The 15 Best Day Hikes to Explore Near NYC

There are absolute gems of day hikes near NYC you can explore and in this post, I’m going to share 15 of them that I’ve personally done.

How I found out about these 15 amazing day hikes near NYC:

I’m a NYC local (if it isn’t already clear) and I love nature, specifically hikes, views and adventures that would take my breath away. For many years I had explored many nature spots outside NYC, but most of them revolved around the Catskills.

During 2021, I had decided to start expanding my explorations outside the city and at least once a week would take a half-full day to explore a day near anywhere close to NYC. Ironically, as I started doing that, I began finding countless hikes nearby that I never imagined could be so close and just as well, so much fun to explore.

While there are 100’s of possibilities for day hikes to explore outside NYC, I’m going to share 15 of the best I’ve found so far and if you’ve someone who is experienced at this and have your own suggestions, please feel free to add them below (I’m always looking for more opportunities!). So with that out of the way, let’s get to the actual hikes!

Here is my current list of the 15 best day hikes to explore near NYC:

  1. Breakneck Ridge (1 hour away).best day hikes near nyc
  2. Giant Stairs Palisades hike (30 minutes away).
  3. Mohonk Preserve’s Labyrinth hike (2 hours away).
  4. Delaware Water Gap’s Mt. Tammany hike (2 hours away).
  5. Reeves Brook Loop Trail at Harriman State Park (1 hour away).
  6. Dover Stone Church Cave hike (1 hour away).
  7. Croton Gorge Dam hike (1 hour away).
  8. Kaaterskill Falls hike, Catskills (3 hours away).
  9. Monument Trail, High Point State Park (2 hours away).
  10. Gertrude’s Nose hike at Lake Minnewaska (2 hours away).
  11. Sterling Forest Fire Tower hike (1 hour away).
  12. Bull Hill Loop Trail at Hudson Highlands (1 hour away).
  13. Overlook Mountain hike in Woodstock (2 hours away).
  14. Lost City Loop hike at Coxing Hills (2 hours away).
  15. Stairway to Heaven Trail in NJ (1 hour away).

So here’s the thing: Each of these specific trails are usually within larger parks, and they also house a bunch of other hikes. I’ll link to individual posts that show you the other options available there as sometimes you’ll be able to do several day hikes in one day. If I were to add all of the possibilities out there, it would literally be 100s, so I’ll stick to the most popular ones and when you get there, you’ll be able to see if there are any others nearby you want to do.

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:

breakneck ridge day hike near nyc option 01

Location: It’s located 1 hour north of NYC at Hudson Highlands State Park.

Difficulty: Mediumhard.

Hiking distance: 4-9 mile (loop) depending on which loop option you take.

Description: Breakneck Ridge might be the most popular day hike for NYC residents to take. This is a very fun short/long and steep/strenuous 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 one of which leads to a Fire Tower.

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) Grand Stairs Palisades (closest day hike near NYC):

giant stairs palisades trail day hike near nyc 08

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

Difficulty: Moderatedifficult.

Hiking distance: 4-5 miles long.

Description: If you’re familiar with the west side of NYC and what the G.W Bridge Looks like, you’ll probably know that there are giant mountains there, as well as the Palisades Parkway.

However, what you may not know is that there is a cool park above and below those mountains called Fort Lee Historic Park where you will find plenty of hikes and the most popular one on that list is Giant Stairs Palisades.

I’ve included a link to show you how to get there, but it’s a really nice, and typically short day hike you can take if you have less than a day and/or can’t go far outside NYC. You’ll see great views of the city, the Hudson River and it’ll also take you below to actually hike right by the Hudson River too.

Nearby are other Hudson Valley River hikes to explore and you will also find a much longer/difficult (none day hike) there called the Long Path.

3) Labyrinth hike:

labyrinth trail day hike near nyc 02

Location: 2 hours north of NYC at a place called Mohonk Preserve.

Difficulty: Moderatestrenuous.

Distance: 2-4 miles.

Description: In my opinion, the Labyrinth hike is one of the most epic day hikes to explore near NYC. It has you go through amazing gorges, climb ladders and see incredible scenery.

I’ve been on this hike about 4 times and each time, I love it just as much if not more than when I did it before.

Before you do this hike though, know that it does involve climbing and going through some dangerous rocks/caves in places, so be careful.

Additionally, do note that this is about 2 hours north of NYC, so wake up early if you plan on coming here and that there is also a fee to even enter the park ($26 per person) and a 2 mile hike to even reach the start of it (it’s not difficult though).

Read my post on Mohonk Preserve to know what to expect from this hike. I do highly recommend it if you love adventures.

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

delaware water gap hike near nyc

Location: 2 hours west of NYC, specifically in the Delaware Water Gap.

Difficulty: Moderatestrenuous.

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 3 mile long (but strenuous).

Then there’s an optional 1-2 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) Reeves Brook Loop Trail:

reeves brook loop trail day hike near nyc harriman state park 02

Location: 1 hour from NYC at Harriman State Park.

Difficulty: Moderate.

Distance: Up to 5 miles long.

Description: Harriman State Park is one of the best gems to explore very close to NYC (in the Hudson Valley) and there are at least 90+ trails there.

If you’re just planning on visiting it for the first time, my suggestion would be to check out the Reeves Brook Loop trail first (I’ve included a link with details on what to expect on it).

It has a great mix of relaxing trail walks, scenic overlooks and a nice river to pass through.

Additionally, there are parts of this hike (and in the greater Harriman State Park area) where getting lost in the woods is common, but out of all the trails I’ve done in this park, the Reeves Brook one is the easiest to navigate on.

If you enjoy this hike, read my Harriman State Park article to see what else this giant park has to offer and it includes things like abandoned mines, other amazing hikes, scenic drives and a lot more!

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 hike:

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.

There are also several trails over the top of the dam and under it to check out.

8) Kaaterskill Falls hike (3 hours away):

kaaterskill falls day hike near nyc 02

Location: 2-3 hours north of NYC in the Catskill Mountains.

Distance: 3-4 miles in and out.

Difficulty: Moderate.

Description: Out of all the day hikes I’ve done outside NYC, the Catskills is where I’ve explored most of them, but rather than talk about all the possibilities here, I’m just going to suggest that if you’re coming here for the first time to check out the famous Kaaterskill Falls trail.

It’s one of the largest waterfalls in New York State, is quite stunning and there are also many amazing hikes in the Catskills by this one (which I’ve included a link to).

This particular hike can be done from the bottom up (which I recommend for hikers) and from the top town which is good if you’re not really into hiking.

Additionally, be sure to check out North South Lake right near this waterfall which also offers incredible hikes, views and adventures.

The Catskills are still one of my go to places to explore for day hikes and this particular trail is a great introduction to how beautiful this place is!

Note: Remember that amazing photo at the top of this article where you see me and a buddy by a waterfall? Well if you’re wondering where that is, the answer is that it’s in the Catskill Mountains and I’ve included a link to where you can find that specific waterfall (it’s not on a map).

9) Monument Trail (High Point State Park):

monument trail high point state park day hike near nyc

Location: High Point State Park within the Delaware Water Gap (northern side) and about 2 hours from NYC.

Difficulty: Moderate.

Distance: 4-8 miles (see details here).

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.

The hike you may want to consider doing is the Monument hike there as it gives you a great experience of hiking across the park and seeing the most major parts there, including the giant monument (the most famous part of the park) and also hiking parts of the Appalachian trail there too.

There are also small mini trails you can explore across this park as well if that one is a bit much for you. Either way, you can easily spend a whole day in this beautiful park and have tons to do.

10) Gertrude’s Nose hike:

gertrudes nose day hike near nyc 04

Location: 2 hours away from NYC (north) in Lake Minnewaska.

Difficulty: Easy.

Distance: 1-2 miles (connecting longer trails available).

Description: Lake Minnewaska is a very popular state park north of NYC with plenty of day hikes, beautiful scenic drives and waterfalls to explore.

However, for a cool day hike there, the most popular one would be Gertrude’s Nose which isn’t far from the parking lot.

It takes you to a very nice scenic overlook of Lake Minnewaska in general.

The other good thing is that this trail also connects with other trails too so if you are more advanced and into challenging yourself, you can mix it in with other hikes there for a longer and more difficult, but fun day hike.

One other thing, this hike isn’t far from an awesome waterfall called Awosting Falls which is one of my top waterfalls to check out in New York State.

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.

Difficulty: Moderate.

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. And there are also other Fire Tower hikes in New York you can check out (but they are not close to NYC).

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.

Additionally: See these other Fire Tower hikes in New York (some are good day hikes).

12) Bull Hill Loop hike:

bull hill loop trail hudson valley day hike near nyc 06

Location: In Hudson Highlands State Park (very close to Breakneck Ridge).

Difficulty: Moderate.

Distance: 4-5 miles loop.

Description: If Breakneck Ridge is a bit intimidating for you (I can understand why), a great alternative hike to explore nearby is the Bull Hill Loop trail.

It’s located on the neighboring mountain (south) of Breakneck Ridge and is a really cool hike I’ve done a few times.

The scenic views are spectacular (better than Breakneck Ridge in my opinion), the hike is easier overall and towards the end of it, you get to explore some amazing ruins of an old estate, making this an all around fun and scenic hike.

The tough part of this hike is the start (white trail) which is very uphill, but after that, it’s much more manageable and fun. The end of the cool part (where you run into the estate).

13) Overlook Mountain (Woodstock NY):

Location: Within the Woodstock region of New York (2 hours north of NYC).

Difficulty: Moderate.

Distance: About 5 miles in and out.

Description: Overlook Mountain in my opinion is a fantastic day hike to do outside NYC. While it is a 2 hour drive to reach it, there is just so much to see and do when you get there that it makes for an entire day’s adventure when you’re there (connecting hikes, checking out Woodstock and much more).

There’s several benefits of doing this specific hike: It’s very scenic when you reach the top, there is a cool ruins building at the summit and there’s just a lot of photogenic spots overall.

Getting to the top to see all of this isn’t easy, but it’s worth the hike.

14) Lost City Loop:

lost city loop trail upstate day hike near nyc 03

Location: Near Mohonk Preserve, specifically Coxing Hill (2 hours from NYC).

Difficulty: Moderate.

Distance: 2-3 miles (loop).

Description: I accidentally discovered this hike after checking out Mohonk Preserve and on my way to see a popular swimming hole in the Catskills, learned that this trail (the one to see Lost City Loop) was close by.

This is a very nice, scenic hike that takes you to beautiful overlooks with crevices, canyons and other amazing sights.

When I came here, I had the whole hike to myself and thoroughly enjoyed it and I do plan on coming back here with other friends just to show off how amazing it is.

What’s great about the location of this hike is that it’s really close to Mohonk Preserve (about a 20 minute drive), and if you start a day hike at the Labyrinth and finish it early, you’ll have enough time to do this one too (as was the case for me).

15) Stairway to Heaven trail:

stairway to heaven day hike near nyc 02

Location: Near Vernon NJ (1 hour and 30 minutes west of NYC).

Difficulty: Easy to Moderate.

Distance: 2-3 miles.

Description: Stairway to Heaven is the next day hike I plan to do the next time I leave NYC. I recently discovered it and it’s rated very highly by hikers (Update: I completed it!).

It’s west of the city and is a popular trail for numerous reasons including:

  • Great scenic views of NY and NJ.
  • It passes through the Appalachian Trail.
  • You cross through a beautiful swamp area but on a boardwalk hike.
  • And more.

Keep in mind that this is a very popular hike too and people from all around (including NYC) do it daily and especially on weekends. Generally speaking, come to places like this very early if you wish to find some parking.

Ready to go even further outside NYC? If so, here’s more day hikes to explore:

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 possibilities):

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) Texas Falls hike (Green Mountain National Forest):

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!

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2 thoughts on “The 15 Best Day Hikes to Explore Near NYC”

  1. Hi, Vitaliy. For me, who is from central Europe, it was a very nice trip to the places of tourist interest around New York. I hope that one day I will have the opportunity to visit them on site as well. I also look forward to finding information from you such as: how to move as a tourist who would arrive by plane, maybe rent a car nearby at a good price, but also an overnight accommodation. So on my trip I would totally rely on your advice so I would avoid many headaches here who does not know the area well.

    Reply
    • Of course Georgi, let me know if you plan to visit NY, which direction you’re considering going in and I’ll give you a list of places to see. Although keep in mind that my recommendations involve nature spots only as I’m not really a big NYC person in general.

      Reply

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