UPDATED MAR 15, 2020
Sure, the city’s got some incredible rooftops, postage-stamp parks, and cozy coffee shops around, but taking a break from the hustle and bustle of the five boroughs is a must. While NYC may not offer a whole lot of greenery within city limits, venturing just an hour or two outside the city will offer you views of Hudson, serene pathways, and some pretty amazing upstate hikes.
No, you don’t have to commit to the 2,000+ miles of the Appalachian Trail to get in on this famous hike. Just hop on the Metro-North at Grand Central to the Appalachian Trail (it runs most weekends), pick your trail, grab the directions, and head out on the hike of your choosing. That means it’s great for even your less hiking-inclined friends — all levels really can make the trail work for them. It’s easy to get caught up hiking longer than planned, so you’d be silly not to bring some healthy snacks.
If you’re just taking up hiking as a hobby and seriously doubt the strength of your peach emoji, this seven-mile, round-trip hike is a great spot for you. First, you’ll climb up a 500-foot rock staircase, but then the remainder of the hike will level out as you walk towards an overlook that’ll give you Insta-worthy views of Bear Mountain Bridge. On the weekends, you can take the Metro-North to the Manitou stop and walk the remaining mile and a half to the trailhead for an extra-long hike, or you can take your car right up to the start point. And depending on if you go public transportation or not, the whole hike will only take three hours, so you’ll get back to the city with plenty of time to freshen up before dinner in town.
Wear long sleeves to avoid bug bites and the occasional patches of poison ivy to prepare for a pretty rad two-mile hike right through the Bronx’s Pelham Bay Park. It’s a short and easy hike but it loops through a section of the park called Hunter Island and gives you a shocking number of landscapes in a short distance. Think: meadows, shrubbery, forest, and views of the Long Island Sound. New Englanders, you’ll love this gem because the stretch of rocky coastline is reminiscent of what you might expect to see along the shores of Maine. A slice of New England in the Bronx? We dig it.
It doesn’t get much easier than stepping off the Metro-North Garrison stop and finding yourself right at the Arden Point Trailhead. Just follow the signs for Arden Point-Hudson Highlands State Park to embark on a 3.7-mile loop that’ll give you ample opportunity for Hudson views. This route is the slow jog of hikes, which means the difficulty is low and it’s a great route for when the fam comes to visit.
Pacific Northwesterners and hiking enthusiasts, this one’s for you. It’s a little bit of a schlep if you don’t have access to public transportation, but a group called Vertically Inclined does offer van transportation to the trailhead. However you get there, this 2.5-hour ride from the city to the Biscuit Brook parking lot is totally worth it. Just be ready for it — this nine-mile round-trip trail isn’t too steep, but the rocks are basically boulders and the terrain can be treacherous without hiking boots. So lace up, mentally prepare to cross four streams, and get going on this five- or six-hour climb. Fitt tip: if reaching the summit is your goal, you’d be smart to hike with a professional guide — you have to venture off the marked trail to get there.
This 12-mile loop starts about a mile from the Peekskill Metro-North stop. That gives you options: you could lace up your boots and meander to the start, traveling through a cute town, and maybe checking out the Peekskill Brewery, or call an Uber. The loop should only take about four hours and is on the easier side, so while you’ll definitely hit your step goal for the day, it may not be the cardio workout you’re used to. Just be sure to pack an extra layer because, being next to the Hudson, the windchill can get a little harsh.
Right smack dab in the middle of Staten Island is The Greenbelt with more than 35 miles of marked hiking trails, from short loops to a 12-mile path. We should note that all 35 miles can be picked up at the visitor center, where you can also grab a handy-dandy trail map. Our favorite is the 12-miler, a three- to four-hour hike that has some challenging spots but offers a number of vistas for New Yorkers on the hunt for a good view. Plus, you get to take a ferry — all part of the adventure.
With lakes, brooks, and serious views, this five-ish-mile hike has it all. First, you’ll climb along Ramapo Lake, then you’ll follow the Wanaque Ridge Trail, and finally, you’ll end up at a spot with stunning views over New Jersey. (We promise Jersey is way prettier far away than it is close up.) If you have a car, we recommend driving because public transportation can be a bit of a bear with this one. But if you’re feeling adventurous, take a New Jersey Transit bus from Port Authority to the intersection of Ringwood Avenue and Second Avenue in Wanaque, and then it’s just under a mile to your starting point.
If “Breakneck” gives you any indication, this trail is not for the casual stroller. It’s an almost-10-mile hike for serious hikers. Think: steep ascents, some rock climbing, and about six hours of good legwork — you should go ahead and cancel the barre class you have scheduled for tomorrow now, ‘cause your legs will feel it. But we promise the views are totally worth it. To get there, just take the Metro-North from Grand Central to the Breakneck Ridge stop on the weekends. And if you want a group to do it with, try out the Xcelerated Adventures Day Hike group to meet some like-minded adventurers.
Round up the whole family because this three-mile hike is great for a little morning stroll. The hills are rolling, but the ascents aren’t bananas. In fact, the terrain is relatively easy, which means even your pup can join you on the trail. The whole loop should only take you about three hours, so if you’re coming from the city, the commute is the longest part; take the Metro-North to the Peekskill Station and then hop into a free shuttle that will take you all the way to Bear Mountain Inn, where the hike starts.
Assemble your fit squad because this is a day-trip you don’t want to miss. In less than two hours, Metro-North will bring you to Poughkeepsie, where you’ll start with a stroll over one of the world’s longest pedestrian bridges (stretching 212 feet above the river) before heading through Franny Reese State Park. And if the 2.5 miles of meandering sparks your appetite, head to one of the many nearby restaurants before heading home. This hike may not be for those afraid of heights, but it’s definitely for history buffs and those looking for a view.
If you don’t have a car (or a friend with a car), go ahead and skip this one because we wouldn’t want to tease you with a hike you can’t get to via public transportation. But if you do, and fancy a little history, this five-miler loops through the abandoned village of Doodletown (yes, a serious name) in Bear Mountain State Park. You’ll traipse through stone ruins and even walk through a cemetery. So, basically, if you love Halloween, you’ll love this little hike.
Head on over to Queen’s to hike the perimeter of Alley Pond Park. It’s a little hilly, so you get some baby up-n-downs, and the trail offers a lot of chances to spot hawks and frogs. The path is clear, so you can probably leave the hiking boots at home and slip on your old running sneaks. Oh, and in our opinion, this spot is best when hiked with your furry friend or as a midday stroll with a (non-furry) friend.
This two-mile stroll gives you an inside peek of what Manhattan would look like… if it wasn’t a city. (It will blow your mind.) Quick history lesson: the land was owned by the Lenape Native Americans, but then Peter Minuit purchased the island of Manhattan from them in 1626. That means that while it might be busier on the weekends, we recommend making a visit on a Saturday because it tends to be used for historic programs with school groups during the week. There are a few trails in the park, but the Blue Trail is the most popular, especially in the spring because it offers opportunities to see tulips, trees, and nesting birds. If bird-watching is your jam, bring some binoculars; you can thank us later.
If you find yourself escaping to the Catskills for a getaway, know that among the forest, mountains, and lakes is some of the best hiking in New York. And while it's possibly the most heavily trafficked hike in the region, you'd be sorely mistaken not to visit Kaaterskill Falls, about three hours upstate. The 1.4-mile round-trip hike — easy. The trail — well-marked. The waterfall —absolutely stunning. At its best (usually in late-spring and early-fall), the two-tiered falls drop 260 feet into a swimming hole that's oh-so-popular on hot days.
Marine Park is Brooklyn’s largest park, which makes it a goldmine of fun. We’re talking a golf course, a baseball diamond, a bocce court, some playgrounds, and even a landing site for kayaks. But it also has the Gerritsen Creek Nature Trail. While only a mile long, it takes you from the shore of Gerritsen Creek to Jamaica Bay and through a prairie of tall grass. And bird-watchers, grab those binoculars again because the trail is home to a variety of birdlife. Marine Park is a quick hike for New Yorkers, so if you’ve got a few moments of your busy life to spare, gear up and get going.
About and hour and some change away from NYC, this 40-acre park is home to tons of wildlife (watch out for great horned owls) and a moderately challenging out-and-back trail. If you’re looking for your hike to include a bit of a workout, the path at Cold Spring Harbor State Park won’t disappoint. Part of the Nassau-Suffolk Trail, expect hilly terrain and maybe a few chipmunks along your path. The best part is that this route is mostly shaded, so it’s a good move on those hot summer days.
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