09/28/2012 07:08 am ET Updated Nov 28, 2012

Fall Travel: A Necessary Weekend In Upstate New York (PHOTOS)

Fall foliage, or at least the first signs of color, was meant to start creeping down the shores of New York's Hudson River this past weekend. So, in search of golden leaves and crisper temperatures, I headed up to New Paltz, New York.

The town was packed -- our hotel concierge told me that apple and pumpkin pickers invariably descend on the area come fall. On weekend mornings, college students from SUNY-New Paltz and nearby Vassar and Marist seemingly make it their mission to line the streets looking for brunch. My mission for the weekend was to "reset," to ease the stress of the week and fill my lungs with fresh air.

I was also for some quiet so I could get some sleep.

To do that, I stayed off the main, one-laned drag at the 200-plus year-old, National Historic Landmark Mohonk Mountain House. The resort, which feels like summer camp and a scene from "Dirty Dancing" combined, has some 85 miles of hiking trails.

Before hitting the ground strolling, I wanted to see what all the fuss was about at the Walkway Over The Hudson, a 3-year-old project that is now the longest elevated pedestrian park in the world. The bridge, which runs parallel to the automobile-friendly Mid-Hudson Bridge, runs from Highland to Poughkeepsie. Though it was a dreary day and the leaves had failed to really start turning, it was a beautiful sight -- the lower Hudson and the mountains in the distance on one side, the great river winding its way into oblivion on the other.

Miles of trails and very few golden leaves later, the highlight of the weekend was taking a 30-minute hike up to SkyTop, which sits 1,542 feet above sea level on Mohonk's property. Visitors to New Paltz can see the tower built in honor of founder Albert Smiley all the way from town. On a crispy clear day (which Sunday was) you can see six states: New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Vermont and Connecticut. From that height, the vast array of leaves below look as though they are starting to turn from bright green to more golden hues.

We took the long way home and drove through a handful of small towns, stopping at Accord's Saunderskill Farms, which was deeded to the owning family by Peter Stuyvesant in 1663, and has been continuously farmed on the same land since 1680. We stocked up on apples--Macouns and Honey Crisps are a favorite of mine--and headed back home to the City, mission accomplished, entirely rejuvenated and ready for another week.

Fall weekend