Hiking is possibly the simplest way you can enjoy the beauty of nature. Most hikers become more agile over time and love the challenge of a new hike, new sites and new mountains to climb.
If you are in New York, you have a wealth of hiking at your doorstep. If you are willing to road trip, you can really find some great hiking spots. From the Adirondacks to the Finger Lakes to the Catskills and Hudson Valley, we think New York is one of the more underrated states in the country for hiking and getting outside as it is known largely for the big city. Whether you are just going for a midday hike, or looking for a place you haul your tent and pillow for a night outdoors, you have lots of great options in New York.
1. Gorge and Indian Trail, Watkins Glen State Park
This is a short 2.4 mile trail that is packed with enough bridge crossings, waterfalls, and winding through caves that you will feel as though you’ve found yourself in an adventure movie.
This trail is situated in Watkins Glen State Park and is one of the most popular hiking trails in the region. Situated in the Finger Lakes region of New York, Watkins Glen State Park was voted as the third best state park in the entire country on a 2015 USA Today reader survey.
Along this two mile stretch you will have the opportunity to see nineteen waterfalls. The pathway is easy to walk because it is a wide stone path. Having that wide stone path mean you will have more of an opportunity to enjoy the pools and the rock formations that enhance the trail.
There are several charming local towns you can stay in that are within thirty miles of Watkins Glen. These include Elmira, Geneva, Corning, and Ithaca among others. There are also tent and trailer sites in the park that you can use for overnight stays.
2. Overlook Mountain
This is a 4.8 mile trail that takes you to the remains of an old hotel that was once part of a resort getaway. There is also an old fire tower that you can climb on the route. When you reach the end of the trail you will be greeted by the most astounding view of the Catskill Mountains that can be seen, a view which will both figuratively and literally take your breath away. Bring your binoculars if you want to scan the horizon for a bit before starting the trek back down. It will be worth it.
The Overlook Mountain trail is located in close proximity to Woodstock, which is situated in the northern portion of Ulster, County. An interesting fact about Woodstock is that while it was the inspiration for the famous 1969 Woodstock Festival, the actual festival was held about 70 miles away due to permitting issues. Woodstock and Overlook Mountain are in the Catskill region of New York.
The hike to Overlook Mountain might better be described as a walk, because there are electric power lines running the entire length of the old gravel road that makes up the trail. You will find that the trip down the trail might be pretty easy, but the experiences, the views, and the memories you’ll made while on the trail will be one of a kind.
3. Saranac Lake
This trail covers 31 miles. Saranac Lake is home to six mountains – the Baker, the St. Regis, the Scarface, the Ampersand, the Haystack and the McKenzie. If you who climb all 6 of these mountains you will become one of the fondly referred to ‘Saranac Lake 6ers’ after you go to the Saranac Lake town square and ring the special chime set up to announce your accomplishment.
Saranac Lake is located in the middle of Adirondack Park. It is close enough to Syracuse, Rochester, Albany, Burlington, and other urban areas to be considered an easy drive and getaway. It is about 5 hours from New York City, so a little further, but still very doable in a 3-day weekend.
Baker Mountain is the easiest to climb, and it is only a two mile stretch. Still, it provides plenty of challenge as it gives hikers a 900 foot climb. That climb is on good, relatively gradual footing. It is possible to climb all six mountains in a twenty-four hour period, and if you accomplish that feat you will have the ultimate bragging rights as well as a member of elite group referred to as the ‘Ultra 6ers’.
While on the hike or climbing the mountains for the view you can also slow down a little and enjoy the beautiful countryside. This part of New York State reminds us that beauty is all around and all we have to do is slow down and enjoy it. And don’t forget that Saranac Lake is an excellent fishing lake with trout and landlocked salmon, so considering bringing your rod, reel, and tackle box and try to find some excellent fishing when the hiking is done.
The Saranac Lake Islands area is one of the best places in NY to camp. If you are someone who enjoys packing a tent or traveling with your rooftop camper, consider staying for a day or two when you hike this area.
4. Mount Marcy
This trail is a 14 mile trek from beginning to end. Mount Mercy is the tallest mountain in New York and there are four different trails for you to use to hike to her summit. The shortest trail up the mountain is on the northwest portion and is known as the Hoevenberg Trail. The beginning of the Hoevenberg Trail is near Heart Lake and is 7.4 miles long. The Johns Brook Trail is 9 miles and begins from the Garden parking that is on the north side of the mountain situated in Keene Valley. From the south you can take the Upper Works Trail of the Elk Lake Trail if you would like to lengthen your journey.
Mount Marcy is located in the town of Keene in Essex, County. This mountain is considered to be located at the very heart of what is known as the Adirondack High Peaks. This is a beautiful stretch of country to witness and there is a rich heritage associated with Theodore Roosevelt and this particular mountain. In fact, if you hike the trail from Long Lake to North Creek you are on the Roosevelt-Marcy Trail.
When you reach the summit of this mountain you will have a spectacular view of the Adirondack’s and if you happen to be there on a clear day then you will be rewarded with an amazing view of Montreal’s Mount Royal.
5. Cascade and Porter Mountains
This is a 5.6 mile trail that is very popular among both hikers and skiers alike. The trail is located near Lake Placid, New York, is rated a moderately difficult trail and offers some easy rock scrambles on the way up.
The trail offers hikers a unique view of a waterfall that will encourage you to slow down and enjoy the scenic surroundings. It is a very popular trail for pet owners because Fido is welcome to hike along with you as long as you keep him on a leash.
Out of the forty six mountains that make up what we know as the Adirondacks these two mountains are among the easiest ones to hike up. Once you have reached the summit of Cascade Mountain you only have another mile before you reach the summit of Porter Mountain. That is why it is so easy to climb both of these mountains in a single hiking trip.
This is a very popular hiking trail and you might find it a little crowded on the summit during certain times of the year. You also need to check the weather conditions before you head out because weather changes and intense cold conditions occur frequently in this area. If you head out between October and April, be sure to have some thermal underwear and some warm clothes.
In summary, if you find yourself in or near New York, you are in luck if you enjoy hiking. Grab your hiking boots, a map, a good hiking hat and outerwear, some water, and a backpack, and hit the trails. You have so many to choose from.