15 Breathtaking Hikes Hidden Right in New York City: Urban Trails for Nature Lovers

New York City, famous for its hustle and bustle, is also home to some breathtaking hikes that you might not be aware of.

From serene waterfront pathways to invigorating woodland escapes, these 15 hikes provide an excellent opportunity for you to unplug and immerse yourself in nature without ever leaving the city.

Whether you’re an experienced hiker or just looking to explore the great outdoors, these trails have something for everyone.

So grab your hiking boots and let’s discover the beauty hidden right in the heart of New York City!

1. Central Park East and West Drive Loop

Discover the heart of NYC with the Central Park East and West Drive Loop, a versatile trail that caters to all fitness levels.

Central Park

Spanning approximately 6.1 miles, this path offers a blend of hilly and flat terrain amidst the iconic backdrop of the city. It’s perfect for an easy jog or a challenging run, and the breathtaking views of the park’s landscapes are a delightful reward.

One hiker on AllTrails describes the trail:

Beautiful day in nyc, trail has great views of the reservoir and the landmarks of nyc. Easy level trail, congested in areas

Along the way, take in the sights of famous landmarks and perhaps enjoy a picnic on one of the many grassy knolls.

2. George Washington Bridge

Experience the thrill of walking or biking across the George Washington Bridge, connecting New York and New Jersey.

George Washington Bridge

The pedestrian paths on the bridge offer moderate difficulty due to the incline, but the reward is unparalleled views of the Hudson River and the skyline.

A hiker describes this trail:

Enjoyed the walk over the bridge and the hike trail right off the Northwalk path in Jersey. HIGHLY recommend the hike trail if you want more touch with nature.

This iconic structure provides a unique urban hiking experience, with the breeze from the river complementing the majestic sights.

3. Hudson River Greenway: Battery Park to Riverside Park

Embark on a delightful 5.4-mile trail that takes you from Battery Park to Riverside Park. This easy route is perfect for a leisurely stroll, offering a refreshing riverside escape for both outdoor enthusiasts and casual strollers.

As you traverse this path, you’ll appreciate the jawdropping Manhattan skyline, lush greenery, and shimmering waters of the Hudson River. AllTrails users have rated this experience a 9/10 and praised the sunset views along the way.

Glide through small parks and piers on this well-maintained route, with opportunities to stop for picnics or simply soak in the scenery.

Bikers, runners, and walkers are all welcome, as the trail provides a relaxing haven for a variety of activities.

4. Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir Running Path

The Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir Running Path is a scenic 1.58-mile track that is a favorite for runners and walkers alike.

Encircling the serene reservoir, this flat path offers stunning skyline views juxtaposed with the tranquil waters, especially at sunrise or sunset.

It’s an easy route that showcases one of the most peaceful spots in Central Park, perfect for a leisurely stroll or an invigorating run.

Hikers on TripAdvisor enjoy this trail, saying it’s great for a quick run or leisurely walk:

Well maintained track. Perfect for a shorter morning jog where you’ll see the skyscrapers but be somewhat protected from the noises of the city.

5. Bronx River Forest

Take a walk on the wild side without leaving the city at the Bronx River Forest.

Bronx River Forest
New York Botanical Gardens, The Forest, Bridge and River” by Ryan Somma is licensed under CC BY 2.0. Photo may have been modified, resized, or cropped from original.

This spot is a little slice of heaven with the Bronx River flowing right through it – yup, it’s the city’s only freshwater river!

As you stroll along the easy trails, keep your eyes peeled for the critters that call this place home. The trees do this awesome seasonal fashion show, trading their green summer outfits for autumn’s fiery reds and golds.

And the best part? The soothing sounds of the river make you forget you’re in the middle of a bustling metropolis.

6. Randall’s Island

Randall’s Island is a versatile destination for outdoor enthusiasts. The island features miles of waterfront pathways, ranging from easy to moderate, offering panoramic views of Manhattan, the Bronx, and Queens.

Randall's Island

With its sports fields, gardens, and picnic areas, there’s an activity for everyone.

Whether you’re running, biking, or simply enjoying the fresh air, the island’s natural beauty and cityscape horizon are a captivating sight.

A hiking enthusiast on AllTrails have shared their delightful experiences:

Nice walk with plenty of water, bridge and skyline views. Saw ducks, geese and swans. Mix of dirt and paved trails. Lots of parking and drinking water stations.

7. The High Line

Explore the High Line in NYC, a transformed railway turned park, blending nature, art, and architecture along its 1.45 miles.

The High Line

As an easy and accessible hike through the Meatpacking District, Chelsea, and ending near the Javits Center, the High Line’s past as a railway adds an historic touch.

The High Line offers charming views of New York City’s skyline, making it the perfect hike for photographs, or simply to appreciate the surroundings. Wander through lush gardens, admire the thought-provoking art installations, and experience the city from an entirely new perspective.

A reviewer on TripAdvisor praises the High Line as:

A delight to take a leisurely walk, pause for coffee, soak in the cityscape, and wonder about the history behind this repurposed park.

Next time you’re in New York City, take a break from the streets and explore the captivating High Line – where history, nature, and urban living collide in a breathtaking experience just waiting for you to discover.

8. Inwood Hill Park Orange Trail

Escape the city buzz with a leisurely 2.4-km walk on Inwood Hill Park’s Orange Trail, perfect for families or a chill stroll.

Inwood Hill Park Orange Trail
inwood hill park” by aimeeorleans is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0. Photo may have been modified, resized, or cropped from original.

The trail will captivate you with its rich history, home to remnants of the Lenape tribe’s campfires and 8,000-year-old tools found in the park’s caves, as featured on Garden Collage.

One AllTrails.com reviewer exclaims, “I never knew such a beautiful path could be in the heart of NYC!”

Along the way, immerse yourself in the park’s diverse landscape, from lush forests to striking rock formations. You might even catch a glimpse of the majestic bald eagles, thanks to the Urban Park Rangers project.

If cycling’s your thing, try the adjacent Hudson River Bike Trail for a different perspective on this enchanting park. Lovely views and rich history await you at the Inwood Hill Park Orange Trail – don’t miss it!

9. Staten Island Greenbelt Trail

If you’d love a gentle dose of nature’s beauty without venturing far, the Staten Island Greenbelt Trail awaits.

Staten Island Greenbelt Trail
The Greenbelt, a series of parks and trails in central Staten Island, NY” by Dorothy Reilly is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0. Photo may have been modified, resized, or cropped from original.

Spread across various parks, including LaTourette Park, its lush greenery and wildlife transport you to a serene, natural environment.

This easy trail extends for approximately 12.3 miles, making it perfect for beginners and seasoned hikers alike. The Greenbelt Trail has been praised by fellow hikers on AllTrails for its diverse landscapes, such as wetlands, forests, and ponds.

Feel the soothing effects of nature wash over you, and perhaps catch sight of some amazing bird species on your journey. Along the way, take a break at one of New York City’s largest remaining forest preserves, the Greenbelt, to appreciate the lush surroundings.

The Staten Island Greenbelt Multipurpose Trail stands out too, as it allows cyclists to explore the area on a unique crushed gravel surface. With ample parking options available, there’s nothing stopping you from embarking on this breathtaking adventure.

10. Brooklyn Bridge Park Walk via Brooklyn

Embark on a delightful journey through the Brooklyn Bridge Park Walk via Brooklyn, boasting breathtaking views of Lower Manhattan and the New York Harbor.

Brooklyn Bridge Park Walk

This easy 1.1-mile point-to-point trail near New York City takes an average of 22 minutes to complete and showcases the beauty of the city’s skyline.

Soak in the serene vibes at Brooklyn Heights Promenade, a perfect place for memory-making along its scenic 1.3-mile waterfront park. Discover green spaces, sports facilities, and an array of events and activities by the East River.

One happy explorer raved,

The views are incredible and the trail is not too difficult!

Make your way to impressive locales like Pier 1 and Pier 6, where delicious eats await at the nearby Time Out Market.

Don’t forget to bring your furry friends, too! Dogs are permitted, on a leash on the promenades and pathways, and off-leash at designated dog runs. .

11. Forest Park Orange Loop

Experience the enchanting Forest Park Orange Loop, a 2.3-mile loop trail, which is generally considered easy to traverse.

Embark on your adventure between March and November to savor the lush landscape at its finest.

As you wander through this charming trail, you’ll discover that it is a popular destination for horseback riding, mountain biking, and running. Bring your four-legged friend along – dogs are welcome, just remember to keep them on a leash.

Whether you’re an experienced hiker or a newcomer to the great outdoors, the Forest Park Orange Loop offers a pleasantly refreshing trail for you to revel in New York City’s natural beauty.

12. Pelham Bay Park

Explore Pelham Bay Park, the largest park in New York City, which boasts over 13 miles of hiking trails.

Pelham Bay Park
Sweet little path, Pelham Bay Park” by Bogdan Migulski is licensed under CC BY 2.0. Photo may have been modified, resized, or cropped from original.

Trails vary from easy beachfront paths to more rugged, forested terrain, providing a challenge for hikers of all levels.

The park’s diverse landscapes include salt marshes, dense forests, and rocky shores, offering a scenic and invigorating hiking experience that feels worlds away from the city bustle.

13. Prospect Park

Prospect Park in Brooklyn is a verdant retreat with a network of trails that cater to casual strollers and avid hikers alike.

Prospect Park

The park’s 3.35-mile loop is a popular choice, presenting an easy to moderate walk through Brooklyn’s last remaining forest, past historic landmarks and the picturesque Prospect Park Lake.

Here’s what a hiker has to say about this trial:

This walk is for everyone. It’s makes for a great day in the park all season long. You can even bring your dog along for a long walk with you as well.

Each season brings a new, breathtaking canvas of colors and sights, making it a year-round destination for nature lovers.

14. North Woods

Immerse yourself in the tranquility of Central Park’s North Woods, a 90-acre woodland sanctuary reminiscent of the Adirondacks.

With easy to moderate trails, you can meander through cascading streams, rustic bridges, and dense foliage.

One hiker on AllTrails.com praised the trail for its great views:

Beautiful section in Central Park. Excellent views for a walk or run. Can get very hot in the summer.

The North Woods offers a peaceful respite from the city’s hustle, allowing visitors to experience the soothing sounds of nature and the occasional wildlife sighting right in the middle of Manhattan.

15. Van Cortlandt Park Trail

Step into a natural oasis at Van Cortlandt Park Trail, the third-largest park in New York City.

Van Cortlandt Park

This trail is like a green maze in the best way possible, with paths that wind through forests and open meadows.

You can choose your own adventure here, with trails that range from a breezy 1.5 miles to a more challenging 3 miles. And let’s talk about the scenery – it’s a mixtape of tall trees, open skies, and maybe even a deer or two if you’re lucky.

It’s the kind of place where you can take a deep breath, fill your lungs with fresh air, and just enjoy being away from the concrete jungle.

Whether you’re in it for a leisurely walk or a brisk hike, Van Cortlandt’s got you covered.

15 Breathtaking Hikes in New York City: A Recap

That’s 15 awe-inspiring hikes located within and around the bustling metropolis of New York City!

Whether you’re an urban dweller or a tourist, these trails offer a delightful escape into nature without having to travel far. Many of these trails come with the added bonus of being accessible via public transportation.

Remember: safety comes first, so be prepared for varying terrain, weather conditions, and pack essentials like water and snacks.

Most importantly, enjoy the serene surroundings as you venture into these enchanting trails that are literally at your doorstep. Happy hiking!

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