37 Beautiful Best Hikes in Upstate New York + Hidden Gems for All Levels

There are hundreds of beautiful hikes in Upstate New York to choose from. And they can range in level of difficulty due to the diverse terrain throughout our vast state of New York. From easy loops around our gorgeous New York lakes to more challenging mountain hikes through one of our many epic New York State Parks. And these hikes can also range in time, too. Some are an easy day trip from New York City. Others can be a long weekend getaway in one of our favorite Adirondack towns. There is an outdoor opportunity for everyone in Upstate New York!

Related Read: What is Upstate New York?

Table of Contents

Important Things to Know: Upstate NY HikeS

But first, some important things all hikers need to be aware of. This is especially helpful if you’ve just begun hiking in the outdoors (which understandably so many people are now).

  • Consider bringing a bag to pick up any plastic trash you may see. Unfortunately, this is becoming a huge problem in some outdoor spaces.
  • If the garbage bins are overflowing, take the garbage with you and dispose of it elsewhere. Unlike the street corners of New York City, these parks do not have garbage removal every day.
  • Please do not play loud music. Not everyone likes your music. Most people are in the outdoors to escape the sounds of society and embrace nature’s tunes.
  • Stay on the trails. Veering off designated trails is not just dangerous, it also damages the terrain and natural ecosystem.
  • Have compassion if you see someone not doing something listed above. A lot of us are new to the outdoors and didn’t have the privilege of growing up with access to it. So practice empathy for others who are still learning.
  • Tick checking 101: Be mindful of ticks in Upstate New York and check yourselves/your dogs for ticks afterward! Ticks are VERY serious as they can transmit the incurable Lyme Disease to humans.
  • Do not park illegally. There are cops literally waiting to give you a hefty ticket for that.

A Note On GATEKEEPiNG in Upstate New York

Gatekeeping is when people limit others from certain spaces, information, hobbies, or activities. These gatekeepers take it upon themselves to decide who should have access to certain things.

Sadly, there is a real disdain that many of us experience from those who do not want “outsiders” in these public parks. Yes– you read that right. They do not want us locals in the public spaces towards which we New Yorkers all pay taxes.

The prejudice is worse if you’re from New York City; but if you’re a person of color? Forget it. The disdain and nasty comments we’ve received on our Tik Tok videos, Facebook posts, and New York blog articles from racist local residents telling me, “you’re not welcome here” or “Dominicans are [insert a racist insult].” It’s pretty upsetting, given the history we’ve been trying to overcome in this country. And particularly jarring to hear after a joyous experience embracing the healing properties of nature!

We all deserve access to the outdoors and nature. And I will continue to promote my beautiful state’s natural wonders in the hopes that these spaces can be accessible to everyone. Read more: Five Reasons Why You Should Keep Geotagging

More of Our New York State Travel Guides

If you’re interested in exploring more of our beautiful state beyond small towns, here are some of our top New York travel guides to continue reading:

The 35 Best Hikes in Upstate New York

The Adirondacks Region

Let’s start with the region we can all agree is Upstate New York: The Adirondacks, which is one of the best USA summer vacation spots! We recommend situating yourselves in one of these cute Adirondack towns and then exploring as many of the nearby hikes and outdoor opportunities as possible. There are endless hiking trails in the Adirondacks. So allocate enough time to love it all.

Keep scrolling if you want to see hikes in other parts of Upstate New York!

1. Ampersand Mountain Trail

Ampersand Mountain Trail is a 5.4-mile trail in the Adirondacks. It’s the perfect hike for people who want something challenging, but that can be done in less than 4 hours. It’s an out-and-back trail that can be hiked in both the summer and the winter. If you hike it in the winter though, be prepared for a proper winter hike in the snow with snowshoes, crampons, etc. In the summer, it’s a great hike that you can even bring your dog on.

Ampersand Mountain has stunning views at the top. There is a little bit of rock bouldering/scrambling on the journey. It also gets a bit steep at times which is why it might take a little longer than you think to get to the top. It’s a great first-time hike in the Adirondacks.

  • Difficulty: Hard
  • Length: 5.4 miles (round trip)
  • Route: Out-and-back

2. Indian Head & Rainbow Falls

Indian Head is now one of the most recognizable sites in the Adirondacks. The money shot is the view of Lower Ausable Lake and the surrounding forest. There are a few different ways to get to Indian Head. If you’re looking to just get some pictures, then you can walk along Lake Road to Indian Head Trail. The other options all require some more proper hiking along West River Trail, Indian Head Trail, Gil Brook Trail, and more.

I recommend combining your hike to Indian Head with your hike to Rainbow Falls. Rainbow Falls is the kind of waterfall that makes you feel like you’re in a fantasy book. You must use Indian Head Trail to get to Rainbow Falls. It’s about 11 miles out-and-back and should take you 5-8 hours depending on fitness level and speed. There isn’t any rocks scrambling, but it can get slippery as you get closer to Rainbow Falls so be careful.

  • Difficulty: Easy, but long so may be classified as moderate
  • Length: 11 miles
  • Route: Out-and-back

3. Whiteface Mountain

Hiking Whiteface Mountain is tough, especially in the winter. It’s the fifth highest peak in New York. It’s tons of fun, but it’s tough because there is a steady significant incline for most of the hike. If you want to hike one of the most well-known Adirondacks mountains, make sure you’re prepared for a long day. In the winter, it can take much longer and you should bring snowshoes and spikes.

There are several possible paths up Whiteface, but usually, it’s about 10 miles out-and-back. Some people can do the hike in as little as 6 hours, but I recommend allotting closer to 8-10 hours, especially if you’re not a big hiker. In the spring-fall months, it can also get very muddy on parts of the trail, unless it’s been unseasonably dry. On a clear day, you can see for miles in all directions from the summit. The views are breathtaking and worth the climb making this one of the best hikes in Upstate New York.

  • Difficulty: Challenging
  • Length: 10 miles
  • Route: Out-and-back

4. Cobble Lookout

The trail to Cobble Lookout is relatively new. It was created in 2014 and is more akin to a walk than a hike even though you are gradually ascending. People even run this trail in the summer. It’s less than 3 miles out-and-back and takes about 45 minutes each way. It’s over relatively flat terrain so it’s easy except for when there is mud. The trail leads to a view of Ausable Valley and the surrounding mountains, including Whiteface Mountain.

Please note – Although we had the peak to ourselves, we’ve heard reports of there being limited parking during certain times of the year. So plan accordingly.

  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Length: 3 miles
  • Route: Out-and-back

5. Ausable Chasm

Ausable Chasm is a canyon in the Adirondack Mountains. Unlike other hikes in the Adirondacks, there is a fee to access the chasm. Once you’re in the chasm, walking through the canyon is a short 2-mile loop trail that can take as little as 1 hour. There are other things to do in Ausable Chasm though, like rock climbing and river tubing. I recommend doing other things when you visit Ausable Chasm to take advantage of paying the fee for the day.

There are a couple of trails in the canyon. In addition to the main rim walk that’s 2 miles, you can walk approximately 3 miles along other trails and even see Rainbow Falls from one of them. Check out all your options when you visit Ausable Chasm, so you make sure you see as much as possible!

  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Length: 2 miles for the main rim walk, but 5 miles of trails in total in the canyon
  • Route: Loop
  • Entrance Fee: $17.95

6. Nine Corner Trail

Nine Corner Lake is one of the many beautiful lakes in the Adirondacks. Nine Corner Lake Trail is a short 2-mile out-and-back path to the southeast corner of the lake. It’s an easy hike that you can run on in the summer or snowshoe in the winter. In the summer, you can swim in Nine Corner Lake. The water is cold but on a hot day, it’s perfect.

Keep in mind that Nine Corner Trail can get flooded. When that happens, the trail closes and there’s no way to know that until you arrive and see the signs.

  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Length: 2 miles
  • Route: Out-and-back

7. Poke-O-Moonshine Mountain

A lot of the other hikes in the Adirondack Mountains described on this list are either difficult or easy. Pok-O-Moonshine Mountain is perfect if you’re looking for something between difficult and easy. Maybe you want to hike a mountain but not spend 8 hours doing it. This is the hike for you.

Poke-O-moonshine Mountain is a smaller peak in the Adirondacks. At the top of the mountain is a fire tower. You can usually see Lake Champlain from the summit. Pookamoonshine Mountain takes about 2-4 hours to hike. It’s an out-and-back trail that can get a bit muddy depending on the season so don’t forget your waterproof shoes.

The Catskills & Hudson Valley Hikes

8. Awosting Falls + Minnewaska Lake ★

This hiking trail is perfect for beginners as it is very easy but offers spectacular rewards. The hike’s two major attractions are Awosting Waterfall and Minnewaska Lake, along with other gorgeous sights along the way. The length of your hike will depend on which parking lot you choose to use. We chose to park in the southern lot, which required a 15-minute walk to reach Awosting Waterfalls, followed by a 30-minute hike up to Minnewaska Lake. Once at the lake, you can either choose to return or venture further and explore the various trails that surround the lake.

After your hike, stop by Mountain Brauhaus for some German food and drinks in a cozy cabin-esque setting. They even have hot cider and mead! Or, head to Rough Cut Brewing Co. for some beer and food.

  • Difficulty: Easy peasy
  • Length: 1-2 miles +
  • Elevation: 118-260 ft
  • Route: Out & back

9. Artist’s Rock and North-South Lake ★

There are two ways to get to Artist’s Rock where you’ll see North-South Lake. North-South Lake is a beautiful lake in the Catskill Mountains. The biggest and most popular campground in the Catskills is here. It’s a perfect weekend trip from New York City. There are 2 ways to hike to Artist’s Rock. One way is the 1.8-mile loop trail via the Escarpment Trail. The other way is the 6.2-mile loop trail via Mary’s Glen Trail.

Both trails lead you to Artist’s Rock for the perfect view of the North-South Lake. It’s a great spot to soak up the sun before you walk down to the lake for a dip. You can also just head back to your car if you didn’t bring a swimsuit. The shorter hike is relatively easy, but there is still a bit of rock scrambling. The longer hike has some scrambling and portions of the hike are steep. Either way, you’ll definitely enjoy it!

  • Difficulty: Easy-Moderate
  • Length: 1.8 miles or 6.2 miles
  • Route: Loops

10. Overlook Mountain

Overlook Mountain Trail is one of the best hikes in Upstate New York. There are ruins, a plane crash (YES!), and gorgeous views at the top. It’s also close to Woodstock, one of the best towns to visit in Upstate New York. Overlook Mountain Trail largely consists of a wide clearly marked path that’s so easy people take their children. It should only take a few hours to hike this 4.6-mile out-and-back trail.

Overlook Mountain even has picnic tables at the summit so you can bring a snack and take a comfortable break at the top. The ruins are an old hotel from when the Catskills used to be the premier summer vacation region for wealthy New York City residents. There is also a small plane crash site from the 1980s that you can see along the route.

  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Length: 4.6
  • Route: Out-and-back

11. Kaaterskill Falls ★

Kaaterskill Falls is the highest cascading waterfall in New York. It’s also become an exceptionally busy place in the past few years so the town of Hunter, where the waterfall is located, has some strict parking rules. You can see them here. It’s an easy 1.6-mile out-and-back hike to Katerskill Falls so you should be able to do it in less than 2 hours. That’s with significant time on pictures.

It can be very muddy and slippery along this trail, especially closer to the falls. I don’t recommend visiting in the winter as the trail can have snow and it will make the area around the falls dangerous. There are steps between the tiers at the falls that you can walk down to get a couple of different views.

  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Length: 1.6 miles
  • Route: Out-and-back

12. Gertrude’s Nose

Gertrude’s Nose is one of the best hikes in the Hudson Valley. It’s a hike in Minnewaska State Park. It’s a long, challenging hike so be prepared to use the whole day. It is worth it when you get to the top and see the view. The hike itself is great with lots of forests, a clearly marked path, and different views every way you look.

You can hike Gertrude’s Nose on a day trip from New York City. It will be a very long day though. Instead, you could spend the night in New Paltz, a town near Minnewaska, and enjoy the perfect weekend trip from New York City.

  • Difficulty: Challenging
  • Length: 8 miles
  • Route: Loop
  • Entrance Fee: $10 to park at Minnewaska State Park

13. Labyrinth & Lemon Squeeze at Mohonk Mountain Preserve ★

Mohonk Mountain House is on Mohonk Mountain Preserve. Minnewaska State Park and Mohonk are right next to each other on the Shawangunk Ridge. There are different hikes in both areas. The Labyrinth and Lemon Squeeze is the most well-known hike in Mohonk. This hike is closed all winter so call them at 845-256-2197 to check if it’s open before you go.

The Labyrinth and Lemon Squeeze is one of the most memorable hikes in Upstate New York. I LOVED IT. You must climb a ladder, squeeze your way through the Lemon Squeeze crevice, and do a lot of rock scrambling and bouldering. It’s tough, but quick and tons of fun. The end is rewarding with postcard-perfect views of the Hudson Valley when you reach the top.

  • Difficulty: Challenging
  • Length: 5.5 miles
  • Route: Loop
  • Entrance Fee: $35 per adult to access Mohonk Mountain Preserve; buy on the website before arrival

14. Anthony’s Nose

Anthony’s Nose is one of our favorite hikes in the Hudson Valley. If you need a dose of nature but are limited on time, then this hike is perfect. There are two ways to hike Anthony’s Nose. Both bring you to the same peak on the eastern side of the Hudson River. You get an amazing view of Bear Mountain Bridge and Bear Mountain on the opposite side of the river.

I recommend the backway up Anthony’s Nose because there are a couple more views on the way up the mountain. It can be done in 3-4 hours if you’re quick and just want to shoot up and back. On the weekends, it’s a busy hike because it intersects with the Appalachian Trail, and it’s very close to New York City.

The other trail is shorter (1.9 miles) and only takes about an hour each way. For this one, you have to park on the side of the road, which is actually allowed!

On your way home, stop by Farmer & the Fish restaurant in Tarrytown. Gerry loved the steak; it was tasty and a good source of protein after hiking. And/or, grab some lobster rolls at one of the many seafood restaurants in town overlooking the new Tappan Zee Bridge.

  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Length: 2.6 miles
  • Route: Out-and-back
  • Elevation: 675 ft

15. Mount Beacon

Mount Beacon is a great place for every type of hike. Depending on how far you want to go, it can be an easy 2–3-hour hike or a moderate 4-5-hour hike if you go all the way to the fire tower. I recommend going all the way to the fire tower. At the beginning of your Mount Beacon hike, there is a daunting set of stairs set into the mountain. Don’t let that deter you. You can do it!

Mount Beacon is easily accessible from the town of Beacon and the Metro-North train station there. The hike is perfect for a day trip from New York City with great views of the Hudson River and the surrounding valley on all sides. If you only hike to the first outlook, you still get a great view so if you’re not up to going all the way to the fire tower, don’t stress. You can always head down to Beacon after and hit up one of the many great places to eat and drink.  

  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Length: 2.4 to 4.4 miles
  • Route: Out-and-back

19. Sam’s Point & Verkeerderkill Falls ★

The hike to Sam’s Point and Verkeerderkill Falls is simply one of the best hikes in Upstate New York. Even if you visit Sam’s Point without access to the Falls, it’s worth it. The views from Sam’s Point of the western Hudson Valley are unparalleled. The first time I hiked Sam’s Point, I fell in love with my home all over again. (I’m a Hudson Valley girl – born and raised.)

The best time to visit is in the spring if you want to see Verkeerderkill Falls. Depending on the weather, by the late summer, the Falls will be dry and access is usually closed during the winter because the path is too dangerous. If you’re just hiking to the top of Sam’s Point, it’s a steadily inclining path. If you hike to the Falls, is when it starts to get difficult. There are even ladders to get to the Falls.

  • Difficulty: Moderate – Challenging
  • Length: 5 miles
  • Route: Out-and-back

20. Bear Mountain – Bear Mountain State Park

Bear Mountain is the perfect Upstate New York hike from NYC. It’s just one hour north of the city. It boasts great views of the Hudson River and the surrounding Hudson Valley. You get to say you climbed a mountain. The views are amazing because you also get excellent views to the west and north, in addition to the views of the Hudson River on the east.

There are many trails, some are a bit challenging at times because of the elevation gain and there’s some proper rock scrambling at times. Others are easy walking paths. You can also rent paddle boats on Hessian Lake.

When you get to the top of Bear Mountain, you might feel a bit bamboozled. There is a parking lot at the top so people can skip the hike and drive up for the views. Don’t stress. The hike is worth it. You can do it on a day trip from New York City, and you get to see all the different vistas along the way to the top that the drivers don’t get to see.

UPDATE: Sadly, many of the Bear Mountain trails going up the mountain are closed due to a storm. But the Polopolen Creek trail is open! To get there, take the steps from Hessian Lake down to the zoo, then head under the bridge and you’ll see the trailhead entrance.

  • Difficulty: Varies from easy to challenging
  • Length: Different
  • Entrance Fee: $10 per vehicle

21. Bash Bish Falls

Bash Bish Falls is technically in Massachusetts. It’s on the New York/Massachusetts border and you can access it via Taconic State Park in New York. Pictures of Bash Bish Falls never seem to do it justice. It’s so much bigger in person. The hike to the Falls from the Massachusetts side is steep and very short. The hike on the New York side is a little longer and more gradual so it’s perfect if you want something short that packs a punch.

  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Length: 1.5 miles
  • Route: Out-and-back
  • Entrance Fee: $5 at Taconic State Park

Finger Lakes Region – Hiking Upstate New York

As our readers know, we’re obsessed with the Finger Lakes region of Upstate New York! There are so many amazing places to stay in the Finger Lakes, incredible wine tours, restaurants, and of course… the outdoors. The outdoors ranges from kayaking across lakes, to chasing waterfalls and hiking. Of the many things to do in the Finger Lakes, the hikes are one of our favorites!

22. Gorge & Rim Trail in Buttermilk Falls State Park ★

Buttermilk Falls State Park is one of our favorite New York state parks to visit. It’s in the Finger Lakes region and has one of the prettiest waterfalls in New York. The park is huge and covers 800+ acres. There are different trails ranging from about 1 to 5 miles. We love the Gorge & Rim Trail since it is just 1.5 miles and you get to see some epic gorge pools and waterfalls.

You can swim at the very bottom. But above that bottom swimming area, we’ve heard actually prohibited to swim elsewhere in the park. So if you see people swimming it’s likely because they probably just don’t know since there are no signs up there. However, we’ve heard past reports of park troopers handing out tickets for that. So beware.

  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Length: 1.5 miles
  • Route: Loop
  • Entrance Fee: $9 per vehicle

23. Taughannock Falls State Park  (Gorge or Black Diamond Trail)

There are several main hikes in Taughannock Falls State Park, all of which can take you to the eponymous Falls. Just a few steps from the parking lot, you can see the waterfalls from far up above. If you want to get up close, you can walk about 30 minutes to the actual falls (Gorge Trail). It’s a very easy walk. During the dry season, you can walk along the rocky river bed. Or on the paved trail to the right. During the more wet season, you’ll likely see people swimming along the river!

You can also choose other longer trails to see even more of this beautiful state park. The Black Diamond Trail is long, but most of it is easy and over a graveled path. You’ll walk around a decent portion of Cayuga Lake and can turn off it to the Upper Rim Trail, North Rim Trail, and more to see the Taughannock Falls at various points. The southern end of the trail is pretty close to Ithaca so make sure to stop there as it’s one of the cutest towns in Upstate New York.

  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Length: 2-8 miles
  • Route: Out & back
  • Entrance Fee: $9 per vehicle

24. Gorge Trail – Watkins Glen State Park ★

Watkins Glen State Park is on the southern end of Lake Seneca in the Finger Lakes. It’s one of the most famous New York State parks because it’s got 19l waterfalls. There are several beautiful trails in the park. I recommend the Gorge Trail route, but if it’s closed due to flooding or snow, then you can always hit up one of the other trails and still have a great time.

The Gorge Trail route takes you around the gorge so you can see all the waterfalls. It can be slippery, especially where there are stone steps so be cautious. It can also get muddy. It’s worth the muddy shoes if you want an easy hike on some of the most gorgeous hiking trails in Upstate New York.

  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Length: 2.6 miles
  • Route: Loop
  • Entrance Fee: $9 per vehicle

25. Rim Trail and Gorge Trail – Robert H. Treman State Park ★

Robert H. Treman State Park’s highlight is Enfield Glen, a gorge. There are a dozen waterfalls in Robert H. Treman State Park, including 115-foot Lucifer Falls. There’s also a beautiful swimming hole that you can take a dip in post-hike. Like most New York State Parks, there are several great trails here. I recommend that you walk the Rim Trail and Gorge Trail.

The Rim and Gorge Trails are well-maintained, and you get great views of the gorge and the waterfalls. There is a decent number of stairs and sometimes part of the trails are closed because of weather. No matter what, hike as many of the trails as you can because these views are stunning.

  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Length: 4.3 miles
  • Route: Loop
  • Entrance Fee: $9 per vehicle

26. Gorge Trail – Letchworth State Park

Letchworth State Park has 66 miles of hiking trails to choose from. It’s known as the Grand Canyon of the East for a reason – it’s huge! So, feel free to cobble together a hike that suits your wants. One of the most visited and well-known hikes is the Gorge Trail. It’s long, but it’s pretty easy. It takes you on a winding path along the canyon so you can see the beautiful waterfalls.

You can visit in both the summer and winter. In the winter, people cross-country ski this path. The falls will be gorgeous no matter the season, but I recommend visiting in the spring-fall because the hike is so long. In the winter, even with snowshoes, it’ll take even longer to traverse.

  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Length: 14 miles
  • Route: Out-and-back
  • Entrance Fee: $10 per vehicle

27. Finger Lakes National Forest

Finger Lakes National Forest is filled with some of the most charming hikes in Upstate New York. The forest lies between Cayuga Lake and Seneca Lake and has tons of different trails. Most of the trails are very easy and there is little to no elevation gain. It’s often not as crowded as some of the hikes around the lakes or the New York State Parks in the area. It’s worth a visit if you’re traveling to the Finger Lakes region.

After you’ve spent a day at our favorite Finger Lakes wineries and strolling around some gorges, this is where you go for peace and beautiful woods. I recommend walking the Interloken Trail because at any point along this 11.3 point-to-point trail, you can just turn back. It’s even a good spot for biking, running, and walking your dog so you’ll see tons of locals here.

There’s also another part of the forest that you can go on from Watkins Glen State Park. It connects to a lot of places in the Finger Lakes. Remember, this national forest is huge!

  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Length: Varies, different trails
  • Route: Point-to-point

28. Ithaca Falls

The hike to Ithaca Falls is more of a brief walk than a hike, but you should do it. It is rocky so be careful of your step. It’s right in Ithaca so you can just walk over after you’ve spent the day in Ithaca visiting the Farmer’s Market or Ithaca Commons. Ithaca Falls is the perfect introduction to the Finger Lakes waterfalls. It’ll make you hungry to see the rest of the waterfalls in the region!

  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Length: .2 miles
  • Route: Out-and-back

Central New York Hikes

Some of the best cities in New York State are in Central New York. But what about its natural wonders? From caves to waterfalls. Here are Central New York’s best hiking trails.

29. Chittenango Falls State Park

Chittenango Falls State Park is small so you might think you should overlook it. Don’t. Visit Chittenango Falls State Park to see a beautiful gorge, a perfect footbridge, and a stunning waterfall. The trail to see the Falls is usually closed during the winter. It’s best to visit in spring-fall, especially earlier in the year so the Falls are flowing. The hike is easy and can be popular so be prepared to share.

  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Length: .5 mile
  • Route: Loop
  • Entrance Fee: $5

30. Chimney Bluffs Trail – Chimney Bluffs State Park ★

Chimney Bluffs is a beautiful New York State Park along the southern shores of Lake Ontario. The bluffs are massive earthen spires along the lakeside that create one of the most dramatic coasts on the Great Lake. The Chimney Bluffs Trail leads you along the top part of the shore so you’re walking along the edge of a forest with stunning views of the shore below you.

The path can get really muddy depending on the time of year so bring appropriate footwear. It can also get a little crowded in the summer so if you want the area to yourself, try visiting in the off-season. It can also get very windy up on the cliffs.  

  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Length: 2.9 miles
  • Route: Out-and-back
  • Entrance Fee: $5

31. Vroman’s Nose

Vroman’s Nose looks like it’s in no man’s land in the center of New York State. Don’t let its unassuming location in the middle of the state convince you to not visit. It’s worth it for the beautiful view of the surrounding valley. It’s a bit muddy usually and the inclines can be steep at times, but otherwise, it’s an exceptionally easy hike. In the winter, it’s a good idea to bring spikes because of how steep it can get.

  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Length: 1.5 miles
  • Route: Loop

Western New York – Hikes Upstate NY

32. Eternal Flames Falls (Orchard Park)

If you’re on a road trip to Buffalo, then you must stop at Eternal Flames Falls. It’s a two-tier waterfall that only takes an hour to hike to. It can get slippery on the trail as you’re walking along a waterway. It’s best to visit in the spring because, during the dry season, the falls might completely stop flowing.  

Eternal Flames Falls gets its name because of the sulfur-rich gases produced through cracks in and around the Falls. One large fissure within the Eternal Flame Falls is in a grotto protecting it from the wind so it can sustain a flame if lit. You can try and light the gases coming out of some of the other fissures, but this is the one that typically holds a flame. It’s an amazing sight to see. A must-visit day trip from Buffalo, NY!

  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Length: 1.4 miles
  • Route: Out-and-back

33. Devil’s Hole State Park (near Niagara Falls)

Just north of Niagara Falls and Niagara Falls State Park is the less-visited Devil’s Hole State Park. The Devil’s Hole Rapids are amazing to see and there is a stone staircase that leads down to the base of the gorge so you can get close to the water. Sometimes the stairs are closed if the weather has made them too dangerous.

Niagara Falls State Park gets a lot of visitors and can be a bit overwhelming. This is the quieter New York State Park that deserves a visit. The walk by Niagara River is delightful, and there are tons of amenities like picnic tables here, so you can take it easy. Read our guide: New York versus the Canadian Side of Niagara Falls

  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Length: 2.4 miles
  • Route: Loop
  • Entrance Fee: Even though it’s a New York State Park, you don’t usually pay a fee to park here.

34. Allegany State Park

Allegany State Park is the biggest New York State Park. It’s 65,000 acres so there are a massive number of hikes to choose from, ranging in difficulty and length. Blacksnake Mountain Trail is perfect if you want some elevation changes but are looking for something relatively easy. If you hike the Mount Tuscarora Trail, you are rewarded with beautiful views of Western New York. Mount Tuscarora Trail is a bit strenuous, and you need the whole day.

Allegany State Park also has campgrounds, an old restored Quaker store, and more to occupy your day if you’re looking to supplement an easy hike day. Allegany State Park has some of the most extensive hiking trails in Upstate New York, so you’ll be satisfied no matter what you do.

  • Difficulty: Blacksnake Mountain Trail – easy; Mount Tuscarora Trail – Moderate
  • Length: Blacksnake Mountain Trail – 2.7 miles; Mount Tuscarora Trail – 9.4
  • Route: Blacksnake Mountain Trail – Loop; Mount Tuscarora Trail – Out-and-back
  • Entrance Fee: $7

Thousand Islands Region Hikes

35. Wellesley Island State Park ★

Wellesley Island State Park is on an island in the St. Lawrence River. It has the largest camping complex in the Thousand Islands region, so you’ll see tons of people here in the summer during your hike. There are two main hikes in the New York State Park. One is the Minna Anthony Common Nature Center, which has educational components, an accessible trail, and is excellent for kids.

The main hike in the park is an easy loop partly along the banks of the St. Lawrence. It’s perfect for an easy hike with beautiful beach views. You can even run or walk your dog on this hike as it’s pretty level. It’s best to hike it in summer as it can get really cold and windy in the winter in this area.

  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Length: 2.3 miles
  • Route: Loop
  • Entrance Fee: $7

Hikes in the Capital Region, NY

36. Plotter Kill Preserve ★

Plotter Kill Preserve is a nature preserve in the Capital Region. It’s got everything you want in a nature preserve – excellent birding, several gushing waterfalls, a gorge, beautiful, wooded areas. It’s got everything that New York State nature is known for. There are several trails in the preserve to choose from. I recommend hiking the North Rim and South Rim Red Trail Loop to see as much of the preserve as possible.

This North + South Rim Trail is easy to moderately difficult because, in the winter, you must wear spikes. It can get slippery. In the shoulder seasons, it can be very muddy. And when the Plotter Kill tributary is high you must ford streams so this is not a sneaker hike.

  • Difficulty: Easy to moderate
  • Length: 5.4 miles
  • Route: Loop

37. Escarpment Trail – Thacher State Park

Thacher State Park is a unique New York State Park. It’s covered in limestone formations, so it’s rich in fossils. It’s close to Albany, so you can visit for the day, and it has tons of different trails to choose from. I recommend hiking the Escarpment Trail in the Autumn. In the winter, this trail can get a bit icy, but it’s still beautiful. The Escarpment Trail is a decent gain in elevation and a set of metal stairs, so come prepared to use your thigh muscles. It also takes you under the Mine Lot Waterfall and through some limestone formations.

  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Length: 3.7 miles
  • Route: Out-and-back
  • Entrance Fee: $6 per vehicle

38. Great Dune Trails Loop – Albany Pine Bush Preserve

Albany Pine Bush Preserve contains some of the best forest hikes in New York State. It’s also just outside of Albany, a city that every New Yorker should visit at least once. It’s an extensive preserve that covers a lot of acres, so you have a variety of different trails to pick from that range in difficulty and length. I recommend hiking the Great Dune Trails Loop.

The Great Dune Trails Loop starts close to a big mall and the highway. Don’t get confused when that happens. Keep going as the loop ends up being perfect in both summer and winter if you need a good dose of nature but aren’t up for a mountainous hike. The trail is also known for being an excellent spot for avid birders.

  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Length: 4.1 miles
  • Route: Loop

Packing List for Your Upstate NY Hike

Here is a basic packing list of the things to bring on your day hike:

Bear spray (Black bears are not uncommon)Water (lots of it)
Hiking boots (make sure to go half a size up for hiking down slopes)Travel towel (if you go swimming)
Snacks (including protein)Swimsuit
ECO sun screenHiking poles
Sun umbrella (for sunny strolls)Battery pack (for longer hikes)
Day packFirst-aid kit
Poncho (for rain)Eco-friendly bug spray
Tissues (for the sniffles)Tampons/pads (just in case)

More of Our New York State Travel Guides

If you’re interested in exploring more of our beautiful state beyond small towns, here are some of our top New York travel guides to continue reading:

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1 thoughts on “37 Beautiful Best Hikes in Upstate New York + Hidden Gems for All Levels

  1. Chelsea says:

    I just wanted to thank you for your lovely article. I am sorry that you’ve faced prejudice from upstate New Yorkers. I wish things were different and that people were more accepting, but I know firsthand how backwards some locals can be having been born and raised upstate myself. Your article was very informative and gives me something to look forward to for when I visit home again so thank you.

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