The 12 Best Day Hikes to Explore Near NYC

NYC locals need not go far to find incredible day hikes outside the city. In this post, I’m going to share 12 of the best ones I’ve found so far, and they are all incredible adventures.

How I found out about these 12 amazing day hikes near NYC:

I typically look for amazing nature spots very far out of the city, in the greater New York State, but as I began to see many spots again and again, I wanted to mix things up and see what else NY had to offer.

To my surprise, many of the new spots I discovered were very close to New York City and so I figured they would be perfect to explore for simple day hikes and little by little, I gathered the list of places you’ll be seeing in a moment.

I want to say that if you are also a New York City resident and don’t mind sharing some spots of your own, I’d be happy to hear your suggestions! So with that said:

Here is the current list of the 12 best day hikes to explore near NYC:

  1. Breakneck Ridge (1 hour away).best day hikes near nyc
  2. Fort Lee Historic Park hikes (30 minutes away).
  3. Mohonk Preserve’s Labyrinth hike (2 hours away).
  4. Delaware Water Gap’s Mt. Tammany hike (2 hours away).
  5. Kakiat trail, Harriman State Park (1 hour away).
  6. Dover Stone Church Cave hike (1 hour away).
  7. Croton Gorge Dam hike (1 hour away).
  8. Catskill Mountain hikes (3 hours away).
  9. High Point State Park hikes (2 hours away).
  10. Lake Minnewaska hikes (2 hours away).
  11. Sterling Forest Fire Tower hike (1 hour away).
  12. Anthony’s Nose hike.

Now with some of these areas, they are part of a larger park so in addition to showing you the main day hikes I recommend you do, I’ll also include a link and links to the other options too.

Bonus: I have a list of 7 more awesome hikes below (17 total) but they do require waking up super early and leaving NYC around 3-4 a.m. if you wish to make a day hiking experience out of it.

5 things I recommend bringing to these day hikes near NYC:

1) Good backpack. I recommend the Outdoor Products Hydration Pack. It’s small, great for day hikes and carries easy when you’re hiking or trail running. It also has a hydration pack so you don’t have to carry a lot of bottles of water.

2) Good hiking shoes are a must. I recommend the Salomon Speedcross. They will help you hike easier (and have more fun) in these places.

3) Water proof socks also help. I personally like either the Randy Sun Waterproof socks or Showers Pass socks. Both great options for day hikes!

4) Good water shoes. There’s a lot of options here. My personal go to water shoe is the Body Glove Rip Tide. Some of the hikes on this list do involve getting wet so having these shoes (to prevent slipping) is recommended.

5) Cameras and even drones. Trust me, you’ll want to bring something to take pictures with! Some places on this list do not allow drones, but others do (check beforehand). But a good one to consider would be the Mavic Air 2S. Very comfortable, great for hikes and documenting them.

1) Breakneck Ridge hike (Hudson Highlands State Park):

breakneck ridge hike near nyc

Location: 1 hour north of NYC.

Difficulty: Strenuous.

Hiking distance: 2-5 miles (loop).

Description: Breakneck Ridge might be the most popular day hike for NYC residents to take.

This is a short but steep hike that many NYC residents actually visit on weekends on day’s off and it’s part of the beautiful Hudson Highlands State Park.

It takes the average person 2-3 hours to hike the main trail up Breakneck Ridge and aside from there, you’ll also find some beautiful hiking trails attached to the main one there.

Recommendations: If you are going for the first time, try to go when it’s cold (not icy) or on a weekday to avoid the crowds and go with at least one friend to share the experience.

This hike is very doable in one day and by the time you return to NYC, it’ll likely be late in the afternoon (provided you start Breakneck Ridge early).

If this hike is a bit much for you, another option is doing the Bull Hill Loop Trail which is only 5 minutes away (south) of Breakneck Ridge.

2) Fort Lee Historic Park (Grand Stairs Palisades hike):

henry hudson hikes near new york city

Location: Fort Lee Historic Park is literally across the George Washington Bridge (and under it), in New Jersey, next to the Palisades Parkway.

Difficulty: Easy.

Hiking distance: 6-30 miles.

Description: Fort Lee Historic Park has a lot to explore, including a beautiful scenic drive near New York City that you can take, as well the following things to do there:

1) You can walk across the Henry Hudson scenic road.

2) You can hike from numerous trails there.

3) You can walk along the shore overlooking the Hudson River Valley (long, easy hike).

4) You can walk on top of Henry Hudson Drive (near the Palisades Parkway) and basically get a nice scenic overlook of the Hudson and NYC.

Fun fact: Some of the trails in this region cross the Appalachian Mountains trail.

But in regards to the specific hikes available in and near Henry Hudson drive: Here is a list of hikes there.

So far, the one I’ve done is the Giant Stairs Palisade hike. It’s about 4-5 miles long.

Recommendations: The day hikes in this area can easily be accessed by NYC residents by just crossing the George Washington Bridge. I would plan ahead to see which hike you wish to do (see the list above).

3) Mohonk Preserve (Labyrinth hike):

labyrinth mohonk preserve hike near new york city

Location: 2 hours north of NYC.

Difficulty: Moderate-strenuous.

Distance: 2-4 miles.

Description: Mohonk Preserve is a very beautiful region in upstate NY that has a nice hotel and very scenic hikes right by it.

There is a 2 mile hike from the parking area of Mohonk Preserve you have to take to reach the hotel.

And the main hike I highly recommend you do is called The Labyrinth hike which is very challenging, scenic and one of the coolest hikes I’ve ever done.

It’s about 1-2 miles long and takes about 1 hour for most people to do.

Then there’s a hike down another side of the Labyrinth before walking back to the parking lot. Overall, you’re looking at about 6 miles of hiking in this region.

Recommendations: Wake up and leave early if you wish to check out Mohonk Preserve and the hiking trails there in a day. It’s very doable and I’ve done it, but the earlier you start it, the better.

4) Delaware Water Gap (Mt. Tammany hiking trail):

delaware water gap hike near nyc

Location: 2 hours west of NYC.

Difficulty: Strenuous.

Distance: 2-4 miles.

Description: This is a national park area in Pennsylvania that you can absolutely do day hikes on.

The main attraction is the Mt. Tammany hike that most people do which is pretty adventurous, steep and about 2 mile long (but strenuous).

Then there’s an optional 2-3 mile hike down a less steeper but boring trail (Dunnfield trail) that’ll take you to beautiful swimming holes to freshen up.

Recommendation: Again, start this hike early.

I’d get to the Mt. Marcy trail head at around 9 (before the parking lot fills up) and do it on a weekday if possible. This is a very fun hike with many scenic viewpoints you’ll love.

To be honest with you, the Mt. Tammany hike is the tip of the iceberg when it comes to activities that can be done in the Delaware Water Gap. I’ve included a link there to 5 activities you can check out too.

5) Harriman State Park (Kakiat trail):

Location: 45 minutes to 1 hour from NYC.doodletown bridle loop hike harriman state park near nyc

Difficulty: Moderate.

Distance: Up to 6 miles long.

Description: Harriman State Park is one of the best gems to explore very close to NYC (in the Hudson Valley).

I’ve hiked several trails there and here are some of the popular ones you can choose from:

  • Dater Mountain Loop Trail.
  • Reeves Brook Loop Trail.
  • Kakiat trail.
  • There are also custom trails available all throughout the park.

Recommendation:

This is a great hike, but again, start early and preferably on a weekday as this is a popular spot for NYC residents to explore.

6) Dover Stone Church Cave hike:

Location: Up to 2 hours away from NYC in the Town of Dover.dover stone church cave hike near nyc

Difficulty: Easy.

Distance: 1 mile in an out.

Description: This is a nice family friendly hike that leads people through a plains area, into a forest, through a simple stream, then up it to an awesome cave.

This cave is beautiful to explore year round and there are also other optional hikes available nearby.

Overall, this is a great day hike outside of NYC and if you have extra time, you can squeeze in another one on this list to keep the fun going.

In addition to that, if you do visit this place, the cave does have a waterfall inside it, and it’s just an overall cool spot to check out.

Note: Wearing good gear here is highly recommend!

I went there in the winter, so it was slippery, cold and I stepped in the water a few times, but wearing my Salomon Speedcross 4 shoes, as well as my REI Stormhenge 850 Jacket and my Showers Pass waterproof socks protected me very well!

7) Croton Gorge Dam (and hikes near it):

Location: 1-2 hours from NYC.croton gorge dam waterfall and hike near nyc

Difficulty: Easy.

Distance: 1-3 miles in and out.

Description: Croton Dam is a popular spot for locals and NYC dwellers to explore.

It’s a large and very beautiful dam with a park next to it, and trails going in and out of it.

I’ve visited this area twice and in my opinion, Croton Dam has one of the most beautiful waterfalls in all of New York State that I’ve ever seen, even though it’s man made.

Hikes in this region are pretty easy and scenic to explore, but the gem is definitely the dam itself, which you can explore from the top (for free) and from the bottom of it, which does require a parking fee of $10 to enter.

8) The Catskills (and the following day hikes there):

catskill mountain hikes near new york city

Location: 2-3 hours north of NYC.

Distance: 8-9 miles total.

Description: The Catskills offer a plethora of hikes and out of every single spot on this list, it’s the one I visit most (several times a year).

The most famous hike there is arguably Devils Path, but that is a 20+ mile hike (not for day hiking).

The way I do a day hikes in the Catskills involves actually doing at least 5 of them, before heading to a nice French Restaurant and then home, arriving back by 9 p.m. usually.

If you want to do a specific, but simple trail, try the Boulder Rock trail.

You can also explore a bunch of day hikes that lead to waterfalls in the Catskills on the trails here.

Recommendation: Read that article I put up about how I hike through the Catskills. I typically leave at 7 a.m. for this particular day hike.

It’s a challenging day hike that can absolutely be done if you’re up for an awesome, active adventure.

These 5 hikes involve everything from beginner friendly hikes, to difficult ones, cliff jumping, rock scrambling and more!

It’s tough to do all 5 hikes in a single day, but it’s so much fun that I just keep repeating it whenever I get the chance. It never bores me because there’s so much activity and fun involved.

There are also other cool hikes in the Catskills including a very popular one called Devils Path you can check out too (it’s very difficult).

9) High Point State Park:

Location: Delaware Water Gap (northern side) and about 2 hours from NYC.high point state park hiking near new york city

Distance: Depends on the trail. But several miles of hiking at least.

Description: I had to add High Point State Park to this list after hiking through it. It’s a wonderful, simple but beautiful place to hike and has many good places to enjoy sightseeing at if you’re not too much into hiking or just want to relax, have a picnic or just enjoy the views.

Recommendations: You should consider doing the hikes here either for an entire day.

Or if you really want to go crazy, start at the Mt. Tammany trail (south), hike that, then go up here and enjoy the many places along the way within the Delaware Water Gap you can explore.

This will absolutely make a plentiful day trip (and hikes) out of NYC. I’ve done this and let me tell you, while it isn’t easy, you’ll be doing so much and making the most out of your day outside NYC that it’ll be very memorable (And fun).

10) Lake Minnewaska (Gertrude’s Nose hike):

Location: 2 hours away from NYC (north).lake minnewaska hikes near new york city

Distance: Several hiking trails available. Up to 10+ miles or more in some instances.

Description: Lake Minnewaska is a popular hiking destination for NYC residents and highly recommended for the many attractions it has including:

  • Fun hikes.
  • Waterfalls.
  • Nice trails.
  • And nice views to say the least.

It’s also a well taken care of park with easy-moderate trails available for hikers of all levels. The most popular one is Gertrude’s Nose.

Recommendations:

Go here early (and on a weekday, lest you like massive crowds) to make the most out of your time so you can explore the sights and hike more than one trail.

11) Sterling Forest State Park (Fire Tower hike):

sterling forest fire tower day hike near new york city

Location: 1 hour northwest of New York City.

Distance: 5-10 miles (loop trail).

Description: Sterling Forest State Park is an awesome place to explore near New York City and in this particular case, day hikes are one of those activities.

One of the most famous hikes in this park is the Fire Tower trail.

It’s one I’ve personally done done before and it has several ways it can be hiked.

See my post on Sterling Forest State Park for details and choose which one is most convenient to you given how much time you have.

I did the long version of it which is 10 miles long.

Recommendations: Again start early.

Even if you ONLY plan to do this hike and nothing else, plan to do other activities because Sterling Forest has a bunch of nearby activities and places to see so the more daylight you have, the more you’ll be able to see.

12) Anthony’s Nose (Hudson River Valley hike):

anthonys nose day hike near nyc 07

Location: Right by Purple Heart Memorial Bridge on the Hudson River Valley.

Distance: Either 2 miles or 8-9 miles (both in and out trails).

Description: I’m of the opinion that the Anthony’s Nose hike is a bit dull, but it is rated 5 stars by many people, both on Google and Alltrails, and it is close to New York City, so of course it needs to be mentioned.

In fact, a lot of New York City residents come here and I would keep this in mind in case you’re thinking of coming here (to avoid the crowds).

Basically this is a hiking trail that takes you parallel to the Hudson River to a beautiful overlook on top of the Purple Heart Memorial Bridge.

And from that overlook, you can find a veteran memorial flag, nice views overall and just an enjoyable hiking experience to help you get away from the city.

I’ve done this hike once (and that might be it for me), but you may find this hike to be just the right one for you.

Day hikes 13-19:

How far are you willing to drive outside of NYC to see the following hikes?

The next day hikes on this list are pretty far from NYC, but if you’re really passionate about this subject and truly want to explore some amazing spots, there’s tons of them available in the greater New York State area, and the next 5 hikes really showcase this!

Now in terms of day hiking opportunities, provided you leave NYC very early, you can do it and then come back, but if not, you can easily make a 2 day trip out of these spots to avoid being constrained on time! So let’s get to them:

13) Finger Lakes (many day hike possibilites):

Location: 5-6 hours north west of NYC.watkins glen and finger lakes hikes in new york

Difficult: Easy.

Distance: 1-2 miles.

Description: Finger Lakes has some of the most beautiful nature regions in all of New York State I’ve seen and while that’s my opinion, when you see something like Watkins Glen State Park, you may think similarly.

Not only that but the whole region has days worth exploration possibilities available and while day hikes are a bit rushed, they are possible here, but I would recommend a weekend trip here so you can do more.

Here are some other spots in this region you should definitely check out:

I literally did a day trip to this region not too long ago and saw the above 2 parks as well as Watkins Glen all in one day.

Recommendation: I know, it sounds crazy but if you leave very early in the morning, you can get there by 8 or 9 a.m. and explore this spot.

I’ve done these types of day hikes before and it’s really worth trying if you want to see some amazing areas, and Finger Lakes has some of the best nature New York State has to offer.

You’ll see what I mean when you go there!

13) Lake George (plenty of day hikes there):

Location: 4-5 hours north of NYC.lake george hikes in new york

Description: Lake George is a very scenic, long lake that has hikes all around it you can check out, and if you also leave the city early, you can get a lot of hiking and sight seeing done in this area.

Many NYC residents come here, especially during the spring and summer seasons. Prices are huge here, so going for a day hike might be a better option if you’re not looking to spend a lot.

But Lake George has a lot to offer besides overnight stays. You can also rent boats, jet skis, go cliff diving and more. There’s a lot to do in this region of New York.

Recommendation:

Again, leave very early (when it’s dark), get there around 8 am, start the hike/s, enjoy the boating and swimming activities, leave around 3 or 4 p.m. and you’ll be back in the city around 10 p.m.

You can get a lot done in Lake George in one day.

14) Adirondack Mountains (Poke o Moonshine Mountain hike):

Location: 5-6 hours north of NYC.poke o moonshine hike in new york adirondacks

Difficulty: Moderate.

Distance: 5-8 miles.

Description: The Adirondack region of New York State is crazy large with countless hiking opportunities, but a very scenic and hard to miss mountain/hike that you might want to check out is Poke o Moonshine.

It’s right off interstate 87 (It’s a very scenic road in New York State) and you can also do this hike in a day.

Recommendations: Poke o Moonshine Mountain is about 1-2 hours north of Lake George, so if you want to make it here and hike the place, leave even earlier from NYC and as long as you do that, you can make this hike and a wholesome day trip outside the city.

There are trails to enter Poke o Moonshine Mountain and the views from the top and even from the bottom of it are spectacular.

This is one of the most scenic mountains I’ve seen in the entire New York State area.

15) Indian Head hiking trail (Adirondack Mountains):

Location: 5-6 hours north of NYC.indian head hike adirondack mountains in new york

Difficulty: Moderate-strenuous.

Distance: 7-8 miles in and out.

Description: Indian Head trail is one of the most popular trails people take when visiting the Adirondack Mountains and a lot of NYC residents come to this particular spot year round.

It is a very scenic hike to an amazing overlook at the end of it as you can see from the picture to the right.

Truth be told, this is the only hike on this list I haven’t done yet.

I was actually close to doing it when I did my road trip through the Appalachian Mountains and unfortunately, too many bugs, heat and lack of daylight made us turn back a mile into it.

But it will be done very soon and when it’s complete, a new update will come up!

16) Ausable Chasm (hiking the yellow and orange trails):

Location: 5-6 hours north of NYC as well.ausable chasm hiking adventures new york

Difficulty: Easy-moderate.

Distance: 2-3 mile loop.

Description: Ausable Chasm is very close to Poke o Moonshine Mountain so if you finish that hike early and have a few more hours, hit up Ausable Chasm because it is a very fun place to explore, with short hikes, obstacle courses and rafting opportunities.

It is one of the most scenic spots in all of New York State that I have ever seen.

Recommendation: The first time I visited Ausable Chasm, I left from Brooklyn at 4 a.m. in the morning.

By 9 a.m. we arrived there, explored much of this place and had so much time left over (it was around 11 when we finished) that we decided to turn our one day trip there to a whole 1,500 mile road trip through the Eastern United States.

It ended up being an epic road trip that kicked off a fun tradition we would continue for years afterwards.

But besides that story, the point is that if you leave as early as we did, you can finish exploring Ausable Chasm before noon and head back home, arriving at around 8 p.m.

17) Smugglers Notch (tons of hikes here):

Location: 5-6 hours north east of NYC.smugglers notch hikes near new york state

Description: Smugglers Notch is in Vermont and is pretty much east of Ausable Chasm. It is a very scenic area with hikes and scenic roads to explore.

Read this article on Smugglers Notch to see one of the most beautiful hikes you can do there.

Recommendations: This particular hike takes about 1-2 hours and if you (again) leave NYC early, making it back home afterwards isn’t hard.

Just like for the Adirondacks, Lake George and Ausable Chasm hikes on this list, leaving very early to explore Smugglers Notch is recommended.

And as a bonus, if you have time on the way back down, I highly recommend exploring the Green Mountain National Forest.

It too has plenty of places to see and that is actually about 4 hours away from NYC.

18) Green Mountain National Forest (Texas Falls hike):

Location: 4-5 hours north of NYC.hikes outside of nyc green mountain national forest vermont

Description: Something a bit closer to NYC than Smugglers Notch is a giant area known as Green Mountain National Forest and let me tell you, this place is amazing (if you know where to go).

The picture you see to your right is actually a hike you can explore there and I have included a link to my experiences hiking in this region to help you find this and other spots like it there.

Note: It’s called Texas Falls.

Recommendation: An overnight trip out of NYC might be best for you here.

But if you really want to go here for a single day, then leave very early, start in the north and work your way south through Green Mountain National Forest.

And if you want to explore Smugglers Notch too, then it would have to be a 2 day trip for you to explore all of these amazing hiking spots.

But many of the hikes here can be done in a single day (multiple hikes included).

More day hikes near NYC coming soon!

Ironically, the day hikes on this list that are truly close to NYC are places I only recently started exploring. For a long time NYC resident, it was always hard for me to see just how many beautiful trails and hikes are available so close to home and as I explore more of these places, I’ll be sure to update them, but I did also share some of the more distance hikes I do on this list as well.

I hope you enjoy doing these!

Leave a Comment