Storm King Art Center
Storm King Art Center, one of the world’s largest and most renowned sculpture parks, features more than 100 sculptures spread across the center’s 500 acres of rolling hills, native fields, and woodlands. Several miles of walking trails allow visitors easy access to the exhibitions, which range in size from monumental to so tiny they could be easily overlooked. Rental bicycles are also available, along with frequent trams, plus plenty of picnic tables, a café, and museum, along with regular special exhibitions and events. Storm King Art Center is a convenient drive from New York City, with packages and deals available from Coach USA and Zipcar. Alternatively, the center is a quick cab ride away from the Salisbury Mills station on Metro-North’s Port Jervis line. Expect a fee to enter the park.
Storm King Art Center, 1 Museum Road, New Windsor, NY, USA +1 845 534 3115
Harriman State Park
The second largest park in the New York State Parks system, the 47,000-acre Harriman State Park boasts an impressive 200 miles of hiking trails. But three trails in particular stand out, especially for their proximity to the Tuxedo train station along Metro-North’s Port Jervis line. The Kakiat, Tuxedo-Mount Ivy, and Triangle trailheads all start directly across the tracks from the railroad station, and can be easily reached from a short distance north of the station at East Village Road, which safely crosses the tracks. For those with more transportation flexibility, namely, a car, the northern portion of Harriman State Park hosts 19 miles of the Appalachian Trail, which can be accessed from several different points within the park.
Palisades Interstate Park in New Jersey
Running alongside the Palisades Interstate Parkway, and hugging a whopping 12 miles of the Hudson River’s western shoreline, the 30 miles of hiking trails spanning the 2500-acre Palisades Interstate Park in New Jersey are particularly easy to access from New York City. Simply hop on either the ShortLine or the Red and Tan line, with regularly scheduled buses leaving out of Port Authority or the George Washington Bridge Terminal, respectively. Both lines make numerous convenient stops along the nearby Route 9W. Bus stops locations are well marked on the park map, so pick a starting point somewhere between Fort Lee, New Jersey and the Rockland County, New York border, and go take a hike along the magnificent steep cliffs of The Palisades.
High Point State Park
Situated at the highest point in New Jersey, High Point State Park offers 16,000 acres of scenic views that span portions of New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and the Delaware River. At an elevation of more than 1,800 feet, the park’s boldest and best known feature holds court. The 220-foot High Point Monument, erected 85 years ago in honor of New Jersey’s war veterans. Fifty miles of multi-use trails traverse the widely diverse terrain, including a cedar swamp, mountain ridges, forestland, lakes, and wetlands. A portion of the Appalachian Trail also runs through High Point State Park. Cars are charged an entrance fee.
High Point State Park, Route 23, Sussex, NJ, USA +1 973 875 4800
Not for the faint of heart, Breakneck Ridge features a robust, rocky, at times near-vertical 2.8-mile climb that typically requires as much as 3.5 hours to complete. But the views of the Hudson River and nearby Storm King Mountain, as seen from high atop the ridge’s summit, are well worth the effort. Access the trail by taking Metro-North’s Hudson line to Cold Spring and then head north on Route 9D to the trailhead. On weekends and holidays, several special flag stops are also scheduled at the makeshift Breakneck Ridge train station, just north of the trailhead. The trail is part of the multi-sectioned Hudson Highlands State Park Preserve, which boasts a number of other excellent hiking destinations in the Lower Hudson Valley.
Walkway Over the Hudson State Historic Park
Formerly an abandoned railroad bridge destroyed by fire decades ago, the beautifully refurbished 2.6-mile loop of the Walkway Over the Hudson offers breathtaking views of the Hudson River from a height of 212 feet. Enjoy a ride up or down the all-glass elevator located on the Poughkeepsie side of the bridge, or follow the connector trail to Franny Reese State Park on the Highland side of the bridge for an additional 2.5 miles of scenic trails. The Walkway Over the Hudson State Historic Park is an easy 15-minute walk north from the Poughkeepsie train station on Metro-North’s Hudson line.
The 8,500-acre Mohonk Preserve is the go-to spot for world-class rock climbing. The Shawangunk Mountains are universally regarded as a premier climbing location, and Mohonk Preserve, located in the heart of The Gunks, offers more than 1,000 climbing routes at all levels of difficulty. Not ready for rock climbing? Try rock scrambling on Bonticou Crag, or enjoy a spectacular view of the brave rock-climbers from the Undercliff/Overcliff trail. Handicapped-accessible carriage roads are also available. A solid 90 minutes away from New York City, be prepared to add extra travel time for weekend traffic, as this site is an extremely popular destination. There is a small fee for accessing trails, and note that portions of The Trapps climbing routes are currently closed due to nesting Peregrine falcons, but all other trails remain open.
Minnewaska State Park Preserve
Minnewaska State Park Preserve features two ‘sky lakes,’ Lake Minnewaska and Lake Awosting, which were once the site of a couple of opulent resorts. The hotels are gone, but the natural opulence of the scenic area remains, underscored by 35 miles of carriage roads and 50 miles of multi-use paths. A new feature of the area is minimalist camping at a modest fee, for those who yearn to rough it.