New York's 20 Most Popular State Park Hiking Trails

Breakneck Ridge Trail
Breakneck Ridge Trail

New York, known for its iconic cityscape, is also home to diverse landscapes and hiking trails. While the Big Apple draws crowds, there's a wealth of natural wonders outside the city. Join us as we traverse through New York's 20 most popular hiking trails, where lush forests, majestic mountains, and cascading waterfalls await the avid adventurer.

1. Breakneck Ridge Trail

Just a short trip from New York City, Breakneck Ridge Trail offers a thrilling ascent with panoramic views of the Hudson River. This challenging trail rewards hikers with a sense of accomplishment and stunning vistas that showcase the state's diverse terrain.

2. Kaaterskill Falls Trail

Nestled in the Catskill Mountains, the Kaaterskill Falls Trail is a journey to one of the highest waterfalls in New York. Hikers navigate through lush forests and rocky terrain, culminating in the breathtaking sight of the cascading Kaaterskill Falls, surrounded by verdant landscapes.

3. Bear Mountain Loop

A classic hike in the Hudson Valley, the Bear Mountain Loop provides a diverse experience. Hikers encounter scenic overlooks, cross the historic Bear Mountain Bridge, and summit the iconic Bear Mountain, offering sweeping views of the Hudson River and surrounding peaks.

4. Devil's Path

For seasoned hikers seeking a challenge, Devil's Path in the Catskills is notorious. This rugged trail traverses several peaks, including Indian Head and Westkill Mountain, presenting relentless ascents and descents amidst dense forests and rocky summits.

5. Watkins Glen State Park - Gorge Trail

Watkins Glen State Park offers a unique hiking experience through its Gorge Trail. Hikers meander through a breathtaking glen, passing by 19 waterfalls, moss-covered rock walls, and enchanting pools, creating a fairytale-like atmosphere.

6. Letchworth State Park - Gorge Trail

Known as the "Grand Canyon of the East," Letchworth State Park's Gorge Trail winds along the Genesee River, providing stunning views of waterfalls, cliffs, and lush greenery. This trail invites hikers to explore the park's diverse landscapes and geological wonders.

7. Adirondack High Peaks - Algonquin Peak Trail

For those seeking the pinnacle of the Adirondacks, Algonquin Peak Trail leads to the state's second-highest summit. Hikers navigate alpine terrain, passing pristine lakes and ascending to sweeping views from the summit, providing a true Adirondack adventure.

8. Indian Head and Fish Hawk Cliffs

Tucked away in the Adirondacks, the Indian Head and Fish Hawk Cliffs trail offers breathtaking views of Lower Ausable Lake and the surrounding peaks. Hikers are rewarded with stunning panoramas, making this a must for those seeking a picturesque Adirondack hike.

9. Minnewaska State Park Preserve - Gertrude's Nose Trail

A gem in the Hudson Valley, Gertrude's Nose Trail at Minnewaska State Park leads hikers along dramatic cliffs with views of the Shawangunk Ridge. The trail encircles a unique rock formation known as Gertrude's Nose, offering a memorable and picturesque hiking experience.

10. Whiteface Mountain Trail

The Whiteface Mountain Trail in the Adirondacks provides a challenging ascent to the fifth-highest peak in New York. Hikers navigate through alpine forests and rocky slopes, reaching the summit for breathtaking views of the surrounding high peaks and Lake Placid.

11. Catskill Mountains - Giant Ledge-Panther-Fox Hollow Trail

The Giant Ledge-Panther-Fox Hollow Trail in the Catskills offers a varied hiking experience. Hikers ascend Giant Ledge, traverse through lush forests, and reach Panther Mountain's summit, reveling in stunning vistas of the Catskill Mountains.

12. Harriman State Park - Pine Meadow and Ramapo-Dunderberg Trail Loop

The Pine Meadow and Ramapo-Dunderberg Trail Loop in Harriman State Park showcases diverse landscapes. Hikers explore serene meadows, dense woodlands, and ascend to panoramic viewpoints, immersing themselves in the natural beauty of the Hudson Valley.

13. Storm King State Park - Butter Hill-Stillman and North Point Loop

Nestled along the Hudson River, the Butter Hill-Stillman and North Point Loop in Storm King State Park present a moderate hike with extraordinary views. Hikers ascend Butter Hill and North Point, overlooking the river and Storm King Mountain.

14. Appalachian Trail - Cat Rocks

A section of the iconic Appalachian Trail, Cat Rocks provides hikers with stunning vistas of the Hudson Valley. This moderately challenging trail offers a taste of the Appalachian Trail experience, with rocky outcrops and beautiful views.

15. Sterling Forest State Park - Fire Tower Trail

Sterling Forest State Park's Fire Tower Trail leads hikers to an iconic fire tower with sweeping views of Sterling Lake and beyond. This family-friendly hike combines history and nature, making it an accessible adventure for all ages.

16. Buttermilk Falls State Park - Gorge and Rim Trails

The Gorge and Rim Trails in Buttermilk Falls State Park guide hikers through lush woodlands and along cascading waterfalls. This scenic hike allows visitors to explore the park's natural beauty, with opportunities for picnics and relaxation.

17. Palisades Interstate Park - Giant Stairs Trail

Overlooking the Hudson River, the Giant Stairs Trail in Palisades Interstate Park offers a unique hiking experience. Hikers navigate through a series of massive boulders, creating a natural staircase, while enjoying views of the river and New York City skyline.

18. Old Rag Mountain Trail

Venturing into the Shawangunk Mountains, the Old Rag Mountain Trail in the Hudson Valley provides a challenging hike with rock scrambles and a rewarding summit. Hikers are treated to panoramic views of the surrounding landscapes, making this a favorite among local adventurers.

19. Shawangunk Ridge - Bonticou Crag Trail

The Bonticou Crag Trail on Shawangunk Ridge offers a short yet exhilarating hike, featuring rock scrambles and a stunning panorama from the crag's summit. This unique geological formation and its breathtaking views attract hikers seeking a memorable experience.

20. Sam's Point Preserve - Ice Caves and Verkeerderkill Falls Trail

Sam's Point Preserve in the Shawangunk Mountains boasts the Ice Caves and Verkeerderkill Falls Trail. Hikers explore unique ice caves and witness the beauty of Verkeerderkill Falls, creating a captivating journey through this preserve's natural wonders.

New York's hiking trails outside the national parks unveil a tapestry of diverse landscapes, from the Hudson Valley to the Adirondacks. Whether you're seeking waterfalls, panoramic vistas, or challenging ascents, the Empire State offers a trail for every hiker. Lace up your boots, embrace the spirit of adventure, and discover the breathtaking beauty that makes New York a haven for outdoor enthusiasts.