Having been a New York City native for well over twenty years, I know a few truths about life in New York. One, New York is WAY more than just NYC – a fact that people routinely forget (No really. This happens ALL THE TIME). And two? Well, you need to occasionally escape the frenetic hustle and bustle of New York City, get out into nature, and embark on some of the best hikes in upstate New York.
I mean, even if you’re not a hardcore, tree-hugging maniac who likes to eat dirt for breakfast, it’s still nice to get away from it all and plan a mildly romantic weekend getaway in upstate New York
But, um, how do you find all of the best hikes in upstate New York? I mean, where do they live, how do you get there, and how can you have one of those Eat Pray Love moments where you finally understand the true meaning of life?
Well, I can help you with the first two but not the last one. Since, sadly, I’m not the second coming of Deepak Chopra.
However, I have spent nearly every summer of my natural born life working and living in the Adirondacks region of upstate New York.
Yeah, my dad has a house up here near Lake Champlain and he lets me rock out here from time to time.
That’s why I am here to give you super handy advice about some of the best hikes in upstate New York.
So, grab a bowl of trail mix and have those super snazzy hiking boots of yours at the ready! Because we’re about to swan dive (like a total boss) into 20 of the absolute best spots for hiking in upstate New York!
Dear wonderful, beautiful, and oh-so-amazing reader (Yup, I lay it on thick for my dozens of fans). Since I am incapable of making it rain money, there’s a high probability (like 99.999%) that this post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure for more information. As an Amazon Associate, I earn a small commission from qualifying purchases.
1. Wittenberg Mountain
I’m gonna keep it real for you. This is one of the best hikes in upstate New York that is NOT for the faint of heart.
So yes, you really should be a hiking pro before setting out on this trail, which ascends more than 2,600 feet into the air and leaves you with next-level stunning panoramic views of the Catskills – making it one of the best hikes in the Catskills.
Because this mountain is just one of over 35 peaks in the region that soar to a height of well over 3,500 feet. The trail to the summit is also pretty damn rocky and treacherous, with sections so ridiculously steep that you’re basically climbing veritcally.
Moral of the story? Come prepared with the right equipment to do some serious hiking.
That being said though, you will discover some wicked fun rock scrambles along the way as well as a sick view of the Ashokan Reservoir at the top.
While you’re here, and if you still have enough energy to do so, go the extra mile (literally) along a narrow ridgeline and head for the summit of Cornell Mountain.
Sure, the panoramas may not be as good as the ones at the top of Wittenberg Mountain, but there’s this section near the top, known as the Cornell Crack, that is equal parts fun and equal parts terrifying section.
To conquer this trail though, you’ll definitely need to pull out all the stops, channel your inner Bear Grylls, and pull out all those rock climbing skills that you never knew you had.
Where is this Hike: Phoenicia, NY (Near Kingston)
Distance: 7.8 miles
Difficulty Level: Hard
2. Watkins Glen, Gorge Trail
Shocking to exactly no one is the fact that this trail made it on this list of the best hikes in upstate New York. But, that makes sense since Watkins Glen National Park is home to some of the best waterfalls in New York.
So, don’t be surprised if you feel like you’re on the set of Lord of the Rings as you meander your way past 19 different waterfalls and over picturesque stone bridges that are the stuff that Instagram dreams are made of.
And although you can get some pretty sick views from outside the main entrance of the park, I highly recommend going for a hike along the stunning Gorge Trail, which leads into the Indian Loop.
It’s not a difficult trail and consists of a well-maintained stone path that should take you about an hour and a half to complete (other trails in the area include South Rim Trail, the Indian Trail, and Punch Bowl Road).
That being said though, it can get slippery, so be sure to wear shoes with a good grip and bring plenty of water, unless you want to buy some at one of the park’s many entrances.
There’s also no entrance fee into the park, per se, but if you use the designated Watkins Glen National Park parking lot, you will have to pay an $8 (You can easily forego this fee by parking on the street and then walking to the park), day-use fee for your vehicle that includes access to the on-site pool.
However, this fee is waived when the Gorge Trail is closed throughout the late fall and into the winter season.
Where is this Hike: Watkins Glen, NY
Distance: 2.4 miles
Difficulty Level: Easy (It’s a stone path though and some sections can be slippery. So, be sure to wear good shoes).
3. Poet’s Ledge
Honestly, I have exactly zero ideas why this place is called Poet’s Ledge.
However, what I do know is that it is easily one of the best hikes in upstate New York. Also, another fun little factoid for you is that Sanford Robinson Gifford, a prominent member of the Hudson River School for painters, actually painted the view from this scenic overlook in ye olde 1861.
So yeah, pack that fact away in your imaginary box full of slightly useless trivia that might someday help you win Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.
Other than that though, just enjoy the sweeping views that you’ll find at the end of this hike – an idyllic place that overlooks the Palenville and Hudson Valleys.
Truth be told though, this hike isn’t a total walk in the park and does feature a seriously steep section that will make un-fit people like me feel as though they’re coughing up a lung. The trailhead is also kinda hard to find since some genius decided to put it behind a house. Or build a house in front of the trailhead. Either one.
So yeah, that’s awesome.
You’ll also want to keep an eye out for bears since they have been known to frequent the area.
But, not to worry because this hike is more than a little worth it since you’ll enjoy things like Maeli’s lookout, Ella’s ledge, and various waterfalls along the way. It’s also a fairly quiet trail that is really only frequented by locals.
Therefore, you’ll seriously love having the place all to yourself. #justsayin’
Where is this Hike: Pallenville, NY (in the Catskills)
Distance: 6.2 miles
Difficulty Level: Intermediate
4. Overlook Mountain
This is another one of the best hikes in upstate New York that can be found the Catskills region. Well, it’s actually in Woodstock, NY to be precise, and is a longish hike. Therefore, definitely come prepared with snacks, good walking shoes, and plenty of water.
Thankfully though, this hike is relatively easy since it takes you uphill, along a gravel road that is lined by slightly not-so-scenic powerlines.
But, about two miles into the Overlook Mountain hike, you will discover some pretty rad ruins from an abandoned hotel, as well as a super cool fire tower that you should 100% climb to the top of.
However, the absolute best part of this hike is the sweeping view of the Catskills and Hudson Valley that you’ll enjoy once you reach the end of the trail.
Yup, totally worth all the blood, sweat, and tears that you’ll endure just to get there. LOL.
JK. This hike really isn’t that bad and is suitable for people of all different fitness levels. I mean, if this hardcore couch potato can rock it then so can you.
Where is this Hike: Woodstock, NY (in the Catskills)
Distance: 4.8 miles
Difficulty Level: Easy
5. Mount Marcy
Located near the state’s famed Lake Placid, this is one of the best hikes in upstate New York that is not to be taken likely. Because this 14-mile, round trip trek will take you to the top of New York’s tallest peak, which stands at a staggering, 5, 344 feet.
Now, as you might expect, this is an intense hike that is meant for experienced hikers only since much of the last mile is steep AF and more than a little treacherous.
So, if you feel like you’re ready for a bit of a challenge, then I’d recommend taking the shortest and most popular route to the top, which is the Hoevenberg Trail that leaves from the High Peaks Information Center parking lot, near Adirondak Loj. And yes, you will need to pay $10 to get in.
Once here, the trail is a total of 7.4 miles one way and will start off relatively easy as it transitions into a moderate to steep climb up a selection of varied terrain that will take you past enchanting views of Mount Colden, Avalanche Mountain, and Wright Peak.
After you reach the remnants of an old dam, follow the Phelps Brook, eventually crossing the brook, and take the herd path to the top of Indian Falls, where there is a stellar view of the MacIntyre Range.
From Indian Falls, it’s a moderately difficult ascent up to the timberline. However, once you get about 6.8 miles into the trek, the climb becomes pretty intense as you go up an open rock face to the top, which culminates in some of the most picturesque views of the Adirondacks.
Yes, it will take you a somewhat staggering 10 hours to complete one of the best hikes in the Adiirondacks, but if you’re an avid hiker then this is an experience that is not to be missed.
PSST…you’ll also want to come prepared with serious hiking gear (as well as snacks, water, and a headlamp if you want to summit in time for sunrise), pay close attention to the weather since conditions on the mountain can change rapidly, and avoid the winter since copious amounts of snow make the climb even more insane than it already is.
Where is this Hike: Lake Placid, NY (in the Catskills)
Distance: 14 miles
Difficulty Level: Difficult
6. Whiteface Mountain
As a total hiking novice, I love this hike up Whiteface Mountain for a couple of different reasons.
Firstly, this hike is a lot easier than you might expect from an almost 5,000-foot tall mountain since some of the hike features a giant stone stairway that basically takes you up the side of the mountain. As a result, this long, 10.1-mile hike is a whole hell of a lot easier than you might expect.
Plus, once you reach the top, you can enjoy stunning views that extend all the way into Canada and Vermont on the clearest days.
So, expect a moderate loop hike that will take you from the Wilmington Trailhead to Marble Mountain to Esther Trail and then finally to the summit of Whiteface.
FYI, Esther’s trial also isn’t officially maintained and can get muddy at times. This is also an insanely popular hike so do NOT expect to have the trail all to yourself.
And the other thing I love about this epic trail? Well, this place is just a hop, skip, and jump away from Lake Placid and features a nifty little road that you can use to drive up Whiteface Mountain if you don’t actually feel like hauling ass to the top.
Yes, it’s expensive at $20 per person for adults, $16 for those aged 7 to 19, and free for kids 6 and under, but it’s worth it for the views alone.
And if you’re into skiing, definitely stop by during the winter and take advantage of the mountain’s wealth of extensive trails and premier ski facilities – all of which are remnants from when Lake Placid played host to the 1980 winter Olympics.
***PSST…Cascade and Porter Mountain are also both in the area and make for a really accessible. 5.6-mile hike. You can also easily climb both mountains in a single day since it’s only another mile hike to the top of Porter Mountain once you’ve reached the summit of Cascade. They are also really close to Lake Placid, making this the perfect place to go and enjoy a wicked awesome sunrise. You can also check out some amazing romantic getaways in Vermont since you’re super close to this awesome state.***
Where is this Hike: Lake Placid, NY (in the Catskills)
Distance: 10.1 miles
Difficulty Level: Moderate(It’s not technically difficult but it is long)
7. Sleeping Beauty Mountain
Located right near Lake George, this is easily one of the best hikes in upstate New York for beginner-level hikers who are also after a plethora of stunning views.
So, if you’re imagining hiking past large swaths of enchanting forests, vibrant lakes, and majestic mountains, then you’d be exactly right.
Just choose between a 6.4-mile loop from Hogs Town parking lot or a 4.8-mile loop from Dacy Clearing parking lot, both of which feature a ton of switchbacks that help keep the steepness of this trail moderate.
And although the hike from Dacy Clearing is a bit shorter, it does require you to drive your vehicle over a somewhat rough dirt road that is not suitable for everyone. Once you’re here though, the hike is a moderate 1.8 miles to a local lookout and then another 0.4 miles to the actual summit itself.
The views here are also pretty dang impressively and feature Crane Mountain to the west and Pico and Killington to the east.
Also, once you’re ready to head back down the mountain, you can always backtrack for an in and out hike or go back to a designated trail marker, bear left, and ascend down various switchbacks past Bumps Pond. You know, just to help make the hike a bit more scenic.
Where is this Hike: Fort Anne, NY (near Lake George)
Distance: Between 5 and 7.0 miles, depending on the route you take.
Difficulty Level: Moderate (The switchbacks make it easier)
8. Rim Trail and Gorge Loop, Robert H Treman State Park
Located in the expensive 1,110 acre Robert H Treman State Park, the Rim and Gorge Trails are just a short 15-minute drive from Ithaca and feature a stunning, 115-foot tall waterfall that can be reached from the West Entrance of the park.
As a result, this is a heavily trafficked, 4.3-mile loop trail that is best hiked between April and November, especially since you can swim at Lucifer Falls during the warm summer months.
Now, If you want to go directly to the falls, just hop on the Gorge Trail and it will take you right to this iconic landmark. While you’re here, you can also hop on the South Rim Trail, which will offer even more stunning views of the one and only, Lucifer Falls.
Just come prepared (i.e. bring water, snacks, and good hiking shoes) since this is a long-ish hike that will take you from the bottom of the gorge, up a set of natural stone steps, and onto the top of the rim. It’s definitely not the most difficult trek on this list but will probably take you around two and a half hours to complete.
This trail is also currently only operating in one direction, which is kind of annoying. So, you’ll have to ascend via the Rim Trail and then descend via the Gorge Trail. You’ll also have to pay $8 for a single, day-use pass.
Where is this Hike: Ithaca, NY
Distance: 4.3 miles
Difficulty Level: Easy
9. Gorge Trail, Letchworth State Park
Okay, technically speaking this is one of the best hikes in upstate New York. However, if I’m being brutally honest, the word “hike” here is definitely a loose term.
That’s because this trek is more of a nice, leisurely walk through the woods than a strenuous climb up the side of a rogue mountain.
So, if you’re exceptionally un-fit like me (I have not been to the gym in years), then this is the hike for you, even though it is a long, 7.1 miles one way.
On the plus side though, this gorgeous hike will take you through Letchworth Gorge (fondly referred to as the Grand Canyon of the east) and past the Upper, Middle, and Lower Falls of the Genesee River.
And if this hike along the entirety of the Gorge feels a bit long to you, then you can always drive some of it since this trail doesn’t really venture too far from the main road.
Also, like with most New York state parks, you will have to pay a single day-use fee of $8 per vehicle to get into the park and use its associated trails.
Where is this Hike: Silver Springs, NY (right near Ithaca)
Distance: 14 miles
Difficulty Level: Easy
10. Giant Ledge and Panther Mountain
Covering a grand total of 7.1 miles, the Giant Ledge and Panther Mountain trail is a moderately difficult trek that will take you past large swaths of wildflowers in the Catskills.
So yes, Insta-mavens, be sure to have your cameras at the ready and time your visit for either the spring or summer season. You know, just so that you can enjoy maximum flowerage (Is that a word? Probably not, but let’s go with it).
Now, in terms of the hike itself, you can expect to find a lot of people on this out and back trail since this is one of the best hikes in upstate New York that definitely isn’t a well-kept secret. You’ll also marvel at killer views from five separate ledges that make up the Giant Ledge area.
And while the hike to the ledge itself is a short 3 to 4 miles round trip, it is quite steep. That’s why, you should be prepared to “get physical, physical” a la Olivia Newton-John. You also might want to wear decent hiking attire and shoes with decent grips on them.
Thankfully though, there are nearby campsites in the area. Therefore, you can always chill out there for a night or two before making the not-so-long trip back.
Otherwise, you can always ditch the crowds altogether, make your way through an enchanting alpine forest, hike another mile up the trail, arrive at the top of Panther Moutain, and embrace the total glory of the natural wilderness that surrounds you.
Where is this Hike: Oliverea, NY (Near Woodstock in the Catskills)
Distance: 7.1 miles
Difficulty Level: Moderate
11. Kaaterskill Falls
As you might have guessed from the insanely obvious name of this hike, the real draw here is the stunning, Kaaterskills Falls – a series of two cascading waterfalls that reach a grand total of 260 feet in height since the upper waterfall has a drop of 175 feet, while the lower waterfall features a very respectable drop of 85-feet,
Trust me, this ginormous waterfall really is THAT beautiful. I mean, it even made a guest appearance in Washington Irving’s literary classic, “Rip Van Winkle”: So yeah, need I say more?
Also, not gonna lie, I love the fact that this is one of those “best hikes in upstate New York” that is perfect for advanced and beginner level hikers alike. Yeah, it’s an easy, half-mile hike along a well-marked trail that will bring you straight to the viewing platform for the falls.
Just be sure to plan your visit for the spring since the waterfall can dry up like a prune in the summer.
Because let’s be real here. Ain’t nobody got time to visit a lame AF waterfall that more closely resembles your kitchen faucet springing a leak than an actual waterfall.
Now sure, you can reach this majestic waterfall from both above and below, However, I highly recommend starting at the top and then working your way down since it’s safer. And, added bonus? This route will also. give your access to a beyond glorious overlook.
And while there are a couple of different places to park, I’d grab a spot at the area’s largest parking lot, which is located near Haines Falls, New York, at the end of Laurel House Road (just off of North Lake Road). Sure, you’ll miss Bastion Falls but you can always catch that waterfall from Route 23A.
Just be sure to get there EARLY on the weekends so that you actually have a place to park. Or. visit early on a weekday morning and you’ll basically have the trail all to yourself.
Where is this Hike: Elka Park, NY (in the Catskills)
Distance: 2.6 miles
Difficulty Level: Easy
12. Anthony’s Nose
Do I personally consider Anthony’s Nose to be one of the best hikes in upstate New York? Yeah, that’s a hard no.
Why you may rightly wonder? Well, it’s not because this 2.6-mile hile isn’t beautiful. I mean, you get a wicked awesome view of the Hudson River and the Bear Mountain Bridge that is easily one of the best panoramas in the area.
No, it’s more because I don’t really consider Manitou and the Bear Mountain region in general to be upstate New York.
But, if you’re coming from the city, then I guess it’s super upstate and a great hike since you can easily get here by taking a Hudson line, Metronorth train up north (take a train to Peekskill and then grab an Uber to the trailhead). It’s also only about an hour outside the city and would make a perfect day trip from NYC.
And while this hike may be short, there is a challenging section that is part of the famed Appalachian Trail that is steep AF and that will definitely give you a run for your money.
Thankfully though, this part of the hike is only about a 1/2 mile long. The remainder of the hike is also fairly gentle and can be easily be done by super unfit people like me. Yup, couch potato for the win!
Where is this Hike: Garrison, NY (near Peekskill in the Hudson Valley)
Distance: 2.6 miles
Difficulty Level: Moderate (there’s one difficult 1/2 mile section but the rest of it is pretty easy)
13. Sam’s Point and Verkeerderkill Falls
Located inside of Minnewaska State Park, this is one of those best hikes in upstate New York that you will have to pay for.
Yeah, because this popular, 8.6-mile long loop trail is tucked away inside a state park, you’ll have to fork over $10 per day to park your car at the visitors center.
But, it’s totally worth it since along the way, you’ll get to see a stunning 200-foot tall waterfall, some crazy cool ice caves (lame pun intended), hidden lakes, and fantastic viewpoints.
Just choose between the 5.6-mile trail or the longer, 8.6. mile which will take you past all the aforementioned awesomeness and through Sam’s Point Preserve – a super cool place that is home to an exceptionally Rare Dwarf Pitch Pine Barren.
It’s also worth noting that contrary to what you might think, the Ice Cave Trail actually closes in the winter. Which sucks since this is the very same trail that will give you sweet sweet views of High Point Monument, the Hudson Valley, Roundout Valley,Verkeerder Kill Falls, and Historic Berry Picker Shacks that are relics from the days when this area was used to harvest massive amounts of blueberries.
So, be sure to plan your visit for the spring when the trail is open and you can marvel at all this AND a series of caves that somehow manage to stay frozen all year long. Because not gonna lie, it’s definitely not worth coming here for Sam’s Point alone.
Also, because this trail is uber-popular and parking can be an issue, you may want to stop by either during the week or early in the morning on a weekend This way, you don’t end up driving all the way here just to find out that the parking lot is totally full. Yup, been there, done that. And it is very un-fun indeed.
.Where is this Hike: Cragsmoor, NY (a bit west of Poughkeepsie)
Distance: 8.6 miles
Difficulty Level: Easy
14. Labyrinth Trail, High Falls Gorge
Just a hop, skip, and jump away from the aforementioned Whiteface Mountain is the 22-cre High Falls Gorge Park and its associated, one-mile long walking trail.
So yeah, clearly the Adirondacks Mountains really are home to some of the best hiking trails in upstate New York.
Although, if you’re a total hiking rockstar who wants to get all Bear Grylls up in the wilderness, then you may want to give this trail a hard pass.
No, it’s not that this trail is bad, it’s just that its super duper easy. And if someone super-unfit like me is saying it then it must be true.
You also have to pay a pretty steep fee of $13 for adults to actually use this trail, which is kind of annoying. However, on the plus side, you will get to see the majestic, High Falls waterfall, as well as three others (of varying degrees of awesomeness) as you take an easy meander through this iconic oasis of wilderness.
Also, as you peacefully stroll along this well-paved, family-friendly trail that takes you through the awe-inspiring High Falls Gorge – a place where the AuSable River pours into the canyons and crevices below – expect so spend around 45-mile minutes here since the trail isn’t long and is perfect for families with small children.
You’ll also step across several uber-modern bridges with snazzy glass platforms and uncover a series of informational signs that detail the extensive history of the area. Because as they always say, knowledge really is power. LOL.
PSST…if you want a slightly more challenging hike, then hit up the one-mile long, beginner/intermediate level nature trail that has semi-steep inclines and uneven surfaces, a fact that makes closed-toe shoes more than a little essential. Truth be told though it’s really not difficult since even I did it with exactly no problems.
.Where is this Hike: Wilmington, NY (near Lake Placid, NY)
Distance: 1.0 miles (round trip, in and back)
Difficulty Level: Easy (seriously, your two year old would have zero problems with this hike)
15. Cornish Estate Trail
While a lot of expert hikers opt for the challenging (that’s my nice way of saying I almost died) Breakneck Ridge Trail right next door, I choose not to be a glutton for punishment and always make my way to the super cool, Cornish Estate Trail instead.
I mean, not only is it a mere 1.8 miles long, but it takes you past some super cool ruins that just happen to be remnants from the former estate of Edward Cornish (hence the unoriginal name of the trail) – A man that I had never heard of until I looked him up on Google. Yeah, apparently he was the president of the National Lead Company until 1938 (guess people got wise to the fact that lead is poisonous and insanely bad for you).
Anyway, this trail isn’t totally easy since there are a few small rock scrambles along the way. But yeah, overall it’s a pretty easy trail along a paced driveway that offers stellar views of the Hudson, as well as a close up look at intact fireplaces, arched windows, and staircases that are all leftovers from when the estate was totally destroyed by a fire.
So, moral of the story? Always buy homeowners insurance. And travel insurance while you’re at it.
And now for some of the more boring but super practical details. Like the fact that this is an uber-popular trail (read visit during the week or early on the weekend to avoid hordes of people) that is best used between April and November.
You’ll also want to park at Little Stony Point and take the Cornish Trail (you’ll see blue blazes) that basically goes parallel to route 9. Once you reach the driveway, continue up it until you see the overtly obvious estate ruins to your left (imagine an old greenhouse, swimming pool, etc.).
And if you’re feeling mildly adventurous you can always link up here with the Brook Trail while you’re here, which is denoted by well-marked red blazes.
.Where is this Hike: Cold Spring, NY (in the Hudson Valley region)
Distance: 1.8 miles
Difficulty Level: Easy (much of it is on a concrete driveway)
16. Cascade Mountain and Porter Mountain
Believe it or not, there are a grand total of 46 different high peaks in the Adirondack Mountain region of New York (feel free to be duly impressed). That’s also why many of the best hikes in upstate New York listed here, are actually in that part of the state.
So, if you happen to be in the area and love a good hike, then definitely add Cascade Mountain to your list. It’s one of the most popular of them all and is, thankfully, a whole lot less challenging than a hike up say, Mount Marcy for example.
Known as the Cascade Mountain Trail, this is a moderately difficult, 6.5 mile, out and back trail that can be found off of route 73 in Keene, NY. It’s also best used between May and October (it gets cold and icy up here real quick) and will give you easy access to the summit of Porter Mountain too.
In general, this is a largely exposed path that features a few steep climbs with some fairly easy rock scrambles. Along the way, you can also marvel at some panoramic views as well as a nearby river and a picturesque waterfall.
So yeah, check it out and have a hoppin’ good time. Just be prepared for crowds in the summer since this is a popular trail that is used by Lake Placid locals and tourists alike (Translation? Come HELLA early in the summer to avoid masses of mildly annoying tourists).
.Where is this Hike: Keene, NY (near Lake Placid)
Distance: 6.5 miles
Difficulty Level: Moderate
17. The Gorge Trail to Buttermilk Falls
Can you ever really get enough of New York’s beyond gorgeous natural waterfalls? And just in case you wanted to know, the correct answer to that question is always no. That’s also why the Gorge Trail to Buttermilk Falls makes it on this list of the best hikes in upstate New York.
Located inside the 911 acre Buttermilk Falls State Park in Ithaca (so yes, you will have to pay $8 per vehicle to get inside), the Gorge and Rim trail loop is a 1.6-mile hike that will take you past the park’s namesake, a gorgeous, 165-foot tall waterfall that is made up of water from Buttermilk Creek that then plummets into Cayuga Lake below.
It’s also one of the more accessible trails on this list since the trailhead is located right near the park entrance and actually starts at the base of the waterfall (so if you’ve come here just to see the waterfall, there’s really no reason to hike the trail).
And as you make your way down this easy-to-traverse, stone path, you’ll encounter several slightly strenuous sets of stairs to climb and a few enchanting little waterfalls along the way. In reality, though, most people reading this should have exactly zero problems with this hike since you can stop for a rest at one of several beautiful overlooks.
Plus, once you’re done, just hop on the Rim Trail and take that back to the parking lot for a lovely little change in scenery.
Where is this Hike: Near Ithaca, NY
Distance: 1.6 miles
Difficulty Level: Moderate (most of it is fairly easy but there’s a steep and strenuous 1/2 mile section of the trail)
18. The Appalachian Trail
If you were paying extra close attention to every single word I wrote (and I doubt you were because I am definitely not that insightful) then you know that the Appalachian Trail has already been mentioned in this super awesome guide to the best hikes in upstate New York.
However, just in case you missed it and you have zero idea what the Appalachian Trail is, let me slow my roll for 2.5 seconds and explain.
So, in total, the Appalachian Trail extends all the way across the Appalachian Mountains and is 2,160 miles in length – which makes sense since it extends all the way from Springer Mountain in Georgia to Mount Katahdin in Maine. It’s also one of the most famous long-distance hikes on the continent and could take upwards of 6 months to complete.
Now, as you probably already surmised (you devilishly smart reader you), a section of this trail actually passes through the state and is something that you’ll traverse as part of the Anthony’s Nose hike that I previously mentioned.
However, that’s really just a small portion of the 90-mile long section of the Appalachian Trail that passes through New York and within 30 miles of New York City. It actually starts near Port Jervis and takes hikers through Bear Mountain State Park (you can check out the zoo and see Bear Mountain Bridge), up Anthony’s Nose, through Lemon Squeezer in Harriman State Park, past the Appalachian Trail Station (the only train station on the trail), and finally to the Great Swamp, which leads through-hikers into Connecticut.
Therefore, if you want to do a fun hike in upstate New York, then consider conquering a section of the Appalachian Trail that goes through New York. I mean, the trail passes through no less than five different parks and features a wealth of unique attractions that both hikers and non-hikers will love.
Where is this Hike: It goes through much of the Hudson Valley but the Bear Mountain section is probably my personal fave.
Distance: 90 miles but I would pick a single section that you like.
Difficulty Level: Moderate (a lot of it is fairly easy but some sections, like Anthony’s Mose, can be tricky)
19. The Saranac Six
I’m not gonna lie to you. This may be one of the best hikes in upstate New York but there’s not a snowball’s chance in hell that I’ve actually completed it.
Yeah, #sorrynotsorry. Because although I do love a good stroll through the woods, I am by no means a super savvy, wilderness expert who can somehow magically create drinkable milkshakes out of my own urine.
That’s why the Saranac Six is a bit out of my league. I mean, it basically requires you to hike six different peaks in the Saranac Mountain region in a single season.
But yeah, no pressure since these include 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).
And if you somehow manage to ascend all six in a single day? Well then, apparently you get the honor, neigh, the privilege of ringing the designated 6er bell in Saranac Lake (Ring the bell without doing all six hikes and apparently the dreaded Kiwassa Curse will befall you. Yup, insert creepy music and ominous vibes here).
Yeah, I think I’ll take a hard pass on that since I’d need a whole hell of a lot of money to climb six mountains in one day.
Bur, if you’re looking for a slightly tamer climb that is way more relaxing than it is grueling, then try the hike up Baker Mountain. It’s relatively easy and features a super snazzy overlook that will give you some stellar views of the surrounding area.
Where is this Hike: Saranac Lake, NY
Distance: 31 miles
Difficulty Level: Hard
20. Devil’s Hole Trail
Doing one of the best road trips in New York and planning a visit to New York’s famed Niagara Falls? If so then check out the awesome Devil’s Hole Trail in, you guessed it, Devil’s Hotel National Park.
Yeah, it’s a pretty awesome hike since it’s quiet (locals are the only ones who really use this trail) and takes you right along the super blue Niagara River for about 2.5 miles (5.0 miles round trip since this is an out and back trail).
You can also marvel at a super sweet, extra large whirlpool along the way, which is basically what the entire trail is named after. See, I guess even devil’s like whirlpool’s too.
And while this is a fairly moderate trail (so no he-man level strength required), it can get quite slippery. So, insert a mom-sized lecture here about how imperative it is to stay behind the guardrails. This way, you don’t accidentally, you know, fall into the river and drown.
Also, he sure to say hi to Canada for me, which site just across the river and lounge it up at some of the picnic benches that sit on the bottom left-hand side of a set of stairs along the trail.
Where is this Hike: Near Niagara Falls
Distance: 5.0 miles round trip
Difficulty Level: Moderate
21. More of the Best Hikes in Upstate New York
Honestly, upstate New York is basically overflowing with beautiful mountains that are littered with beyond exquisite hikes. So, no way could I mention every single trail that I wanted to in this already ridiculously long post about some of the best hikes in upstate New York.
So, just in case you’re still hungry for even more hiking awesomeness, here are a few more trails that you might want to check out as you thoroughly research all of the fun and uber-outdoorsy things to do in the great state of New York.
- Breakneck Ridge Trail – Yeah, the name alone scares me hardcore because I really don’t feel like breaking my neck while traversing one of the best trails in upstate New York. Anyway, this is a rough, 9,6-mile hike that requires a whole lot of agility that I do not possess. So, be sure you have great gear and are in good shape before starting this hike. But, if you do make it to the top, you’ll be treated to stellar views of the Hudson River and can get up close and personal with an old fire tower.
- Ausable Chasm – This is a famous hike in the Adirondaks and is perfect for people with limited hiking abilities. Translation? If you suck at hiking like me (or are insanely accident-prone like this chick right here), then this is a great hike for you, especially since it;s an easy cliffside walk that takes you through the ever-impressive, Ausable Chasm, along a super well-marked path.
- Constitution Marsh Trail – If you’re a fan of birdwatching (I’m not and am flipping terrified of birds), then this is one of the best hikes in upstate New York for you! It’s an easy, 2.0-mile hike that takes you along the Hudson River and through the Constitution Marsh Audubon Center and Sanctuary. Also, keep an eye out for red-headed woodpeckers, common nighthawks, Ospreys, and Loons since they all like to nest in the area.
- Storm King Mountain Trail (This one is right across the river from Breakneck Ridge) – This is a popular, moderately difficult, well-marked, 2.4-mile loop trail that takes you up and around New York’s famous, Storm King Mountain. Be prepared for stellar views, but do yourself a solid and go in a clockwise direction. Because going the other way will basically force you to rock climb up some small sections (also bring a walking stick to make life easier).
Time to have those raucous jazz hands at the ready because guess what?
We are officially DONE with this post about some of the best hikes in upstate New York!
So, go forth, hike your little heart out, and yeah, live long and prosper in the bountiful oasis of nature that is upstate New York!
And if you found this post even a little bit helpful, then pin it now so that you can read it again later! Come on, you know you want to.
All the cool kids are doing it (insert copious amounts of peer pressure to pin this post here).