It's our third edition of Gothamist's travel content, Gothamist Getaways. A few times a year, we'll have a week of posts featuring looks at travel, food, products and tips—near and far—for making your trips more enjoyable. So sit back, dream of your next journey and let us know if you have any hints for us—email email@example.com.
Living in NYC has its share of advantages, but access to nature isn't high on the list. Don't let that deter your inner adventurer. There are plenty of places to hike within an hour or two of the city, including some you can get to by public transportation
Breakneck Ridge Loop - Cold Spring, NY
Distance from NYC: 1.5 hours by train or car
The beautiful Breakneck Ridge Loop takes you high above the Hudson River, but you'll have to work for it. While it's a relatively short loop, at 2.8 miles, you'll be using both hands and feet to work your way up at some points (beware: slippery when wet).
Breakneck Ridge Loop (prairie rose f./Foursquare)
It's well worth it, as the quick elevation gain affords views of the Hudson, Storm King and Bannerman's Castle. It's much less crowded on weekdays, but weekends and holidays do have the added advantage of a dedicated Metro North stop 3 times per day in each direction. If you have a car, or feel like walking the two miles to or from charming Cold Spring (where trains stop hourly), try The Foundry for delicious breakfast or lunch.
Rattlesnake Swamp Trail/Appalachian Trail Loop - Delaware Water Gap, near Blairstown, NJ
Distance from NYC: 1.5 hours
If you want bragging rights, try this 5-mile loop hike, which allows you to say you've hiked some portion of the Appalachian Trail (could be a mile, could be the whole darned thing, we'll never tell).
This walk through dense woods, to a scenic ridge and fire tower feels worlds away from the city. You can't get there by public transportation, but a quick hour and a half drive will get you where you need to go. For a post-hike meal, try Ellias in nearby Columbia, NJ.
Gertrude's Nose Loop/Millbrook Mountain, near New Paltz, NY
Distance from NYC: 2 hours
The Shawungunks, affectionately known as the Gunks among the rock climbing and mountain biking communities that frequent the area, are also an excellent hiking destination. This trail is an 8-mile circuit, incorporating walks along the cliffs, dense forest, open rock and carriage paths.
Millbrook Mountain (SusanK/Flickr)
You'll get spectacular views of the western Hudson Valley and Palmaghatt Ravine, as well as Lake Minnewaska and Sky Top Tower. You can get there by bus (and a short taxi ride), or drive the 2 hours. Either way, you can grab a delicious snack or meal at The Main Course in New Paltz.
Forest View Trail/Closter Dock Trail Loop from Alpine Headquarters
Distance from NYC: 40 minutes
Quick association: Northern Jersey—what comes to mind? Right, we know. But have you ever driven past the Cloisters, glanced across the river and seen forested cliffs and acre upon acre of green? That's the Palisades, and the closest part to most of the city is, technically, New Jersey. Palisades Interstate Park encompasses about 2,500 acres along the Hudson River from Fort Lee to the New Jersey state line (and then continues into NY state), and it's really pretty. Really. And you can get there by public transportation, in about 40 minutes, depending on, well, traffic.
From the Alpine Headquarters (Melissa/Foursquare)
Biking is also an option. This 6-mile loop takes you along the cliffs for gorgeous views, down to the river, and through forest, past century-old graffiti and the 1929 Women's Federation Monument. For nourishment, there aren't a lot of options in the immediate area, but Kiku Alpine offers hibachi and sushi.
Hither Hills and Hither Woods Loop, East Hampton, NY
Distance from NYC: 2 hours
Yes, East Hampton. This long (it's 11.3 miles), but not particularly strenuous, hike takes you to bluffs, pitch pine and stunted oak forests, hilly woods, a scenic pond, and world-class views of the Atlantic.
Hither Woods Trail (Tarrah/Foursquare)
You might even see some ospreys or red-tailed hawks. And, thanks to the LIRR, and the local taxi company, you can get there without a car. The hike will take up a large portion of your day, so a hardy meal is in order before or after. If you don't want to break the bank, try Goldberg's Famous Bagels & Deli or Jamaican Specialties.
Amy Sirot is a writer, editor and producer whose work has appeared on National Public Radio and in Time Out New York, The Boston Globe, Wildlife Conservation, AMC Outdoors and other publications. When she's not traveling or writing about travel, she is planning her next trip.