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Elizabeth Dengler | 03.23.2022

Living in NYC, it’s easy to forget there is a wealth of forested spaces within a short drive of the Urban Jungle. From river walks to mountain summits, there is plenty to keep any hiker entertained. It may feel a little overwhelming at first, but you can reach each of these hikes in under a couple of hours. We’ve rounded up some of the top hiking trails nearby, so whether you want to get out for a workout, or a stroll with the family, you’ll be able to find something that fits the bill. 

Mined rock faces on Breakneck Ridge. Photo Credit: Nick Catania. 


Lemon Squeeze and Lichen Trail

Drive time: 57 minutes

Length: 7.5 miles

Difficulty: Intermediate

Elevation gain: 1,294 feet

Only an hour from the heart of NYC, Harriman State Park is home to some rugged but enchanting trails. The feature here is the Lemon Squeeze, which is a 1-foot wide crack in the rocks through which you must hike if you want to follow the trail. After the squeeze, you’ll wind your way to marvelous views of the park and Island Pond and past an old open-top mine abandoned in 1880.

Stockbridge Mountain

Drive time: 58 minutes

Length: 4.7 miles

Difficulty: Intermediate

Elevation gain: 676 feet

If you’re looking for an easier option in Harriman State Park, the Stockbridge Mountain Loop is a great option. With about half the elevation gain as the Squeezer, this loop tracks past the Lewis Cemetery, Lake Nawahunt, and eventually climbs the backside of Stockbridge Mountain. Spend the night at one of several campsites, or, if you’re lucky enough to snag a spot, you can even camp in the Stockbridge Shelter up top.  

Cave on the far end of the descent on Stockbridge Mountain. Photo Credit: John Maurizi. 

Dunderberg Mountain Loop

Drive time: 60 minutes

Length: 8 miles

Difficulty: Difficult

Elevation gain: 1,429 feet

Despite the route’s name, the Dunderberg Mountain summit is a bit of a false peak—however, if you follow the full loop, the more prominent Bear Mountain will offer up the views you’re looking for. A beautiful autumn hike, you’ll be awash in color as you venture into the woods. A little crowded on weekends, this one is probably best tackled during the week.

Turkey Mountain

Drive time: 57 minutes

Length: 1.8 miles

Difficulty: Easy

Elevation gain: 437 feet

At only 437 feet, this “mountain” is a great option for those looking to get out with the kiddos. Sometimes, this gets a little busy, and when you see the views from the top, it won’t be a mystery why. With open vistas overlooking the New Croton Reservoir and the Manhattan Skyline on a clear day, this is a welcome treat for any afternoon hiker. Great at sunrise or as an autumn getaway, make sure to check out Turkey Mountain Nature Preserve

Westerly views of  the Croton Reservoir. Photo Credit: Nicki Csenge. 

Ninham Mountain Fire Trail

Drive time: 81 minutes

Length: 1.5 miles

Difficulty: Easy

Elevation gain: 326 feet

Set atop Ninham Mountain is a beautifully restored (but no longer in-use) fire tower now open to the public. The tower stands 82.5 feet high atop the mountain—the diagonally ascending stairs of the tower just add to the climb. But the 360-degree views from the top are well worth the trek up. Don’t worry; it’s all downhill from here.

Breakneck Ridge

Drive time: 77 minutes

Length: 2.8 miles

Difficulty: Difficult

Elevation gain: 1,200 feet

Rated as one of the best hikes in America, Breakneck Ridge is a must-do if you live nearby in NYC. A steep, rugged, and strenuous climb, in the beginning, leads to the first lookout marked by American and POW flags. However, don’t stop here! The vistas only continue to improve with absolutely stunning views of the Hudson River from the ridge. Since, at times, there might be some scrambling involved, this probably isn’t the best option for young families. 

Storm King Mountain

Drive time: 71 minutes

Length: 2.4 miles

Difficulty: Difficult

Elevation gain: 1,350 feet

Across the river from Breakneck Ridge is Storm King State Park, home to some of the most difficult trails in the area. If you’re looking to get out and enjoy some autumn colors, hike up to the summit of Storm King Mountain. Though the initial climb is steep, after soaking in the expansive views of the Hudson River from the summit, you’ll get to enjoy a gradual descent back to the trailhead. 

View to the north from the summit of Storm King Mountain. Photo Credit: Nick Catania.

North Ridge

Drive time: 77 minutes

Length: 5.4 miles

Difficulty: Difficult

Elevation gain: 1,202 feet

Another superb option in the park, from the same trailhead as Storm King, is a climb up North Ridge. This is a great choice if the Storm King Mountain loop is looking a little crowded. At almost twice the length but a little less elevation gain than the popular mountain to the north, you’ll have a fun hike with almost the same views as its big sister. There are a few steep and rugged sections to tackle on this one. And if you want to make this one a little shorter, start at the eastern trailhead on 218 to cut off a couple of miles.

Split Rock Loop

Drive time: 69 minutes

Length: 11 miles

Difficulty: Difficult

Elevation gain: 1,086 feet

A beautiful and rolling hike around Split Rock Reservoir, this route will get you deep into the woods. With abundant lake views and forest trails, this route is a great way to spend a long day hiking. The vistas might not be as expansive as a summit hike, but if you’re looking for a little solitude and forest time, this is the place to be.

Westmoreland Sanctuary

Drive time: 69 minutes

Length: 5.4 miles

Difficulty: Intermediate

Elevation gain: 721 feet

Easy to access, Westmorland Sanctuary is right off Interstate 484 but is not as popular as other nearby options. The route traverses the whole sanctuary, dipping down from the trailhead before climbing out on the second half. Enjoy views of Cole’s Kettle (a glacial kettle pond) and seasonal views off Sentry Ridge. There are plenty of alternate trails, so you can make this one as long or as short as you like, making it a great option for the whole family. 

Butler Sanctuary

Drive time: 69 minutes

Length: 5.4 miles

Difficulty: Easy to Intermediate

Elevation gain: 721 feet

Just across the interstate from Westmorland is the stunning Butler Sanctuary—a 300-acre preserve with a tight network of trails. If you’re willing to hike for it, a trek to the Sunset Overlook makes for a beautiful evening hike (make sure to bring a headlamp for the way down). If wildlife viewing is more your speed, head over to the Hawk Watch, complete with bleachers to patiently wait for the raptors to come by. With various distances possible, bring the whole family on this one. 

Old Croton Aqueduct

Drive time: 68 minutes

Length: 15 miles

Difficulty: Easy 

Elevation gain: 206 feet

A long greenway trail that winds through forest and suburbs alike, the aqueduct trail is great for families as it is easy to make it as long or as short as you like. There are plenty of cool things to see along this route, from dams and artificial waterfalls, the Double Arch Bridge, the Ossining Museum, and Weir Chambers. After a nice stroll, enjoy any of the plethora of dining options in Ossining Village.

Peanut Leap Cascade into Giant Stairs

Drive time: 40 minutes

Length: 4.2 miles

Difficulty: Difficult 

Elevation gain: 744 feet

Right on the Hudson River, this is a great loop for those looking for a little bit of a workout. Though the upper rim may feel easy, the way up and down can be quite scrambly. The views from High Gutter Point are sweeping, and it’s a beautiful spot to enjoy a snack. The Shore Trail is incredibly challenging, with rocky scrambles, and a steep ascent; therefore, this is only a good option for experienced hikers—please don’t bring dogs or small children on this loop. 


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