The state of New York offers 180 state parks with hiking trails in upstate NY to select from, providing lots of tempting natural attractions to tempt you away from the city (from camping and birdwatching to weekend getaways). So, whether you’re a rookie hiker or a seasoned hiker, we’ve got you covered with these 17 breathtaking scenic pathways. Just make sure to check for updates before venturing out to these locations—with so many trails and parks reopening, fresh information is given on a daily basis.
Phoenicia Hiking Trails In Upstate NY
Length: 7.8 miles
This is one of the hiking trails in upstate NY for seasoned hikers, since it climbs 2,600 feet to the top of one of the Catskills’ 35 peaks that rise above 3,500 feet. It’s a rugged path with some sections that feel practically vertical, but there are some exciting rock scrambles and a magnificent view of the Ashokan Reservoir at the top. If you have enough time and gas left in the tank, the summit of Cornell Mountain is only about a mile away via a narrow ridgeline. The view isn’t nearly as amazing as Wittenberg’s, but there’s a scary/fun stretch at the summit called the Cornell Crack that demands true rock climbing skills. Whether you climb one or two peaks, the next day your legs will be as shaky as a dubstep bass line.
Length: 2.6 miles
You’ve probably seen Anthony’s Nose, the oddly schnoz-shaped hill across the Hudson River, if you’ve ever been to Bear Mountain. What you may not know is that the Nose is home to one of the most stunning views in the lower Hudson Valley, and getting there requires a hike down a part of the Appalachian Trail. It’s barely half a mile long, but it delivers a punch— it’s steepest, most difficult stretch of an otherwise moderate track. Allow yourself to be swept up in the breathtaking views and leave the history lessons for another time. Stories abound for the man it’s named after (from a saint or a pre-Revolutionary War captain to a deacon of the Dutch Reformed Church or a trumpeter), so let yourself be swept up in the breathtaking views and leave the history lessons for another time.
Keeseville Hiking Trails In Upstate NY
Length: 1 – 5 miles (based upon what trail you choose)
This is the hiking equivalent of an entertainment park, featuring onsite activities ranging from tubing and rappelling to rock climbing and lantern tours for hikers and outdoor enthusiasts alike (there are fees and group packages available). The sandstone gorge Ausable Chasm—dubbed the “Grand Canyon of the Adirondacks”—has been in continuous operation since 1870, making it one of America’s earliest and oldest natural attractions. The paths are less strenuous and ideal for families, with lots of natural flora, animals, and geological relics to admire, including Rainbow Falls (a 90-foot cascade visible from the bridge), Elephant Head (a massive rock structure in the canyon), and Hyde’s Cave.
Length: 3.2 miles
While it may be difficult, Breakneck also provides a bypass trail for individuals with less hiking experience to enjoy the sights while still receiving enough of workout in the great outdoors. Some hikers advocate walking counterclockwise, starting at the southern Breakneck trailhead, due to the steepness of the climb. The viewpoint offers views of Storm King Mountain (across the river), Bannerman’s Castle on Pollepel Island, and the Newburgh-Beacon Bridge. Be warned: the route can get quite crowded, so this one is best saved for an off-peak time—and certainly not one to take the kids (or dogs) on.
Length: 1-2 miles (Based on which trail you decide to hike)
These hiking trails in upstate NY (this is one of five in the park) winds through a wide natural mix of water-sculpted rocks, forests, aqua pools, and waterfalls, and is named for the frothy water chute that lowers into Buttermilk Creek as it travels toward Cayuga Lake. The broader Buttermilk Falls State Park has reopened for camping reservations, and pets are welcome in the campsite (two max). Because the site is closed during the winter season, the warmer months are the best time to enjoy the richness of natural beauties on this short-but-mighty route (don’t allow the shorter length fool you into thinking it’s an easy one).
Length: 5.6 miles
These are two of the most accessible of the 46 mountains that make up the Adirondack High Peaks. Plus, they can be tackled in a single, not-too-difficult hike; once you’ve ascended Cascade, Porter is only a mile or so away. This, combined with the hike’s proximity to downtown Lake Placid, makes it a very popular one. Rise early to see the dawn from the peak of Mount Cascade to see the wide 360-degree views without the crowds (or for those who like a later start, a hike at sunset offers equally stunning views).
Length: 2.4 miles
We’ve all heard of Niagara Falls, but this route is one of those hidden jewels that only locals are aware of (albeit it was recently chosen the best trail in the state of New York, so the secret is out). Hikers can bring a picnic lunch to enjoy on the grounds or even go fishing if the desire strikes. A winding, steep stone stairway (around 300 steps) leads down to the gorge’s base and the trail, where vistas of the Niagara River’s roaring whitewater rapids await. Keep an eye out for the guardrails, which provide protection from the raging waves below.
Length: 7.1 miles
The eponymous ledge is actually a cluster of five ledges (all of which offer similarly stunning views), which is ideal if you want to take a scenic detour further down the route without encountering too many other hikers. The climb to the overlook is short but steep (around 3-4 miles round trip), and many visitors choose to remain there, sipping a drink and taking in the view, or even camping at one of two adjacent campgrounds. If you have the stamina and want to get away from the people at Giant Ledge, continue climbing through the alpine forest for another couple of miles or more until you reach the summit of Panther Mountain.
Length: 7.1 miles one way
This easy walk is more of a lengthy, picturesque stroll than a genuine trek, although it highlights the park’s highlights, including Letchworth Gorge (also known as the Grand Canyon of the East) and its three major waterfalls. It’s worth noting that the gorge is 7 miles long; to come back, you’ll either have to retrace your steps or leave a second car near the finish. Because the trail is so close to the road, you can drive parts of it if you don’t mind the distance. Make up for lost time by exploring the smaller, less-traveled routes that branch off from the main trail.
Length: 1 mile
The Mohonk Mountain House resort’s aptly titled rock scramble is a short, challenging, and thrilling natural maze. Take your tiniest backpack and make sure your hands are free because you’ll need them to crawl over, under, and through unbelievably small gaps in the rocks. Wooden ladders are thoughtfully positioned to progress you to the next level in some of the harder terrain. If you are claustrophobic or are terrified of heights, this climb may not be for you. Sections include “Fat Man’s Misery” and “Lemon Squeezer” (hint: you’re the citrus). Everyone else will find it to be a lot of fun and well worth the hike charge.
Length: 7.4 miles one way
Climbing to Mount Marcy, New York’s highest point, is no easy task: its elevation is nearly 5,300 feet! Even though the Van Hoevenberg Trail is the quickest path, it is still a nearly 10-hour round journey. While the final mile of the cone-shaped summit is a challenge, once you reach the top, you’ll be rewarded with a panoramic view of the Adirondacks and, on a clear day, the stunning eight-mile stretch of the MacIntyre Mountains. Just be extra careful to stay on the suggested trails to help conserve the fragile alpine plants.
Length: 4.6 miles
With this one, it’s all about the destination, not the route. The entire trek will be uphill and along a gravel road with power lines. After about 2 miles, you’ll come across the first cool landmark: the ruins of an old hotel from the area’s heyday as a luxury resort destination. We hear you—not quite the bucolic escape you expected coming from the city. A half-mile away is a climbable fire tower (which you should undoubtedly mount). Continue on the hike for a breathtaking cliff-edge panorama of the Catskill Mountains and Hudson Valley—the ideal setting for a picnic lunch.
Length: 6.4 miles
While trekking on this lonely yet panoramic vista, which offers sweeping magnificent views of Palenville and the Hudson Valley—and frequently welcomes groups of birdwatchers and nature trekkers in the spring and fall—you may be the only fellow companions you see. In the 1860s, artists from the Hudson River School were known to portray this vibrant scenery, and getting to this magnificent spot requires some effort: You must find the trailhead, which is hidden behind a house, then hike two miles up a steep incline. However, the views from Maeli’s lookout, Ella’s ledge, and Poet’s ledge, as well as multiple waterfalls and the allure of a beautiful, low-traffic trail, more than compensate for the prior exertion.
Length: 5.6 to 8.2 miles
This trek can be done in two ways: as a 5.6-mile out-and-back or as an 8.2-mile loop through the beautiful Minnewaska State Park Preserve. It’s an action-packed visual feast in any case: Sam’s Point is located on Lake Maratanza, one of a few of sky lakes; Ice Caves, which trap cold air so well that snow remains even in July; and Verkeerder Falls, a 187-foot waterfall (which is apparently located on private property, so best to stick close to the trail and admire from afar). You’ll find it difficult to argue with the sign naming the cascade as one of “Earth’s Last Great Places” after being surrounded by such natural splendor.
Length: 31 miles
In cricket, bowling a six’er (hitting the ball so far that it clears the field without touching it) is an impressive feat, but in this case, a “6er” is someone who clears all six Adirondack peaks that surround Saranac Lake, earning the title (which comes with an official patch) and the right to ring a special bell in the Saranac Lake town square. Begin with Baker Mountain, a nearly 2-mile hike that is the most straightforward of the group (the others range in length from 6-10 miles). The most dedicated hikers can attempt to summit all six summits in under 24 hours and earn the title of Ultra 6er, but the title is still yours to claim even if it takes months (or years).
Fort Ann Hiking Trails In Upstate NY
Length: 5 to 7.5 miles, depending on route
This walk, located near Lake George, offers spectacular views (serene mountain ponds, bright surrounding forests, and panoramic cliff bands) and is one of the most family-friendly options. That’s largely owing to the switchbacks towards the summit, which not only make the slope less steep, but also protect the earth from erosion (so don’t cut the switchbacks!). You can abbreviate the journey by driving the first 1.6 miles (as long as your vehicle can tolerate a bumpy dirt road), but it’s still a rather easy trip.
Length: 6.8 miles
This one is for the seasoned hikers out there. This well-traveled loop connects Harriman and Bear Mountain State Parks and is located near Tomkins Cove. The terrain varies (wooded, rocky, grassy, and often steep), but the magnificently unobstructed views of the Hudson River and Bear Mountain Bridge (as well as a distant glimpse of the Manhattan skyline) make the extra effort worthwhile. You may drive directly to the mountain’s summit for some beautiful sunrise and sunset views if you’re not willing to do the difficult hike.
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