A man walking with his dog during a hike in New York

15 Best Hiking Trails in New York (in 2023)

The hiking trails in New York are plentiful, jaw-droppingly gorgeous, and come in varying levels of difficulty. So, whether you’re a hiking expert or looking for a family-friendly outdoor activity, there’s a trail for you in New York.

Living in New York most of my life, hiking was one of my favorite things to do. Along the trails in NY, there are all different types of hidden natural treasures like ice caves, rivers, and rolling hills. Plus, you’ll find some of the best waterfalls in New York state

In this article, we’ll cover the very best hiking trails in New York. You could spend an entire vacation traversing New York’s many hikes. 

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15 Best Hikes In New York

Watkins Glen State Park Gorge Trail

A breathtaking park with 19 cascading waterfalls in the Finger Lakes Region.

The Rainbow falls in Watkins Glen State Park Gorge Trail
The Rainbow Falls at Watkins Glen

🥾 Easy to Moderate | 1.5 miles | Google Maps | Park Website | 4.5 hours from NYC | Cost: $10 for parking

There are a lot of reasons to make a visit to the Watkins Glen State Park Gorge Trail. Firstly, it’s a fairly easy trail that’s less than 2 miles long. It’s a comfortable trek for most people and kids. And it takes you through one of the best state parks in New York.

Despite its compact size, the trail and state park have a lot of gorgeous natural sites including 19 major waterfalls, ethereal stone staircases, and a flowing ravine. This is the one if you only have time for one hike in New York. 

The Appalachian Trail 

The longest hiking-only trail in the entire world, covering over 2,000 miles of the east coast.

A man waling in The Appalachian Trail 

🥾 Expert | 2,190+ miles | Google Maps | Park Website | 3.5 hours from NYC | Cost: $30 for parking

The Appalachian Trail is notorious on the east coast. It runs over 2,000 miles from Georgia to Maine. A large chunk of the journey cuts right through the stunning forests of New York. Of course, it’s not the perfect hike for a spontaneous trip to the mountains for some fresh air. But, it’s an excellent option for people that want a future hiking challenge to plan. 

If you’re not up for a multi-week hiking extravaganza, there are lots of smaller sections of the trail that you can hike in as little as a day. Like in Harriman State Park. Or the Stairway to Heaven Trail next door in New Jersey.   

👉 My Favorite Gear: If you’re going on a super long hike like the Appalachian Trail, you will want a reliable backpack when you’re out there. I’d recommend the REI Co-op Traverse 60 Pack for women and the REI Co-op Trailbreak 60 Pack for men.

Whiteface Mountain Summit Trail

A popular skiing mountain near Saranac Lake turned hiking trail in the fall, spring, and summer.

A man sitting on a cliff with an overlooking view from the Whiteface Mountain Summit
Overlooking Lake Placid from the summit of Whiteface Mountain

🥾 Difficult | 10.1 miles | Google Maps | Park Website | 5 hours from NYC | Cost: entrance $20 per person

Whiteface Mountain wears a lot of hats. During the winter, it’s a world-class skiing destination. But, it turns into a fantastic hiking spot during the warmer months. Especially the Summit Trail. At the top, you’re rewarded with views overlooking Lake Placid. 

This trek is a better fit for more experienced hikers because it’s pretty difficult, and I do recommend going through our hiking checklist before you go. There’s an elevation gain of over 3,600 feet, and the trail is just over ten miles long out and back. Plan to spend around 7 hours hiking taking on the Whiteface Mountain hike. 

Ausable Chasm 

The oldest natural attraction in the Adirondacks, open since 1870, with scenic views, bridges, and waterfalls.

View of people hiking in Ausable Chasm 
(photo: Leonard Zhukovsky / Shutterstock)

🥾 Easy | 1.9 miles | Google Maps | Park Website | 5 hours from NYC | Cost: Entrance $17.95 for ages 13+

Ausable Chasm is a little more commercialized than your standard hike. Mainly because it’s one of the oldest and biggest natural attractions in the Adirondacks. 

There are lots of things to see and do at Ausable Chasm, in addition to the hiking trails. Like the river walk, tubing tours, and adventure trails. It makes for an excellent summer day activity for families. 

Letchworth State Park Gorge Trail

An easygoing trail through a park lovingly known as the “Grand Canyon of the East”.

View of the Middle Falls while walking in the Letchworth State Park Gorge Trail
A walking trail towards the top of the Middle Falls

🥾 Moderate | 14 miles | Google Maps | Park Website  | 5.5 Hours from NYC | Cost: $8 for parking

Letchworth State Park has made a name for itself as one of the top attractions in New York state. There are over 66 miles of hiking in Letchworth, but I recommend the Gorge Trail. This trail can help you understand why Letchworth is such a natural treasure. The trek will take you right past three different waterfalls and lovely views. 

The only downside to Letchworth is that it gets pretty crowded during the high season from April to October. So, it’s not great for people who want a more secluded hiking experience. 

Prospect Mountain Trail 

A popular hike up an old tramway trail in Lake George region.

View of the welcome sign in Prospect Mountain

🥾 Moderate to Difficult | 2.8 miles | Google Maps | Park Website | 4 hours from NYC | Cost: entrance $10

Lake George is filled with attractions and activities for the millions of tourists visiting the area annually. It is home to one of the most popular lakes in New York.

If you’re craving an adventure that’s a bit removed from the main village, consider hiking the afternoon away on the Prospect Mountain Trail. 

Sam’s Point Preserve and Verkeerderkill Falls Trail

Access the most expansive views of Minnewaska State Park Preserve in Hudson River Valley.

A woman relaxing near a cliff in Sam’s Point Preserve
Sam’s Point is a relaxing stop after an intense hike

🥾 Moderate | 8.3 miles | Google Maps | Park Website | 2 hours from NYC | Cost: $10 for parking

Sam’s Point and VerkeerderKill Falls are one of my favorite hikes in New York. It’s located right in the heart of the Hudson Valley, so it’s easy to reach from New York City and most of central NY state. Or, of course, you could stay in Hudson Valley overnight beforehand.

The reason why I love this trail so much is that you can shape it into whatever type of hike you’re looking for. If you want a challenging route that goes through all the sites, there’s an 11-mile trail. It passes by Sam’s Point, High Point, the falls, and the ice caves. For people who need a shorter route, there’s a 3.8-mile version that just hits Sam’s Point and the ice caves. It’s all up to you. 

👉 Pro Tip: There are lots of wild bears that call New York state their home. Depending on your hiking season, this can be a real concern. To be extra prepared, carry something like this Coghlan’s Bear Bell with you. 

Buttermilk Falls State Park Rim Trail 

An easygoing trek to a powerful 165 ft waterfall in Ithaca. 

Scenic view from the Buttermilk Falls State Park Rim Trail

🥾 Easy to Moderate | 1.6 miles | Google Maps | Park Website | 4.5 hours from NYC | Cost: $7 for parking

This is another hike that will take you straight to one of the state’s most beautiful waterfalls – Buttermilk Falls. It’s also one of the shortest treks on this list. You’ll hear the rushing water long before you see the falls, so it makes it a fun experience for kids. 

Devil’s Hole Trail

A state park trail near the famous Niagara Falls with excellent fishing spots. 

Water flowing through the Devil’s Hole Trail

🥾 Moderate | 2.4 miles | Google Maps | Park Website | 7 hours from NYC | Cost: Free entrance

Most visitors are so starstruck by the world-famous Niagara Falls that they never get a chance to see the area’s other magical attractions. Such as the Devil’s Hole Trail, located only 10 minutes away from the falls. 

The hike takes you along the Niagara River to a viewpoint over Devil’s Hole rapids. Even though the route is brief, it’s a moderate hike that definitely gets your daily workout in. 

Overlook Mountain

A surprisingly unique trail with sites like a historic fire tower and the ruins of an old mountain resort. 

View of the Overlook Mountain House remains in New York
The remains of the old Overlook Mountain House is still around to wander along the trail

🥾 Moderate | 4.6 miles | Google Maps | Park Website  | 2.5 hours from NYC | Cost: Free entrance

Overlook Mountain is another hiking gem of the Hudson River Valley. With an easygoing, well-maintained trail and sweeping views, it’s a favorite with local families around the area. Overlook has a few unique features, like the skeletal remains of the old Mountain House accommodations and a historic fire tower. 

I’d recommend arriving early. The parking lot fills up quickly, especially on the weekends and during the summer. 

Overlook Mountain is located right in the beautiful town of Woodstock. It happens to be one of the cutest towns in New York. So it’s definitely worth a visit if you’re in the area. 

Cascade Mountain Trail 

A challenging climb to the summit for panoramic views of the Adirondack High Peaks.

Overlooking while on a hike in Cascade Mountain Trail 

🥾 Difficult | 4.4 miles | Google Maps | Park Website | 5 hours from NYC | Cost: Free parking/entrance

Located near Saranac Lake in Keene Valley, the Cascade Mountain trail is an adventure for experienced hikers. It’s not the longest hike in the world, but it packs a punch in less than five miles. 

While the journey is tough, the views from the top of the Cascade trail are well worth the expedition. 

👉 Pro Tip: The trails at Cascade Mountain tend to get extremely slippery and muddy when it rains. Even easy rock scrambles can turn difficult with the added slick of rain. So, be sure to check the weather forecast before you go hiking here. 

Storm King Mountain Trail

A well-liked hiking area with top-notch birdwatching in Cornwall On the Hudson.

View from the Storm King Mountain Trail

🥾 Moderate | 2.4 miles | Google Maps | Park Website | 1.5 hours from NYC | Cost: $6-10 for parking

If you’re looking for a hike that’s not too far from New York City, then Storm King Mountain trail is a fantastic choice. It’s located only an hour and a half from the hustle and bustle of NYC in Cornwall. 

This is a perfect hike for beginners. It’s not too long and still provides stunning views at the top. 

Bear Mountain State Park Trail

A local favorite loop hike with incredible views of the Hudson River and Bear Mountain Bridge.

Overlooking view of the Bear Mountain Bridge from the trail
Overlooking Bear Mountain Bridge and the Hudson River Valley from the Trail (photo: Luke Marlow / Shutterstock)

🥾 Moderate | 3.8 miles | Google Maps | Park Website | 1 hour 15 Minutes from NYC | Cost: Free entrance, donations accepted

Another hike that’s super close to most of New York City’s best neighborhoods is the Bear Mountain trail. It’s a quick escape into nature only a little over an hour away from the Big Apple. The trail passes through thick forests. Once you reach the tippy-top, you’ll find a photo-worthy, vast view over the Hudson River and the surrounding area. 

It’s just the burst of greenery that you need after spending a while in the concrete jungle. 

Giant Ledge and Panther Mountain Trail

An intense Hudson Valley Hike with five different ledges for beautiful pictures. 

Overlooking view near a cliff in Giant Ledge

🥾 Difficult | 6.3 miles | Google Maps | 2.5 hours from NYC | Cost: Free entrance

The Giant Ledge/Panther Mountain trail is one of the more strenuous hikes on the top 15. It’s known for its five different ledges that make for a perfect photo of accomplishment after a long hike. 

While it might put your body and perseverance to the test, it’s possible to accomplish the feat in just a day if you have the necessary skills and gear. The hike is extremely steep and can be an ankle-killer if you’re unprepared. 

👉 My Favorite Gear: Taking on an intense hike like the Giant Ledge requires some top-notch footwear. Such as this pair of Columbia Newton Ridge Plus Hiking Shoe for women or these Merrell Moab 2 Mid Waterproof Hiking Boots for men. 

Breakneck Ridge

A well-known short but steep trail In the Hudson Highlands State Park with rock climbing spots.

Overlooking view from the Breakneck Ridge during fall season
Views over Cold Spring From Breakneck Ridge in the fall

🥾 Difficult | 3.2 miles | Google Maps | Park Website | 1.5 hours from NYC | Cost: $10-$15 for entrance

Breakneck Ridge is a very well-known and heavily-traversed trail in New York. Don’t let its popularity fool you, though. This is absolutely a difficult hike with a few rock scrambles up boulders. But it’s totally doable for hikers with a bit of experience. 

The area is also popular with rock climbers because of its many climbing spots. 

👉 Read Next: Best Hiking Trails on Long Island

FAQs About Hiking in New York

Does New York have hiking trails?

Yes, New York has an abundance of trails to hike on. There are 700 hiking trails across New York state, according to the NYS Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation. New York’s hiking trails range greatly in difficulty. 

What is the hardest hike in NY?

Devil’s Path in the Catskill Mountains is the hardest hike in New York. The route is over 24 miles long and includes a variety of challenging, varied terrain. The trail takes hikers up six mountains as they ascend 7,800 feet in elevation. 

Are there mountains near New York City?

Yes, there are mountains fairly close to New York City. The Catskill Mountains, the Adirondack Mountains, Bear Mountain State Park, and Storm King State Park are all close to New York City. Bear Mountain is the closest, only a little over an hour away from NYC. 

👉 Read Next: Best Travel Destinations to Visit in New York


Thanks for reading my guide to the best hikes in New York! For more adventure near NYC, check out our list of the best day trips from New York City.

Happy trails!

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