AMCand39;s Best Day Hikes Near New York City  by Daniel Case

AMC's Best Day Hikes Near New York City Guide Book

by Daniel Case (Appalachian Mountain Club Books)
AMCand39;s Best Day Hikes Near New York City  by Daniel Case
You don’t have to travel far from New York City to find some of the best day hikes in the Northeast. This guidebook from the Appalachian Mountain Club’s Best Day Hikes series takes you to 50 of the best excursions in New York, Connecticut, and northern New Jersey. Perfect for beginners, seasoned hikers, families, tourists, and local residents, AMC’s Best Day Hikes Near New York City unveils hidden gems of the New York City metro area. Hike the Palisades Interstate Park, explore the Shawangunk Grasslands National Wildlife Refuge, discover the Paugusett State Forest, trek the Nassau-Suffolk Greenbelt in Long Island, or even ramble through Central Park from end to end – no matter what your ability level, this guide is a must-have resource for an hour or day of adventure. Many hikes in the guide are accessible by public transportation, making it easy for you to get out on the trail.

© 2010 Daniel Case/Appalachian Mountain Club Books. All Rights Reserved.

Trails from the "AMC's Best Day Hikes Near New York City" Guide Book
Displaying trails 20 of 50.

Displaying trails 1 to 20 of 50.

This classic glacial tarn is located near Passaic County’s highest elevations, with views of the Manhattan skyline on clear days. Warren County, is New Jersey’s best-known glacial tarn. (Tarn, from an Old Norse word for pond, refers to those bodies of water left behind by melting glaciers and usually found in isolated mountain regions.) But Terrace Pond is more accessible and more frequently visited than Sunset Pond. You reach this trailhead by following Clinton Road, legendary for its rumors of strange and spooky occurrences, through City of Newark watershed land.
Upper Greenwood Lake, NJ - Cross-Country Skiing,Hiking,Snowshoeing - Trail Length: 3.1
This short loop leads to sweeping, wild North Jersey vistas from one of the state’s most striking ranges. Since Interstate 287 was completed through Passaic and Bergen counties to the New York State Thruway in 1993, more travelers have had an opportunity to see the Wyanokies, a crown-like group of peaks just north of the rock cut north of Exit 55. The Wyanokies are in the southerly of the two units of Norvin Green State Forest’s 5,000 acres. The most common destination for hikers within them is Wyanokie High Point, the top of the crown. This trip, however, will take you to the higher Assiwikinam Mountain at the northwest corner of the forest, where with less distance and climbing you can get some equally sweeping views from its open, rock-hop summit.
West Milford, NJ - Hiking,Snowshoeing - Trail Length: 2.2
If the climb doesn’t take your breath away, the views will on this heavily traveled loop with deep roots in hiking history. So many things are named after Bear Mountain—a bridge, a state park, an inn, a traffic circle, and even two roads in Westchester County leading to it—that it’s easy to forget that the mountain itself came first. And when you have climbed it, you’ll understand why it’s named “bear.” The mountain and its trails are not only steep; they are steeped in history—the history of modern hiking as well as that of the United States. In 1777 the battle of Forts Montgomery and Clinton was fought near its base, the only British victory in the Hudson River campaign that could have ended the Revolution. A century and a half later, one of the original stretches of the Appalachian Trail (AT) was blazed up its slopes.
Bear Mountain, NY - Hiking,Snowshoeing - Trail Length: 4.5
Take in sweeping views and glacial tarns, and scramble up and down stony cliffs from this loop west of Greenwood Lake just south of the state line. The glaciers that extended over New Jersey’s Skylands more than 10,000 years ago during the last Ice Age created more than the mountains hikers climb. In the valleys between them, they left behind pristine ponds and lakes. One of the region’s largest, Greenwood Lake, straddles the New York state line and is 7 miles long. It may come as a surprise that it wasn’t originally that large. Nature got a boost in 1837 when an existing lake named Long Pond was dammed for water power, creating today’s scenic and recreational resource.
West Milford, NJ - Hiking,Snowshoeing - Trail Length: 4.3
Take a gentle walk on the Appalachian Trail to two incredible views. The long ridge known as Bearfort Mountain in New Jersey is Bellvale Mountain at its northern end in New York, after a small settlement in the town of Warwick. No glacial tarns are found in this section, but there is some very good hiking that doesn’t require too much effort. The forest here is a typical Highlands montane forest of maple and scrubby chestnut oak. You can start to see open areas on the ridge top to the left. Eventually you reach an area where the trail bends to the west slightly and then widens a bit as it enters an area with tall hemlocks.
Bellvale, NY - Cross-Country Skiing,Hiking,Snowshoeing - Trail Length: 3.6
Take in great views and green buildings on this loop through a diverse Hudson Highlands preserve used for teaching and research. Black Rock Forest’s history is intertwined with that of Storm King, its betterknown neighbor to the east. Both were preserved by the actions of Dr. Ernest Stillman, who began buying land in the area during the 1920s to develop better forestry techniques. Both were threatened by the proposed Consolidated Edison power plant proposal in the 1960s, which led to a landmark ruling that aesthetics could be considered as part of a project’s environmental impact. And fortunately, both are open to the public for hiking and other types of lowimpact recreation today.
Cornwall, NY - Cross-Country Skiing,Hiking,Horseback Riding,Mountain Biking,Snowshoeing - Trail Length: 4.3
Explore a striking post-glacial landscape just south of the Hudson Highlands. Located at the opposite corner of Westchester County, Blue Mountain Reservation, the county’s second largest park, presents an interesting contrast to Ward Pound Ridge Reservation, its largest. Pound Ridge is in the middle of a largely rural area of horse country. Blue Mountain is just outside a small city. The roads into Pound Ridge are well paved and smooth. Blue Mountain’s access road is heavily potholed.
Peekskill, NY - Cross-Country Skiing,Hiking,Snowshoeing - Trail Length: 4
Climb a summit boulder, take in the view over a reservoir, and walk through history and greenery in this crossing of one of the world’s greatest urban parks.
New York, NY - Cross-Country Skiing,Hiking,Snowshoeing - Trail Length: 3
Hike an isolated section of the Appalachian Trail to a popular viewpoint over Clarence Fahnestock State Park. When Benton MacKaye first began developing the idea for the Appalachian Trail (AT), he hoped the trail would be the backbone of a series of protected areas. He envisioned a spine trail, which others could be linked to in order to make short loops. While the trail has since become known as much for the thru-hikers who go all the way from Georgia to Maine each year, it still works just as well as a local route for day-hikers who like to sleep in their own beds each night.
Carmel, NY - Cross-Country Skiing,Hiking,Snowshoeing - Trail Length: 4.6
Follow the roads and paths of an old outdoorsmen’s club that is now one of the largest protected areas in suburban Long Island. Most of western Long Island’s remaining open space has taken the form of small slivers of land here and there. Often they were preserved by accident, left over after other land around it was developed, or just in private hands so long as to have remained undeveloped when a large enough amount of public money was available to purchase it. A hundred acres of an old estate here or five hundred along a riverfront there are almost all we have to remind us of what western Long Island looked like even as recently as a century ago.
Oakdale, NY - Cross-Country Skiing,Hiking,Snowshoeing - Trail Length: 3.8
See gorges, reservoir vistas, and historic artifacts in this grand loop through one of Connecticut’s most popular nature preserves. Like most other protected woodlands of western Connecticut, the land now known as the Devil’s Den was once used for the manufacture of charcoal. On their excursions through the woods, some of the nineteenth-century charcoal makers, climbing over the rocky ledges and outcrops, found a depression in one resembling a hoof print. They thought the print had been left by the Devil, and thus this patch of woods got its name. In the mid-1960s, a woman named Katharine Ordway began buying up the land. She eventually donated it to the state chapter of The Nature Conservancy (TNC), and today the 1,756-acre Devil’s Den Preserve is the largest privately protected area in Fairfield County and the largest TNC property in Connecticut.
Weston, CT - Cross-Country Skiing,Hiking,Snowshoeing - Trail Length: 7
Venture into the only federally designated wilderness in the New York metropolitan area. Many hikes are particularly enjoyable in summer, since that is when the ideal combinations of blue skies, green woods, and golden sunshine present themselves. While there are several reasons to hike in other seasons of the year, including winter, the full splendor of nature reserves itself mostly for the warmest months of the year.
Meyersville, NJ - Cross-Country Skiing,Hiking,Snowshoeing - Trail Length: 3
Pay tribute to one of the legends of New York–area hiking at this spectacular, yet accessible, viewpoint on the Long Path in northern Harriman State Park. areas north of Route 6 have relatively few trails. Much of this land abuts the West Point military reservation. Most of the Palisades Interstate Park Commission’s (PIPC) holdings in this area were traded to the Army for most of the Bear Mountain land during the 1930s. At that time, trail development had not really begun. The remaining parcels, largely trailless, buffer the park and the military reservation, where cadets train for three of their four summers.
Fort Montgomery, NY - Cross-Country Skiing,Hiking,Snowshoeing - Trail Length: 1.6
Enjoy the Lower West Side cityscape from one of Manhattan’s newest attractions. To most people, hiking means that you pull up to a trailhead in an unpaved lot somewhere at the edge of the woods, lace up your boots, throw on your pack, and start ambling down a dusty path through towering trees with the intention of reaching a rewarding vista or other scenery that puts you in close touch with nature. It doesn’t have to. Hiking can mean taking public transportation in your sandals or old sneakers, with nothing but a water bottle, and taking in the beauty of the built environment, where the variety of the architecture offers as interesting a view as a mountain range or river. Of course, you’d probably like to have some greenery to pass by and stand amidst just the same.
New York, NY - Hiking - Trail Length: 0.8
Walk the Appalachian Trail to New Jersey’s highest point and its panoramic views. There is no subtlety in the naming of New Jersey’s highest mountain. Why, it must have been decided, use the name of a former governor or president, an American Indian name, or even the nearest community, when you can just call it what it is: “High Point.” Nothing more, nothing less. It’s even more appropriate when you consider the mountain’s location within the state—almost in the northernmost corner, so it is at the high point of the map of the state as well. From its summit obelisk, High Point justifies its name quite well. There are 360 degrees of views available of three states.
Montague, NJ - Cross-Country Skiing,Hiking,Snowshoeing - Trail Length: 2.8
Once used as farmland and for a pair of summer camps, this currently undeveloped tract offers a nice woodland walk. with nice kiosks leading to a sophisticated trail system. Highland Lakes is not that kind of state park. In 1964, the Palisades Interstate Park Commission (PIPC) bought 800 acres of farmland and summer camps along the ridges to the north of the Town of Wallkill, considering this southern section of the Comfort Hills a valuable natural and recreational resource for future generations.
Scotchtown, NY - Cross-Country Skiing,Hiking,Snowshoeing - Trail Length: 3.5
Gaze at the widest section of the Hudson River, and then some, from this popular suburban summit. North of the Palisades, no feature on the west side of the Hudson is as distinctive as Hook Mountain, best appreciated from the small Westchester County hamlet of Scarborough, right across the river. The mountain juts out into Haverstraw Bay, the river’s widest spot, just north of the Nyacks. Dutch sailors who first explored and settled the region in the seventeenth century called it “Verdrietege Hoogte,” meaning tedious or troublesome point, because of the difficulty of getting around it. Its tall stone cliffs, the results of years of quarrying, are the most striking natural feature on the river south of the Hudson Highlands.
Upper Nyack, NY - Cross-Country Skiing,Hiking,Snowshoeing - Trail Length: 2.3
This trip from one train station to another travels over the Hudson Highlands’ two most challenging peaks, which offer sweeping viewpoints of the river, mountains, and other sights. Summits are optional. On weekdays, there are two stations between Peekskill and Beacon along Metro- North Railroad’s Hudson Line. The Breakneck Ridge and Manitou request stops come into use on the weekends, giving hikers from New York City and Westchester numerous options to avoid driving and reduce their carbon footprints as they savor the great outdoors. This route is designed for hikers who would like to go from station to station through Hudson Highlands State Park. The hike is challenging, but also rewarding when you see the stunning scenery. It is strenuous enough that you will appreciate sitting back in your seat on the way home without having to worry about driving.
Cold Spring, NY - Hiking,Snowshoeing - Trail Length: 5.9
Enjoy this walk through the hemlocks along the Housatonic River. There are many hikes that will take you on a walk along a flowing stream. However, there aren’t too many where you get to enjoy the undeveloped shoreline of a major river, without even picnic groves or baseball fields. Four streams north of Pittsfield, Massachusetts, merge into the Housatonic River. By the time it reaches the Connecticut border, it becomes the second longest river in southern New England after the Connecticut, with its watershed taking in some portions of Columbia and Dutchess counties in neighboring New York.
Newtown, CT - Cross-Country Skiing,Hiking,Snowshoeing - Trail Length: 2
Sample the New Jersey Highlands with a loop past Morris County’s highest point and a nice variety of terrain. If any of the state’s 21 counties could come close to an idealized vision of New Jersey, it would be Morris. East of Interstate 287, it consists of nice, leafy suburbs with ample commuter rail service. Morristown, the county seat, is resplendent with colonial charm and Revolutionary War history. West of 287, the land opens up to the bucolic charm of its horse country southwest and the rugged Highlands terrain in the northwest. But what Morris lacks in that region are the large state parks and forests that its neighbors in the north and west have in great, sprawling abundance. The county itself has made up the difference, though, with its own park system rivaling what the state offers.
Jefferson, NJ - Cross-Country Skiing,Hiking,Snowshoeing - Trail Length: 4.4