The 8 Best Day Hikes to Explore Near NYC

NYC locals need not go far to find incredible hiking adventures and in this post, I’m going to share 11 of the best places you can do day hikes at. These are gorgeous places, that offer awesome adventures.

How I found out about these 8 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 8 best day hikes to explore near NYC:

  1. Breakneck Ridge.best day hikes near nyc
  2. Henry Hudson Drive hikes.
  3. Mohonk Preserve (Labyrinth hike).
  4. Delaware Water Gap (Mt. Marcy hike).
  5. Harriman State Park (Doodletown Bridal Loop trail).
  6. Dover Stone Church Cave hike.
  7. Croton Gorge Dam hike.
  8. Catskill Mountains.

Bonus: I have a list of 6 more awesome hikes below (14 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 .

1) Breakneck Ridge hike (white trail):

breakneck ridge day 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.

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).

2) Henry Hudson Drive (and hikes):

henry hudson drive day hike near nyc

Location: This area 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: While Henry Hudson Drive is mainly a very scenic drive near New York City that you take, there are also 3 options to hike it too:

1) You can walk across the Henry Hudson drive (trails available).

2) You can walk along the shore overlooking the Hudson river (long, easy hike).

3) 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.

Recommendations: This day hike 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):

mohonk preserve labyrinth day hike near nyc

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 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. Marcy hiking trail):

delaware water gap mt. marcy hiking trail 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. Marcy hike that most people do which is pretty adventurous, steep and about 1 mile long (but strenuous).

Then there’s an optional 2-3 mile hike down a less steeper but boring 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. Marcy 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 (Doodletown Bridle Loop hike):

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 only been there twice and while their main scenic drive is awesome, it also features a bunch of awesome hikes, one of the most popular ones being the Doodletown Bridle Loop hike) which will basically have you walk through the woods and near the Hudson River.

It’s a very scenic hike and I’ve included a link to it above.

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 (awesome 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.

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 mountains day hikes outside nyc

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 Pass, but that is a 20+ mile hike (not for day hiking).

The way I do a day hike 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.

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.

Day hikes 9-14: 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:

9) Finger Lakes (Watkins Glen park hike):

finger lakes watkins glen park hike outside of NYC

Location: 5-6 hours north west of NYC.

Difficult: Easy.

Distance: 1-2 miles.

Description: Finger Lakes has some of the most beautiful nature 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.

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!

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

lake george hiking opportunities outside of NYC

Location: 4-5 hours north of NYC.

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.

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

poke o moonshine mountain adirondack mountains

Location: 5-6 hours north of NYC.

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.

12) Indian Head Trail (Adirondack Mountains):

Location: 5-6 hours north of NYC.indian head trail adirondack mountains

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!

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

ausable chasm

Location: 5-6 hours north of NYC as well.

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.

14) Smugglers Notch (tons of hikes here):

Location: 5-6 hours north east of NYC.smugglers notch vermont day hike near nyc

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.

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!

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