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Where to Hike Trails in the New York Metro Area

Where to Hike Trails in the New York Metro Area

These trails and nature preserves will provide the whole family with exercise and a much-needed breath of fresh air!


The New York metro area is chock full of the best family hikes, so if you’re itching to get out of NYC for some fresh air and to find perfect places to hike with kids, we’ve got you covered. Keep reading to find out about naturally beautiful locations that come with different perks, such as educational nature programming, stroller and handicap accessible options, or an added perk of being close to a beach. Don’t forget your sunscreen, bug spray, and get ready for some awesome family photo ops!

5 Best Family Hikes in New York

Please note: We try to be as accurate as possible, but due to the coronavirus pandemic please check each location’s website to verify operating hours and amenities. 

1. Bear Mountain State Park

Route 9W North, Bear Mountain, Rockland and Orange counties

Distance from NYC: Approximately a 1-hour drive or a 1½ -hour train ride via Metro-North to Peekskill

Both a car- and train-friendly trip from the city (44 miles from NYC), Bear Mountain is an ideal family day trip if you’re looking for the best family hikes, including hiking trails for kids. Enjoy the views of beautiful Hessian Lake, which has a paved path around it. This makes for a perfect option if you want an easy and pleasant walk that’s stroller-friendly, and also an easy way for your toddler to explore nature without difficult to navigate trails. The lakeside walk is partially amongst the trees, so you can still enjoy a peaceful “woodsy” experience without having to worry about tree roots tripping your toddlers. There are also 14 true hiking trails on the mountain, and open fields to kick around a ball and have a picnic. While the 1,300-foot hike to the peak of the mountain is ambitious—and arduous—with young children (you ascend 1,000 feet in less than a mile when you start the trail), it’s a fantastic family hike for tweens and older. You’ll be rewarded at the top with breathtaking views of the Hudson Valley. If you’d like to share this view with younger children without the tiring hike, you can drive to the Perkins Memorial Tower at the peak of the mountain April through December and learn about the history of the park and surrounding area through detailed tile mosaics. From the windows, you’ll have incredible panoramic views of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania—and on a clear day watch the Hudson river lead to the Manhattan Skyline. Aside from a beautiful place to hike with kids, Bear Mountain State Park also boasts the Trailside Museum and Zoo, an antique merry-go-round, and a boat rental dock on the lake.

See: More Family Hikes in Rockland County

2. Earthplace

10 Woodside Lane, Westport, CT

Distance from NYC: Approximately a 1- to 1½-hour drive

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Earthplace (@earthplacect)

Earthplace is one of the best places to hike with kids near NYC, not only for the pretty trails found within, but also because of its ongoing nature events and programming, even during the pandemic (check out the website for the latest updates). It’s approximately 50 miles from Midtown Manhattan and is a 62-acre nature and wildlife sanctuary with nature exhibits and programming, plus more than 50 animal ambassadors. Its mission is to “blend science, conservation, and education into pathways for learning about nature and the environment.” As you explore the grounds and hike on the nearly 2 miles of trails, you’ll encounter fields, forests, ponds, a stream, and a playground making it one of the best family hikes that allow for both fun and teachable moments with your children. There are various trails for hiking with your kids depending on your needs. For example, the Meadow Grass Trail is a flat, easy walk and is fully accessible for strollers, wheelchairs, and walkers. The Swamp Loop trail is about 30 minutes and a lovely way for you to show your children wildflowers, a swamp, a pond, and woodlands. The other four trails are about 20 minutes each, perfect for a short stroll or add them all up to make for a nice afternoon event. Admission to the nature center is currently free as the majority of the building is currently closed, and the grounds are open dawn to dusk, year round, at no cost. An added bonus—and why this is one of the best places to hike with kids in Fairfield County, CT—is that Westport is also a beach town, so after your hike you can lounge by the beach for a few hours or do some amazing shopping in the town center.

See: More Family Hikes in Fairfield, CT

3. Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge

Morris County, NJ

Distance from NYC: Approximately a 50-minute drive

This lovely gem, only 26 miles west of New York City’s Times Square, is a “12-square-mile natural oasis,” and is registered as a National Natural Landmark. This is one of the best places to hike with kids because of the countless boardwalk covered hiking trails spanning nearly 8,000 acres of swamp, perfect for strollers or those who need handicap accessibility. Your children will love spotting wildlife, flowers in the spring, and beautiful fall foliage in the autumn. The Wildlife Refuge has wonderful family programs, frequent guided walks, and you can visit a couple of different nature and visitor centers since the refuge spans a few towns in Morris County. If you’re visiting for the first time, the website suggests starting at Helen C Fenske Visitor Center in Harding, NJ to learn about the various trail options, learn the history of the refuge, and find out where the wildlife hotspot of the day is. A great spot for kids is the Great Swamp Outdoor Nature Center, located in Chatham, NJ, which has trails leading to a pond and a model wigwam that educates children on the life of the native Lenape tribes. If you’re a family with younger children, you may want to start off at the Wildlife Observation Center. There are a few trails but there is an easy boardwalk loop, about a mile long, which is great for those slow little ones who like to pause frequently to take in their surroundings and climb on the benches along the way. Your family will enjoy the various environments you come across while walking over some bridges and seeing the marshy and water segments. Whichever trails you decide to undertake, you can expect some great bird-watching, myriad tree and plant species, and if your family is lucky, some deer, foxes, and perhaps some frogs or turtles.

 

4. Blydenburgh County Park

Veteran's Memorial Highway, Smithtown, Long Island

Distance from NYC: Approximately a 1-hour, 45-minute drive or a 1-hour, 15-minute train ride via LIRR to Central Islip

A beautiful forested park which makes for a fantastic family spot to go hiking with kids can be found about an hour drive from Manhattan into Long Island. Blydenburgh County Park has numerous trails and also boasts kids activities such as row boating on the pond, a playground, and a dog park if you want to bring your furry friend. One of the best options for hiking with kids in this lush location is the 6 mile walk around New Mill Pond; an easy and flat trail perfect for seeing the usual suspects like swans, ducks, geese and other waterfowl. The winding trails tend to be narrow and since they are natural can be muddy at times, so plan ahead for that (read: don’t have your kiddies wearing new shoes!). An additional activity is visiting the nearby Deep Hollow Ranch which provides horseback riding through the park.

See: More Family Hikes on Long Island

5. Rockefeller State Park Preserve

125 Phelps Way, Pleasantville, Westchester County

Distance from NYC: Approximately a 1-hour drive or a 45-minute train ride via Metro-North to Tarrytown

This is a popular and beautiful family spot for hiking with kids, donated by the Rockefeller family for use as a public park in 1983. It’s more than 1,7770 acres! Only 34 miles north of NYC, the preserve provides family fun year-round, with 45 miles of hiking, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing trails. There are numerous trails with varying degrees of length and difficulty, making it the perfect place to return for hiking with the kids each year. Many trails are in the shade, keeping it cool and pleasant for summer hikes. For a short walk with the younger set, there is an easy-terrain trail called Brother’s Path around Swan Lake (1.1 miles). Your children will also get a kick out of 13 Bridges Loop Trail, a 1.9-mile smooth hike that leads to 13 bridges over the pretty Gory Brook. Enjoy the Overlooks Trail, a modest 0.7-mile hike, to enjoy views of the lake. Some fun facts about the park include that the trails are made from crushed stones since they were once carriage roads laid by the Rockefellers. The grounds also hold the Rockefeller Art Gallery which frequently has new exhibits. And, the scenic park is designated by the National Audubon Society as an important Bird Area with more than 200 recorded species of birds, so get ready to become an amateur ornithologist with your children! This will make for great memories as the best family hike ever. You’ll also find various other animals wandering around, including Monarch Butterflies who stop in the preserve as part of their southward migration during the fall. At the preserve’s office you can obtain a map and other important area information.

See: More Family Hikes in Westchester

More Great Places to Hike with Kids in NY

NYC

Greenbelt

700 Rockland Ave., Staten Island
718-351-3450
Various trails of varying difficulty that are all great for families

Rockland County

Blauvelt State Park

Highland Avenue, Greenbush Road, Blauvelt
(845) 359-0544
Features 590 acres of undeveloped park land 

 

Dater Mountain Nature Park

County parks (except for Flat Rock Park and Hillburn) are open for walking, hiking, and use of grassy areas with groups of 10 or less. Fishing piers, dog runs, and boats are open. Playgrounds, pavilions, restrooms remain closed. 
Johnsontown Road, Sloatsburg
(845) 364-2670
The highest elevation offers a view of the Village of Tuxedo, The New York State Thruway, and Orange County.

Hook Mountain State Park

Upper Nyack
(845) 268-3020
A bike path runs from Haverstraw Beach State Park to Nyack Beach State Park.

 

Nyack Beach State Park

Parking in some lots is restricted.
698 N. Broadway, Upper Nyack
(845) 358-1316
Features 61 acres of waterfront along the Hudson River

Tallman Mountain State Park

Route 9W, Palisades
(845) 359-0544
Picnic areas are open, but with a reduced number of tables. All park restrooms are closed. Picnic blankets are allowed, but please keep at least 10 feet away from other picnickers.

Pine Swamp Mine/Loop

(Also in Orange County) Harriman State Park, Ramapo
This 2.8-mile trail is a moderate hike that has scenic views of nearby Bear Mountain.  

RELATED: Get Family-Friendly Activities Sent to You

Orange County

Storm King 

1 Museum Road, New Windsor 
info@stormkingartcenter.org  
One of the largest outdoor museums in the country, Storm King features beautiful, gigantic art exhibits that complements the region’s natural beauty. 

The Black Rock Forest 

65 Reservoir Road, Cornwall 
(845) 534-4517
Along with being used for studying nature, the 3,914-acre forest features great trails for hiking, observing nature, and witnessing a historic site in action. 

Westchester County

Choate Sanctuary

Crow Hill Road, Mount Kisco
(914) 666-6503
Trails are open dawn to dusk.

Croton Gorge Park

35 Yorktown Road, Croton-on-Hudson
(914) 827-9568
Visitors are able to hike across a large waterfall. Park closed on Saturdays and Sundays in conjunction with the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation. Parking lots may close intermittently on high-volume days. Playground and grilling areas closed until further notice, bathrooms are open.    

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Parks Project (@parksproject)

Ward Pound Ridge Reservation

Route 121, Cross River
(914) 864-7317
Lean-to and tent camping rentals available beginning Saturday, June 27. Limited availability due to social distancing protocols, and continuing construction of Lean-to areas. Trailside Nature Museum, park pass office, and grills unavailable until further notice.

Westmoreland Sanctuary

260 Chestnut Ridge Road, Mount Kisco
(914) 666-8448
Trail system and parking lot are open, while museums are still closed until further notice.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Westmoreland Sanctuary (@westmorelandsanc)



Anthony’s Nose 

171-143 Bear Mountain Beacon-Highway, Garrison
Facebook
Alternative Address - Intersection of Route 9D and Route 202
This iconic trail emulates a giant staircase as you hike up towards Anthony’s Nose lookout.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Anthony's Nose (@anthonys_nose)

Columbia County

Greenport Conservation Area 

319 Joshen Boulevard, Greenport 
(518) 392-5252 (Columbia Land Conservancy Phone Number)
This a 736-acre site with about 7-miles worth of easy-to-moderately difficult trails. The area has great views of the Hudson River and Catskills. 

Olana State Historic Site 

5720 State Route 9G, Hudson 
(518) 828-1872
The 250-acre landscape of the park that provides amazing views along with tours of the historic Frederic Church. 

Ulster County

Black Creek Forest Preserve 

Winding Brook Road, Esopus
(845) 473-4440 (for Scenic Hudson)
This is a family-friendly, fun hike that features a suspension bridge and an up close look at the Hudson River shoreline. Dog friendly! 

 

 Dutchess County

Hudson River at Staatsburgh Mills Mansion Park

75 Mills Mansion Drive Number 1, Staatsburg
(845) 889-8851 
The site is home to an iconic house from America’s Gilded Age. Now, the site is great for tours of the Staatsburgh Mansion and also hiking along the Hudson River.

Pawling Nature Reserve 

20-66 Quaker Lake Road, Pawling 
(518) 690-7878 (New York State Conservancy phone number) 
The park features an assortment of nature communities, Hammersley Ridge, and great views of the Great Swamp and Harlem Valley 

Poet’s Walk Romantic Landscape Park

776 River Road, Red Hook
(845) 473-4440 (Scenic Hudson number) 
Named after poets like Washington Irving who walked the same paths, the 120-acre scenic park features a wide variety of inspirational scenic views. 

 

Hiking Trails on Long Island

Bayard Cutting Arboretum State Park 

440 Montauk Highway, Great River
(631) 581-1002 
Manor house and hidden oak cafe closed until further notice. The arboretum grounds are open during regular hours.

Caleb Smith State Park Preserve

581 W. Jericho Turnpike, Smithtown
(631) 265-1054
Hiking trails are open, and the nature museum is closed until further notice.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by tierney bricker (@tbrick2)

Caumsett Historic State Park

25 Lloyd Harbor Road, Lloyd Harbor
(631) 423-1770
$8 parking fee from 8am-4pm daily. Grounds are open from sunrise to sunset daily. Parks are closed intermittently on busy days to maintain social distancing.
 

Connetquot River State Park Preserve

Sunrise Highway/Route 27, Oakdale
(631) 581-1005
The park and all of the trails are still open, buildings are closed except for the bathrooms.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by ?NICOLE? (@nicsreallifeinpix)

Heckscher State Park

Heckscher Parkway, East Islip
(631) 581-2100
Park open daily from 7am to sunset.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by @igworldclub_sunset

Indian Island County Park-Riverhead

Cross River Drive, Route 105, Riverhead
(631) 852-3232
The park and trails are open. Camping by reservation only, and tents are now allowed

Nissequogue State Park

799 Saint Johnland Road, Kings Park
(631) 269-4927
Hiking trails all open.  
 

Fairfield County, CT

Audubon Center of Greenwich

613 Riversville Road, Greenwich
(203) 869-5272
Center buildings and facilities closed until further notice. Center and other sanctuary trails are open on a limited basis Monday-Fri 9am-5pm.

Bartlett Arboretum

151 Brookdale Road, Stamford
(203) 322-6971
Grounds and trails open from dawn to dusk everyday. Plant clinic open 9am-3:30pm may-mid September.

Indian Well State Park

Howe Avenue, Shelton
(203) 924-5907
Trails are open, but there is no swimming or grilling

 

Safe Hiking Tips for the Family

"Hiking shows kids that exercise can be fun and that the wilderness can be more exciting than video games," says Kevin Rosenberg, founder of the formally Brooklyn-based Gear to Go Outfitters, a full service outfitter that offers backpacking, hiking, camping, and other gear, including apparel and footwear, for sale or rent. 

Parents should double-check all of their equipment and make sure everyone is dressed properly. During the fall, children may need to dress in layers while still wearing a hat and sunscreen to protect themselves from burns.

Parents should bring a small first-aid kit in their backpacks with bandages, antibiotic cream, insect repellant, and any prescription medicines their children may need—like EpiPens or inhalers—because first aid may not be readily available on the trail.

Families must be careful to go at a pace that's comfortable for everyone. You should also plan to make a trek that isn't too long for the least experienced member of your group. When choosing a path, pick a clearly marked trail and avoid getting separated from your children. Rosenberg suggests parents use a lanyard or accessory cord to attach a whistle to their child's belt. Once they've attached the whistle, instruct children to blow their whistles several times if they're ever in a dangerous situation or get lost.

Once families take the proper precautions, they can find a great hiking experience without journeying too far. The Catskills and Hudson Valley have magnificent hikes for children, says Rosenberg. And you can turn your hiking outing into an overnight or weekend camping trip if you're up for a little outdoor adventure.



Here at NYMetroParents, we've got everything you need to have a safefun, and festive fall and Halloween season.  Whether it is pumpkin or apple picking, getting lost in a corn maze, making Halloween crafts or finding costumes and decorations, we're here to help. 

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