17+ Beautiful Hikes Near New York City (For All Levels)

The vast state of New York is often tucked behind the shadow of New York City, one of the world’s biggest metropolises. But did you know that NYC is less than 1% of New York State’s landmass? Yet 64% of the population lives in the city? That often leaves many of us New Yorkers hungry to get out of our tiny apartments and explore the beauty and natural wonders of our state which offers so many hidden gems! So if you’re like many of us New Yorkers, looking for the best day trip hikes near NYC and free things to do in NYC then this insider’s guide to hiking from New York City is for you. Below are hikes that are less than 2 hours from NYC.

As always, please check on any COVD-19 restrictions everywhere you go because things are continuously changing. And if you don’t feel comfortable riding the train yet, then consider renting a car to explore these beautiful outdoor gems.

Important Things to Know Before Planning Your Hike Near NYC

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).

  • Carry out every single thing you carry in with you. Please do not leave any garbage anywhere. Leave no trace.
  • Consider bringing a bag to pick up any plastic trash you may see. Unfortunately, this is becoming a huge problem in many spaces so let’s please do our part to clean up so these spaces remain open and cared for.
  • 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 hiking in the outdoors and didn’t have the privilege of growing up with access to it. So please extend some 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! Take ticks very seriously as they can transmit incurable Lyme Disease to humans.
  • Do not park illegally or you may either get a hefty ticket or your car may be towed.
  • Reconnect and refresh and try to let go of that phone!

Prepping & Packing List for a Day Hike From NYC

SLEEP & EAT: Always try to get a full night’s sleep and have a full meal before embarking on a hike. This way you’re energized for your hike and don’t risk getting extremely tired halfway. Or worse, fainting.

DOWNLOAD ALLTRAILS: One of the best ways to plan your hike more seamlessly is by downloading the AllTrails apps. The app will provide: offline maps (which come in handy if you lose signal), interactive trail maps (that are not on conventional maps like Google’s), can record your trail (so you know how many steps you took, how long you hiked for and exactly what kind of loop you made on the map), and up-to-date trail information!

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

Bear sprayWater (lots of it)
Hiking boots (make sure to go half a size up for hiking down slopes)Travel towel
Snacks (including protein)Swimsuit
ECO sun screenHiking poles
Sun umbrellaBattery pack
Day packFirst-aid kit
Poncho (for rain)ECO bug spray
Tissues Tampons/pads (just in case)

A Note On Outdoor Racism in Upstate New York & Gatekeeping

Gatekeeping is when someone or some people limit others from certain spaces, information, hobbies, or activities. These gatekeepers take it upon themselves to decide who has access to certain rights, identities, or communities. You’ll see this is particularly rampant in much of New York from upstate New York to pockets of Long Island.

A lot of outdoor spaces in New York State have intentionally been kept secret so that others do not gain access to these natural wonders and spaces. It sounds innocuous at first, but there is a real disdain that many of us experience from locals who do not want “outsiders” in these public parks. Yes– you read that right. They do not want us in the public spaces for which we New Yorkers all pay taxes towards.

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 on my Tik Tok videos, Facebook posts, and New York blog articles that I’ve received from racist residents of Upstate New York telling me “you’re not welcome here” or “GO AWAY!” or “Dominicans are [insert something racist and unwelcoming].” It’s pretty upsetting given the history we’ve been trying to overcome. And particularly jarring to hear after a joyous day embracing the healing properties of nature.

Since we all deserve access to the outdoors and as a constructive response to the racist vitriol I’ve received, I have taken it upon myself to continue promoting my state’s natural wonders so that it can continue to become more 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:

17+ Beautiful Hikes to Visit Near NYC

Remember, you can always turn this into a fun overnight experience by staying in some of the best glamping spots in New York or combine your hiking trip with a visit to one of the many charming small towns in upstate New York. Now that you’re more prepared and informed, without further ado, here are 17 hikes from NYC!

If you have other hikes that you recommend, please leave them below in the comments. We can lessen the impact on the overcrowded parks by sharing other spots, thus thinning out the visits to several instead of a zillion people in the same few mountains.

1) Artist’s Rock + North-South Lake

The Catskills, New York

Easily one of the best hikes on the East Coast, this refreshing and rejuvenating hike is a favorite among avid hikers as it offers a little bit of everything without the crowds. The hike can be done as a loop or as two different trails (red and blue). Along the trail, you’ll pass a beautiful waterfall, streams, cliffs, dry hemlock forest, and many others places to stop including 3 magnificent viewpoints The prized gem point of the hike is: North Point which overlooks the Hudson River.

Please note there will be areas with steep uphill walking over large rocks. If you want to choose one trail instead of doing the loop, don’t miss the waterfalls on the red trail!

Hiking boots are a must especially if it’s rained (for the mud) and consider bringing a bathing suit to jump into the waterfall or the North-South Lake. This is one of the most underrated lakes in New York to visit.

Distance from NYC: 2 hours
Difficulty: Moderate with some scrambles
Length: 5.5 miles
Entrance fee: $10 per vehicle at the North Lake campgrounds parking (cash only)
Ascension: 1000 feet

Overlook Mountain

Near Woodstock, New York

Overlook Mountain is near the hippie town of Woodstock, one of the best small towns to visit in New York. This hike combined with a stroll through downtown Woodstock makes for a perfect day trip from New York City. The trail starts as an old carriage road that once led to the Overlook Mountain House, a once-popular vacation resort. The path begins fairly flat but quickly begins to ascend and continues to do so until the summit is reached.

The continuous uphill journey makes the trail more challenging for beginner hikers, but still doable. At the mile and a half mark, hikers will run into the concrete outer wall remnants of the Overlook Mountain House. The ruins are pretty safe and hikers are permitted to explore them. Continue past the ruins for another half mile and you will soon reach the rocky summit and fire tower. Heed the signs and watch your step-the area is populated by rattlesnakes. Once you reach the summit you will find the fire tower, a small museum about the mountain’s history, and directly behind the museum, you will find a ledge giving you great views of the surrounding mountains. – Navigation Junkie

Distance from NYC: 2 hours
Difficulty: Moderate
Length: 4.6 miles
Elevation: 1,397 ft
Route: Out and back
Entrance fee: None

Kaaterskill Falls

Near Hunter Mountain, NY in the Catskills

Kaaterskill Falls is the highest “cascading waterfall” in the state of New York and also one of the most popular waterfalls to visit in New York. This easy 30-minute hike each way takes you through a beautiful bosque of forested trails and pine trees. You can also take small detours to discover magnificent viewpoints, camping grounds, and different parts of the waterfall.

The waterfall is actually broken up into two, the bottom part is actually much more crowded because many travelers fail to see the detour to the top half of the waterfall. From the bottom, the top half looks like a cliff but it’s actually almost like a beach and allows for much easier access to swimming without the tall flight of stairs to reach the bottom half.

This trotted trail is popular in the region so travelers must arrive early to avoid crowds and get a parking spot. Otherwise, you risk waiting 2+ hours in line for parking. Despite seeing dozens of cars parked on the side of the road, do not be tempted to do the same. It is illegal and you are almost guaranteed to get a $150 ticket.

Distance from NYC: 2.5 hours
Difficulty: Easy
Length: 1.7 miles
Elevation: 416 ft
Route: Out and back
Entrance fee: None

Sam’s Point, Ice Caves, & Verkeerderkill Falls

Minnewaska State Park Preserve near New Paltz, NY

Walk through a rare and endangered ecosystem featuring one of the last Rare Dwarf Pitch Pine barrens in the world. On this epic trail, you’ll see stunning viewpoints, ice caves, and the waterfall pictured above.

Begin at Sam’s Point Visitor Center to pay the entrance and start the hike towards Verkeerderkill Waterfall’s footpath, then the Ice Cave trail, and finish at Sam’s Point for a magnificent panorama view. There is also a little beach at the bottom of the lake.

The Ice Cave consists of crevices and caves formed from boulders of the cliffs. Because of its unique formation, the air within the caves stays trapped within the caves thus allowing for a cold enough temperature that can maintain snow/ice inside even in the summer!

This park crowded so arrive very early to get a parking spot.

Distance from NYC: 2 hours
Difficulty: Moderate
Length: 7+ miles
Elevation: 994 ft
Route: Loop
Entrance fee: $10

Gertude’s Nose

Minnewaska State Park Preserve near New Paltz, NY

This is one of the most scenic hikes from New York City, enveloped in tall pine trees that offer hikers a verdant path no matter what time of the year. This is a challenging but rewarding trail that leads hikers through a conglomerate of steep slopes and plateaus, often along cliff ridges where you’ll be climbing up/down boulders, some easier wooden sections, and also parts along a cliff over rock formations. But don’t worry there are plenty of dramatic panoramic views to keep you inspired between summits.

Distance from NYC: 1 hour and 40 minutes
Difficulty: Hard
Length: 7.8 miles
Elevation: 1,187 ft
Route: Loop
Entrance fee: $10

Blydenburgh County Park

Smithtown, Long Island, New York

This 6-mile hike is perfect for beginners with its gradual inclines/declines and beautiful waterscape views. The trail is mostly shaded so you can come on one of the hottest days of the year (we did) and it’s still fresh and breezy to walk through.

Visitors can choose to hike, bike, or horseback ride this trail which also provides several off-trails to explore. The total time usually 2 hours, or 3 hours if you make stops along the way to enjoy the views, take photos and eat some snacks.

You can easily reach this park by taking the LIRR to Brentwood and then from there taking an Uber/getting a ride for about 10 minutes to the park’s entrance to begin your hike.

Distance from NYC: 1 hour (or 90 minutes by train)
Difficulty: Easy
Length: 6+ miles
Route: Loop
Entrance fee: $15

Breakneck Ridge

In the Hudson Highlands State Park between Beacon & Cold Spring, New York

Breakneck Ridge is one of the best hikes from NYC because it is easy to get to, challenging to complete, and has spectacular views. A good portion of the hike is a rock scramble where gloves would come in handy. At times, it’s not easy finding the way up. I was tempted to just turn around but then I looked down at how steep it was and continued to climb. The views of the Hudson Valley at the summit were worth all the effort. The trail going back down was not as steep, so I could relax and enjoy the woodlands. I felt a huge sense of accomplishment once I had completed the hike! It took us a little over 5 hours to do the 3.7-mile loop.

There is a direct train from Grand Central Station in New York City to Breakneck Ridge on the weekends– making it the perfect add-on to an NYC Weekend getaway. After a scenic 90-minute train ride, it’s just a short walk to the trailhead. It’s best to go early as it is a popular hike and the trails will get crowded! – Anisa

Distance from NYC: 1.5 hours
Difficulty: Hard
Length: 3.7 miles
Elevation: 1,250 ft
Entrance fee: None
Route: Loop

Bull Hill et al

Also in Breakneck Ridge by the Hudson Highlands State Park between Beacon & Cold Spring, New York

There are several different trails in Breakneck Ridge, so consider the different options to customize your day hike from NYC. Other trails in the Breakneck region: Bull Hill, Washburn, Undercliff, Casino, and etc.

Distance from NYC: 1.5 hours
Difficulty: Moderate
Length: 5.5 miles (full loop)
Entrance fee: None

Labyrinth + Lemon Squeeze

Mohonk Mountain House (private) by New Paltz, New York

If you’re looking for unique hikes near New York City, be sure to check out the Labyrinth and Lemon Squeeze trails in the Mohonk Preserve.

The first portion of the hike feels leisurely. However, once you reach The Labyrinth this is where the fun begins. This portion of the hike is just ~1 mile but it involves climbing, ducking into caves, sliding under rocks, and squeezing through tight spaces on your way to the top.

The final stretch is the Lemon Squeeze, named as such because you’re literally squeezing your way through this opening. As you walk through a narrow pathway you will be surrounded by rocks on both sides. You also will find ladders here to assist you with climbing through to the top.

Once you get to the very top you will be rewarded with views of the preserve which are absolutely stunning.

If you have time, consider spending more time in the Hudson Valley where you can go wine tasting, apple picking, and checking out some of the other hiking near NYC. – Taima Ramsey

Please be advised that this hike is very popular. Visit during the weekdays when there are fewer crowds or VERY early on a weekend!

How far is it from New York City? 2 hours by car
Difficulty: Medium / Hard
Length: 1 mile (Labyrinth) 7 miles (Lemon Squeeze)
Entrance Fee: $15-$26/per person

Storm King Mountain

Cornwall-On-Hudson, New York

Rising more than 1,300 feet above the Hudson Valley, Storm King Mountain offers extraordinary for those looking for hikes near New York City.

While the trek to the scenic viewpoint isn’t long, consider doing some early stretches as the trail may challenge your leg muscles with steep climbs. With 600+ feet of elevation and some rock scrambling, the trail provides a nice leg workout. After the intermediately strenuous ascent, the path softens in difficulty and starts to reveal the majesty of the Hudson River.

The trail is marked fairly well, but it would be smart to have a phone app guide handy. As you venture towards the summit of Butter Hill, the views open up for a glance of the Hudson Valley. The highest elevation of the trail \ gives you a sensational panorama overlooking the Hudson River.

Storm King Mountain only scratches the surface of places to explore in the Hudson Valley and heading farther north uncovers more beautiful sights of Upstate New York. – Daniel

Please note Storm King Mountain’s trail is not to be confused by Storm King Art Center.

Distance from NYC: 2 hours
Difficulty: Moderate (some scrambles and steep climbs)
Length: 2.6 miles
Entrance fee: None
Route: Loop
Elevation: 620 ft

Bushkill Falls

Bushkill, Poconos, Pennsylvania

This wooden trail features a waterfall (Bushkill Falls) which you can admire from a bridge-like railing perched on a cliff. Unlike other waterfall hikes, here you cannot dip your feet in the water or climb any of the rock formations. This looped trail is also divided into a blue and red trail. We suggest doing the entire loop, so you can read the lower gorge to see both Bridal Veil Falls and Bushkill Falls, the perfect view.

Avoid weekends as there will be crowds, especially with tourists traveling through the Poconos. Visiting in the early morning on weekdays is strongly recommended.

Distance from NYC: 1 hour and 30 minutes
Difficulty: Easy
Length: 1.8 miles
Entrance fee: $16.50

Bear Mountain

In the Hudson Valley, within Rockland & Orange Counties

One of the most stunning and popular places for hiking from NYC has got to be the Bear Mountain State Park. Located in the west bank of the Hudson River, this 5205-acre state park is located just a short 1-hour drive away.

This spacious state park features numerous trails of various difficulties, but the one that yields the best views for your effort is the Perkins Memorial Tower Trail, sometimes just known as the Bear Mountain Trail because of its popularity. This trail starts conveniently at the Hessian Lake Parking and reaches the summit of the Bear Mountain at 1000+ ft above sea level.

The path up is filled with steep sections and big rocks, requiring hikers to have good mobility and flexibility. Once you arrive at the peak of the Bear Mountain, you are rewarded with views of the stunning Hudson Valley. Sean

Don’t have a car? Take the train to Peekskill and then a 10-minute taxi ride to Bear Mountain.

Distance from NYC: 1 hour
Difficulty: Easy to moderate trails
Length: 3.8 miles
Entrance fee: None
Elevation: 1,154 ft
Route: Loop

Poet’s Walk

Red Hook, New York

Poets’ Walk is named after several writers who used to walk here and were inspired by the location. In fact, Washington Irving supposedly came up with the idea for Rip Van Winkel while admiring the view of the nearby Catskill Mountains from this walk.

Along this trail, there are lovely views of the Hudson River, the Mid-Hudson Bridge, and the Catskills. This path is actually a created landscape, designed as ‘outdoor rooms’ with several landscapes separated by trees and rock walls. The first part is through fields of grass and wildflowers. Then through the large open-air Overlook Pavilion where it dips down into woods. The trail also passes over three small bridges and ends in an overlook of the river at one end and a small ‘summerhouse’ gazebo at the other.

The trail is open all year but is especially lovely on a sunny summer’s day and in the fall when the beautiful fall color makes this one of the top Hudson Valley fall activities. Dogs on a leash are allowed. – James Ian

Bonus: After a rejuvenating hike, consider a fruit picking at Greig Farm just minutes from Poet’s Walk in Red Hook, New York.

Distance from NYC: 1 hour and 40 minutes
Difficulty: Easy
Length: 2.2 miles
Elevation: 203 ft
Route: Loop
Entrance fee: None

Harriman State Park: Meadow Lake

Harriman State Park between Rockland and Orange countries.

There are approximately 500 trails and 200 miles of hiking to choose from in Harriman State Park; a park that expands through Rockland and Orange countries just 30 miles north of New York City. So it’s probably no surprise that Harriman State Park is the second-largest state park in New York.

Busy long lake but after hiking away from the water, the trail should lighten as you enter narrow trails in deep woods and open fields.

Distance from NYC: 1 hour
Difficulty: Moderate
Length: 5.4 (out and back) or 10.9 miles (loop)
Elevation: 500+ ft
Route: Out and back OR loop

Island Pond (Also in Harriman State Park)

Interested in one day doing the famous Appalachian Trail that stretches for over 2,000 miles from Georgia to Maine? Island Pond’s trail in Harriman State Park is a part of the very Appalachian Trail, which allows you a taste of this famous hiking experience! This grounded hike allows for views of the Island Pond and the Lemon Squeezer slot canyon.

Distance from NYC: 1 hour and 20 minutes
Difficulty: Moderate
Length: 3.7 miles
Elevation: 1,056 ft
Route: Out and back (not a loop)

Reeves Brook Loop (Also in Harriman State Park)

Located near Sloatsburg, New York this trail features views to a beautiful lake, waterfalls, plenty of rocks/boulders, scrambles, and a stream to dip your legs in to cool off afterward. Chipmunk Mountain is where hikers will have to scramble up rocks but will be rewarded with nice views.

Tip for beginners: go counterclose wise if you are a beginner hiker to avoid going down advanced rock scrambles. The trail is broken down into: white, blue (rock scramble), orance, red. Majority of the hike is shaded. Merges with Pine Meadow Trail listed above.

Distance from NYC: 1 hour and 40 minutes
Difficulty: High moderate (due to a VERY challenging rock scramble)
Length: 3.8 miles
Elevation: 882 ft
Route type: Loop
Entrance fee: None

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11 thoughts on “17+ Beautiful Hikes Near New York City (For All Levels)

  1. Taylor says:

    All of these hikes are amazing! I’ve done a few on this list, but I’m dying to do Breakneck Ridge! This is an amazing article. ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Taylor says:

    All of these hikes are amazing! I’ve done a few of these hikes, but I’m dying to do Breakneck Ridge. This is a great article! ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. cbyrnem says:

    I live in NYC, and hikes are such a critical way to stay sane these days! These photos, especially Overlook Mountain, are getting me so excited for the upcoming fall foliage. ๐Ÿ™‚ Also, I really appreciate that you have some hikes that are also accessible by public transit.

  4. cbyrnem says:

    I live in NYC, and getting out for hikes has been a real treat for maintaining sanity during these times! Some of your photos, including Overlook Mtn, are getting me so excited for the fall foliage. Also, thanks for including a few hikes that are accessible by public transit.

  5. limitlesssecrets says:

    I didn’t realize there were so many beautiful places to hike close to NYC! Beautiful shots, very motivating! I also love all the preparation tips ๐Ÿ™‚ Thank you for sharing Isabelle!

  6. Linn says:

    So many amazing hikes! I’m definitely more of an outdoors person than city person, so would much rather do all of these hikes than spend a day in NYC;)

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