Visting the capital of New York and looking for some next-level awesome Albany hikes? If so then this ultra-rad local’s guide to 10 top Albany hiking trails is 110% for you.
Because while Albany may not be known for its impressive treks, it’s a metropolis in central New York that is positively surrounded by incredible mountains, exquisite waterfalls, and even better hiking opportunities (Yes, eat your heart out Catskills).
So, step away from the strip malls and all-you-can-eat breadsticks at Olive Garden and check out some of these hiking trails Albany has to offer instead.
Trust me, I’m a 30+ year local and can almost guarantee that these epic hikes near Albany NY will leave you rethinking how you feel about this often-overlooked city in New York.
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Table of Contents
Best Easy Albany Hikes
1. Albany County Helderberg-Hudson Rail Trail
The Albany County Helderberg-Hudson Rail Trail stretches for a healthy 9 miles along the old Delaware and Hudson Railroad. It’s an out-and-back trail but if you’re after a day hike then you can hop on a bus at the finale in Voorheesville.
As with the Mohawk-Hudson Canalway Trail, this multi-purpose track is designed for walkers, runners, and cyclists. You’ll detect a real community vibe with this pick for one of the best hikes Albany has to offer since it’s a popular spot among local residents.
Flat, gentle, and fully paved, the rail trail is accessible and suitable for all fitness abilities. There are also dozens of picnic spots along the way. So, you might want to refer to the trail map to plot out your snack breaks and pack a nice picnic lunch.
This is also one of those Albany hiking trails that offers great views of the Normans Kill River before passing through serene wooded areas. Also, expect tons of wildflowers throughout the summer season and frosty yet atmospheric conditions come winter.
Now, the trailhead is located at the junction of New York State Route 32 with Old South Pearl Street – just next to the Port of Albany.
Distance: 18.0 miles
Route: Out and Back
Elevation Gain: 515 feet
2. Pine Bush Preserve Loop
The Pine Bush Preserve Loop is an easy, 3.6-mile loop hike located in Colonie, just northwest of downtown Albany.
It’s actually one of several hikes available in the Albany Pine Bush Preserve. So, as you enjoy one of the best Albany hikes on this list, you’ll experience a rich assortment of landscapes including pine barrens, lakes, forests, ravines, and even sand dunes.
As a result, this incredible circular trek gives you a flavor of all-natural elements within the preserve in just under two hours.
This is also one of the best hikes near Albany NY that you should tackle any time from spring through fall so that you can experience the forest and flora at their best.
Therefore, it’s a great option for families with children. Plus, leashed dogs are welcome to join in on the adventure too. And while this is one of those Albany hiking trails that has a sense of the wilderness about it, it’s very clearly marked too.
So, find the trailhead and tons of parking spaces at the junction of New Karner Road and Washington Avenue Extension. Blazers are marked blue, then white, then red, then yellow, before red again and concluding on the same blue track that you started on.
Distance: 3.6 miles
Elevation Gain: 157 feet
3. Great Dune Yellow Trail and Red Trail
Do you know how I mentioned there are a couple of best Albany hikes on offer in the Pine Bush Preserve? Well, here’s your second option!
See, the Great Dune Yellow Trail and Red Trail (also known as Trail 8) is a 3.3-mile hike. And conditions on this Albany hiking trail are comparable to the loop route. So, another round of utterly gorgeous and diverse scenery awaits.
So, if you want to try one of the best hikes near Albany NY for yourself, just access the trailhead at the end of Willow Street. You will start by following the red blazers, jump to blue, then to yellow, and then back to red to wrap things up.
Before tackling either of these hikes near Albany NY it’s not a bad idea to swing by the Discovery Center too. After all, the visitor’s center features exhibits all about the local environment and handy tips and tricks.
Distance: 3.3 miles
Elevation Gain: 164 feet
4. Bauer Environmental Park Loop
Bauer Park is a small yet scenic patch of woodlands in Colonie, just near the airport and the Pine Bush Preserve.
So, it should come as no surprise that the Bauer Environmental Park Loop itself is one of the best Albany hikes that is a short, sweet stroll through the heart of the forest – with a total length of just under a mile.
Just leave your car near the trailhead on Sand Creek Road and prepare to enjoy one of the best Albany hiking trails of them all.
And while it takes less than half an hour to complete the Environmental Park Loop, it’s the perfect spot to clear your head and get a great big gulp of fresh air.
Plus, take it slowly and you’ll stand more of a chance of spotting resident birds like woodpeckers. It’s also super pretty in the spring and summer – although fall is the best time to hike if you want to ogle the leaf colors.
So, stop by and enjoy a lovely sequence of extremely accessible boardwalks. Just take extra care if you plan to hike when it’s exceptionally humid or icy.
Distance: 0.9 miles
Elevation Gain: 9 feet
5. Hannacroix Ravine
The Hannacroix Ravine is a fairytale woodland located 15 miles southwest of downtown Albany. It’s populated with 100-year-old hemlock trees as well as beech, yellow birch, basswood, red oak, sugar maple, and red pine.
In particular, the Spring season sees a wealth of wildflowers light up the forest floor and bloom to life along the best Albany hikes around.
Plus, with a total mass of 415 acres, Hannacroix Ravine takes you away from the hustle and bustle of the city.
So, if you can only tackle one of the hikes near Albany NY at Hannacroix Ravine, let it be the Orange Trail. This 2.5-mile loop winds its way past the creek and gets you up and close and personal with all the trees.
Also expect a couple of uphill bursts and budge between 1.5 and 2 hours to complete one of the best Albany hiking trails.
You’ll also see the crown jewel of the reserve – the Slide Rock Falls. This waterfall crashes down the boulders and provides a great basin for a little dip.
The trail is also well-marked and easy to follow but it’s pretty wild and rugged. Definitely consider wearing hiking boots if you have some. They’re essential after rainfall but will come in handy even during dry spells.
Parking is also available on Cass Hill Road, just near the junction with Duck Hill Road. But, it’s extremely limited. So, be sure to arrive early and be mindful that the weekends are often much busier.
Distance: 2.5 miles
Elevation Gain: 278 feet
6. Stevens Farm Trail
The 1.7-mile Stevens Farm Trail is a picturesque route that follows the course of Normans Kill River and passes through organic farmland.
It’s a mere 3 miles southwest of downtown and, taking around 45 minutes to complete, is an awesome way to start your day on one of the best Albany hikes of them all.
Leashed dogs are also welcome on the trail and can even run free within the designated dog park near the river bend.
Just don’t forget to pack your swimsuit since this is one of the best Albany hiking trails that features a couple of riversdie swimming spots where you can cool down in the summer.
Plus, the trail tends to quiet down after the dog park and you can continue along the loop back to the starting point. Or, treat it as an out and back and walk back along the riverbed.
So, try one of the best hikes hike near Albany NY for yourself and access the trailhead on Mill Road near the Old Delaware Turnpike Bridge where you’ll find a parking area too.
Distance: 1.7 miles
Elevation Gain: 114 feet
7. Beaver Tree Trail
Start your day with a quickie on this 0.5-mile loop through the Five Rivers Environmental Education Center.
These wetlands and woodlands occupy around 450 acres of land that sits just 8 miles southwest of the city and is home to some of the best Albany hikes around.
In fact, the Beaver Tree Trail hugs the banks of the marsh and provides the opportunity to spot birds that dwell in this tranquil oasis. However, technically, it will only take around 20 minutes to complete one of the best hikes near Albany NY .
But, if you approach it slowly then you have a better chance of spotting the creatures that live here. Look out for turtles! It’s also a fabulous spot for photography and popular with younger kids exploring some of the best Albany hiking trails.
And if you’ve got more time on your hands then you can spend the rest of the morning exploring the other hiking trails within the Five Rivers complex.
Distance: 0.6 miles
Elevation Gain: 49 feet
8. Tivoli Nature Preserve
Tivoli Nature Preserve is a chilled urban park 1.5 miles north of downtown Albany. It’s strewn with wildflowers and is home to deer and other wildlife species too. There’s also an urban farm that runs volunteering and community initiatives.
While you’re here, try the 2.3-mile loop that takes you around the park in its entirety and lets you take in a full panorama of the variety of trees and plants that surround the central lake.
It’s easy to follow and paved but you can get as creative as you like without worrying about getting lost on one of the best Albany hikes.
After all, the Tivoli Lake Preserve is a joy to visit year-round with each season bringing a new perspective to the scenery.
You’ll even find an abundance of parking lots on Central Avenue as well as restaurants for a post-adventure treat.
Distance: 2.3 miles
Elevation Gain: 157 feet
9. Fox Preserve Loop
As we near the and of this guide to hikes near Albany NY, let’s addwith another short and simple trail that is a must for birdwatchers to this list.
Because the Fox Preserve consists of 70 acres of protected land about 15 miles northwest of downtown Albany, just off River Road. Although located on the shore of the Mohawk River, the Fox Preserve Loop takes you along Shaker Creek.
Centuries-old oak trees provide a sanctuary for migratory birds like the Baltimore oriole while the meadows are the realm of Eastern Bluebirds – the state bird of New York.
If you visit earlier in the morning you’ll likely to have the preserve all to yourself but the birds may be more active toward midday.
The Fox Preserve Loop also clocks in at 0.9 miles and takes an hour to complete.
While the trail is easy to follow, it’s prone to mud and you’ll appreciate bug spray to keep the critters at bay.
Distance: 0.9 miles
Elevation Gain: 78 feet
Best Moderate Albany Hikes
10. Mohawk-Hudson Canalway Trail
The Mohawk-Hudson Canalway Trail is a 36-mile path shared between walkers and cyclists. It connects Albany with Schenectady by following the course of the Hudson and Mohawk rivers.
Now, truth be told, 36 miles is a mile too many for doing one of the best Albany hikes here as a day hike. That’s why you can break this trail down into as many miles as you like.
In fact, the entire trail is paved and super flat – with a couple of subtle hills here and there to keep things interesting. This makes it a nice, easy hike for families with young children, dog-walkers, and anyone seeking a little exercise on some top Albany hiking trails.
It’s also a delight year-round but brace yourself for crowds on weekends and throughout the summer.
So, to enjoy this incredible hike for yourself, you’ll find the official trailhead in Riverfront Park in Rensselaer which in itself offers lovely views of the water.
The route then heads north through the Riverfront Preserve towards Green Island where you’ll soon meet the Mohawk River. Some sections are off-road while others are on-road.
Pro Tip: Carrying a PDF or print copy of the official trail map will come in handy to help you find your way. This is also one of the best hikes near Albany NY that offers a mix of urban and rural landscapes – complete with tons of wildlife-spotting opportunities.
Distance: 36.7 miles
Difficulty: Moderate (because of the length)
Route: Point to Point
Elevation Gain: 1,062 feet