This season is perfect for exploring New York's natural world, and residents now have a new way to experience it for free.

Hiking trails might be one of the most famous natural attractions in the Hudson Valley. From the ever-popular Mount Beacon and Breakneck Ridge to the lesser-known (and extremely difficult) paths in the Catskills, there's an adventure for everybody. Adventure-seekers looking to save money will be happy to learn that there's a new way to access New York State Parks for free.

A view of a house on a cliff and a canoe in the water at Lake Minnewaska.
There's a new way for New Yorkers to hike in state parks like Minnewaska for free (Richard Vinson)

How to Hike for Free at New York State Parks

Believe it or not, thrifty hikers might not have to look further than their local library for a free hike in a state park. Library systems across the country have been broadening their focus beyond books with a concept called "The Library of Things". In the Hudson Valley, outdoor "things" available to check out range from hiking poles and backpacks to fishing poles and walkie talkies. Another New York library has taken it a step further (below).

Empire Passes at New York "Library of Things"

Kirkland Town Library in Clinton, NY recently took to Facebook to remind members that Empire Passes, which allow free vehicle entry for all New York State Parks, are available to borrow. The $80 pass (or $750 for a lifetime pass) make parks more accessible and affordable for New York residents, but borrowing one from your local library increases the savings by 100%.

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While Empire Passes are currently not offered at Hudson Valley libraries, their inventory is still very impressive. Check out some of the more unique "things" below, and keep scrolling to check out the all-time best Hudson Valley, NY hikes.

7 Awesome Item from New Paltz's "Library of Things"

The Elting Memorial Library in New Paltz, NY offers more than just books. Check out some of the coolest items from their "Library of Things".
*Photos are not of actual items*

Gallery Credit: Jonah

The 25 Absolute Best Hikes in the Hudson Valley

We've compiled a list of the 25 best hikes in the Hudson Valley. All of the hikes are of varying difficulties and lengths, so no matter your skill level or amount of time you have available there is a hike for you here.

Gallery Credit: Weston Loving