Say what you will about New York’s summers (“What’s that smell?”) and winters (“When does it end?) — but autumn in and around the city is damn near perfect.
And you’d be well advised to take advantage.
Our recommendation: seven nearby hikes perfect for everything from foliage-gazing to waterfall-scaling to panoramic views that don’t require living in a penthouse.
Wyanokie High Point Loop – Norvin Green State Forest, NJ
8.6 miles; moderate to strenuous
What you’re stepping into: wind up, around and through the woods, passing by an old iron mine and natural pools. At the summit’s peak, enjoy 360-degree panoramic views of the Saddle, Assiniwikam and Buck Mountains, and — on a particularly crisp, clear day — the New York skyline.
State Line Trail/Ernest Walter Trail/A.T. Loop – Greenwood Lake Marina, NJ
4.1 miles; moderate to strenuous
A bit of a beast, but one of the most memorable in Jersey’s highlands. Beginning with a short steep climb of about 600 feet, the ups and downs traverse Bearfort Ridge before yielding to stunning views of Greenwood Lake, a trip through a rhododendron tunnel, and jaunts past Surprise Lake and West Pond.
Black Mountain Loop – Harriman State Park, NY
7.5 miles; moderate to strenuous
You’ll be besting an 800-vertical-foot climb, sure, but the best bit of Black Mountain is that you might be the only one there. One of the lesser used trails, it offers an unfettered fall journey and some of the best views overlooking the Hudson River.
Catskill Escarpment Loop – Catskill Park, NY
5.7 miles; easy to moderate
All the fantastic leaf-peeping you can shake a naked tree limb at. The Escarpment Loop trail takes you over Sunset Rock to Inspiration Point. Far-reaching views to the west and south allow for gazing over the Hudson River Valley, with the breathtaking Taconic Mountains beyond.
Long Path and Shawangunk Ridge Trail – Wurtsboro Ridge State Forest, NY
10 miles; strenuous
A one-way hike requiring two vehicles, the Long Path offers a great deal of ridge walking along the Shawangunk, with pines breaching through bedrock, stream crossings and outstanding, sweeping southern viewpoints.
Sam’s Point and Verkeerderkill Falls – Ulster, NY
8.4 miles; moderate to strenuous
You’ll be hiking through a delicately preserved area sprinkled with the Rare Dwarf Pitch Pine barren. Other points of interest include trotting through Ice Caves, passing by old blueberry picking shacks and, most notably, checking out the highest waterfall in the Shawangunks.
Blue Mountain Reservation – Ossining, NY
12 miles; easy to moderate
A day trip, you’ll begin with the Briancliff-Peekskill Trail (near an active shooting range, if you’re so inclined), adventuring through some of Westchester’s finest natural monuments, down valleys and over hills. The trail culminates at Peekskill, wherein a train awaits to take you back home after a quick stop off for a pint or two at Peekskill Brewery.
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