Active City Spotlight: Hiking in New York City

Bear Mountain State Park

When you think of New York City, "hiking Mecca" might not come to mind right away.

Much of the city is urbanized, and much of the city is flat and near sea level. So, yes, hiking in New York isn't as simple as, say, Boulder, Colorado.

But get outside of Times Square—and in many cases, outside of New York City altogether—and plenty of beautiful trails exist, showcasing views of New York's surrounding waterways, hills and wooded areas. From places to hike and stores to stock up at, here's a hiking guide if you're visiting New York City.

More: New to Hiking? Top 10 Must Haves

Places to Hike

In the city, the best hiking may be at the Staten Island Greenbelt, which has six different trails with varying difficulties and length. The blue trail is 12.3 miles long and ascends to the top of Todt Hill, the highest natural point in New York City at 410 feet above sea level (obviously, many buildings sky a lot higher).

For a more difficult hike, the yellow trail is 8 miles long and also ascends Todt Hill. In addition, it goes through the Reeds Basket Willow Swamp.

Other popular routes:

Due to the extremely urban nature of New York, many great hikes in the area force you to leave the city.


  • Bear Mountain State Park is on the west bank of the Hudson River, north of the city. It has 235 miles of trails, including a trek to the top of Bear Mountain. From up there, you can see the Manhattan skyline some 50 miles away.
  • Breakneck Ridge, about an hour north of Manhattan, is a difficult hike. It's only 5 miles but you'll work hard to get to the summit, which offers great views of the Hudson River.
  • The Old Corton Aqueduct trail follows the route from Tarrytown to Yonkers where an now-defunct aqueduct was built to provide water for city residents. The hike is an easy 9 miles and part of it is in a state park.
  • The closest national park isn't close. Shenandoah National Park in Virginia is about a six-hour drive.

More: What to Bring on a Hike

Stores to Check Out

Tents & Trails is a perfect location for an out-of-towner looking to get stocked up for an outdoors getaway away from the city. Much of the equipment is offered on a rental basis, though the knowledgable staff can help you find a variety of gear, shoes and clothing for purchase as well.

The store is located at 21 Park Place in lower Manhattan, just two blocks from the Freedom Tower.

Other outdoors stores include:

  • Paragon Sports (867 Broadway)
  • REI (303 Lafeyette Street)

One Last Tip

One of the most famous hiking trails in the United States is the Appalachian Trail, which spans from Georgia to Maine. The 2,200-mile trail crosses the Hudson River about 40 miles north of Manhattan before making its way toward Connecticut. For hiking junkies, trekking at least a portion of the Appalachian Trail is a bucket-list experience.

More: 4 Secrets for Ultralight Backpacking

RAFind a Campground at or a hike in New York City.

About the Author

Ryan Wood

Ryan Wood is an editor for He enjoys a good ride and loves participating in endurance events throughout the year. Follow him on Google+.
Ryan Wood is an editor for He enjoys a good ride and loves participating in endurance events throughout the year. Follow him on Google+.

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