Franny Reese State Park consists of 249-acres that once belonged to an estate called Cedar Glen, which was constructed in the 1860s by Dr. Charles H. Roberts and his wife Katharine. This ridge is located in Highland, New York, and it is known for its steep panoramic views of the Hudson River and its 2.5 miles of former carriageway trails that pass by ruins of a 19th century Victorian mansion.
There are several entrances to the park, the most popular being at the end of Haviland Road and Johnson-Iorio Memorial Park. From here you can enter the park down a series of stairs that share the entrance of the walkway across the Mid-Hudson Bridge. Winter adventurers should use the trailhead on Macks Lane to make the most use of snow-covered paths. These two points are joined by a Yellow Trail almost a mile long that connects to a Blue Trail loop (0.25-mile) as well as a White Trail loop (1.76-miles).
The Blue Trail leads to the main scenic overlook, where there are magnificent views of the bustling Mid-Hudson Bridge, Walkway Over the Hudson Historic Park, and the City of Poughkeepsie that are a reflection of the Hudson Valley’s residents and their lifeblood. (The Walkway Loop Trail is about 4.5-miles and connects all of these attractions.)
The White Trail carriageway will take you by the former mansion and along a steep bluff with more lookout points. There are meticulous stone walls that line your path along the Hudson River until you reach the southern turnaround. Here, you will head north, pass through groves of young saplings, and return to the yellow trail at an intersection point with power lines overhead.
Scenic Hudson, a non-profit committed to protecting and restoring the Hudson River and the Hudson River Valley, purchased the park in 2003 to protect he land from residential development. Today it is owned by the State Office of Parks and Historic Preservation, and the property continues to be managed by Scenic Hudson. It was officially opened in 2009 and named after Frances “Franny” Reese (1917-2003), a Scenic Hudson founder and environmentalist who led an organized effort to protect Storm King Mountain from the construction of a massive power plant and who worked to pass legislation such as the federal clean water and clean air acts. Become a member of Scenic Hudson to join an active group that advocates key environmental legislation and pressures developers to scale back massively oversized developments.
The park is open dawn to dusk, year round. Please routinely check yourself for deer ticks, which can transmit Lyme disease (a growing problem in this area).
Winter backcountry adventures can be dangerous outdoor activities that pose significant risks as conditions affecting safety (i.e. weather, snowpack stability, avalanche hazard) are constantly changing. Prior to engaging in these activities each individual should get the proper training to make safe decisions and be equipped to use avalanche safety resources and tools. Please visit our Backcountry Skiing and Avalanche Safety post to learn more.