Hudson Valley Hiking at Slabsides

Rocky outcropping at Slabsides

Planning a Hudson Valley hiking trip and searching for the perfect day hike?

Slabsides is an approachable hike near Kingston, NY that’s beginner friendly, kid friendly and dog friendly. Here’s a hiking route that takes you to the best spots at Slabsides, including my recommendation of where to eat after your hike.

You may be wondering what is Slabsides? Where is Slabsides? And why choose this hike over other popular hikes near Kingston, New York?

Slabsides is a rustic writing cabin hand-built by American writer and naturalist John Burroughs on his homestead in Esopus, NY. Today the cabin and surrounding woods are part of the John Burroughs Nature Sanctuary, which offers several walking trails that are dog-friendly and kid-friendly.

I’ve hiked Slabsides several times, so read on for a full Hudson Valley hiking report, including Slabsides history, Slabsides directions and where to park, trail difficulty, and my favorite Hudson Valley restaurants nearby. 

This post is all about Hudson Valley hiking options at Slabsides in Esopus, NY.

About Slabsides

The John Burroughs Nature Sanctuary includes Slabsides, the rustic writing cabin of American author and essayist John Burroughs. 

Burroughs was not only a writer but also a prominent environmentalist and conservation advocate. He lived in the one room cabin until a year before his death, in 1921.

Not only is Slabsides a great option for hiking near Kingston, NY, it’s usually uncrowded. I almost always have the hiking trails to myself when I come here.

Here is how John Burroughs describes the area where he built his writing retreat: 

“I was offered a tract of wild land, barely a mile from home, that contained a secluded nook and a few acres of level, fertile land shut off from the vain and noisy world by a wooded precipitous mountain… and built me a rustic house there… Life has a different flavor here. It is reduced to simpler terms; its complex equations all disappear.”

John Burroughs, Far and Near

While you can walk around the outside of the cabin and even peer in the windows, Slabsides is only open to the public twice a year. If you want to see the author’s writing setup, time your visit for the two days a year Slabsides is open, the third Saturday in May and the first Saturday in October. 

Slabsides Driving Directions

The GPS address for Slabsides is 261 Floyd Ackert Road, in West Park, NY, a hamlet of Esopus.

Slabsides is located ten miles south of Kingston, NY, making it one of the best options for hiking near Kingston, NY.

To reach the trailhead, turn off Route 9W on Floyd Ackert Road. If you are driving south, this will be shortly after Stone Hedge Restaurant. If you are driving north, it will be immediately after End Cut Restaurant. Follow Floyd Ackert Road across the railroad tracks. 

Shortly after you cross the tracks, you will see a sign for Slabsides on the left. Turn left up Burroughs Drive, an unpaved road. The road opens to a small parking area where you can leave your car. 

The parking area is barely ever full – Slabsides feels like a Hudson Valley secret – but if it is, there are some pullouts on the road. 

Note, Burroughs Drive ends at a private house. The boundary between public land and private property is clearly marked. Be respectful!

Slabsides Trail Conditions

The trails at Slabsides are gently sloping, with some natural stone staircases that take you over the rocky outcroppings. Trails are well marked and interconnecting. Extend your hike to 4.5 miles by linking them all together, or do a section if you have less time. The hiking route below links several short trails to show off the best of Slabsides in a quick hike under 3 miles.

While the trails here are short and gently sloping, there are some natural challenges to be aware of.

The ground is rocky and uneven.

After a rain, the trails may get muddy, so wearing appropriate hiking boots is advisable. I also recommend hiking poles to brace yourself since some rocks are slippery.

Moss-covered rocks become slippery when wet.

Given the wetlands, mosquitos are a problem in warmer months. To fully enjoy your hike, it’s a good idea to bring along mosquito repellent to keep those pesky bugs at bay.

During the winter months, the rocks can become icy. I’ve successfully hiked Slabsides in winter with no problems, but always bring my hiking poles.

Best of Slabsides Hiking Route

The Hudson Valley hiking route listed below combines the best views at Slabsides into one 2.1-mile hike.

Rocks and trees on a typical Slabsides trail

All the trails are clearly marked, so you don’t need a map, but the John Burroughs Association maintains an online copy for reference.

From the parking area, follow the trail toward the small cabin visible in the distance. Take as much time as you want to view the cabin before continuing.

By the cabin, you’ll pick up the white trail (0.9 miles), which leads over and around a wooded ridge. This part of the trail includes some sections that go over and down stone staircases, which again are slippery when wet.

You’ll pass a spring and take a wooden boardwalk over some muddier sections of the trail, once used by the author to grow celery.

Mushrooms growing in a patch of autumn leaves.

Take the short orange spur trail (0.2 miles) to extend your hike up and down two cliffs that connect the white and red trails. This is a steeper section of the trail and it may not be suitable for pets or small children.

There is a wooden ladder in one area to help you get up (or down) the cliff, and there is an option to walk around if you prefer.

If the orange trail doesn’t sound like much fun, skip it and continue along the white trail until it intersects with red.

To see the waterfall, head left on the red trail. You’ll head toward Black Creek State Forest.

This section of the trail is rich with mushrooms, so appreciate (but don’t harvest) the beautiful shrooms you see alongside the trail.

Brown mushroom growing along the Hudson Valley hiking trail at Slabsides.

You’ll know you’re near the waterfall when you see a sign for Chodikee Lake and hear a rushing creek.

Take your time wandering around, exploring the creekside area and the foundations of an old house until you’re ready to come.

Backtrack on the red trail, passing the intersection with white.

Or if you skipped the waterfall, turn right onto the red trail from the intersection with white.

The red trail leads through the woods and up and over some rocky cliffs, with more of the stone staircases you climbed earlier.

If you take the red trail all the way to the pond, you’ll see the naturalist cabin which is home to naturalists-in-residence.

Once you’ve had your fill of the pond, turn back and take the red trail a short distance to the yellow trail, which leads back to Slabsides and the parking area.

Dining Options Near Slabsides

Slabsides is tucked in between two fine dining restaurants, End Cut and Stone Hedge.

I’m assuming you’re looking for something a little less fancy, since you’re probably wearing hiking clothes!

Here’s where I’d go to grab a bite to eat after an afternoon spent Hudson Valley hiking.

  • Hudson House & Distillery (Esopus): Located in a historic building with Hudson River views, Hudson House & Distillery serves food, craft cocktails, and bourbon flights. The distillery currently makes a Black Creek Bourbon, Black Creek Empire Rye, Altair Vodka, New York State Gin and some limited edition bourbons. I haven’t yet sampled the food. But their cocktails are inventive and the riverfront views are unbeatable. The outside patio even features musicians in the summer months!
  • Underground Coffee & Ales (Highland): For craft brews, coffee and pub fare, check out Underground Coffee & Ales. There are a couple of outdoor tables, weather-depending. Inside, grab a table and perhaps a board game to play, put together a tasting flight, or order off the decent and inventive pub menu.
  • Friend’s Corner Tea & Snack Bar (Highland): This combination Filipino market and bubble tea shop in downtown Highland is a great all-ages option for a quick bubble tea or halo halo after your hike. For a full Filipino meal, head around the corner to Hapag Bistro, a sit-down restaurant owned by the same family.

A walk at Slabsides is an opportunity to escape crowds at other popular Hudson Valley hiking spots, look inward and reconnect with nature. Instead of summit views, you’ll enjoy a peaceful atmosphere, pretty rocks and mushrooms, and a rustic wood cabin. But some days, that’s all you need.

Make a day trip out of your visit to Slabsides and the John Burroughs Nature Sanctuary by combining your Hudson Valley historic sites visit with other local attractions.

Ready to Plan Your Hudson Valley hiking trip?

There are so many amazing Hudson Valley hiking trails to choose from. Slabsides stands out for its super convenient location (right off 9W between Kingston and New Paltz) and its historical significance. John Burroughs was an influential voice in nature writing and convinced many of his peers to support conservation and public lands.

The hikes at Slabsides are interesting and approachable, ideal for beginner hikers and experienced hikers looking for a light walk in the woods. Bonus points if you’re into mushrooming and plant identification – the trails are pretty wet and mossy, so you’ll be bound to see tons of mushrooms. We also saw so many bright orange baby newts, which always bring a smile to my face.

If you do the hike at Slabsides, drop a note in the comments section and let me know how it went for you!


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