For a memorable fall cruise, there are few places more beautiful than the historic and foliage-lined Hudson River.
Stretching 153 miles from The Battery in New York Harbor to The Federal Lock at Troy (just above Albany) and the start of the Erie Canal, the Hudson offers a slice of Americana, everything from the adrenaline-pushing bustle of Wall Street and New York’s West Side up past majestic mountains, pastoral countrysides, the stolid buildings at the state capital in Albany, and many harbors and coves of all descriptions.
And lots of history. The Italian explorer Giovanni da Verrazzano was the first known European to sail into Upper New York Bay in 1524, but he didn’t go very far. Almost a century later, in 1609, Henry Hudson, an Englishman working for the Dutch East India Company, explored the river that now bears his name. One of his longboats got as far as Troy.
The Hudson was a sought-after prize during the Revolution, since it could be used (along with Lake Champlain and Lake George) to link Canada to New York. To stop the flow of British warships up the river, the Americans stretched a huge chain across the Hudson at West Point. (The British had broken through a smaller one down the river at the start of the war.) After the war, the U.S. Military Academy was built there in 1802.
The Hudson became a bustling commercial avenue after the Erie Canal, connecting the river to the Great Lakes and the American heartland, opened in 1825. In 1851, some 15,000 Erie Canal boats and 500 sailing ships cleared the harbor at Albany.
The Hudson River Valley is so beautiful that it inspired its own school of painting, the Hudson River School, with artists creating an iconic American pastoral style.
For cruising boats today, the Hudson is an easy trip, with a well-marked channel and some 50 marinas from New York up to Troy. (The Hudson-Athens Lighthouse, opened in 1874, is pictured at top.) You’ll pass everything from tugs and barges to sailboats and kids on fishing skiffs or jet skis. (I’ve taken this several times over the years, and it’s always a fun trip.)
It is important to remember that the tidal range is anywhere from three to five feet, all the way up to Troy, and the current runs at about 2 knots. The tide changes every five or six hours, so if you anchor out, you could wake up with your boat pointing in the opposite direction. Read more: