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20 Best Hikes Within 2 Hours of New York City

At times, the chaos of New York City can feel like an island unto itself (literally). But just outside the skyscrapers and beyond the neverending traffic, there’s a whole natural world to explore, and some of the best hiking in the country. Here are some of the can’t-miss paths and passages in New York and New Jersey —including parts of the Appalachian Trail—that are just a car, train, or Subway ride away.

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Anthony’s Nose 

Image by Nancy Kennedy

Where: Orange County, New York

Length: 2.6-miles out-and-back 

Time: 2.5 hours

Difficulty: Moderate 

What to Expect: Part of the Appalachian Trail, this challenging hike starts off with a bang: a steady vertical climb up a well-maintained 500-foot rock staircase. Once the path evens out, it leads to a rocky ridge named after the sizable nose of pre-Revolutionary War sea captain Anthony Hogan, which boasts spectacular views of Bear Mountain Bridge and the Hudson River. The huge, flat rock at the end is perfect for a picnic.

Permitted: Dogs are welcome but must be on a leash.

Old Croton Aqueduct Trail

Image by Moelyn Photos

Where: Westchester County, New York

Length: 26.5 miles

Time: Varies

Difficulty: Easy 

What to Expect: While this convenient trail runs from Tarrytown to Yonkers just north of the Bronx, most hikers pop in and out for a stroll along picturesque sections like Ossining to the Ossining Dam. There are also plenty of landmarks for history buffs, including the old aqueduct completed in 1842 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places) and Lyndhurst Castle, a Gothic Revival mansion.

Pets Permitted: Dogs are welcome but must be on a leash.

Marshlands Conservancy Loop

Where: Westchester County, New York

Length: 2.8 miles out-and-back

Time: 1 hour

Difficulty: Easy

What to Expect: A haven for birdwatchers, this relaxing hike through a 147-acre wildlife sanctuary located along the Long Island Sound’s Atlantic migratory flyway offers excellent bird spotting with more than 230 species. The trail also passes by an 1838 mansion that was once home to founding father John Jay.

Pets Permitted: Dogs not allowed.

Breakneck Ridge Hike

Where: Orange County, New York

Length: 3.7 miles loop

Time: 4 hours

Difficulty: Hard

What to Expect: Not for those with a fear of heights, this heart-pumping, and wildly popular trail lives up to its name. Hikers must scramble up a series of steep rocks to gain 1,400 feet in elevation but will be rewarded with some of the most iconic cliffs overlooks in the Hudson Valley.

Pets Permitted: Dogs are welcome but must be on a leash.

Dover Stone Church Cave Hike

Where: Dutchess County, New York

Length: 1.2 miles out-and-back

Time: 1 hour

Difficulty: Easy

What to Expect: After hiking through a lush forest and through a stream, this unique trail guides you to an unexpected finale: a majestic cave. Once used by Native Americans as a hideout in the 17th century, the cave’s natural gothic appearance and rock ledge “pulpit” led to it being affectionately called the Stone Church. Inside, the cave is hiding yet another secret: a 30-foot waterfall.

Pets Permitted: Dogs are welcome and may be off-leash in some areas

Labyrinth and Lemon Squeeze

Where: Orange County, New York

Length: 5.5 miles loop

Time: 4 hours

Difficulty: Hard

What to Expect: A true obstacle course, the Labyrinth tests agile hikers with a series of rock scrambles, ladders, and gorges. At the end, you have to shimmy and squeeze your way through a tight crevice—hence the name. But for those who like a climb that borders on bouldering, it’s a fun challenge with beautiful views over the Shawangunks and the Mohonk Mountain House.

Pets Permitted: Dogs not allowed.

Storm King Mountain

Image by Scott Aurnou

Where: Orange County, New York

Length: 2.5 miles loop

Time: 2.5 hours

Difficulty: Moderate

What to Expect: Popular for its breezy views of the Hudson River, lush forests, and just-hard-enough grade, this trail is a crowd-pleaser once you make it past the initial uphill climb. Afterward, stop by Storm King Art Center which is near the trailhead.

Pets Permitted: Dogs are welcome but must be on a leash.

Suffern-Bear Mountain Trail

Where: Rockland County, New York

Length: 23 miles point-to-point

Time: 12 hours (typically done over 2-3 days)

Difficulty: Hard

What to Expect: If thru-hiking is your thing, then this end-to-end trail is for you—complete with epic views of the New York City skyline, animal sightings, and untouched wilderness. There’s also plenty of history. Hikers briefly follow the 1779 Trail, the same path taken by Revolutionary War soldiers and Brigadier General “Mad Anthony” Wayne on their way to the Battle of Stony Point, and happen upon boulder fields, carried by a glacier more than 20,000 years ago.

Pets Permitted: Dogs are welcome but must be on a leash.

Stairway to Heaven Trail

Where: Sussex County, New Jersey

Length: 2.6 miles out-and-back

Time: 2 hours

Difficulty: Moderate

What to Expect: This Instagram-worthy section of the Appalachian Trail in Wawayanda State Park in New Jersey includes a boardwalk, waterfall, suspension bridge, marshlands, and pine forests. Go during spring to see the famous wildflowers fields before climbing the challenging rock slabs (or Stairway to Heaven) to one of the state’s most scenic outlooks, Pinwheel Vista.

Pets Permitted: Dogs are welcome but must be on a leash.

Gertrude’s Nose Trail

Image by Ultima Gaina

Where: Ulster County, New York

Length: 7.5 miles loop

Time: 5 hours

Difficulty: Hard

What to Expect: Open seasonally, this winding trail wraps halfway around Lake Minnewaska before leading hikers through rugged terrain featuring dense evergreen forest. Emerge from the woods for a stroll along chalky white cliffs with vertigo-inducing views. End your journey back at the lake with a picnic and dip in the water.

Pets Permitted: Pets are welcome, however, this trail may be difficult for dogs.

Ice Caves and Verkeerderkill Falls Trail Hike

Where: Ulster County, New York

Length: 7 miles loop

Time: 4.5 hours

Difficulty: Moderate

What to Expect: It’s hard to pick the most exciting part of this hike. From Verkeerderkill Falls (the highest waterfall in the Shawangunks) to the endangered dwarf pitch pine barren to the ice crevices and caves (which can stay frozen through July) there’s no shortage of things to see. Be aware that this trail is often closed in the winter when there’s too much ice.

Pets Permitted: Dogs are welcome but must be on a leash.

Indian Rock / Wanaque Ridge Trail Loop

Where: Passaic County, New Jersey

Length: 6 miles loop

Time: 3.5 hours

Difficulty: Moderate

What to Expect: A relatively easy trail that still manages to pack in many of the features that thrill hikers, this one is a crowd-pleaser. Come for Profile Rock (a boulder that eerily resembles a human face) and stay for the views over Ramapo Lake.

Pets Permitted: Dogs are welcome but must be on a leash.

Ken Lockwood Gorge and Columbia Trail

Where: Hunterdon County, New Jersey

Length: 8 miles out-and-back

Time: 3 hours

Difficulty: Easy

What to Expect: This trail offers a relaxed hike to one of New Jersey’ best kept secrets: Ken Lockwood Gorge. This lovely stretch of river is considered by some to be one of the most beautiful parts of the state, complete with rare birds, wildflowers, a trout conservation area, and an ancient ravine.

Pets Permitted: Dogs are welcome but must be on a leash.

Arden Point and Glenclyffe

Where: Putnam County, New York

Length: 4 miles loop

Time: 2.5 hours

Difficulty: Easy

What to Expect: Walk in the footsteps of Benedict Arnold who tried to escape along this trail during the Revolutionary War. It also happens to be beautiful; you’ll pass by a bamboo forest and waterfall, and get breathtaking views along the Hudson River.

Pets Permitted: Dogs are welcome but must be on a leash.

Ninham Mountain Fire Tower

Where: Putnam County, New York

Length: 1.5 miles out-and-back

Time: 1.5 hours

Difficulty: Easy

What to Expect: For maximum impact, come in the morning and climb the fire tower at the end of this hike for the best sunrise you’ll ever witness. On a clear day, you can see the Catskills sprawling out in the distance.

Pets Permitted: Dogs are welcome.

Carpenter’s Loop Trail

Where: Bergen County, New Jersey

Length: 5.5 miles loop

Time: 2.5 hours

Difficulty: Easy

What to Expect: Epic hikes don’t come much easier than this—just head across the GW Bridge into New Jersey, where you’ll find Fort Lee Historic Park. Once home to a Revolutionary War encampment, the loop will take you down the Englewood Cliffs and along the shores of the Hudson River (complemented with top-notch views of the NYC skyline).

Pets Permitted: Leashed dogs are only permitted on part of this trail.

Mount Beacon Trail

Image by rmbarricarte

Where: Dutchess County, New York

Length: 4.4 miles out-and-back

Time: 3 hours

Difficulty: Moderate

What to Expect: The popular Mount Beacon Trail is something of a choose-your-own-adventure with several difficulty options. To see the hits (including the fire tower) you must take the 4.4-mile trail. Yes, you have to climb an extra 500 vertical feet, and yes, the views over the casino ruins are worth it.

Pets Permitted: Dogs are welcome.

The Sunken Forest

Where: Suffolk County, New York

Length: 4.2 miles out-and-back

Time: 1.5 hours

Difficulty: Easy

What to Expect: Made up of a rare maritime holly forest, the Sunken Forest on Fire Island gets its name from the 300-year-old hardwood trees that are protected by a unique double sand dune system. In some areas, it looks like the trees are sinking into the sand. Take the ferry out and wander through this ecological wonder.

Pets Permitted: No dogs allowed.

Denton and Mullet Brook Falls

Where: Sullivan County, New York

Length: 8.5 miles loop

Time: 4 hours

Difficulty: Moderate

What to Expect: Chasing waterfalls? This loop takes you to two refreshing, off-the-beaten-path waterfalls that you’re likely to have all to yourself. Located in Neversink Unique Recreation Area, the hike also passes by the 60-mile Neversink River, considered the birthplace of American dry fly fishing.

Pets Permitted: Dogs are welcome but must be on a leash.

Sands Point Preserve

IMage by Wiskay

Where: Nassau County, New York

Length: 1.9 miles loop

Time: 1 mile

Difficulty: Easy

What to Expect: Located on the Guggenheim Estate in Long Island, Sands Point Preserve Conservancy offers 216 acres of woodland habitat to explore. Look out for herons on the loop trail and stop by Castle Gould, modeled after Castle Kilkenny in Ireland.

Pets Permitted: Dogs are welcome but must be on a leash.

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