The New York air is hinting of spring, making it nearly impossible to stay inside. Why would we, when nature is just starting to bloom? As the weather takes a balmier turn, set aside a morning, afternoon or weekend to enjoy one of New York’s breathtaking hikes. Any amount of time spent on these trails solo, with your honey, friends or four-legged family member will certainly put you in a “Strong” State of Mind. In fact, there are few activities more empowering, or better for you, than hiking a mountain through budding trees and new plant life. While there are many places to trek in New York State, here are five of my favorites. All are a day trip from NYC, as well as Albany, Schenectady, Port Washington, and other New York State starting points. We recommend spending as much time basking in the sun this month as you can. And don't forget your Jay Teske Leather Co. hiker's bell!
Mount Beacon is one of the most popular hikes in the Hudson Valley, and fittingly so. If brickfaced, decaying railway ruins, steep rocky bits to scale, and sweeping views of the entire region are what you’re after, head for the artists’ town of Beacon. Stop by the many galleries, shops and eateries along Main Street, too. Hiking Mount Beacon, whether it be the shortest route of two-and-a-half miles or the expert level of an almost eight mile loop, offers a variety of beauty in which to lose yourself.
Photograph of Mount Beacon from Instagram provided by @breezyhiker
Kaaterskill Falls leads not to a peak but a two-tier waterfall, an equally spectacular sight. The trail is short in distance, but steep. Some parts even include a set of stairs built into the earth for you to climb. The loop is about two miles, so depending on how long you spend marveling at the falls, Kaaterskill could be a morning or afternoon hike, with time left to explore the surrounding Catskills towns. The falls are the tallest in New York State, making Kaaterskill one of the most popular hikes in the area, especially when the weather starts to break. While you may not be the only person on the trail, you’ll be in good company. Since the 19th century, writers, poets, and painters have flocked to Kaaterskill Falls, finding endless inspiration in the scenery.
Storm King Mountain enjoys one of the more majestic names ever and the experience lives up to it. This is a picturesque and accessible hike that offers plenty of views along its two-and-a-half mile loop. You might be tempted to pause and admire each sight as you climb higher, but don’t stop. Every few minutes you’ll get an even better one.
Photograph of Storm King Mountain from Instagram provided by @breezyhiker
Breakneck Ridge sits just across the river from Storm King in the Catskills. Breakneck Ridge is steep, rocky, and so much fun to climb. This loop is about four miles long, and on the more challenging side due to its elevation and slope. The views at the peak are well worth it. Feast your eyes on some of the prettiest Hudson Valley vistas you’ll find.
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Vroman’s Nose Trail is a remarkably pleasant hike in Schoharie County. The loop is about two miles, so if you’ve started early and been taking it slow (as you should in Schoharie), stopping at farm markets, or meandering down its country roads, and suddenly find yourself pressed for time, you can still enjoy the serenely wooded trail, admire the cliffside view, and climb back down with time for dinner. Don’t forget to stop at Under the Nose, a coffee shop and bakery just beyond the trailhead for a post-climb treat. Parallel to the more gentle Vroman’s Nose Trail is The Long Path, which spans three hundred fifty miles from the George Washington Bridge to the Adirondacks.
Of all that New York State has to offer, its spectacular hikes are sure to strengthen your mind, body and spirit. So stretch your legs to shake out the winter blues and start getting in shape while enjoying the adventure of a New York day hike.
If you have favorite hikes to share, please send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.