Giving you reasons to escape the growing rush may seem paradoxical with New York City nearly reopened (we find it hard to believe it, too). But to properly appreciate living in this city, you periodically need to leave it, and Upstate New York’s pure air and abundant personal space are the ideal antidotes to the (very soon-to-be) packed rooftop bars and congested subways.
The State of New York offers lots of tempting natural attractions to draw you away from the metropolitan hustle, with 180 state parks to pick from (from camping and birdwatching to weekend getaways). Consequently, we provide you 16 fantastic upstate places that are worth the trip; whether you’re a newbie or seasoned hiker, we have you covered with these breathtaking scenic paths. Before visiting these locations, be sure to verify the most recent news; as many trails and parks have just reopened, updates are often posted.
1. Anthony’s Nose
You’ve undoubtedly seen Anthony’s Nose, the oddly schnoz-shaped hill across the Hudson River, if you’ve ever gone to Bear Mountain. What you may not be aware of is that the Nose is home to one of the lower Hudson Valley’s most stunning overlooks and getting there requires walking across a part of the Appalachian Trail. Even though it’s just on it for a half mile, it delivers a punch since it’s the roughest and steepest part of an otherwise easy track. Allow yourself to be mesmerized by the spectacular vistas and save the history lessons at another time. Stories about the guy it is named after abounding (from a saint or a pre-Revolutionary War commander to a deacon of the Dutch Reformed Church or a trumpeter).
2. Australian Chasm
With on-site activities like tubing, rappelling, rock climbing, and lantern tours, this would be the closest thing there is to an entertainment park for hikers and outdoor aficionados (there are fees and group packages available). The sandstone canyon Ausable Chasm, sometimes known as the “Grand Canyon of the Adirondacks,” has been open to visitors continuously since 1870, making it one of the first and oldest natural attractions in America. Rainbow Falls, a 90-foot cascade that can be seen from the bridge, Elephant Head, a striking rock structure in the canyon, and Hyde’s Cave can all be seen along the paths, which are appropriate for hikers of all skill levels and are particularly wonderful for children.
Breakneck provides access to a bypass path so individuals with less hiking experience may still enjoy the vistas and receive plenty of exercise in the great outdoors, even if it may scale high on the difficulty scale. Some hikers advise hiking counterclockwise by beginning at the southern Breakneck trailhead since the ascent is rather steep. From the viewpoint, you may see Storm King Mountain (across the river), Bannerman’s Castle on Pollepel Island, and the Newburgh-Beacon Bridge. Be careful, the path becomes rather busy, so it would be best to save it for an off-peak period. According to most reports, this is not a trail to bring kids (or dogs) on.
4. Ithaca’s Buttermilk Falls Gorge Trail
This route, one of five in the park, goes through a varied natural array of water-sculpted rocks, forests, pools, and waterfalls. It is named after the foaming water chute that lowers into Buttermilk Creek as it runs into Cayuga Lake. Greater Buttermilk Falls State Park has just reopened for camping reservations, and the campsite even accepts dogs (two max). The location is closed during the winter, so the warmer months are the best times to enjoy the abundance of natural delights along this short but formidable route.
5. Mountain Cascade
These two summits are among the easiest to reach of the 46 peaks that make up the Adirondack High Peaks. Additionally, they may be accomplished simultaneously in a single, manageable trek; after climbing Cascade, Porter is just a mile or two away. This trek is quite well-liked because to both those factors and its closeness to Lake Placid’s center. Rise early to see the dawn from the peak of Mount Cascade to take in the expansive 360-degree views without the crowds (or for those who like a later start, a hike at sunset offers equally stunning views).
6. State Park Devil’s Hole
Niagara Falls is well known, but this route is one of those hidden jewels that only a small portion of New Yorkers are aware of (although it was just awarded the State’s greatest trail, so it appears the secret has been revealed). Hikers may bring a picnic lunch to eat on the grounds or even go fishing if the whim strikes at Devil’s Hole State Park. You descend to the foot of the canyon and the route through a winding, steep stone stairway (approximately 300 steps), where you can see the Niagara River’s raging whitewater rapids. Be mindful of the guardrails, which serve as protection against the turbulent waters below.
7. Panther Mountain and Giant Ledge
If you wish to enjoy a picturesque view farther up the route without (too many) other hikers, the titular ledge is really a collection of five ledges (all of which give equally stunning views). A lot of visitors decide to remain at the overlook, taking in the view while sipping beers or even spending the night at one of the two adjacent campsites, despite the short but steep (3–4 mile round trip) climb that is required to get there. Continue hiking through the alpine forest for another couple of kilometers or so until you reach Panther Mountain’s summit if you have the stamina and want some solitude from the anticipated throng at Giant Ledge.
8. Letchworth State Park Gorge Trail
This short, pleasant trip showcases the park’s top attractions, including Letchworth Gorge, sometimes known as the Grand Canyon of the East, and its three significant waterfalls. A second automobile may be left at the terminus, or you will need to walk the 7 miles from one end of the canyon to the other to get back. If you don’t like the distance, you can drive certain stretches of the trail since it stays rather near to the road. Explore some of the shorter, less traveled routes that branch off from the main trail to make up for your lost time.
9. Path of the Labyrinth High Falls
Short, dramatic, and exhilarating, the Mohonk Mountain House resort’s appropriately titled rock scramble is a part of nature. You’ll need to use your hands to crawl over, under, and through the very small gaps in the rocks, so take the smallest backpack you can. There are wooden ladders positioned strategically to help you reach the next level in some of the rougher terrain. If you become claustrophobic or are terrified of heights, this climb may not be for you. Sections have names like “Fat Man’s Misery” and “Lemon Squeezer” (hint: you’re the citrus). It provides some major enjoyment for everyone else and is totally worth the trekking cost.
10. Mount Marcy
Given that Mount Marcy is nearly 5,300 feet in height, reaching its summit is no simple task. The Van Hoevenberg Trail is the quickest option, although the total travel time is still close to ten hours. Even though the last mile of the cone-shaped peak is extremely challenging, after you’ve reached the top, you’ll be rewarded with a view of the gently sloping Adirondack Mountains and, on a clear day, the stunning eight-mile length of the MacIntyre Mountains. Simply take additional care to remain on the designated trails to protect the delicate alpine plants.
11. Mountain Overlook
With this one, the destination is the focus, not the route. The whole route is an uphill hike along a dirt road with power wires. Not exactly the bucolic retreat you anticipated coming from the city, but after approximately two kilometers, you’ll come across the first interesting landmark: the remains of a former hotel from the region’s heyday as a high-end vacation destination. A half mile away is a climbable fire tower that you should absolutely ascend. For a breathtaking cliff edge vista of the Hudson Valley and the Catskill Mountains, continue on the walk a little farther. This setting is ideal for a picnic lunch.
12. Catskill Mountain
While trekking on this isolated but panoramic viewpoint, which provides sweeping magnificent views of Palenville and the Hudson Valley—and often welcomes groups of birdwatchers and nature trekkers in the spring and fall—you may see just the odd deer or bear as hiking partners. It takes some work to get to this magnificent position, and Hudson River School artists were renowned to portray this vibrant landscape in the 1860s: The trailhead is concealed behind a house, and it requires two miles of ramping up to a very steep incline. However, the views from Mealie’s viewpoint, Ella’s ledge, and Poet’s ledge as well as the many waterfalls that can be seen throughout the climb as well as the allure of a beautiful, quiet route make up for the previous effort.
13. Waterfalls at Verkeerderkill
A 5.6-mile out-and-back or an 8.2-mile circle through the breathtaking Minnewaska State Park Preserve are the two options for this trek. In any case, it’s an exciting visual feast: Sam’s Point is situated on Lake Maratanza, one of a few sky lakes, along with Ice Caves, which are so effective at trapping cold air that snow falls there 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). It will be difficult for you to argue with the sign’s assertion that the cascade is one of “Earth’s Last Great Places” after seeing this abundance of natural beauty.
14. Seneca Lake
A “6er” is someone who clears the six Adirondack peaks that encircle Saranac Lake, earning the title (which even comes with an official patch) and the right to ring a special bell in the Saranac Lake town square. Bowling a sixer in cricket is an impressive feat (hitting the ball so far it clears the field without touching it), but in this case, a “6er” is equally noteworthy. Start with Baker Mountain, the simplest of the group’s almost 2-mile hikes (the others range in length from 6-10 miles). The most dedicated hikers may try to reach the top of all six summits in a single day and earn the moniker of Ultra 6er, but in all honesty, you can still claim the distinction even if it takes months or years.
15. Mount Sleeping Beauty
This trek is a fantastic day walk close to Lake George and is regarded as one of the more family-friendly ones. It offers large on scenery (serene mountain ponds, bright surrounding woods, and panoramic cliff bands). That’s primarily because of the switchbacks towards the summit, which not only make the ascent less steep but also prevent erosion by keeping the path tidy by not cutting the switchbacks. Even though you may abbreviate the climb by driving the first 1.6 miles (as long as your car can manage a bumpy dirt road), it’s still a reasonably straightforward hike.
16. Bear Mountain Bridge
This one is for all you expert hikers out there. This popular loop connects Harriman and Bear Mountain State Parks and is located close to Tomkins Cove. The varied terrain—wooded, rocky, grassy, and often steep—is worth it for the magnificently unobstructed views of the Hudson River and Bear Mountain Bridge (as well as a distant glimpse of the Manhattan skyline). For those who are less eager to undergo the strenuous hike, you may drive directly to the mountain’s peak for some breathtaking views of the dawn and sunset.
If you are concerned about best hiking in New York, these are the most ideal options that we can recommend. You may take a look at these hiking opportunities and ensure that you get nothing but the best out of your outdoor adventures.