New York City is well-known for walking. People there walk to work; walk to lunch; walk home; at the very least walk to the subway or train station. They walk their dogs. Even with all that walking, many seek places to go hiking, as well. That’s why 50 Campfires decided to dive in and come up with this list of hiking trails near New York City.
What we discovered is a bit surprising. There are MANY opportunities for real, fresh air, unpaved path hikes right within the City’s five boroughs. These can be enjoyed on a weekday before or after work, maybe even at lunch hour if you stretch it a bit. And the on the weekends, more hiking trails near New York City – just a little ways out – offer options for all-day or even overnight excursions.
Even if you’re a lifelong native, we’re betting you might find some new favorites of your own in this list of 27 Great Hiking Trails Near New York City.
When the Van Cortlandt Golf Course opened in 1895, it made history as the nation’s first municipal golf course. Today, visitors to the park can enjoy much more than a round of golf. Van Cortlandt boasts 1,146 acres of native woodlands (some of the last standing groves in New York City) and the largest body of freshwater in the Bronx. The park has five established trails that are all less than 1 mile in length, but range from “easy” to “moderate/difficult”. Heck – spend a full day, and explore them all!
Inwood Hill Park is home to the only forest on Manhattan Island – which is sometime tough to imagine. The trails through the park weave past historic points of interest that include glacial potholes that are more than 50,000 years old, Shorakapok Rock (believed to be the original selling site of Manhattan) and the Inwood Salt Marsh. Be sure to follow the trail to the top of the hill where you’ll find the parks oldest trees – a pair of Cottonwoods that were planted here long before the park was even established!
It’s either completely ironic – or completely fitting that Deere Park was named after one of the world’s best-known farm equipment manufacturers: John Deere. Thankfully he left the park intact! If you’re looking for a hiking trail with some distance, you’re not going to want to miss the Deere Park Blue Trail. This 12.3 mile trail is the longest in the Greenbelt! If you’ve got the gusto to make it all the way through the hiking trail, you’ll have pass through each of the Greenbelt’s five vegetation zones
Follow one of the three established trails through Forest Park, and get lost within the 500+ acre outdoor paradise. The park geography is “knob and kettle” meaning that it’s freckled with series of small hills – making this much more than simply a walk down the street. Boasting more than 165 acres of trees, visitors to the park can explore either on foot – or via horseback on the park’s numerous bridle paths. Don’t have your own horse? No problem – there’s a private stable that’s available for hire!
The Greenbelt is truly Staten Island’s outdoor gift to the city. Connected through a series of hiking trails, paths, lakes and routes – The Greenbelt is over 2,800 acres of parks and natural areas awaiting your arrival. If you’re looking for a light hike, start off with the Nature Center Trail, and follow the 1 mile novice hike through a canopy of tulip, beech and birch trees. For the opposite end of the hiking spectrum, check out the Yellow Trail – an 8 mile, one-way trail that leads hikers through Reeds Basket Willow Swamp and parallels the Blue Trail. It’s beautiful year round, but during the Spring season, keep an eye out for the flower bloom – beautiful!
Alley Pond Park gets major props from us here at 50 Campfires. It’s the home of New York City’s first public high ropes adventure course and part of the Urban Park Rangers “Alley Pond Park Adventure Program.” This program helps teach participants valuable outdoor skills – all without leaving New York City. Alley Pond Park’s trail system winds through hardwood forests and kettle ponds – giving you a glimpse into the geography and topography of days past when glaciers formed the Northeast.
Many people call High Rock Park the most tranquil place in New York City, and it’s easy to see why. The park is speckled with quiet ponds and hardwood forests that transport you to a different place. It’s not just New Yorkers who’ve garnered High Rock Park’s attention – the United States Department of the Interior has also recognized the park as a Natural Environmental Education Landmark. While there’s only about a mile of dedicated hiking trails in the park, the serenity of the location makes it well worth the trip.
When David and Ann LaTourette sold their family farm to the city of New York in the late 1920’s, we’re sure they had no idea that it’d stand as an outdoor sanctuary for the next century. For hikers looking to explore LaTourette Park, this is a great spot to connect with the Blue, Red, White, and Yellow Greenbelt trails. If you’re looking for a shorter stroll, be sure to check out the Nature Center Trail – and don’t miss the opportunity to check out the LaTourette’s 1870’s mansion which has been converted to the golf course club house – and now on the National Register of Historic Places.
The land is mostly steep woodlands with Buttermilk Falls cascading down the mountain. From a flat rock outcropping, you can stop and look south toward New Jersey and west toward the Ramapo Mountains. You can follow in the steps of historic outdoorsman Theodore Roosevelt who frequently road horseback in this region to enjoy these same views. As you hike the trail into the gorge toward the stream and on to the falls, you may encounter a variety of wildlife including deer, opossum, rabbits, raptors, songbirds, a variety of reptiles and more.
Willowbrook Park and its hiking trails are one of the most popular options to escape to the great outdoors in Staten Island. At an impressive 7.6 miles in length, the hiking trail through this park is primarily surrounded by wooded cover, though a portion travels beside the 5-acre lake that is a nesting, feeding, and migratory stop for a variety of water bird and songbird species. There are also protected stretches for wildlife and recreational facilities including an archery range.
Though slightly less than a mile in length, the Salt Marsh Nature Trail encompasses an impressive variety of terrain. The first half follows the shore of Gerritsen Beach which empties into Jamaica Bay. The trails second leg winds through a prairie of tall grass where you can sometimes spot cottontail rabbits, ring-necked pheasants, or perhaps even a coyote. At 800 acres, Marine Park itself is the largest park in Brooklyn and is home to many species of wildlife including birds, crabs, fish, and more.
Variety is the hallmark of Wolf’s Pond Park, and its hiking trails. Both hikers and mountain bikers can explore the trails of this south shore location. The trails contain easy, moderate, and difficult terrain. While here, you can check out the beach, wildlife and a variety of natural plants. You’ll find the trailhead at the corner of Hylan Boulevard and Cornelia Avenue.
This dog-friendly trail takes in 3.5 miles of the southern section of of the Hudson Highlands State Park in Westchester County. Terrain difficulty is primarily moderate to difficult with an elevation gain of 350 feet over the course of the hike. You’ll enjoy spectacular views of the Hudson River and surrounding country. Note that major portions of this park are open to hunting in season, so you should consider that in wearing high visibility clothing when hiking here during the hunting seasons.
The Hudson Highlands State Park Preserve is a largely undeveloped area of nearly 10 square miles that incorporates many hiking trails including a portion of the Appalachian Trail. Among them is the Arden Point and Glenclyffe Trail. This is a four mile loop, that will take nearly three hours to complete. While offering many opportunities for gorgeous views of the Hudson River and valley, do not embark on the adventure without an up-to-date trail map from the park. You’ll need to keep your wits about you as you look for blazes and spur trails that deliver the best views.
The most secluded and peaceful area of Central Park is the North Woods, located at the park’s northwest corner. It offers a small taste of the Adirondack Mountains just a few subway stops away from Time Square. The North Woods offers people and wildlife an oasis of nature in the middle of New York City. The heart of the North Woods is The Ravine. Fallen trees and snags are left where they land unless obstructing trails. A favored spot of hikers and bird watchers, free guided tours are available regularly.
The 3-mile trail in Dater Mountain Nature Park affords views of the Village of Tuxedo, the New York State Thruway, and Orange County from elevations as high as 940 feet above sea level. The park itself consists of eight federally designated wetlands and provides habitat for two New York State endangered species – the Northern Cricket Frog and the Allegheny Woodrat. Another threatened park resident is the Timber Rattlesnake, so watch your step and keep pets close at hand as you venture in this park.
The Bronx River Forest offers two loop hiking trails. The red trail is approximately a half-mile for a quick hike, and the blue trail extends nearly a mile for a bit more adventure. Enter the blue trail from the Burke Bridge over the Bronx River, that’s a great place to spot forest and water birds. Walk through a floodplain forest on the banks of the restored river and marvel at how clean and natural this once polluted river has become. Located just steps from the New York Botanical Garden.
Leave the city far behind on Pelham Bay Park’s Kazimiroff Trail which provides self-guided long and short loop paths around 189-acre Hunter Island. You’ll enjoy the island’s natural wetland border, tall and shaded interior forest, and the shoreline of beautiful Orchard Beach.
The trails at Palisades Interstate Park will keep you busy because there is nearly 30 miles of them, and even though they are proximate to New York City, many are difficult to advanced skill levels. Two main trails cover most of the 12-mile length of the park with five cross trails connecting these main arteries. Additionally, there are six cross-country ski trails at State Line Outlook that can also be used by hikers.
This is a “roughing it” park. The park is undeveloped with no toilets and limited parking. Miles of marked and unmarked trails wind through the park. However, all hikers should be sure to take a map with them (download an up to date PDF here). For those willing to take on the challenge, the park offers unsurpassed views of the Catskills and the Hudson Valley and possibly a glimpse of a peregrine falcon which have returned to this rugged park.
Three miles of easy terrain trail await hikers here. Enjoy a peaceful walk by its valley lakes. Ascend pathways through wooded hills and pause on picturesque bridges. You’ll also pass by New York City’s largest tulip tree estimated to be 300 years old. There are numerous access points to the Clove Lakes Pathway from Victory Boulevard, Martling Avenue, Brookside Avenue, and Forest Avenue.
Did you know there’s a bonafide national recreation area in Brooklyn? There is indeed – Gateway National Recreation area that includes Floyd Bennett Field. And that includes the North Forty Natural Area – a haven for wildlife and nature lovers alike. It’s crisscrossed with hiking trails that traverse the mixed conifer and deciduous woodlands and low cover grasslands. A diversity of wildlife calls the area home so you’ll discover mammals, birds, reptiles, and pollinator insects. The area is also home to insect pests like mosquitos and ticks, so be sure to bring repellent during the warm weather months into early fall.
Clay Pit Ponds State Park Preserve is a 265-acre nature preserve near the southwest shore of Staten Island. Numerous hiking opportunities exist on the park’s nature walk trails. These traverse wetlands, ponds, sand barrens, spring-fed streams, and ample woodlands. Facilities include bathrooms, parking areas, trailheads, observation decks, and a nature center. There are both look and out-and-back-trails available.
Hiking the trails at Conference House Park is literally a hike back through three centuries of the burrough’s history. Located at the southernmost point of New York State, the park is home to numerous historic buildings. A mile-plus hike along the Blue Trail will take you past all of them, and include the “South Pole” a marker for the southernmost point in the state.
Both walking and running are popular activities at Prospect Park with a nearly 3 ½ mile designated running lane along the Park Drive. For off the beaten path hiking, Prospect Park has the Ravine. Here, you’ll definitely want to slow down! You’re entering Brooklyn’s only forest … and a sizeable one at the with about 150 acres of woodlands and scenic waterways. Restoration of the Ravine has been underway since 1996 and the transformation is amazing.
Mount Loretto Unique Area features three hiking trails – Wetlands Trail, Grassland Trail, and Beach Loop. Overall, the Unique Area provides nature lovers with more than 200 acres of forest, grasslands, wetlands, and coastal shoreline on the southern shore of Staten Island. These habitats make it a beautiful area to hike and one of the best locations for viewing migrating birds. Hiking trails crisscross the entire area and provide access to all terrains and other park activities such as fishing, and beachcombing.
The 74-acre North Mt. Loretto State Forest is a unique and diverse green space in southern Staten Island. The property includes both mixed hardwood forest and wetland habitats. These features make it a beautiful area to hike and one of the best places to spot amphibians in the area. Five trails traverse the area passing through forests and bordering wetlands. One trail is wheelchair accessible