For those looking to explore the scenic side of New York, the state has much to offer beyond the walls of the Big Apple. Whether you’re looking to explore countryside vistas, beautiful beach treks or to ascend a 5,344-foot mountain, you can do it in New York. To help you plan your scenic excursion, here is a guide to some of New York’s most scenic hikes.
Overlook Mountain is the southernmost peak of the Catskill Escarpment in the central Catskill Mountains. At 3,140-feet, it awards aerial views of the Hudson River, Hudson Valley, Ashokan Reservoir and beyond, but not before putting in a little work. To get to the top, you’ll trek for two miles uphill before reaching the ghostly ruins of an old luxury hotel. Ascend the stairs for a unique view out the holes where windows once sat. Continue on a bit more to the fire tower, which you can climb for true 360 degree views of the surrounding landscape. Near the tower you’ll see a small information cabin, which sits next to a small trail leading to a rocky outcropping that awards spectacular views of both the Catskill and Hudson Valley Region. The parking lot and trailhead are located on Mead Mountain Road in Woodstock, across from the Tibetan Buddhist Monastery.
Mohonk Preserve, located five miles west of the Village of New Paltz, features 7,000 acres of ponds, streams, forests, cliffs, unique rock formations and scenic trails in the beautiful Shawangunk Ridge. While all the trails featured in the preserve all picturesque, one exceptionally scenic trek is the Millbrook Ridge Trail, which offers bird’s-eye views of the Hudson Valley. Hikers can make the hike longer or shorter, as there are many cut-through options to make the trail into a loop by turning onto Trapps Road and the Coxing Trail. You’ll feel truly immersed in nature as you find yourself looking up at tall trees, crossing small creeks and scrambling up giant rock formations. As you get deeper into the words, make sure to keep your eyes and ears open for wildlife like the black bear, Wood frog, porcupine and Peregrine falcon. Visitors can access the trailhead from Parking Lot 2/West Trapps Trailhead.
An easy seven-mile loop trail, Sleeping Beauty awards views of Lake George as well as the surrounding forest and ponds from the summit. Switchbacks up the mountain ease the difficulty of the ascent, allowing beginning trekkers to also enjoy the vistas. Hikers will also get to take in Bumps Pond, a mirror lake surrounded by tall trees and mountains that is exceptionally breathtaking in the fall when the leaves are changing colors. Additionally, you can take an optional detour to Fishbrook Pond, another expansive crystalline pond that will truly make you feel immersed in nature. The trailhead for this hike can be accessed via Shelving Rock Road, with parking available in the main DEC hikers lot on the right.
Not only does this hike allow you to experience “the end” of Long Island, it also lets you watch playful harbor seals hauling themselves into the water and rolling in the sand from November to April. Even when the seals are not around, the trek is worth it for the mixture of woodland and beach landscapes as well as the bird watching. If you’re still feeling energetic once you reach the viewing bluffs, there are other trails that allow you to continue on to other nearby beaches and viewing areas, and can even take the trail all the way to Rocky Point. In fact, when you begin the trail you’ll notice you have a variety of options, including Seal Haulout Trail, Odgen Brook trail, Paumanok Path West, Oyster Pond trail, or the Money Pond Trail. The trailhead for this hike can be accessed via Camp Hero Road, with the parking area located south of the Point Woods Trail portion of the Paumanok Path.
At 5,344 feet, Mount Marcy is the highest point in New York State. Despite the fact the ascent is a challenge, the mountain sees well over 20,000 visitors annually. Keep in mind the shortest trail — the Van Hoevenberg Trail — is 14.8 miles round trip and gains an elevation of about 3,500 feet while traversing rough terrain and steps ascents. That being said, allow yourself about eight to ten hours and you’ll be able to take on the challenge and reap the rewards. At the top, take in 360-degree views of the Catskills, White Mountains, MacIntyre Range, the ridges north to Canada and the Green Mountains of Vermont. The trailhead can be access from the Adirondak Loj parking area at 1002 Adirondack Loj Road in Lake Placid.
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