Kayaking Tivoli Bays


Tivoli Bays is currently inaccessible by boat, as the launch site within the state-owned land is closed until further notice. Unless, of course, you have some moxie.

My plan for accessing the 1700-acre preserve near Bard College in Dutchess County was to simply park in one of the small lots at a trailhead and roll my kayak down the mile-long access road to the boat launch and use it anyway. It’s not like it’s something you can board up.

Thankfully, while procuring my daily pack of Winston Red 100’s at the gas-laundry-fried chicken-bong-gambling emporium near my house, one of the employees steered me in the right direction.

“Where ya goin kayaking today?”

I was confused by her clairvoyance until I remembered my kayak was visibly lashed to my car outside.

“Oh…Tivoli Bays.”

It turned out she had been there the week before and nearly used the closed boat launch, but then became concerned some law enforcement official would see her car and wreck the outing. She opted for an alternate route, which she conveyed to me and now which I am conveying to you.

Simply take Route 9G to Broadway in Tivoli, then follow it to its terminus, where it crosses the Amtrak rail tracks. There isn’t exactly a launch, but you’re perfectly able TO launch. This site is only a mile upriver from Tivoli Bays.

There were a trio of children playing on the rocky beach at the site, and utility trucks rolled past me as I prepared to launch, but no one paid me any bother.

The Hudson River is tidal all the way to the Federal Dam in Troy, and the tide was flowing upriver as I paddled south.


The Amtrak line borders the bays, separating them from the river proper, but there are four accessible underpasses, two leading into each bay.


The water was filling the North Bay as I entered through the first underpass, re-hydrating the marshland desiccated by the hot July sun. Red-winged blackbirds called from the shores as numerous blue herons passed overhead.


The North Bay opens up past the rail line, but then the water flows into a series of winding inlets resembling rivers that pass through grasses and pondweed, purple hyacinth crowding into the water as the land draws closer.


While the North Bay is intertidal march, the South Bay consists of a series of mudflats that are exposed when the tide rolls out. I did not get to experience the South Bay because I became extremely dehydrated. But YOU should.

The status of the closed boat launch can be viewed here.


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