Had enough of the hustle and bustle of NYC? How about taking a break from the city and enjoying the best hikes near NYC for a change? NYC is known to offer a lot of greenery within its limits but venturing beyond the city and enjoying some amazing hikes is definitely an amazing way to relax. Get in touch with your inner self, take it slow, make sure you bring plenty of food and water and start your trail. Most of the trails can be easily reached by car.
So, take a break from the city gym and take a walk in nature instead: Here are the best hikes near NYC.
Ramapo Reservation, NJ
Located just 25 miles from the George Washington Bridge, Ramapo Reservation is a wooded area perfect for a shorter day hike. Well-loved by local NJ natives and unknown by most others, Ramapo does get quite crowded on weekends but can be had mostly to oneself if visited during the week.
There are two main entrances to the park: Skyline Drive and Ramapo Valley Road. If parking at the latter, the most popular hike is to follow the wide and, at times, paved path from the parking lot straight up to the reservoir. It’s a fairly steep climb but also rather short. The area around the reservoir is easily accessed and makes for great secret picnic spots.
From Skyline Drive, try the hike up to Ramapo Lake.
There are other less crowded trails and even a way to connect the two if you are up for a long trip.
South Mountain Reservation, NJ
Another one within 25 miles of Manhattan, this NJ gem shares similarities with Ramapo but is also very different. The main paved path circling the top of the reservation has city views and is great for an easy loop. The dirt trails located deeper within the reservation are more of an outdoor treat, however.
Follow the yellow Lenape trail 6 miles through the forest, past a stream, and stopping off at the only waterfall in the park. Don’t be surprised if you end up sharing the path with resident deer.
Like Ramapo, South Mountain is best during the week and when school is in session (Sept-June) to avoid crowded trails. The main access point and parking lot for South Mountain Reservation are off of Crest Drive in South Orange, NJ.
Harriman State Park, NY
With over 200 miles of hiking trails, 31 lakes and reservoirs, and easy access from New York City, Harriman State Park is perfect for a quick trip into nature. The hike up Bear Mountain is one of the most popular trails and has a parking lot access point, but there are many other places to explore in the park if you prefer more solitude. If you’re looking to spend the night, there are campgrounds or cabins inside the park.
Palisades Interstate Park, NJ/NY
Possibly the closest trail system to New York City without actually being in the city, Palisades Interstate Park has 30 miles of trails, most of them located along the Hudson River, some of which have beautiful views of the Bronx skyline and the George Washington Bridge. The park protects the stunning cliffs that line the shore, a National Natural Landmark.
Try the Long Path, which runs along the ridge of the park North up the Hudson and enjoy scenic views of the river or the Shore Trail to stay water level and gaze up at the towering cliffs overhead.
The park can be accessed simply by walking across the George Washington Bridge in Northern Manhattan or through the numerous parking lots located along it on 9W.
Boasting over 700,000 acres of protected land and dotted with quirky fun towns, the Catskills region is perfect for hiking or a full vacation. For mountain climbers, there are 35 mountains that peak at over 3500 feet — if you climb them all you gain access to the Catskill 3500 club. If you prefer lower elevation walks there are plenty of spots to amble through the woods at a leisurely pace.
To extend the trip out into a vacation, check out Pheonica, Hunter, or Woodstock to get a dose of charming small mountain towns.
Delaware Water Gap, NJ/PA
Located directly West from New York City, the Delaware Water Gap is the area surrounding the Delaware River on the Northern piece of the New Jersey and Pennsylvania border. The stunning natural landscape of sheer cliffs jutting out of the river is matched by serene, heavily wooded hiking trails winding through the area. The Appalachian trail makes a brief appearance here, with a few different access points.
Try the Sunfish Pond hike for a roughly 3-4 hour climb up moderate elevation and take in the beautiful glacier lake at the top. You might share the space with thru-hikers on their way North from Georgia, they make for great storytellers.
New York City Parks, NY
You don’t actually have to leave the city for great hiking. The New York City Parks system is extremely diverse. From small concrete “pocket parks” to acres of old growth forest, it often comes as a surprise how much good hiking can be done without ever leaving the five boroughs.
There is an extensive list on the Parks Department website, try out a few other than Central Park if time and location allow. While Central Park, especially the Northern end, has quite a few trails to explore, there are so many other green spaces to see in New York City.
Inwood Hill Park in Northern Manhattan has trails in the only old growth forest left in the borough, Pelham Bay Park offers trails and public beach access, and the often overlooked Staten Island has gorgeous hiking options on the Green Belt and Freshkills Park (opening to the public soon).
Alicia Raeburn is one half of the Miles Less Traveled duo, a married couple that uses their thirst for travel to explore local eats and adventure around the world. Alicia is a passionate runner, hiker, and all things outdoor activities, and brings those loves with her on the road. Her writing focuses mostly on food, fitness, and general travel.