to 80 feet and speeds of up to 30 miles per hour. The three-hour rain-or-shine tours, available to anyone between 80 and 250 pounds, are offered on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and are offered through the summer (Monday-Friday: 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.; Saturday-Sunday: 10 a.m., 11 a.m., 2 p.m. and 3 p.m.). Tours are $99 per person and reservations must be made online or by phone 24 hours in advance.