I grew up in Upstate, New York, just north of the Hudson Valley, but have never spent much time there, aside from the occasional soccer tournament or apple picking adventure or hiking trip or visit to a gallery in Woodstock or Rhinebeck. My hometown is less farms-and-rustic-cabins-near-the-reservoir than it is small-ordinary-suburb-with-excellent-public-school-district, so I, like many New Yorkers, have discovered most of the riches of the Hudson Valley in my twenties with only a slight leg-up from those childhood excursions.
Last Saturday we headed up to the tiny town of Salt Point, about 20 miles due east of the river from where you hit Hyde Park. This is the home of Hahn Farm, where the Hummingbird Ranch sets up one of their annual pancake breakfasts, bringing bottles of fresh grade B maple syrup to the table alongside pancakes (from farm grown meat) and sausage (from farm raised pigs). They also appear to grow Christmas trees across the road and raise alpaca and sheer sheep for yarn. It's a humble occasion -- all styrofoam plates and plastic forks and picnic tables and paper napkins -- but the food is fresh, the syrup flows and the spirit is high.
The official Maple Weekends for the Hudson Valley are over for the season, but you can still head to many of the farms and get their maple products year round. My favorite syrup of the moment is Crown Maple Syrup, also made in the Dutchess Valley (and available some weekends at the Brooklyn Flea).