For the times you need something beyond a quick stroll through a New York City park, going hiking does not have to be intimidating. There are thousands of miles of beautiful, well-carved trails accessible via public transportation from the city, and much of it is reachable in less than two hours.
From beginner to expert difficulty, here are some hiking trails near NYC recommended by the experts—who were all unanimous on one park in particular that New Yorkers simply must explore.
Kirk Reynolds | Owner/Guide
“Breakneck Ridge is probably NYC’s favorite hike accessible by train. The trail has amazing views of the Hudson River and the whole valley, but there are many other great options beyond Breakneck.“
Kirk’s Favorite Car-Free Hikes
“Pine Meadow (7.2 mile loop) and Lake Skenonto (8 miles, 1500+ feet of elevation gain, moderate difficulty) in Harriman State Park both have incredible wildlife and pristine lakes. I always get treated with the sighting of deer, turkeys and an occasional bear. To get to Harriman State Park in the Highlands, take the Metro North to Tuxedo, NY. Then you have a short hike to get into the park.”
Adirondack Mountain Club
Paul Ertelt | Communications Director
“Occasionally we get calls from people who want to visit our lodges in the Adirondacks but don’t have a car. If you get off the Adirondack Trailways bus at Keene Valley, you can walk to the Garden parking lot (I think it’s about a mile), then hike 3.5 miles to ADK’s Johns Brook Lodge. Both the Adirondak Loj (from $55 per night) and JBL are adjacent to some of the best hiking in the Northeast.”
Paul’s Favorite Car-Free Hikes
“The Long Path, which begins near the west end of the GW Bridge, and rambles roughly 347 miles through Harriman State Park, the Gunks, and the Catskills and ends west of Albany. The first twelve miles take you along the Palisades, through Fort Lee Historic Park in New Jersey—a great, close-to-home option for hikers offering spectacular, peaceful views of the Hudson River and NYC skyline.”
NYNJ Trail Conference
Georgette Weir | Communications Manager
“For anyone in New York City who wants to get out in the woods and enjoy nature, there are lots of options. We are very fortunate. Every time I get out of the city to go for a hike I’m astounded. We think of this area as being so developed but there are still rich natural resources.”
Georgette’s Favorite Car-free Hikes
“It must be said, Breakneck ridge is one of the most popular trails. There’s even a train stop for it on Metro North on the weekends. The top has spectacular views over the Hudson River. You can head off into the woods and find yourself enjoying a real hiking adventure. It’s not a busy park once you get up and into the woods. Breakneck is technically a very strenuous hike. It’s a pretty sheer climb up. Lots of people do climb it. You should have a map because there are lots of connecting trails and people do get lost. You’ll need water and proper climbing shoes.
Bear Mountain in Harriman State Park has got hundreds of miles of hikes. There is such a diversity of trails there, from easy to strenuous, short to long. It’s probably one of the best places to go and for generations it has been very popular.
I also recommend taking Metro North to Cold Spring and heading up to Bull Hill. It’s not quite as dramatically strenuous as Breakneck. It’s a good 5.8-mile walk in the woods with a rewarding but steep climb up to the summit of Mt. Taurus, the tallest mountain in Putnam County.
We like to say that the NYC metro area has some of the best hiking available in any metro area. The NYNJ Trail Conference maintains 1,700 miles of hiking trails in the area with volunteers. That’s a lot of hiking.”
For more great getaways on foot, consult our guide to the best hiking trails on Long Island.
Photo: Brandon Pidala