New York | March 22, 2018 9:00 am

Field Magazine’s Guide to the 5 Best Hiking Trails Near NYC

Spring is officially here. Start planning for it.

By The Editors

Despite the protestations of Mother Nature, spring allegedly started two days ago.

So let’s start planning for its actual arrival.

Enter Graham Hiemstra, Brooklyn-based writer, photographer and founding editor of sensational outdoor mag The Field.

The mission we assigned him: deliver us the five best spring hiking trails within reasonable driving distance of New York City.

From a surprise lake to waterfalls to something called the “Stairway to Heaven,” we’ve got a destination for every skill level, along with the gear to get you there.

What you’re packing

Filson Ballistic Nylon Daypack | $95 
Danner Enduroweave Mountain 600 Boots  | $160
Pilgrim Surf + Supply Wool Defender Crew Socks | $38
Sunski Treeline Sunglasses | $89
Rumpl Packable Down Puffy Blanket | $159
Coal Headwear Spackler Hat | $35
Outdoor Voices Hikers Club Crewneck | $60
And Wander x Dinex Travel Mug | $18


Image: Yaakov R

Surprise Lake
Abram S. Hewitt State Forest, NJ

What: Mellow there-and-back hike with steep segments but overall suited to folks of all skill levels. Some nice forested sections, some rocky zones, views, and all that.
Skill level: 2 out of 8
Reasons to go: Views of Surprise lake and Greenwood Lake, not too heavily trafficked and kid friendly.
Length: 3 miles
Distance from city: 43 miles


Image by Jackie G

Stairway to Heaven
Wawayanda State Park, NJ

What: A boardwalk through flatlands with suspension bridges, then a steep hike up a hill to some cool rock stairs (hence the name) with a heck of a view of surrounding N.J. farmland.
Skill level: 4 of 8 (or 1, if you just do the boardwalk)
Reasons to go: Views from Wawayanda Mountain, a waterfall, rock steps, a boardwalk, connects to Appalachian Trail (so you may meet some badass AT thru-hikers), local farms with fresh produce, you’ll forget you’re in N.J.
Length: 2.9 miles
Distance from City: 57 miles

Mohonk Mountain House
New Paltz, NY

What: Not exactly a hike as much a full weekend experience. This 1869 Victorian castle resort sits lakeside, surrounded by 40,000 acres of pristine forest, lakes and rolling hills waiting to be explored. It also has a spa and farm-to-table eats, so when you’re done exploring, treat yo’self. If you prefer a specific hike, there are tons on the property and in the surrounding Mohonk Nature Preserve, too.
Skill level: 2 of 8
Length: Varies
Reasons to go: That Victorian castle hotel, the spa, lake stuff, hiking and rock climbing.
Distance from city: 90 miles


Image: Alexandre Cassiani

Cascade Mountain
Lake Placid, NY

What: Steep but enjoyable hike up a mountain with sweeping 360-degree views of the Adirondacks and maybe even Canada from the top.
Skill level: 6 of 8
Reasons to go: Waterfalls at base, views, rock climbing, wildflowers. Also, it’s near Lake Placid.
Length: 5.6 miles
Distance from city: 290 miles

Lookout (2 images)

Images: Edourard Moret, Dan Pokriefka

Lyon Mountain Lookout
Chazy Highland State Forest, NY

What: Tough hike, but well worth it, as it ends at an old abandoned fire lookout at 3,830 feet, making it the highest point north of Saranac River. Offers beautiful birds-eye views of surrounding Adirondacks, as well Montreal on a clear day.
Skill level: 7 of 8
Points of interest: Fire lookout, views and wildflowers.
Length: 7.1 miles
Distance from city: 330 miles

Bonus: Storm King Art Center. Walk around, take in the art, enjoy a picnic and consider it a hike. You’re outside. That’s all the matters.  

For more from Graham, follow him on Instagram here, check out his general website here and snag a copy of Homecamp: Stories and Inspiration for the Modern Adventurer by Hardie Grant, featuring some of Hiemstra’s newest work.

Main image of Lyon Mountain Lookout by Melissa Litts