Hiking in New York: The Best Time of Year and Places to Go

Here's your complete guide to hiking in New York.

We don't have to be the ones to tell you that New York is an outdoorsman's dream despite the fact that it is known for the big city and the bright lights.

The Empire State is replete with stunning landscapes, high mountain peaks and more quality fishing lakes than you can throw a lure into.

If the mesmerizing Catskill Mountains aren't enough for your climbing tastes, you can always change gears and head to some of the most famous peaks and trails in the contiguous United States: the Adirondacks.

However, New York State features a wide array of breakneck ridges and gorge trails from the Hudson Valley to Lake Erie that offer some of the Lower 48's most scenic views.

The Appalachian Trail

The Appalachian Trail spans from Georgia to Maine, so it stands to reason that anyone hiking through New York could cross its amazing paths. If you're looking to hike a section of this iconic trail in New York, it spans over 90 miles through the state.

Watkins Glen State Park

There aren't many trail heads like the ones you will find in Watkins Glen State Park. This excellent park has been very upgraded in recent years due to the fact that it garners so many visitors.

Some of the trails in the park are simple enough for the whole family, pets included, but the hiking can get wet and slippery, making for a heart-pumping workout. Some parts of the trail lead you through a beautiful path of waterfalls and almost ancient stone steps made when the state was much younger, but the climax occurs at Cavern Cascade.

Verkeerder Kill Falls

This popular hike, located in the Shawangunk Mountains, is a moderate, well-paced, 7-mile hike that leads through some of the most magnificent sights the state has to offer, such as the impressive ice caves (which are closed until passable in the spring) that maintain their freezing temperatures most the year.

At over 185 feet tall, Verkeerder Kill Falls itself is an amazing sight that makes the entire hike worthwhile. But, it generally slows to a trickle by late summer.

Robert H. Treman State Park

hiking in new york

Craig Raleigh

Located near Watkins Glen, the Robert H. Treman State Park has numerous waterfalls along a what's nearly a 5-mile hiking excursion. The hiking trails follow Enfield Creek straight from the campgrounds, giving illustrious views of the rock formations in the deep, narrow gorge known as Enfield Glen.

This includes a lifeguard watched, natural swimming pool known as Lower Falls or Lucifer Falls, which is a 115-foot-tall, multi-tiered cascading waterfall, and a short hike from the western portion of the park.

Whiteface Mountain

At nearly 5,000 feet and former Olympic skiing venue, you might expect to be a very challenging climb. The truth is that the nearly 10-mile trail is quite moderate even for a low-level hiker. Once you reach the top, it'll treat you to an insanely beautiful and panoramic view of the state of Vermont and the Canadian landscape across the border.

The Ausable Chasm

Just the name of this famed area gives one the chills when considering a hike here, but the fact remains that Ausable Chasm, which is located on the Essex County and Clinton County borders along the Ausable River, claims to be one of the oldest natural attractions in the United States.

Called the Grand Canyon of the Adirondack Mountains, Ausable Chasm has been carved out of the 500-million-year-old Potsdam Sandstone for a millennia.

Seasonal Hiking in New York

Whether you're an avid hiker or you just want a break from the NYC hustle and bustle, there are some amazing views to be seen.

Late spring and summer months are the best time to get used to some of the rock scrambles that the state has to offer. Sure, this is when you'll need to be aware of biting flies, heat and exhaustion that comes with long walks on an incline. However, having this early experience is what will give you the legs you need to come back in the fall when it really counts.

New York's fall in the wilderness areas offers some of the most stunning leaf changes in the contiguous U.S. and features vistas that are unmatched. Be sure to get to the Adirondack Park early as the leaves change there the earliest, peaking in the last two weeks of September.

Some honorable mentions include Cascade Mountain, the fire towers of Bear Mountain State Park, Harriman State Park, Minnewaska State Park Preserve and Overlook Mountain near the fabled town of Woodstock.

Many hikers also frequent he Finger Lakes region, including the famous Letchworth State Park near the town of Castile, as well as the Niagra River gorge, where you can walk right along the water up to the Devil's Hole whirlpool.

What really matters is that you get up, get out and start your visit through the New York on your own two feet.

Remember to pack plenty of food and water and notify loved ones of where you'll be. 

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