Photo: Shaun O'Neil
Some fresh air, a flowing waterfall, vibrant fall foliage...it can do wonders for the soul. If you're a New Yorker in need of an escape from the city, a quick trip north into the Hudson Valley can provide a ton of options. All of these trails are within a couple hours drive of New York City and a few of them are even within walking distance of train stops so even if you don't have access to a car, you can still enjoy these amazing hikes.
Park along the street and head up the Appalachian Trail to the top, before hanging a right to head towards the flag pole. A quick mile and you''ll be sitting in the sunshine looking across at Bear Mountain, with the Hudson River and the Bear Mountain bridge directly below you. You can rock scramble up from the end of the bridge, but the trail is always stable and there have been a few spills off the side in recent years. Put in the little extra time and keep yourself safe.
After the hike you can always shoot across the bridge to Bear Mountain State Park which offers concessions, lots of BBQ and picnic spots around the lake, as well as the far less common carousel and ice skating rink. Year round fun for the whole family, and giant beers during Oktoberfest! Learn more.
Photos: Michael Martineau
Storm King is one of the gems on the western side of the Hudson. With an easy parking lot accessible on 9W (northbound side only) and a scenic ride to get there, the views start before you even get out of the car. Again, a good trail map is vital here, as there are several different trails and some will lead nowhere near where you want to be. Learn more.
Breakneck Ridge is my personal favorite and easily the most popular hike in the Hudson Valley, to the point where it actually has it's own train stop. Hundreds of hikers hit the trail every weekend spring through fall, and for good reason.
A quick drive a couple miles down to Cold Spring leaves you with a ton of options for your post-hike eats and drinks. Hit Whistling Willie's for a burger and drink, and then walk down to the riverfront to catch a nice breeze and some of Moo Moo's ice cream. Learn more.
Sam's Point, which is the home of Verkeerderkill Falls, is attached to Minnewaska State Park and carries a parking fee. This is a prime family adventure, where the car does most of the uphill work and it'll take all of five minutes walking to hit spectacular panoramic views. Another one that's great for fall foliage. On a warm summer day hit the trail through the ice caves for an awesome experience and put a chill in your bones before heading to the falls. The one downside is that the park is a bit in the middle of nowhere, so you're on your own for packing some brews to take in the sights. Learn more.
The Mt Beacon Fire Tower is right on the edge of the town of Beacon, and is one of the trails not far from a train station making it an option even without a car. The steep incline definitely provides a good workout if you want it, or you can take it slow and steady. Either way it's worth it once you get to the top. If it's a clear day you may even be able to see your place back in the city.
Usually this is where I'd suggest a good place to get a bite to eat or a beer and Beacon has many great options for both. But I'd be lying if I didn't say that my favorite place to stop after a good hike in spring, summer, or fall is Zora Dora's, a micro batch ice cream place that does a few dozen different flavors of popsicles. Yes, popsicles. It's worth it, trust me. Learn more.
All of these areas have maps available from the NYNJ Trail Conference which are outstanding quality, regularly updated, and will keep you from getting lost. Bonus: you get to play hero when you come across those who failed to prepare. So get your maps, check out this list, and make your plans to get out hiking ASAP!
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