Seven Epic Hikes in Upstate New York

When people think of New York – usually the Big Apple comes to mind. But once you head up the Hudson River past the Burroughs and suburbs, you begin to get into some of the best hiking on the eastern seaboard. With numerous summits, waterfalls, valleys, cliffs, ledges and more – there’s something for everyone in Upstate New York. And – if you’re new to hiking – we’ve got a bunch of guided adventures to help get you out there. Below, you’ll find seven our favorite hikes from around the state.

1. Indian Head (Adirondacks), Keene Valley

the stunning view from the Indian Head cliff in the Adirondack State Park

This hike is perhaps one of the most popular in the Adirondack Park, despite not being a ‘high peak.’ The trail weaves 11 miles through lush forests up to the rocky vista at 2,700 feet above sea level. You’ll have views of Mount Colvin, Sawteeth, and the East Branch of the Ausable River. The expansive area makes a perfect spot for lunch and prime photo opportunities before heading out. On your way down, you can divert to a Rainbow Falls, a 150′ foot waterfall in a narrow ravine that often features rainbows during the right lighting.

Trailhead Location: St. Huberts Parking Area – 24-78 Ausable Rd, Keene Valley, NY 12943.

2. North Point, Palenville

Enjoying Lunch and the views of North South Lake from North Point in the Catskills

Just 2.5 hours north of New York City, Palenville is known as the “gateway to the Catskills’ and features a number of hikes to get the heart pumping. You’ll come through a few challenges on the trail that takes you through 6 miles and up 1,100 feet of ledges, forests, grottos and overlooks before ascending to the vista that gives spanning views of North South Lake, South Mountain, Kaaterskill High Peak, and the Hudson Valley. You can complete the trail as an out-and-back, or head down to Mary’s Glen and finish the trail as a loop. We often do this trail as a guided trip, which is a great way to experience it for the first time!

Trailhead Location: North South Lake Campground 874 N Lake Rd, Haines Falls, NY 12436 – continue to end of road near swimming area.

3. Newman’s Ledge – Palenville

Looking out over Hudson Valley from the vista at Newman’s Ledge in the Catskills State Park

If you want to feel like you are standing at the edge of the world – you need to get out on this trail. Just over 2 miles round trip, this trail is a good way to get yourself introduced some of the stunning views available in the Catskills Park. Newman’s Ledge is an outlook on the famous Escarpment Trail, which is a 20 mile trail that traverses the ridgeline with the Catskills to one side, and the Hudson Valley to the other. Step out towards the ledge, and you’ll be able to gaze out over the Hudson River all way to Massachusetts.

Trailhead Location: North South Lake Campground 874 N Lake Rd, Haines Falls, NY 12436 – continue to end of road near swimming area.

4. Whiteface Mountain, Lake Placid,

The view of Lake Placid from the summit of Whiteface Mountain in the Adirondack State Park

Whiteface Mountain in the Adirondack State Park is an interesting mountain, because it offers two different ways to get to the top. For the fit and adventuresome, you can take the nearly 10 mile trail that climbs 3,600 feet to the summit of Whiteface at 4,865 feet above sea level. For those looking for a more easygoing day, you can take the Veterans Memorial Highway to the parking area near the top, enjoy a lunch or beer, and then take the last half mile of the trail up to the summit. Either way – you’re in for incredible views of Lake Placid and the surrounding Adirondack peaks. The summit is also home to some of the worst weather in the world – so bring a jacket no matter what time of year you visit.

Drive to Top: Whiteface Veterans Memorial Highway, Wilmington, NY 12997

Hike to Top: There are several different hiking routes, we will work to get a review up by this summer.

5. Indian Head Mountain (Catskills) – Elka Park

This hike crosses through a section of the infamous ‘Devil’s Path’ – known as one of the most dangerous routes in the country. Steep cliffs, downed trees, narrow ledges and more make this route one of the more challenging in the Catskills. Click here to read our full review of completing the hike in early winter conditions – or watch our video review. The roughly 8 mile trail will have you saying ‘oh snap’ at least a few times – and thats before you even get to the views. The summit itself isn’t that extraordinary – the various vistas and outcroppings along the way down are what will take your breath away (now that you’ve caught it again after the ascent).

Trailhead Location: Prediger Road Hunter, NY 12427. Continue to the trailhead loop parking lot at the end of the road.

6. Overlook Mountain Firetower, Catskills

In their heyday, there were more than 100 firetowers across New York State, tasked with managing the problematic fires of the time. Now, there are just five remaining in the Catskills Park – and the tower at Overlook Mountain is one of them. A 3-mile trail leads to the 3,140 foot summit (and passes through the remains of the abandoned Overlook Mountain House Hotel along the way). You’ll work up a sweat with the relentless grade of the trail, but it is not challenging in a technical way. Climb up the 60 foot tower once you’re there to enjoy 360 degree views of the Catskills and Hudson Valley.

Trailhead Location: 335 Meads Mountain Road, Woodstock, NY 12498

7. Giants Ledge, Big Indian

The name Giant’s Ledge implies that the hike features just a single ledge, which is technically true, but there are countless unique viewpoints along the ridge. A relatively easy 1.5 mile ascent will get you to the first of the views at around 3,000 feet above sea level. You can continue for another quarter mile to enjoy the various photo opportunities, or extend your trip by heading to the summit of Panther Mountain, another 2.2 miles up the trail.

Trailhead Location: Trail Parking lot at Oliveria Slide Mountain Road, Big Indian, NY 12410

Don’t forget to check out one of our guided experiences to these (or other locations) – we’ve got regular trips headed out, and hope to see you soon!

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