Where to see fall foliage upstate this weekend without renting a car

You don’t need a car to see Upstate New York’s fall foliage. (Shaye Weaver)

BY SHAYE WEAVER | The burnt reds, yellows and oranges of fall foliage haven’t quite hit the city, but in upstate New York, it’s leaf-peeping season.

That doesn’t mean much to city folk without a car, but several towns are actually reachable by public transit, like Cold Spring, Saratoga Springs, Lake George and Glens Falls, which are at or nearing their peak foliage, according to I Love NY’s foliage report created by a team of 65 leaf peepers.

Now is the time to hop on Metro North and see the following sites:

Cold Spring 

Visit the ruins of the Cornish Estate, which was burned down in a fire in 1958. (Shaye Weaver)

Get there: Take Metro North from Grand Central Terminal one hour and 15 minutes to Cold Spring.

Get the best view: On your way to Cold Spring by train, you’ll already get breathtaking views of the Hudson River and when you arrive, you won’t be disappointed by the gorgeous golden colors that greet you. There are trails to follow, but don’t miss the ruins of the Cornish Estate. Built around the turn of the 20th century, the home once belonged to Edward Joel Cornish and his wife Selina Bliss Carter Cornish, who moved from New York City to settle in the country. In 1938, the husband and wife died within two weeks of each other and in 1958, a fire engulfed the home and destroyed it. Now, its remains (its pool, its fireplaces, and its structural bones) can be seen by walking about 1.8 miles from a parking lot at Little Stony Point (3007 Bear Mountain-Beacon Hwy).

To do: From fishing to hiking at Breakneck Ridge in Hudson Highlands or kayaking with Hudson River Expeditions (just one block from the Cold Spring train station), Cold Spring is a lovely getaway that can keep you busy. Even Main Street is full of cute boutiques to shop at and farm-to-table eateries to enjoy like Hudson Hil’s Café (129-131 Main St.).


The falls at The Roundhouse in Beacon, NY. (Courtesy I Love NY)

Get there: Take Metro North from Grand Central Terminal one hour and 15 minutes to Cold Spring.

Get the best view: Take the Mount Beacon trail, which starts at 788 Wolcott Ave., to get an almost bird’s-eye view of the Hudson Highlands and Catskill Mountains.

To do: Just a 10 minute train ride north of Cold Spring, Beacon is a former industrial town that has been revitalized and reborn as a haven for the arts with the Dia: Beacon museum (3 Beekman St.), the glass-blowing studio Hudson Beach Glass (162 Main St.) and other galleries all within walking distance. If you’re looking for a place to eat, check out the “Dr. Who” -themed British eatery, Pandorica (165 Main St.), or Kitchen Sink Food and Drink (157 Main St.), a rustic farm-to-table restaurant. For a pint, head to Melzingah Tap House at 554 Main St. If you’re into history, check out Dutchess County’s oldest estate, the Madam Brett Homestead (50 Van Nydeck Ave.) and The Roundhouse at Beacon Falls (2 East Main St.), which was built around a historic mill factory. Now it serves as a hotel.

Saratoga Springs 

Head to Saratoga National Historical Park to see incredible foliage. (Courtesy I Love NY)

Get there: Take Amtrak just over five hours from Penn Station to Saratoga Springs’ Castleton Station.

Get the best view: Head to Saratoga National Historical Park, which is a 20 minute taxi ride from downtown Saratoga Springs, or Skidmore College’s North Woods (815 North Broadway) for a scenic jaunt through the vibrant forest, or check out Geyser Creek Trail, which starts at 19 Roosevelt Dr. and has several trails and mineral springs within.

To do: Saratoga Springs has it all from skiing to mineral springs and restaurants that span diverse tastes. Start your morning at the Roosevelt Baths & Spa (39 Roosevelt Dr.) or shop at one of Saratoga Springs’ boutiques and stores, including Northshire Bookstore (424 Broadway), Feathered Antler (517 Broadway), Hatsational (510 Broadway) and Saratoga Botanicals Organic Spa & Store (80 Henry St.)

Adirondacks – Lake George and Glens Falls 

Fort William Henry is a reconstructed fort on the water that gives daily tours and musket and cannon firing demonstrations. (Courtesy I Love NY)

Get there:
Take Adirondack Trailways, Greyhound or Amtrak, which runs from Penn Station to Montreal with a stop in Fort Edward just 20 minutes from Lake George. The train station provides taxis, and a shuttle service through the Greater Glens Falls Transit System.

Get the best view: As the southern gateway to the Adirondack Mountains, Lake George is one of the largest lakes there at 32 miles long. Many of its 183 islands are open for public camping like Sunny Island or Red Rock Bay, which will provide incredible views of the mountains that rise up in the distance.
A 15-minute drive south via taxi takes you to Glens Falls, which is a small town on the banks of the Hudson River. You can see the foliage along the river or nearby on any of the Adirondack trails, but also in Cole’s Woods (40 Parkview Ave.), which has a 5 kilometer race loop and lighted snowshoe and ski trails as well as a babbling brook.

To do: Check out Fort William Henry (48 Canada St.) — a reconstructed fort on the water that gives daily tours, and musket and cannon firing demonstrations. For a refreshing way to see the area, take a trip on a steamboat trip that includes narration about the history of the area, wives tales and fun facts. Don’t miss The Hyde Collection (161 Warren St.) featuring works from past and modern masters including Renoir, Picasso, Degas, Andy Warhol, Sol LeWit and dine at The Garrison Lake George (220 Beach Rd.) or DownTown City Tavern (21 Elm St.).