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Access to the Hudson River Estuary

Interest in recreational use of the Hudson River continues to grow as water quality and access opportunities improve. The Estuary Program's River Access Project works with state and federal agencies, nonprofits, and municipal partners to create and upgrade shoreline access in waterfront communities so that residents and visitors alike can experience the Hudson-whether on a boat, fishing from a pier, swimming, or walking along the shore.

Find more information on ways to access the Hudson River at the Hudson River National Estuarine Research Reserve (HRNERR).

Providing public access to the estuary has its share of challenges. Railroads impede access on the eastern shore of the Hudson from New York City to Rensselaer, and on the west shore, from Haverstraw to the Town of Esopus in Ulster County. Physical barriers such as steep shoreline slopes or shallow inlets limit access in many places. Sensitive ecosystems such as critical habitat for endangered species restrict public access in other areas. Private land ownership also limits pathways.

Despite these obstacles, nearly every community along the estuary now has some form of access to the river. Since 1996, the Estuary Program has provided nearly $11 million in funding for new or improved fishing, swimming, trail, and boating facilities.

Accessibility and Resiliency

A woman in a wheel chair fishing with others fishing in the background

The Estuary Program is now working to improve the accessibility of existing sites and proposed new sites so that everyone-including people with disabilities, families with small children, and older adults-can enjoy these outdoor activities. In addition, we are helping communities focus on the needs of changing shorelines as a result of climate change. Docks, boat launches, and facilities along the Hudson are already flooding more frequently. Storm surge and sea-level rise require new strategies and solutions for managing and protecting access to the river.

handbook cover

The Flood Resilience Handbook for Public Access Sites along the Hudson River: from Troy to Yonkers (PDF) is now available to help owners and managers of public river access sites adapt their facilities to existing and predicted flooding. By planning and implementing resilience strategies and public outreach plans, managers of such sites can reduce their vulnerability and continue to provide access under changing conditions. This handbook serves that effort by providing site owners and managers with guidelines to reduce damage, costs, and other consequences associated with the effects of climate change, and begin planning for resilience.

Funding for Access Improvements

The Estuary Grants Program annually provides funding to tidal Hudson River communities for upgrades to docks, boat launches, fishing piers, swimming beaches, and facilities to accommodate people with a wide-range of abilities and to improve resiliency to flooding. Recent grant projects include an accessible kayak and canoe hand launch; curriculum about the Hudson River estuary for students with visual impairments; and a new, inner-city fishing dock.

Resources for Public Access

Several online resources are available to help New York residents and visitors find places to boat, fish, or swim on the Hudson River or walk along its shores.

Adventure New York
Adventure NY is a multi-year outdoor recreation campaign to connect more New York families and visitors to the great outdoors. The initiative includes rehabilitating campgrounds, building additional trails, and constructing boat launches and wildlife viewing platforms. These projects will be universally accessible.

people of all abilities enjoy fishing from a deck

Accessible Recreation
DEC welcomes all visitors to explore outdoor recreation on state lands and is providing an ever-increasing range of accessible opportunities. Currently, visitors to the State's accessible facilities can enjoy fishing, boating, hunting, canoeing, picnicking, horseback riding, hiking, wildlife observation, and camping at DEC campgrounds as well as primitive areas. Many trails are accessible to people with disabilities.

Accessible Recreation Destinations

Empire State Trail (leaves DEC website)
Scheduled for completion in 2020, this trail will provide a full path from New York Harbor, through the Hudson Valley and along the Hudson, up through the Adirondacks to the Canadian border and from the shores of Lake Erie to the heart of the Capital Region.

Hudson Valley Natural Resource Mapper
The mapper compiles over 30 geographic data sets for the 10-county Hudson River estuary watershed. Public access areas along the Hudson as well as information about scenic and other recreation resources is available. Users can zoom in to an area of interest and turn on individual layers to create custom, printable maps. For up-to-date information on accessibility please contact site managers (phone numbers are listed on the map pages).

Hudson River Valley Ramble (leaves DEC website)
The annual "River Ramble," which takes place during the month of September, offers opportunities for guided outdoor experiences in the Hudson Valley. Brochures, available year-round, are a great source of information on where to go to hike, bike, boat, fish, and learn about the Hudson River Valley. The Ramble is sponsored by the Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area, the Hudson River Valley Greenway, and the Hudson River Estuary Program.

Public Boating and Fishing Access

New York State Boating and Paddling
Helpful information about boat access and launch sites, regulations, boater safety, and preventing the spread of aquatic invasive species.

public boat launch

New York State Boat Launching Sites (PDF) (OPRHP and DEC)
This guide provides information to help you use and enjoy the more than 500 public boating access sites in New York State. It is organized by county. Large waters that reside in more than one county are listed separately at the end of the county listings.

Hudson River Estuary Public Fishing and Boating Access Maps (PDF) (19.5 MB) This is a large document and may be slow to download. As an alternative you may download specific sections using the links below.

Sections for easier downloading

NOTE: Some of the interactive buttons are unavailable in the documents below.

Hudson River Greenway Water Trail (leaves DEC website)
The Hudson River Greenway Water Trail is a National Water Trail and open to recreational paddlers of all experience levels. With more than 100 designated access sites along both sides of the Hudson River as well as designated camping locations, the Water Trail is easily accessible to local and visiting paddlers. The Hudson River Water Trail Guide contains 160 pages of charts, illustrations, and site listings to help boaters get the most out of a day on the river

Swimming Access

Swimmers at Croton Point Park
There are currently four public swimming beaches
on the Hudson: Croton Point Park, Kingston Point
Beach, River Pool at Beacon, and Sojourner
Truth/Ulster Landing Park.

NY Open Water (leaves DEC website)
Several long-distance Hudson River and New York Harbor swimming events take place every year including the 2 Bridges Swim Under the Walkway, the Great Newburgh-to-Beacon Hudson River Swim, the 8 Bridges Hudson River Swim, and the 20 Bridges Manhattan Island Circumnavigation.

Fact Sheets

The Estuary Program is developing a series of fact sheets and handbooks on outdoor recreation and accessibility in partnership with Cornell University, Sea Grant New York, the Northeast ADA Center.