Albany County is full of discoveries. Explore natural wonders in the Helderberg Hilltowns. Dive into history at world-class museums in the City of Albany. Marvel at New York State's second largest waterfall in Cohoes. Follow along as we showcase all there is to explore in the towns of Albany County.
The Helderberg Hilltowns are beautiful countryside communities perched atop the Helderberg Escarpment. Comprised of the four western-most towns in Albany County, this area features outdoor adventures, cascading waterfalls and charming rural communities. Discover the Helderberg Hilltowns by exploring the towns of Berne, Knox, Rensselaerville and Westerlo.
Please note that some of the below businesses and attractions may be temporarily closed due to COVID-19. We recommend to visit each business's website or social media before making plans to visit.
Berne is located in the heart of the Helderberg Hilltowns. The town boasts the highest point in Albany County with West Mountain at 2,160 ft. Part of Albany's popular John Boyd Thacher State Park extends into Berne. Stay at one of the 140 wooded campsites at Thompson's Lake Campground to enjoy cool mountain breezes and lakeside activities such as fishing, boating and kayaking. Nature enthusiasts can hike, hunt, fish, bird-watch and more at the 4,500-acre Partridge Run Wildlife Management Area or observe local wildlife in the lush 815-acre Cole Hill State Forest. Also nestled in the town of Berne is maple syrup producer, Mountain Winds Farm. The farm has 50,000 feet of pipeline and 1,300 taps with the capacity to produce 500 gallons of syrup each Spring.
Knox is the northern-most Helderberg Hilltown. The Knox Historical Society tells and preserves the town's fascinating history. During the 19th Century, Knox manufactured millions of handmade, basswood pill boxes and is nicknamed "The Pill Box Capital of the World". Visitors can embark on one of the historical society's self-guided driving tours to learn about local attractions such as New World Dutch Barns, the Winn Preserve, and the Helderberg Quilt Barn Trail. Explore nature at the Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy's 135-acre Wolf Creek Falls Preserve, the Limestone Rise Preserve or the 245-acre Margaret Burke Wildlife Management Area. Part of John Boyd Thacher State Park and Thompson's Lake also extend into the town of Knox.
Rensselaerville is located in the southwestern corner of Albany County. Stroll down the historic Main Street, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, to see the distinctive Rensselaerville Library and a 19th century grist mill, operated by the Rensselaerville Historical Society. The town is home to the Carey Institute for Global Good, a 100-acre historic estate that has been transformed into an innovative space with the focus of building a strong, educated and just society. Venture to the Huyck Preserve to marvel at Rensselaerville Falls, a must-see 120 foot waterfall, and Lake Myosotis. Before leaving town, cheers with a local craft beverage at the Helderberg Brewery, a farm brewery created from the Carey Institute's Craft Beverage Incubator program.
Westerlo has the largest population of the four Helderberg Hilltowns. Nature enthusiasts can explore the Bear Swamp Preserve, a National Natural Landmark maintained by the Nature Conservancy. The preserve is home to a relic stand of giant rhododendron, the northernmost in New York State. For a tranquil outdoor exploration and bird-watching, head to the Restifo Sanctuary, managed by the Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy. Westerlo is home to M & D farm, an idyllic barn and garden wedding venue featuring English and Mediterranean-inspired gardens, a 1940's barn and a restored 1800's house on the grounds. The town also recently celebrated 20 years of friendship with its sister city in Westerlo, Belgium!
For an even deeper dive into the Helderberg Hilltowns, check out the Helderberg Hilltowns Association!