If you’re not up for a full day or even a weekend trip to the woods, there are plenty of places near New York City that offer hikes less than an hour’s drive away. Please note that these hikes can be difficult or dangerous so do your homework before heading out.
Bear Mountain is among the most famous spots in Rockland County for hiking with great views of the Hudson River and surrounding areas. The trails here range from simple to advanced, although most people stick with moderate routes like Purple Trail Loop. There are many trails at Bear Mountain, but red markers indicate the easiest. The main attraction is the scenic Overlook Loop. It is the most popular day hike in New York and has terrific views and a huge visitor center and restaurant (but no food for sale in the park). Two weeks in advance, you can make reservations for a night in their lodge where many celebrities like Bill Clinton have stayed.
Harriman State Park
Harriman State Park also offers great views of the Hudson River and surrounding areas, but with more rocky trails that might be harder to hike than Bear Mountain. Roaring Brook Falls Trail offers beautiful waterfalls with fewer crowds than others on this list. Another notable trail is Dial Rock/Alder Meadow Trails which has stunning views of the park and a beautiful forest. This hike has a few good streams for wading, but you can also cool off in a lake. I recommend going with a friend on any trails here as they are not well marked, and it is easy to get lost.
Breakneck Ridge is the only trail on this list that requires rock climbing equipment (if making the long trail), or else you will need to use your hands to climb rocks at times to complete the trail. The view from Breakneck ridge is one of the best in all of New York City, so if you’re up for something rugged, this 1 ½ hour short hike will be worth it. Make sure to carry plenty of water since there is none available.
Hunt Hill is a beautiful park in Newburgh with trails that vary from easy to difficult with panoramic scenes of the Hudson River and surrounding areas. A good beginner hike here would be Belvedere Castle Trail, but more experienced hikers should head back on the Orange Trail. This spot also has a nice picnic area where you can eat after your hike. There are many great historic spots nearby for those interested in history and fishing at nearby lakes or boating at nearby marinas.
High Tor State Park
High Tor State Park is a quick and easy hike that anyone can do if you’re in the mood for a leisurely but rewarding stroll. It’s also a great place to take your dog on a walk! The trail has some steep sections, and there is little shade, so I recommend going early or later in the day when it will be cooler. On this trail, you will get views of New York City and Bear Mountain Bridge, which was featured prominently in “Annie Hall” (1977) starring Diane Keaton and Woody Allen.