Community Day!

Sunday September 18, 2016, 1-4 pm

Come one, come all to the 6th annual Community Day! From 1-4 pm, Thomas Cole’s home and the galleries will be open free of charge, with activities for the whole family. Visitors can view the Main House, New Studio and special exhibitions. There will be live music, a storyteller, art activities, a giant architectural structure to make, and free refreshments will be served. Free admission.

A special feature of the annual Community Day is the exhibition “Postcards from the Trail”, with hundreds of paintings on view and for sale. Paintings are just $100 each for adult work, and $25 each for youth work. Come early for the best selection.

Scheduled Events & Activities

1–2 pm               Live Music by the Coxsackie-Athens Community Band in the music tent

1-2 pm                Q&A in the main tent with Rich Rappleyea, the New Studio builder

2-3 pm                Live Music by Carmen Borgia & Alison Davy in the music tent

2:30 pm              Live performance of StoryCrafters under the Main House

2–4 pm            Q&A in the Main House with Margaret Saliske, the conservator restoring the decorative painting in the parlors

3-4 pm                Live Music by Foggy Otis and the Hudson Dusters in the music tent

3 pm                    Q&A in the Main House with curator Kate Menconeri about the exhibition Nature Builds/We Cover by Jason Middlebrook

3:30 pm              Live performance of StoryCrafters under the Main House

3:30 pm              Raffle Drawing

4:00 pm              Pick up your painting from the Postcards exhibition on the West Porch

Ongoing Events & Activities: 1-4 pm

  • Enjoy free admission to the Main House, Old Studio, and New Studio.
  • Buy a $100 painting at the Postcards from the Trail exhibition on the West Porch.
  • See the exhibition Thomas Cole: The Artist as Architect in the New Studio.
  • Discover the art installation by Jason Middlebrook in the Main House and on the lawn.
  • Explore the “please touch” table in the Creative Process exhibition in the Main House.
  • Grab a meal at Pippy’s Food Truck.
  • Enjoy free cookies and lemonade at the Visitor Center.
  • Do some shopping in the gift shop.
  • Add to the giant cardboard architectural project.
  • Test out our new free Audio Guide, funded by AT&T.
  • Add some color to the Kids’ Mural Activity.
  • Toss bean-bags in the bean-bag game. Play croquet.
  • Take a selfie with a super-sized Thomas Cole.
  • Draw a landscape using a Camera Obscura.
  • Enter the raffle at the information table for a chance to win a prize.


rootCommunity Day!

OPEN HOUSE: Contemporary Art in Conversation with Cole

Installation view. Photo by Michael Fredericks

Installation view. Photo by Michael Fredericks

The Thomas Cole National Historic Site is pleased to announce the start of a new series of contemporary installations entitled OPEN HOUSE: Contemporary Art in Conversation with Cole. The inaugural exhibition was Jason Middlebrook: Nature Builds / We Cover, on view August 14 – October 30, 2016. See a video about the exhibition and listen to the artist here. The 2017 project will be announced soon.

Open House: Contemporary Art in Conversation with Cole is a new series of contemporary art projects at the Thomas Cole National Historic site that explore the continued power and influence of Thomas Cole’s art and ideas. Operating from the concept that all art is contemporary, the program activates conversations between artists across the centuries.

Program Description

Open House is collaborative by nature. Each year the Thomas Cole staff will invite one or two contemporary artists to create a site-specific project that engages with the art, writings, home and story of Thomas Cole. Projects may take the shape of an installation, a performance, a guided walk, or other format reflecting the artist’s practice and ideas. This program will seek artworks and ideas of the highest artistic merit, drawn from newly created or relevant pre-existing works, that shed light on the connections between 19th-century American art and contemporary times, and that specifically speak to the historic environments in which they are presented. That dialogue takes on a special significance because the artworks will be placed into the very spaces where Thomas Cole launched this country’s first major art movement, now known as the Hudson River School. This context offers artists working today a unique venue in which to realize a project. The goals of the project are to engage both current and new audiences with a presentation that departs from the expected “house museum” experience, to enable visitors to access the historic spaces from a new angle, to provoke new ideas about the meaning of the art and history of the mid-19th century, and to encourage audiences to confront the vast cultural shifts that distinguish Cole’s time from our own.

Project History

The Thomas Cole National Historic Site was established as a creative and flexible institution from its beginnings. With the writing of its General Management Plan in 2004, the traditional “house museum” model of a static display of decorative arts was specifically rejected in order to accommodate a variety of educational initiatives. The Thomas Cole site’s senior staff members have a background in both historic and contemporary art: the Executive Director, Elizabeth Jacks, formerly worked at the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the site’s Curator, Kate Menconeri, has worked with contemporary artists for over a decade and holds a degree from the Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College. In 2015, the Thomas Cole site in partnership with the nearby Olana State Historic Site organized and presented an exhibition of contemporary art that spanned the two sites that face each other across the Hudson River. The exhibition, entitled “River Crossings: Contemporary Art Comes Home”, was curated by the artist Stephen Hannock and the professor Jason Rosenfeld, and featured work by 28 artists including Chuck Close, Maya Lin and Cindy Sherman, whose work was integrated into the historic interiors of the two historic sites. The exhibition drew attention to the story of this part of the Hudson Valley as the place where American art was born in the early 19th-century, a place that continues to spark creativity and innovation among artists working today. The initiative also shattered attendance records at both sites and brought unprecedented media coverage including a feature on CBS Sunday Morning.

About the Thomas Cole National Historic Site

Thomas Cole National Historic Site (TCNHS) preserves and interprets the home and studios of Thomas Cole, the founder of the Hudson River School of painting, the nation’s first major art movement.  Located on 6 acres in the Hudson Valley, the site includes the 1815 Main House, 1839 Old Studio, the newly reconstructed 1846 New Studio, and several other buildings. It is a National Historic Landmark and an affiliated area of the National Park System. Following a restoration of the Main House, the TCNHS opened to the public in 2001. TCNHS activities include guided tours, exhibitions, printed publications, extensive online programs, activities for school groups, free community events, lectures, and innovative public programs such as the Hudson River School Art Trail—a map and website that enables visitors to see the nearby views that Cole painted. Each year, the TCNHS organizes a loan exhibition of Hudson River School paintings, providing a first-hand experience with the art movement that Cole founded. The goal of all programs at the TCNHS is to enable visitors to find meaning and inspiration in Thomas Cole’s life and work. The themes that Cole explored in his art and writings—such as landscape preservation and our conception of nature as a restorative power—are both historic and timely, providing the opportunity to connect to audiences with insights that are highly relevant to their own lives.

Betsy JacksOPEN HOUSE: Contemporary Art in Conversation with Cole

Postcards from the Trail


The 7th Annual Postcards From The Trail | OPEN CALL for ARTWORK

for exhibition at the Thomas Cole National Historic Site
Sunday, September 30, 2018

ARTWORK DUE: Friday, September 7, 2018
Please read all instruction guidelines before submitting work | In 1818, Thomas Cole arrived in the United States
and embarked on a journey to record, experience, and celebrate American landscape. The locations that he and
other artists explored in the Hudson Valley are honored today with the Hudson River School Art Trail, a program
with maps and directions allowing people to visit the places that Cole and his fellow Hudson River School artists
painted. Cole’s most well-known works reflect on the American landscape, and subjects of change, cycles, and the
natural world. In 2018, the bicentennial year of Cole’s arrival in America, we look to carry on the contemplative
spirit of the artist. For this call, we invite all artists to walk in the footsteps of Cole and to visit one of the 23 sites
along the Art Trail to make their own postcard size artwork of the same spots. Has the landscape changed since
Cole’s time, or in your own time? What about the landscape makes it matter to you, now? All interpretations are
welcome. Your submitted work of art will be a part of the 2018 pop-up exhibition at the Cole Site.

All artists who submit work according to the theme, that follows the guidelines and arrives by the deadline of
September 7 will be included in the exhibition that will take place at the Thomas Cole National Historic Site on
September 30, 2018.

+ Artists may submit original painting, drawing, work on paper, collage, photography or other medium work that
fits on a 5×7” canvas or hard board (size must be inclusive of image area, margin, and borders).
+ NOTE: A complimentary 5×7” canvas panel is available while supplies last for pick-up at the Thomas Cole
National Historic Site Visitor Center. Artists may also use their own canvas/materials. Entries must be made on
provided canvas, your own canvas, stiff board, or paper mounted on board. Loose works on paper cannot be
included. All works must be unframed, and will be hung with hook or removable, non-staining adhesive attached
directly to the back of your work.

Artists may submit 1 or 2 original artworks. To be included in the exhibit, work must fall within the theme, meet
required size, and arrive with a completed entry form on or before September 7, 2018. Entry forms may be
downloaded at There is no fee to enter.
Artworks from artists age 18 and over will be offered for sale for $100. Artworks from artists age 17 and under will
be offered for sale for $25. Artists may choose “not for sale.” The artist may choose to donate 100% of the
purchase price or share 50/50. All proceeds directly support programs at the Thomas Cole Historic Site.

MAIL: The Thomas Cole National Historic Site / Attn: Postcards Exhibition, 218 Spring Street, Catskill, NY 12414
IN PERSON: Deliver to the Visitor Center at 218 Spring Street, Catskill, NY / Tues-Sun, 9:45-5pm.
Please note: All work that does not sell will need to be picked up from the site at the close of the exhibition. The
Thomas Cole National Historic Site is not responsible for returning works. In the case that a work does not sell, we
will notify participants and provide a two week timeframe to pick up work. Any work not claimed and picked up
after that time will be considered abandoned property, unless alternate arrangements are made in advance. If you
need to have your work mailed back, please make sure to include a self-addressed, stamped envelope large
enough and safe for its return.



#1 Thomas Cole National Historic Site. 218 Spring St, Catskill, NY 12414
#2 Olana, 5720 NY-9G, Hudson, NY 12534
#3 Catskill Creek. Site coordinates: 42.223621 Lat., -73.887604 Long.
#4 Kaaterskill Cove. Site coordinates: 42.184711 Lat., -74.074028 Long.
#5 Kaaterskill Falls. Site coordinates: 42.192982 Lat., -74.062698 Long.
#6 North- South Lake. Site coordinates: 42.200039 Lat., -74.041588 Long.
#7 Sunset Rock. Site coordinates: 42.205063 Lat., -74.030685 Long.
#8 Catskill Mountain House. Site coordinates: 42.194729 Lat., -74.034744 Long.
#9 Mount Merino and the Caskills. Site coordinates: 42.256215 Lat., -73.797097 Long.
#10 Albany From East Side of River. Site coordinates: 42.63459 Lat., -73.749496 Long.
#11 Hudson River from Hasbrouck Park. Site coordinates: 41.922038 Lat., -73.980442 Long.
#12 Mohonk Lake. Site coordinates: 41.76814 Lat., -74.15532 Long.
#13 Eagle Cliff near Artist’s Rock. Site coordinates: 41.76814 Lat., -74.15532 Long.
#14 Shawangunk Mountains from Sky Top. Site coordinates: 41.76419 Lat., -74.15637 Long.
#15 Hudson River from Vanderbilt Mansion. Site coordinates: 41.795673 Lat., -73.943329 Long.
#16 Hudson River from Croton Point Park. Site coordinates: 41.181519 Lat., -73.893356 Long.
#17 Jasper Cropsey Home and Studio. Site coordinates: 40.992691 Lat., -73.881813 Long.
#18 Platte Clove. Site coordinates: 42.133094 Lat., -74.085437 Long.
#19 Storm King from Long Dock Park. Site coordinates: 41.50475 Lat., -73.98594 Long.
#20 Hudson River Skywalk. Site coordinates: 42.224528 Lat., -73.854861 Long.
#21 Echo Lake at Franconia Notch. Site coordinates: 44.178418 Lat., -71.693516 Long.
#22 Crawford Notch Across Saco Lake. Site coordinates: 44.218816 Lat., -71.411133 Long.
#23 The Oxbow, Connecticut River. Site coordinates: 42.300592 Lat., -72.587733 Long.

Click Here For More Information on the Art Trail 

QUESTIONS? Email Peter Fedoryk at or call 518.943.7465 xt 118

Image: Thomas Cole, View from Mount Holyoke, Northampton, Massachusetts, after a Thunderstorm—The Oxbow (detail), Oil on canvas, 1836, 51 ½ x 76 in, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of Mrs. Russell Sage, 1908, 8.228

Betsy JacksPostcards from the Trail

Grounds & Gardens

Homelands of the Muh-he-conneok

The Thomas Cole National Historic Site is located on the ancestral homelands of the Muh-he-conneok: the People of the Waters That Are Never Still. Today, they are known as the Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohican Indians. The tribe is made up of Mohican and Munsee people and is one of 574 federally recognized Tribes in the United States. Today, as a result of European colonization, the Stockbridge-Munsee reservation is in northeast Wisconsin. Despite having been forced from its Hudson Valley homelands, the Stockbridge-Munsee Community remains active both here in the Northeast homelands and in Wisconsin.
(Adapted from the Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohican Indians website. Read more at

Thomson, Bartow, and Cole Families

A family by the name of Thomson bought this property in 1787, and began the establishment of a homestead by 1814 with their nieces, the Bartow sisters. They called it “Cedar Grove.” The Main House and infrastructure were built along a local turnpike road – today’s Spring Street – that crossed through the western portion of the property. During Thomas Cole’s residency, (1836-48), the property consisted of 110 acres. A salaried farmer, domestic laborers, and members of the family tended the plants and animals, and protected the site. Fruit and saleable crops were grown, and a variety of livestock were kept. This place remained in the hands of the Cole family until the 1970s. Although Thomas Cole came to love Cedar Grove for its beauty and its views of the Catskill Mountains, his involvement with running the family farm was minimal, with only a few references to it in his extensive correspondence and journal entries. He occasionally mentioned the grove of trees east of the house, and he referred several times to the flower garden south of the house, but his primary occupation continued to be his art.


As the stewards at a national historic site and museum, we work to restore, maintain, and honor the history of this place. We are guided by ecological principles of supporting biodiversity, reducing the use of toxic materials, replanting traditional plants, and affording a place where people can consider their own relationship and connection with the natural world.

Historic Features:

Flower Garden

The formal garden was restored in 2002, and consists of two flowerbeds flanking a central gravel path that is aligned with the front door of the Main House. Maria Bartow (who married Thomas Cole) and her sisters tended the garden, and period accounts describe it containing a variety of flowers, including hollyhocks, larkspur, poppies, roses, china asters, dahlia, and valerian.  A massive honey locust tree, planted when the house was built nearly 200 years ago, anchors the garden.

Honey Locust and Orchard Trees

In autumn 1817, John A. Thomson (who initiated the building of the house with his siblings) ordered a wide variety of fruit trees, enough to plant a sizable orchard of about 80 trees. The 1817 nursery order included fifteen varieties of apples, four varieties of plums, five of peaches, five of pears, and three varieties of cherries. Most notable for us now in this tree order was the inclusion of “12 three thorned acatia (sic).” Today, the acacia is called honey locust (Gleditsia tricanthus) with its distinctive three-branched thorns. A large specimen of this tree continues to grow close to the front porch of the house. If this tree is indeed one of the twelve planted in 1817, it is now over 200 years old.

Kitchen Garden

An extensive kitchen garden was located along the south side of the Storehouse. Originally a quarter acre in size, it was cultivated with a wide variety of vegetables, bush fruit, and grape vines. A small portion of it has now been restored. In 2024, we are partnering with Lucy Grignon (an enrolled member of the Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohican Indians and a direct descendant of the Menominee Nation) of Ancient Roots Homestead to honor the land on which the museum sits by replanting Native plants, and reframing out connection with plants and all living things. Feel free to enter and look around!

Woodlot (and Woodland Path)

At one time the Woodlot encompassed about four acres of mixed trees that were periodically thinned for firewood. Following the picturesque style, it was kept rough and unmanicured. Paths and wagon drives led through the woodlot to open fields and Cedar Grove’s frontage on the Hudson River. About one acre of woods remains today on the east end of the historic site. As part of your visit, take a stroll along the Woodland Path!

How to Explore

The Grounds are open for exploration every day from dawn until dusk.

Reference: Toole, Robert M. and Heritage Partners, Cultural Landscape Report for the Thomas Cole National Historic Site: Cedar Grove, Catskill New York, 2004.

Betsy JacksGrounds & Gardens

Summer Party Live Auction

Live Auction

The 2016 Summer Party will feature a live auction of four first-class vacation destinations, and all proceeds will benefit of the Thomas Cole National Historic Site. If you wish to place an absentee bid, please call Carrie at 518-943-7465 extension 4 before Friday the 24th at 4 pm.

Luxury in the Black Forest

Indulge your wanderlust for three nights for two at the 5-Star Traube Tonbach, nestled in one of Europe’s most magnificent landscapes, the Black Forest National Park in Germany. Feel the forest with all your senses, leave your daily routine behind, enjoy the scent of the firs and the stunning views. Let tension disappear in the fragrant floral steam of the bio sauna. Includes elaborate breakfasts, dinners with wine pairing, and two spa treatments per person. No restrictions on dates. Value: $2500


Antique Maison in the Loire Valley

Since the reign of Louis XIV, the 3-storey, 2-bedroom “Maison du Soliel” has graced the square in Pontlevoy, a charming and quiet village in the heart of the Loire Valley, about 2 1/2 hours from Paris. Nearby are the chateaux at Blois, Leonardo da Vinci’s Amboise, plus Chenonceau, Villandry (known for its gardens), the massive Chambord, and many more. Enjoy a full week in the region of Sauvignon Blanc and Sancerre, delightful small restaurants, plenty of brocantes for antique-hunters, and a goat cheese farm right in Pontlevoy which New York Magazine once called “the best chevre in France.”  Available year-round. Value $2000


True Parisian Experience at Quartier Latin

Enjoy an entire week in the hip and lively Latin Quarter of Paris in your own studio apartment in a 17th-century building located at 24, rue de l’Arbalète in Paris, 5th arrondissement, just off rue Mouffetard. Pantheon, Sorbonne and Notre Dame are a short and lovely walk away. Quartier Latin’s winding streets are filled with ethnic eateries, second hand bookstores and bohemian history. The flat features a double bed and high-speed internet. A bottle of champagne and a platter of cheese and fruit will be ready for you upon your arrival. Value $2100


A Week at Pezula Ridge, Private Estate

This cliff-top architectural masterpiece with 180-degree views of the Indian Ocean, sparkling pool with waterfall, stone fireplaces and easy access to the spa, golf course and clubhouse is located along the “Garden Route” in Knysna, an old artistic village south of Capetown, South Africa, in the spectacular wine lands. Sleeps 8-10! Includes housekeeper and house manager. Available July 1-Oct 30, 2016, and again May 1-Oct 30, 2017. Value $8000. Additional photos below:

Pezula- 5

Pezula- 3

Pezula- 4

Betsy JacksSummer Party Live Auction

The Grand Opening!

On Sunday May 1, the grand opening and official ribbon-cutting for the New Studio took place at the Thomas Cole National Historic Site. Pictured here, left to right: Anne Miller, Chairman of the Capital Campaign Committee; Lisa Fox Martin, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, George Amadore, State Senator; Elizabeth Jacks, Executive Director; and John Mesick, Architect.

Betsy JacksThe Grand Opening!

The Hudson River School Art Trail connects you with the places in nature that Thomas Cole and the Hudson River School artists made famous in their 19th-century American landscape paintings. Thomas Cole was an artist and early environmentalist who founded the Hudson River School of landscape painting in the United States and advocated to protect the country’s natural scenery.

Today, you can visit these magnificent views thanks to extensive preservation efforts.

The Hudson River School Art Trail is a program of the Thomas Cole National Historic Site in partnership Olana, the Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area, and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

Step into a Painting on a Self-Guided Adventure



Donate to the Thomas Cole Site

Your support makes everything possible. The Thomas Cole National Historic Site operates as an independent 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, responsible for raising the full operating budget each year.

Your donation supports our mission to draw inspiration from Thomas Cole’s profound influence on America’s cultural landscape and the historic context of his work to engage broad audiences through innovative educational programs that are relevant today.

All donations are tax-deductible to the full extent of the law. You can make your donation here online or by mail to the Thomas Cole Historic House, 218 Spring Street, Catskill, NY 12414.


A gift to the endowments is a gift that gives forever. Support the future of this organization by supporting the Program Endowment or the Preservation Endowment. Tell us where you would like to direct your gift in the comment section below.

The Thomas Cole Society: Making Your Gift a Lasting Legacy

Many of our supporters have already left a gift to the Thomas Cole National Historic Site in their wills or estate plans to help preserve this historic place for future generations, and you can too. If you have already included the Thomas Cole Site in your will, please let us know. We can’t wait to thank you.

To talk about your goals and any questions please reach out to Jennifer at

Important Information

Legal Name: Thomas Cole Historic House
Mailing Address: 218 Spring Street, Catskill, NY 12414
Tax Identification Number (EIN): 27-0599147

If you would like to make a gift of stock, please be in touch with Jennifer at

The Program Endowment that supports educational programs at the Thomas Cole National Historic Site has been made possible in part by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the Human Endeavor. Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this the programs do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Campus photography by Peter Aaron/OTTO


Learn about the Hudson River School

In the early nineteenth century, many in this country were searching for a style of art that they could call their own – something distinct from Europe. Painter, poet, and essayist Thomas Cole (1801-1848) responded to this quest by creating American landscape paintings unlike any yet seen. His vision of majestic mountains and tangled forests stood in stark contrast to the gentle landscape images that had come before.

Influential people of the nascent New York cultural scene embraced his work enthusiastically, and Cole became the leader of an informal alliance of landscape artists now known as the Hudson River School. Cole, Asher Durand, Susie M. Barstow, Frederic Church, Sanford Gifford, Jasper Cropsey, and other painters, along with literary figures such as William Cullen Bryant and James Fenimore Cooper, forged a self-consciously “American” style and landscape vision for what was still a relatively new nation.

The artists of the Hudson River School were united by their belief that their art might lead to spiritual renewal and contribute to the formation of a uniquely American national culture.

Explore Thomas Cole’s paintings in depth

Read a brief Thomas Cole bio

Learn about his home called Cedar Grove

See a list of prominent figures of the Hudson River School

See a list of recommended further reading

Get information especially for collectors

Visit the page for Thomas Cole’s NEW STUDIO

Painting: Thomas Cole, View from Mount Holyoke, Northampton, Massachusetts, After A Thunderstorm (The Oxbow), 1836, The Metropolitan Museum of Art 

rootLearn about the Hudson River School

Hudson River School Art Trail Itineraries

Below are several suggested itineraries for exploring the Hudson River School Art Trail – the driving and walking trail to the views that are depicted in some of the best known 19th-century landscape paintings. If you have a smartphone or tablet, you can bring all of the paintings along with you and have the fun of comparing the painted and actual views by visiting this site: Also, from May through October, you can join a guided hike that departs from the Thomas Cole Historic Site. See the current schedule of hikes and other programs.

Enjoy your journey.

One-Day Highlights Tour

Sites 1, 2, 4 and 5.

See some of the most spectacular sites, all in one day! Start at the #1 site on the Trail, the Thomas Cole National Historic Site at 9:30 am, watch the introductory film about the Hudson River School, and take the 10 am tour of the place where American art began. Next, head to Olana, site #2 on the Trail, which is less than 3 miles away, and brace yourself for one of the most beautiful views in all of North America. Take the 11:30 am tour (reserve in advance by calling (518) 828-0135) of the magnificent home of the artist Frederic Church, shop for an artistic souvenir, and then head to lunch in nearby Hudson or Catskill. After lunch, drive to site #4 on the Trail for a view of majestic Kaaterskill Clove. Leave your car there and take the 1-mile hike up to Kaaterskill Falls.

“Into the Wild” Weekend

Day 1: Sites 12, 13, 14 and 2
Day 2: Sites 1, 4, 5 and 7

Escape to nature and hike to some of the most glorious views on the East Coast. Start at the Mohonk Mountain House, a resort that dates back to the 19th-century. Ask for a trail map at the gate house and explore the beautifully maintained trails with 100-mile views of the region, encompassing Trail sites #12, 13 and 14. Enjoy an outdoor barbecue for lunch at Mohonk’s The Granary overlooking New Paltz’s Lake Mohonk. Drive approximately one hour to Olana, site #2 on the Trail, and brace yourself for one of the most beautiful views in all of North America. Take the guided tour (reserve in advance by calling (518) 828-0135) of the magnificent home of the artist Frederic Church, shop for an artistic souvenir, and then head to dinner in nearby Hudson or Catskill, both of which have Bed & Breakfasts for your overnight stay. The next day, start at the #1 site on the Trail, the Thomas Cole National Historic Site, watch the introductory film about the Hudson River School, and take the guided tour of the place where American art began. Head to lunch on Catskill’s historic Main Street or at The Point restaurant on the banks of the Hudson River, then drive up into the 300,000-acre Catskill Forest Preserve. Park and enjoy Trail site #4 right from the parking lot. If you have time, hike the one mile trek up to Kaaterskill Falls, a double waterfall that combined reaches 260 feet, the highest waterfall in New York State! Compare the view to Thomas Cole’s famous 1826 painting of the same, then make your way back down the trail to the sights and sounds of tumbling waters all the way. Drive around into the North-South Lake State Park, get a trail map at the gate house, and start your two-hour round-trip hike along the dizzying heights of the Escarpment Trail, with views that encompass the length of the Hudson River and three states. Return the way you came and reward yourself with a hearty dinner in nearby Hunter or Tannersville.

Fun Family Outing

Sites 4, 6 and 8

Your first step into the colorful and magical world of the Hudson River School is at the Thomas Cole National Historic Site in Catskill, where your Art Trail Passport awaits. Pick up your passports at the gift shop located in the visitor center, watch a short intro film about the Hudson River School and, with passport and pencils in hand, journey into the artistic heart of the Catskills. Be sure to stop at nearby Catskill Country Store, located just about one mile from the Thomas Cole Site at 430 Main Street, Catskill, or at Natalie’s Nook which is also on Main Street, to grab sandwiches, salads and more for a picnic on the trail.

From here, drive along Route 23A until you cross over a large waterfall and come to a small parking lot on your left, located approximately 15 miles from Catskill. Park and walk to the far side of the lot where you can see a view through Kaaterskill Clove, site #4. There you will find an exhibit panel with several paintings of the same view reproduced there. Using your passports and a pencil, you can make a rubbing of the metal plaque that is attached to the sign.

If you have older children and if you have enough time, leave your car right there and walk back along Route 23A to the trailhead to Kaaterskill Falls, site #5. As the largest cascading waterfall in New York State, it is little wonder Cole and many of his disciples stopped here to capture on canvas their first impressions of the Catskills. The one mile hike into the falls offers scenic beauty, plenty of opportunity for sketching on your own, and a well-marked trail that entices with the smells of the forest and distant thunder of the majestic waterfall. However, it is steep in places and not appropriate for small children. Find a quiet spot at the base of the falls and enjoy your picnic or simply relax while the rush of the falls creates its own music all around you. At the end of your hike, stop by the Art Trail Marker to complete the passport rubbing before heading to site #6, North-South Lake.

The North-South Lake Campground is a popular destination that offers swimming, boating and fishing, perfect for a day of family fun. A small day-use fee is required at the entrance gate where you should request a map of the campground and nearby hiking trails. Drive to the edge of the lake, site #6, and record the sights and sounds of the journey in your passport, utilizing one of Thomas Cole’s own painting techniques. Cole captured the scenic beauty in little reminders and sketches, making notes about the color of flowers, trees and the sky before returning to his studio to paint.

Enjoy the family-friendly atmosphere of North-South Lake, go for a swim, enjoy your picnic if you have not already done so, and then head to Site #8 on the Art Trail, the former location of the Catskill Mountain House. The trailhead is located at the campground and follows the Catskill Escarpment Trail to a ledge rising 1,600 feet above the Hudson River Valley. Complete your rubbing and enjoy the inspiring view that on a clear day encompasses five states and remains almost unchanged since Cole’s time.

Three-Day Grand Tour

Day 1: Site 17

Day 2: Sites 15, 2 and 9

Day 3: Sites 1, 4 and 5

Day 1:

The grand tour of the Hudson River Art Trail offers an in-depth exploration of the places that inspired America’s first artistic style. Start at site #17, the charming home and studio of painter Jasper Cropsey. Take a guided tour of both Cropsey’s home and studio, known as “Ever Rest,” by appointment on weekday mornings. To reserve a tour, phone (914) 478-1372.

Take a break and walk or drive the mile to nearby MacEchron Waterfront Park on the Hudson River. Picnic or stop at any one of the nearby restaurants and enjoy the inspiring views before heading back to site #17 for a tour though the museum’s collection of Crospey originals. The museum, shown by appointment only, houses a large collection of Cropsey paintings. See some of the best views and compare Cropsey’s painting Ravine at Hastings to the exact spot the artist captured.

Head into the charming town of Rhinebeck and continue the search for your own Hudson Valley treasures in antique shops, find art supplies and jewelry, as well as clothing shops and outdoor gear. Enjoy an overnight stay at the Beekman Arms, a stately inn located in the heart of the historic village. Reminisce about the day’s delights in front of a roaring fire or relax outside on the stone patio before dinner at The Tavern at the Beekman Arms.

Day 2:

Day two of the grand tour will find you following in the footsteps of the Vanderbilts and German-born Hudson River School painter Johann Hermann Carmiencke. The painter, who had already achieved success in Denmark, emigrated to the United States when war broke out between Germany and Denmark in the mid-1800s. One of Carmiencke’s most famous paintings, Hyde Park: View Up the Hudson, was painted from what would become the west portico and grounds of the Vanderbilt Mansion National Historic Site, stop #15 on the Art Trail. For $8 per person, enjoy a guided tour of the house and grounds year-round, and enjoy Carmiencke’s vista from the great lawns. Children 15 years and younger can take the tour for free.

After touring site #15, head to site #2, Olana State Historic Site – the former home of the prolific Frederic Edwin Church, one of the Hudson River School’s most celebrated painters. Find the medallion in the visitor center and make your rubbing before heading to site #9, Mount Merino and the Catskills, on the banks of the Hudson River in Promenade Park. Located at the foot of Warren Street just a few miles from Olana, the scenic vista was captured by Sanford Robinson Gifford in 1864 in his painting titled, South Bay, on the Hudson, Near Hudson, New York.

Enjoy wandering the cosmopolitan, yet charming city of Hudson for legendary antique shopping and great restaurants for dinner before checking in for the night at one of the many bed and breakfasts.

Day 3:

Day three of the grand tour will find you visiting the home of Thomas Cole and touring along some of the first vistas captured by Hudson River School painters. Begin the day with a visit to Site #1, the Thomas Cole National Historic Site in Catskill, a 5-mile drive from the City of Hudson that takes you over the beautiful Rip Van Winkle Bridge. Open your Art Trail passport and make a rubbing of the medallion at the Thomas Cole site, enjoy the scenic vista as well as tours through both Cole’s house and his studio.

Take a walk over the Rip Van Winkle Bridge, which is less than a mile’s walk or drive from the Thomas Cole site, and enjoy the stirring views of the Hudson River and the scenic riverbank. Head back toward Catskill, and stop at Frank Guido’s Port of Call and enjoy a casual lunch along the Hudson River waterfront or visit Catskill’s historic Main Street for a quick bite.

Traveling from the river to the mountains, head to site #4, Kaaterskill Clove. Located on Route 23A in Palenville, the 10-mile drive from Catskill to the trailhead is dotted with scenic views. Captured by Asher B. Durand in 1866 and many other artists before and since, the Clove remains a stunning and well-preserved landscape. Cloves, which are clefts in the mountains, are distinctive to the Catskills, and were often painted by Hudson River School artists. Don’t forget to do the medallion rubbing at site #4.

From Kaaterskill Clove, head to site #5, Kaaterskill Falls – the largest cascading waterfall in New York State and your final stop on the grand tour. Painted first by Thomas Cole in 1826, and then by his many followers, Kaaterskill Falls remains a majestic and inspiring landmark destination for all who travel in Thomas Cole’s footsteps. Do the rubbing and then head for home. You have completed the three-day grand tour.

rootHudson River School Art Trail Itineraries