My non-existent psychic powers are telling me that you’re desperately seeking some of the best hikes in New York state? Am I right?
Of course I am since the slightly unoriginal title of this post kind of gave it away. But, you know what? That’s totally okay since this great state is filled with awe-inspiring hiking trails that are just waiting to be explored.
So, if you’re in need of a list of the best hiking in New York, then look no further. After all, I’ve lived in this great state for well over 30 years and am an avid lover of the great outdoors.
Therefore, I’ve definitely tackled some of the best hiking trails in New York a number of times and want to share all my expert tips with you. After all, I’ve lived in the Adirondacks for years and am well-acquainted with many of the best hikes in upstate New York.
That’s why, if you’re planning an outdoor adventure of any kind, then this list of the best hikes in New York state will be perfect for you since it will make the entire trip planning process about 10,000 times easier (yes, that’s an exact number).
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Table of Contents
Best Hikes in New York State: The Adirondacks
1. Saranac Lake 6er
If you’re an expert hiker looking for a challenge then give the Saranac Lake 6er a try. It’s easily one of the best hikes in the Adirondacks that requires you to climb no less than SIX different peaks that surround beautiful, Saranac Lake.
And those mountains would be Baker Mountain (2,452 feet), St. Regis (2,874 feet), Scarface (3,054 feet), Ampersand (3,353 feet), Haystack (2,878 feet), and McKenzie (3,822 feet).
But wait, it gets better. Because if you can actually complete all of these insane hikes in a single day (aka twenty-four hours) then you’ll get the honor of ringing the prestigious 6er bell in the middle of town and a super cool 6er patch. =
And if you happen to ring this iconic bell without completing this arduous feat, well then the ominous Kiwassa Curse will befall you and make your life less than pleasant.
Pro Tip: If you don’t have time to do all six hikes then just stick with Baker Mountain. It’s a charming hike with stunning views from the top.
Location: Saranac Lake
Distance: 31 miles
Difficulty: Extremely Hard
2. Sleeping Beauty Mountain
This is one of the best hikes in New York state that sits along the eastern side of Lake George and that features a moderately difficult climb up Sleeping Beauty Mountain.
So, if you want to conquer one of the best hiking trails in New York state for yourself, then all you have to do is choose between a 6.4-mile loop trail (the trailhead is at the Hog Town parking lot) or a 4.8-mile loop trail (the trailhead is at Dacy Clearing parking lot).
Both routes are pretty awesome and have several switchbacks that prevent the trail from getting super steep. You’ll also pass beautiful woodlands, stunning lakes, and awe-inspiring mountains regardless of the route you choose.
Therefore, the trail you pick just depends on your vehicle and what kind of terrain it can handle. Because even though the hike from Dacy Clearing is shorter, you will have to drive over rough terrain to access the trailhead. And that’s something that most cars definitely can’t handle.
However, if you manage to get to this lot, you’ll enjoy a chill, 1.8-mile hike to a scenic overlook and then another 0.4 miles walk to the summit, where you’ll see Crane Mountain and Killington off in the distance.
Pro Tip: This is one of the best hiking trails in New York state that can be either an out and back hike or a loop hike. So, if you want to make it a loop hike, just descend down the switchbacks past Bumps Pond and enjoy different views while heading back to your car.
Location: Fort Anne (near Lake George)
Distance: Between 5 and 7 miles
3. Ausable Chasm
Think of the trek through Ausable Chasm as one of the best hikes in New York state that is kind of like a trip to Disney World.
Yes, there will be tons of people. Yes, this hike will be super easy. And yes, you will have a buffet of fun activities to choose from during your visit — things like tubing, white-water rafting, rock climbing, lantern tours, rappelling, and more.
So, although this is one of the best hikes in the Adirondacks that may be a total snooze fest for serious hikers, it’s still home to some of the best hiking in New York for families.
And that’s mainly because this is one of the best hiking trails in New York that is super accessible and features an array of short and easy trails that will bring you through Ausable Chasm and to iconic formations like Rainbow Falls (a 90-foot waterfall that is visible from the bridge outside the park), Elephant Head, and Hyde’s Cave.
However, because this park has been privately owned since 1870, you will have to pay a fee to get in – $17.95 for adults and $9.95 for kids aged 5 to 12.
But, it’s all good since it makes a great day trip from Lake Placid and is an activity that the entire family can enjoy, granny included!
Pro Tip: If you don’t want to pay to get it. You can always access some of the free hikes that depart from the parking lot. You can also get a great FREE view of Rainbow Falls from the main bridge that sits just outside the park and that takes you to the official park entrance.
Location: Adirondacks (near Keeseville)
Distance: 1.9 miles but 5 miles of trails in total.
4. Cascade Mountain and Porter Mountain
Guess what? The Adirondacks region is home to, count em’, 46 different peaks. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that some of the best hikes in New York state can be found here – like the hike up Cascade and Porter Mountains.
It’s also a fairly popular hike since it’s a heck of a lot easier than many of the other hikes in the area. Therefore, try and get here early to beat the crowds and to enjoy an epic sunrise from the summit.
So, if you would like to do this hike yourself, just follow route 73 to Keene and then drive onwards to the Cascade Mountain Trailhead.
Upon arrival, you’ll discover an exposed path with sections that include steep climbs and a few low-key rock scrambles. Eventually, you’ll pass a river and waterfall before being treated to mesmerizing views of the surrounding mountains from the summit.
Just be forewarned that while this is one of the easier hikes in the Adirondacks, you will still have to conquer a sometimes grueling, 1,940-foot elevation gain.
So, hopefully, you’re at least in mildly good shape before tackling one of the best hiking trails in New York state.
Plus, once you get to around the 2-mile mark, you’ll hit an intersection with the trail to Porter Mountain. And because this is one of the best hikes in the Adirondacks that only adds about 0.8 miles to your trip, might as well summit both mountains while you’re here.
Pro Tip: An ideal time to do this hike would be between May and October when temperatures are mild and there isn’t a ton of snow on the ground. This hike is also near Lake Placid and easily one of the best things to do in Lake Placid.
Location: Keene, Adirondacks
Distance: 5.6 miles
Route: Out and Back
5. Mount Marcy
I couldn’t very well create a list of the best hikes in New York state without mentioning the trek up the state’s tallest peak, now could I?
Exactly, I’m glad you agree. Because the hike up Mount Marcy is truly awesome – intense but definitely worth it.
After all, this is one of the best hiking trails in New York that consists of a rugged, 7-mile hike (14 miles total), with 3,166 feet of elevation gain, to the top of the tallest mountain in the state (it’s 5,344 feet tall to be exact).
So, if you’re feeling a bit adventurous, park at the Adirondack Loj Parking Lot and use the Van Hoevenberg Trail (aka the shortest/ most popular route to the summit) to get to the top of the mountain.
Yes, the trail will start off fairly easy but it quickly morphs into an intense climb up varied terrain that offers you enchanting views of Mount Colden, Avalanche Mountain, and Wright Peak (Perfect excuse to stop and catch your breath, I mean to stop and savor the view).
Now, when you hit the old dam, cross over Phelps Brook and follow the herd path to the top of Indian Falls. Enjoy the sweet views of MacIntyre Range before continuing up the timberline.
This is where you’ll hit the 6.8-mile mark and where the hike gets infinitely more strenuous. However, pace yourself because you’ll need some extra energy to complete the final mile of the hike.
Pro Tip: When all is said and done, this hike will take around 10 hours to complete. Also, check the weather before you go because it can change quite quickly at the summit.
Location: Lake Placid (Adirondacks)
Distance: 14.8 miles
Route: Out and Back
Best Hikes in New York State: The Hudson Valley
6. Timp Torne Loop Trail
Come with me as we check out one of the best hikes in New York that can be found, at least partly, in good old, Bear Mountain State Park.
So, while you’re here, be sure to check out impressive views of the lake before making your way to the Anthony Wayne Recreation Area to begin your trek.
Trust me, it’s a difficult although well-trafficked, mostly steep trail that will take you over varied terrain (woods, rocks, and meadows), eventually bringing you into Bear Mountain State Park by way of the Fawn Trail.
Once you come across the Timp Torne Trail, take that south to a ridge that will take you to Jones Point, which overlooks the Hudson and Bear Mountain Bridge.
FYI, this hike will also take you a while so be sure to bring plenty of food and drinks so that you admire a stellar view of Manhattan (way off in the distance) from the top of Timp’s Peak.
And if you’re not an expert hiker, no worries because this is one of the best hiking trails in New York state that also has a road that will take you directly to the top. You know, just in case you’re super tired and feel like driving.
Pro Tip: There is a vehicle fee for anyone who wants to use this trail on weekdays between June 22 and September 2nd. For the remainder of the year, vehicle fees are only collected on the weekend. Also, if you have time, deffo stop by West Point which is right down the road and has stunning views/a beautiful campus.
Location: Bear Mountain
Distance: 6.8 miles
7. Bull Hill Full Loop
The Bull hill trail starts slightly north of Cold Springs and since it is such a popular spot, you are more than likely to find like minded people who are heading out on the trail too. I was a bit overwhelmed when I saw the people heading out and a tiny bit worried that the trail would be crowded. Turns out that there are a number of trails that start off in the vicinity.
On average the trail takes a little more than 3 hours to complete. I was absolutely enamored by the views of the Hudson valley and decided to spend a little time just chilling and enjoying the scenery. So I took longer than average.
I think one of the coolest things about the trail was the number of people who had brought their dogs along. The trail rules say that the dog needs to be on leash but leash or not, the furballs sure had a lot of fun and kind of made me wish I had my own with me.
Pro tip: The best time to hike through Bull hill loop is between April to October. You’ll get the best weather and the most amazing views during this time of the year.
Location: Cold Spring
Distance: 5.4 miles
8. Verkeerderkills Falls and Sam’s Point
Hidden away in Minnewaska State Park, just outside of New Paltz, is one of the best hikes in New York state. It’s also a hike that you’ll have to pay for since it costs $10 per person for a day pass.
However, the price of a day pass is 110% worth since once you’re inside (and parked as the visitor’s center) you’ll get to marvel at a 200-foot waterfall that is known as Verkeerderkills Falls (say that five times fast).
Added bonus? There are also some epic ice caves, hidden lakes, and stellar overlooks that you’ll also want to check out while you’re in the area, like, cough, Sam’s Point.
So, do either a 5.6-mile hike or an 8.6-that hike to a Rare Dwarf Pine Barren in Sam’s Point Preserve. Yeah, the hike you choose just depends on how much energy you have and how much you love pine barrens (lol).
Also, do be aware that the Ice Cave Trail is very much NOT open throughout the winter since it’s a rigorous hike that takes you up sets of stairs/ladders, across bridges, and eventually to the largest exposed fault system in the USA (who knew?).
Therefore, try to time your visit for spring so that you enjoy views of High Point Monument, marvel at Verkeerder Kill Falls, visit the Ice Caves (they’re frozen the entire year), and check out some Historic Berry Picker Shacks (people used to grow/harvest blueberries here back in the day).
Pro Tip: This is one of the most popular hiking trails in New York so parking can be an issue during peak times. Therefore, you know the drill, visit during off times, and be the awesome, happy outdoor enthusiast that I know you are.
Location: Minnewaska State Park Preserve (near New Paltz)
Distance: 6.2 miles
Route: Out and Back
9. Storm King Mountain Trail
TheStorm King Mountain trail is perfect! It is the perfect length and isn’t one of those intense outdoors activities that have me floundering about and exhausted by the end of it. I mean, I love the outdoors. Don’t get me wrong. I also do not like to be wiped out at the end of the day. Storm King Mountain trail was just the right level of difficulty that it challenged me without exhausting every fiber of my being.
One of the best things about this train is the views that you have along the way. My particular favorite is the one where you catch a glimpse of the Hudson river. Now if you are lucky and you have hiked up on a sunny (and breezy!) day, you will find the river studded with sailboats.
Pro tip: Make sure that you turn right at the end of the orange trail. Many people take the left turn and land up getting lost. You then have to backtrack all the way to get back on the trail. Save yourself some misery and stick to the demarcated route.
Location: Storm King Mountain
Distance: 2.5 miles
Difficulty: Moderate with a few steep rocky regions
10. Breakneck Ridge
This is one of the best hikes in New York state that is not to be taken likely – which you probably already gathered from reading the name of the trail alone.
However, if you’re an expert hiker and are looking for one of the best hiking trails in New York then this may be the hike for you.
Just hop on a Hudson-line train from Grand Central Terminal and take it to the Cold Spring train station (the train ride will take about 1.5-hours). Once here, grab an Uber and take it to the trailhead itself.
If you can, start at the southern Breakneck Trailhead and go counterclockwise since this route is slightly easier and will still offer you sweeping views of Storm King Mountain, the Newburgh-Beacon Bridge, and Bannerman’s Castle.
Also, come prepared with the right gear since this trail features a plethora of steep, rocky terrain that makes this hike feel more like rock climbing than anything else.
Therefore, you will have to scramble up some almost vertical rockfaces. But, it’s one of those hikes that offers you some of the best views in the Hudson Valley, so it’s well worth the effort.
Pro Tip: If you’re NOT an expert hiker and still want to enjoy one of the best hikes in the Hudson Valley, then you could use a nifty little bypass trail to avoid some of the more difficult sections of the hike. Also, don’t forget to climb the fire tower at the top and enjoy the views.
Location: Cold Spring (Hudson Valley, right in the middle of Cold Spring and Beacon)
Distance: Between 2.5 and 4 miles
11. Anthony’s Nose
Located right near Bear Mountain, Anthony’s Nose is easily one of the best hikes in the Hudson Valley that is popular among visitors and locals alike.
And that makes sense since you’ll enjoy incredible views of the Bear Mountain Bridge once you make it to the top after hiking through the always gorgeous, Hudson Highlands State Park Preserve.
It also makes for a great day trip from NYC too since you just have to head to Grand Central Station, hop on a Hudson line train, and then get off at Peekskill station to get here.
In total, the journey should take about an hour and you can grab an Uber from the train station and then take that to the trailhead itself (just type “Anthony’s Nose” into Google Maps and you’ll find the trail off Route 9D).
Truth be told, it’s definitely not the most difficult hike on this list of the best hiking trails in New York. But, there is a super steep, 0.5-mile section with 675-feet of elevation gain that you should be prepared for.
Other than that though, the rest of the bike is fairly chill. Just get here super early in the AM (especially on weekends) so that you can avoid the hordes of day-trippers.
Pro Tip: This is one of the most popular, best hikes in New York state where there is no designated parking lot. So, you’ll have to park on the shoulder of the road. This trail is also right near/on the Appalachian Trail so you could do a section of that trail while you’re here since it runs right through Bear Mountain.
Location: Garrison, Hudson Valley near the Bear Mountain Bridge
Distance: 1.9 miles
Route: Out and Back
12. Labyrinth Trail
Taking you through the grounds of the always amazing Mohonk Mountain House in New Paltz, Labyrinth Trail offers visitors some of the best hiking in New York state.
However, don’t let this hike’s relatively short, 1-mile distance lull you into a false sense of security. Because this is one of the best hiking trails in New York that is intense with a capital, “I”.
Yeah, it quietly sits in Mohonk Preserve (a place with stellar rock climbing) and takes you on an arduous journey through the Mohonk Mountain House grounds, up the Labyrinth rock scramble, and into a crevice called the Lemon Squeeze.
However, if you can manage to get through ALL that, you’ll be rewarded with epic panoramas at the top, especially if you climb to the top of the Sky Top Tower.
So, although this hike isn’t the easiest one on this list, there are plenty of trail markers and wooden stairs/ladders to help you on your journey past an almost neverending series of enormous boulders.
Pro Tip: If you visit in spring, call this number, 845-256-2197, to see if the trail is open. You will also have to pay $29 per adult and $24 per child (4-12 years old) to do this hike. If you want, you can save some money by doing an 8/9 mile hike to Labyrinth from Mohonk Preserve (not worth it IMHO).
Location: New Paltz
Distance: 1.0 miles
Route: Out and Back
13. Poet’s Ledge
Good news outdoor enthusiasts! If you love nature but hate crowds, then this is one of the best hikes in New York state that you’ll love.
Because Poet’s Ledge is one of the more remote hiking trails in New York and consists of a somewhat sobering (read terrifying) walk across a major road. with no shoulder, from the designated parking lot to the trailhead itself.
However, once you channel your inner Frogger and make it across the road, you can begin your hike to Poet’s Ledge in Kaaterskill Wild Forest – a hike that is so awe-inspiring that painter Sanford Robinson Gifford, from the Hudson River School for painters, actually immortalized this view in a landscape painting from 1861.
Yes, this hike does feature some steep sections and includes 1,661 feet of elevation gain. But, that’s also why the views of Palenville and the greater Hudson Valley from Maeli’s Lookout and Ella’s Ledge are so epic.
Also, be on the look for bears and be sure to stop and admire several different waterfalls along the way.
Location: Pallenville (Catskills)
Distance: 6.2 miles
Route: Out and Back
Best Hikes in New York State: The Finger Lakes Region
14. Gorge Trail in Watkins Glen
Without a doubt, this is probably my favorite hike on this list of the best hikes in New York state. Because as you walk along this easy, loop trail, you’ll admire no less than 19 different waterfalls.
Add in some next-level picturesque stone bridges and you’ll very much feel like you’re in New Zealand, not New York. Before you start though, definitely take time to snap a few photos of the insanely gorgeous waterfall and bridge combo that you’ll see from the main road.
Then, once you enter the park itself, hop on the Gorge Trail and take it straight through the center of the park. Eventually, you’ll hit the Indian Loop and can walk back to where you started.
Yeah, it’s a pretty easy trail that will take you about 1.5-hours to complete as you walk along a stone path that consists of around 800 steps.
And if you have a bit of extra time, you can easily access the South Rim Trail, the Indian Trail, and the Punch Bowl Trail to discover more of this ethereal place.
Just do yourself a solid and rock a sturdy pair of hiking shoes since the stone walkway can get slippery. You will also have to pay $8 to park in the designated lot will enjoy pool access too (you can avoid this by finding a spot in town and then just walking to the park).
Pro Tip: While you’re in the region, drive 7-minutes down the road to see Shequaga Falls too!
Location: Watkins Glen (Finger Lakes)
Distance: 2.4 miles
15. The Gorge Trail at Buttermilk Falls
Just a hoot and a holler down the road from Ithaca is one of the best waterfalls in New York, aka Buttermilk Falls – a stunning, natural formation that sits inside the amazing, aptly-named, 911-acre, Buttermilk Falls State Park.
Now, while you’re here, be sure to hike the Gorge Trail to Buttermilk Falls so that you can enjoy one of the best hikes in New York state.
Trust me, it’s an easy, loop trail that starts with a stellar view of Buttermilk Falls – a stunning waterfall that stands at an impressive, 165-feet tall and that descends into Cayuga Lake below.
It’s also incredibly accessible and perfect for anyone with limited mobility since the trailhead sits right near the main entrance and quickly (and by quickly I mean that you’re feet away from the waterfall) leads you to this waterfall of awesome.
So, enjoy a simple hike that can be a smidge tricky in spots since there are some steep stairs that you will need to climb as you move past some other waterfalls, sculpted rocks, forests, and natural pools that are scattered throughout the park.
And once you’re finished, just take the Rim Trail back for a different view of the park or spend the night at one of their recently opened campsites.
Pro Tip: You will have to pay an $8 vehicle fee to get into the park. You can also skip one of the best hiking trails in New York if you’re just here to see the waterfall since this natural landmark is located right at the start of the trail.
Distance: 1.6 miles (for the Gorge and Rim Trail to the waterfall)
Difficulty: Easy – it’s pretty easy but just be aware that there’s a steep/strenuous 1/2 mile section of the trail.
16. Devil’s Hole
Planning to visit Niagara Falls? If so then this is one of the best hikes in New York state that you should absolutely try! It’s also a hidden gem of sorts, so you definitely won’t have to worry about large crowds here.
Although, this trek was recently named the state of New York’s best trail. So, that fact might change it’s hidden gem status quite quickly, which is why you need to get here ASAP!
So, if you want to tackle one of the best hiking trails in New York for yourself, head over to Devil’s Hole State Park and make a day of it with a picnic lunch and a stop for some primo fishing.
Afterward, hop on the trailhead near the parking lot and take the trail down to the bottom of the supremely impressive, 300-foot deep and 7-mile long Niagara River Gorge.
Continue for 2.5-miles along the river until you hit the Whirlpool Rapids Trail, from which you can access a scenic overlook that offers visitors beautiful views of the area’s many whirlpools and rapids.
From here, head up a staircase and then take the rim trail back to your car.
Pro Tip: Picnic benches can be found at the bottom, left-hand side of the set of stairs and give you great views of Canada. You should also stay behind the guardrails and wear shoes with decent grip since the trail can get slippery.
Location: Niagara Falls
Distance: 5.0 miles
17. Gorge Trail in Letchworth State Park
This is one of the best hikes in New York state that gets a moderate rating not because it’s difficult but because it’s long. Like, 14-miles long to be exact.
Yeah, it’s basically 7-miles one way so you’ll need either go back the way you can or meet someone at the end of the hike.
However, if you don’t have the energy to hike the full length of the Gorge Trail, you can always use the vast network of roads that snake though Letchworth State Park to see all of the park’s top attractions.
Because this wonderfully scenic park is home to 66 miles of trails that will take you along the east rim of Letchworth Gorge, aka the Grand Canyon of the East.
Also, regardless of whether you hike or drive your way through the park, you’ll find tons of detours to scenic overlooks of the park’s three main waterfalls – the Upper, Middle, and Lower Falls of the Genesee River.
Additionally, be sure to stop at Inspiration Point, Wolf Creek, and The Tea Tables before you leave for the best views of the area’s many waterfalls.
Pro Tip: Try to visit during Spring when snowmelt increases the flow of these waterfalls. You will also need to pay a day-use fee of $8.
Location: Castile (about an hour outside Buffalo)
Distance: 14 miles
Route: Out and Back
Best Hikes in New York State – The Catskills
18. Giant Ledge and Panther Mountain
Located in the Catskills region of New York, this moderately difficult, 7.1-mile hike consists of a series of five different ledges that will take you past lovely wildflower fields (if you visit in spring or summer) and to awe-inspiring overlooks.
Truth be told, the hike to the overlook isn’t too long (maybe 3 or 4 miles) but is steep so you’ll definitely get a bit of a workout. It’s also crowded so come early to avoid hiking with lots of people.
And once you finally hit Giant Ledge itself, it’s only another mile to the summit of Panther Mountain. So, might as well tackle two of the best hiking trails in New York while you’re here.
Pro Tip: If you’re into camping their are several sites where you can stop and spend the night.
Location: Oliveira (Catskills)
Distance: 7.1 miles
Route: Out and Back
19. Overlook Mountain
Not only is this mountain home to some of the best hiking in New York, but this trek is easily one of the top things to do in Woodstock, NY.
So, be sure to pair your hike up Overlook Mountain with a trip to Karma Triyana Dharmachakra since this awesome, Buddhist monastery sits right across the street from the Overlook trailhead and associated parking lot.
However, when you’re ready, begin your hike up a gravel road and continue until you’ve done about 2-miles of the hike. Once you get here, you’ll see some super rad ruins that are from a once-thriving hotel.
Afterward, continue another 0.5-miles down the trail so that you can climb to the top of a fire tower and savor views of the nearby Ashokan Reservoir and the Hudson River
Pro Tip: Be on the lookout for the remnants of a plane crash. Also, visit at an off-peak time since this hike is popular and the parking lot is small (not a good combination).
Location: Catskills (Woodstock)
Distance: 4.6 miles
Route: Out and Back
Map of the Best Hikes in New York State
Additional New York Resources You’ll Love
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- Best Hikes in the Adirondacks
- Best Hikes in the Catskills
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- Best Hikes in the Hudson Valley
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