The Best Places to Hike in New York State
Whether you’re near NYC, the capitol region, western or upstate New York, here are some of the top places to take your Stanley out hiking with you in New York State.
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BEAR MOUNTAIN STATE PARK
Located in the Hudson Highlands, Bear Mountain is a popular Summer escape from New York City. Easily accessible from the Hudson line of Metro North, Bear Mountain State Park features 5,200 acres of forest, shady picnic groves, Bear Mountain Lake, a swimming pool, the Merry-Go-Round and miles of hiking, biking and cross-country skiing trails. Be sure to visit the Trailside Museum and Zoo while you’re there! This park is also a key segment of the Appalachian National Scenic Trail that runs north and south along the East Coast.
MOHONK NATURE PRESERVE
Hike the Shawangunks at Mohonk Nature Preserve near New Paltz, crisscrossed by 70 miles of carriage roads and trails, perfect for hiking, biking, running, climbing at the Gunks cliffs or bouldering up the infamous Lemon Squeeze rock crevice. Stop at the visitor center to learn about the local wildlife and geology, enjoy the sensory trail or butterfly garden or hike past Lake Mohonk to Skytop Tower for a stunning view of the Shawagunk Mountains and the Catskills. The preserve also adjoins the historic Mohonk Mountain House, an 1869 Victorian castle resort you won’t want to miss seeing, that has hosted notable political conferences, presidents, authors, actors, industrialists and naturalists.
FINGER LAKE GORGES
Carved out by glaciers and waterfalls, there are dozens of gorges in the Finger Lakes region that will impart a sense of magic and mysticism in any hiker. With plenty of gorges to explore for all levels of hikers, spend a week or a weekend between Seneca and Cayuga Lakes and visit a variety of them.
One of the most popular gorges, Watkins Glen State Park, features 19 waterfalls alone, with a trail that wends its way up stone staircases, across arched bridges, through carved tunnels and along placid pools and falls. Taugghannock Falls State Park, just west of Cayuga Lake, features the tallest waterfall east of the Mississippi (even taller than Niagara Falls) at 215 feet, along an easy mile-long trail. Or visit Robert H. Treman State Park’s Rim Trail that traverses 2,070 feet of elevation round-trip. Pack your swim trunks for this one that features 12 waterfalls and a swimming area. Whichever trail you choose, it’s sure to be absolutely gorge-ous.
Head north to the Adirondacks to hike the view from Whiteface Mountain’s Summit Trail, a 10 mile out-and-back near Lake Placid. At nearly 5,000 ft above sea level, this peak is among the tallest mountains in New York, one of the 46 Adirondack High Peaks. On a clear day you can find the Green Mountains in Vermont, the city of Montreal, and the White Mountain in New Hampshire. Whether hiking or snowshoeing, this landing is a fantastic place to take in New York mountain views and those just over the border.
ALBANY PINE BUSH RESERVE
Between the Catskills and the Adirondacks, just outside of Albany, is the Albany Pine Bush Preserve, home to a variety of rare plants and animals, including the endangered Karner blue butterfly. With a Discovery Center, rolling sand dunes and more than 20 miles of trails that offer naturalist programs and opportunities to hike, snowshoe and bike, the preserve is a great place to learn, recreate and explore the natural history of the New York outdoors.