Tours & Trails
High Land Flings Footloose Holidays
P.O. Box 1034
May - October
Guided 2-5 day walking/hiking tours with inn lodging in the Catskill Forest Preserve, Shawangunks and Hudson River Valley.
Historic Kingston Stockade District
Historic Stockade Walking Tours
Urban Cultural Park Visitors Center
(845) 339-0720 for information
Any day you feel like walking
In 1658, a small group of European settlers, living along the Esopus Creek, moved from the lowlands to a higher bluff above. The settlers were ordered to move for their safety, by the Colonial Governor, Peter Stuyvesant, who selected the site because its height and three sides afforded natural protection. Growing tensions, between the settlers and the Esopus Indians, had brought both sides to the brink of War. Board by Board, they took down their barns and houses, and re-built them behind a 14-foot high wall. The settlers built the 1,200' x 1,300' wall in three weeks, from tree trunks pounded into the ground. By day, the men would leave the walled village, called Wiltwyck, to tend to their crops in the fields. The women and children, however, were confined to life within the Stockade. The villagers continued to live this way until 1664, when a peace treaty was signed.
Though no longer needed, the wall remained until the late 17th century. Portions of the wall were found during an archeological dig in 1971, along East Front Street, now Clinton Ave.. The streets of the original village, however, remain laid out just as they were in 1658, and today they are a National Historic District and the heart of uptown Kingston.
The rough wood houses and barns of the original village of Wiltywck are long gone, but 21 Pre-Revolutionary War houses still stand within the Stockade Area. These stone houses are unique to Kingston and the surrounding area and are found nowhere else in North America. Today, they are used as functioning homes and offices, a testament to their sturdiness and timeless design. Although many began as simple homes, they have been changed over time with the addition of rooms and other architectural treatments. Even so, the basic limestone and mortar houses built with materials hauled form the fields, are still very visible.
There has been a great deal of history which has occurred within the Stockade Area, as Kingston was declared the first state capital in 1777, and hosted the Senate, Assembly, and Constitutional Convention. Chief Justice John Jay administered the oath of office to New York State’s first Governor, George Clinton, an Ulster County native, on the steps of the Ulster County Courthouse. His grave site can be visited at the Old Dutch Church cemetery, just down the street.
On October, 16, 1777, British troops invaded Kingston and burned over 300 homes, barns and other buildings. Although the State Government was forced to move, the residents rebuilt their village, which is still a vibrant neighborhood after 2 centuries. Enjoy your walk through the streets of the Stockade Historic District. A brochure is available which highlights 33 individual sites along the route.
Historic Rondout Walking Tour
by appointment only
The Rondout is a fine example of a 19th century waterfront district. Known as Kingston Landing until the 1820's, it had been a peaceful river port since the time of Hudson’s voyage along the Hudson River. In 1828, Rondout burst into activity with the opening of the Delaware and Hudson Canal, and began to develop the kind of physical character it has today.
As a terminal port along the Hudson River, the Rondout became vital to the transport of Pennsylvania coal, Ulster County bluestone and locally manufactured cement and brick. Shipbuilding, and work associated with the canals, stone quarries, brick and cement yards, attracted a great number of Irish and German immigrants, as well as, blacks from the South and Canada. The waterfront became progressively more congested, with warehouses, stables and workers homes squeezed into the small blocks and on the rocky hillside.
The Rondout was incorporated as a village in 1849, and by the 1870's it had emerged as a densely populated and highly charged commercial center. Passenger and freight railways were built to accommodate the demand for improved inland transportation. Streamlined steamers, such as the Mary Powell, brought hundreds of tourists to the popular Kingston Point amusement park. As a result, despite the decline in trade, the Rondout prospered well into the 20th century.
However, when shipping and leisure travel via the highway system became efficient and profitable, Rondout's commercial prominence began to fade. Today, revitalization efforts of the Rondout area are being made by individuals and community based groups. Although the effects of the Urban Renewal process are quite dramatic, the surviving section reveals a great deal about the character of a growing 19th century town.
Visitor's will enjoy the feeling of stepping back in time as they stroll through the Rondout District, identifying a variety of historic architectural treatments and learning some of the history which formed the area. As you pass along the streets, we encourage you to stop in at the many fine restaurants, shops and galleries which are open to serve the public.
Kingston Heritage Trail
Your own journey through the history of New York's first capital. Self-guided brochures are available at the kiosk off the NYS Thurway at the traffic circle. Includes points of interest in the Uptown Stockade District, Midtown and the Rondout Waterfront. Call for brochure/information.
The Kingston Heritage Trail is a unique trail that takes the visitor through the City of Kingston. To travel along the Heritage Trail is to journey through history. The evidence of the past is all around, in the architectural diversity, the parks and the planning of Kingston today.
The trail winds through the Historic Uptown Stockade District, where, although the British burned it to the ground in 1777, the oldest stone buildings of the one time Dutch colony survived and can be seen today. Here is the Senate House Museum, furnished as it might have been in 1777, when Kingston was the capital of New York. The rebel colonial Senate met here to draft the State’s first Constitution. One can see the "four corners", the only remaining intersection in the country where buildings from the 18th century still stand at each corner. The Uptown Urban Cultural Park Visitor Center is located in the old Van Gaasbeek Homestead, which dates to 1837. Be sure to stop at the Old Dutch Church, a magnificent Renaissance Revival stone structure built in 1852, for a look at the Louis Tiffany stained glass window, which copies St. Paul’s in London. George Clinton, the first governor of New York State, is buried in the churchyard cemetery.
From uptown, the trail brings you to Midtown Kingston, which reflects 19th century prosperity in its buildings of concrete and brick. The Old City Hall, built in 1876, rises majestically above Broadway, while the old Carnegie Library, built for the city by Andrew Carnegie, shows a facade of locally quarried bluestone. The Ulster Performing Arts Center, is a premier center for the arts, seating up to 1500 during performances. All three of these structures are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The trail continues winding down to the Historic Rondout Waterfront Area. Here you will see the ornate Italianate architecture of the storefronts along the West Strand. Park your car and browse through the variety of specialty and antique shops, or visit the Hudson River Maritime Museum and the Trolley Museum of New York. Stroll along the Rondout Creek in the West Strand Plaza Park, or take a cruise on the Hudson River.
Take your time as you follow the trail through the City. We encourage you to park your vehicle and walk around each of the districts which are highlighted. Heritage Trail markers are located throughout the City for your convenience and a brochure is also available which identifies sites not to be missed as you explore and journey through our fair City.
Interpretive Nature Trail
Interpretive Nature Trail, Hasbrouck Park - The Interpretive Nature Trail was established by the Kingston Tree Commission, and dedicated by Mayor T.R. Gallo in 1997. The trail follows the course of the fitness trail through the upper area in Hasbrouck Park and is approximately 1 mile in length. It is suitable for young children through adults, and can easily accommodate small groups. 32 different varieties of trees are identified along the trail through the use of signage, and a brochure is available to assist visitor's with locating the trees and providing interesting facts regarding some of the species. In addition to the trees, the trail offers spectacular views of the serene waters of the Hudson River, Rondout Creek, Kingston Lighthouse, and also the Ponckhockie section of Kingston. Come and visit the Interpretive Trail in the brilliant colors of the Fall, the pastels of Spring and the fullness of Summer. For further information, please contact the Urban Cultural Park Visitor Center or the Kingston Recreation Department at (845) 331-1682.
The Interpretive Trail, located in Kingston's majestic Hasbrouck Park, contains 32 different varieties of trees.
Trees such as the Black Cherry are an important staple of many birds along the trail. Other types such as the oak, birch, and elm provide shelter for much of the wildlife of the park.
Sugar Maple, or acer, is also an interesting source of food. In mid February to March these trees produce sap that can be used to make delicious maple syrup that is eaten with pancakes.
The Sugar Maple is a relative of the Red Maple. Unlike its cousin, the Sugar Maple turns a brilliant red or orange in the autumm, the Red Maple stays the same bright color year round.
Birch (betula), hickory (carya), and maple (acer), are among the most common. Some of the more interesting species are the slippery elm (ulmus fulva), and the white pine (p.strobus).
In the past, doctors used the bark of the slippery elm as a temporary cold remedy.
The White pine has soft five neddled branches, and sturdy attractive wood, which make it ample for kindle and furniture. Another interesting fact about the white pine is that because of soil composition and sunlight the trees grow only on the left side of the trail.