10 Best Family-Friendly Hiking Trails In and Around NYC This Spring
Spring has arrived which means we can venture outdoors again! On a hike with beautiful views of the valley, monuments, and wildlife, we can breathe fresh air and admire nature. Even though that might seem difficult to enjoy in NYC, that doesn’t mean there aren’t ways to escape city life.
There are paths in curated New York City parks that can be great destinations for a hike! If you’re willing to venture out of the city as well, there are family-friendly hiking trails located under an hour and a half away that will give you some amazing views. Just select a skill level that matches your children’s experience and have fun!
If you are looking for another fun activity in New York to celebrate Earth Day? Check out Earth Day 2022: Events and Activities to Celebrate with Kids
Kazimiroff Nature Trail– Pelham Bay Park
Middletown Road & Stadium Avenue, NY 10465
The Kazimiroff Nature Trail in Pelham Bay Park is a lovely 1.2 mile path where one can really study wildlife and scenery. The trail is on Hunter Island in the Bronx and runs through wetlands, forest, and ends on a beach. You may also pass Hunter Mansion garden. It is a beginner level hike which is perfect for families who want their kids to explore nature firsthand.
Liberty Walkway– Liberty State Park
200 Morris Pesin Drive, Jersey City, NJ 07305
The Liberty Walkway may not be a typical hike, but it is great for families. The walkway is 3 miles out and back and offers superb views of the Statue of Liberty and the New York City skyline. While taking a walk, or bike ride, there is also a monument and old train station which your kids can learn about. Along the path there are benches, plaques about the wildlife, and large patches of grass to have a picnic.
Pine Meadow Lake– Harriman State Park
54 Seven Lakes Dr, Sloatsburg, NY 10974
55 mins from Midtown
Harriman State Park has many spectacular trails since it is the second largest state park in New York. The Pine Meadow Lake 10 mile loop is perfect for admiring the forest and lake, especially if you are looking for some tranquility. Another fun trail is the Lemon Squeezer (Island Pond Loop) where rock formations create a type of tunnel which will definitely excite your kids!
The Ramble– Central Park
Mid-Park between 73rd and 79th
The Ramble in Central Park is 36 acres of winding paths, trees, and hiding places. It is a great place to get lost in, but never leave the city. It is also perfect for birdwatching because this patch of greenery is a migratory stop for traveling birds. Central Park also has other paths, such as the narrow Central Park Reservoir Loop. It is only for running or walking and circles the Jackie Onassis Reservoir.
Stairway to Heaven– Appalachian Trail
443 Vernon Warwick Rd, Vernon Township, NJ 07462
1 hour from Midtown
Stairway to Heaven is a part of the Appalachian Mountain range in New Jersey. The hike is 2.9 miles out and back and is connected to the Wawayanda Mountain. It is a moderate to challenging trail which offers a steep climb, great views of Pochuck Mountain and the Catskills, and a waterfall. This is one of the most challenging hikes on this list meant for teenagers. Although there are many trail options in the Appalachian Mountain range where a hiker can pick and choose the length.
Cass Gallagher Nature Trail– Van Cortlandt Park
Broadway and Van Cortlandt Park S, Bronx, NY 10471
Van Cortlandt Park is a great park to bring the little ones. This trail is a popular and easy 1.4 mile loop for beginners. It only takes a little more than 30 minutes to complete. There are other trails at Van Cortlandt Park, such as the John Muir Nature Trail and the Van Cortlandt Park Trail if you want a bit more of a challenge.
Carpenter’s Loop– Fort Lee Historic Park
Hudson Terrace, Fort Lee, NJ 07024
30 mins from Midtown
Carpenter’s Loop is a 5.5 mile path in Fort Lee Historic Park on the border of New Jersey. There is some slightly rough terrain with wonderful views of the George Washington Bridge. On this path a hiker will find a model Revolutionary War encampment, cliffs, the shore of the Hudson, and the New York City skyline.
Cape Fly Away– Palisades Interstate Park
Alpine, NJ 07620
35 mins from Midtown
Palisades Interstate Park is definitely worth the trek across the bridge for amazing trails near the coast of the Hudson River. The Cape Fly Away is an easy trail about 3 miles long. It offers views of the riverfront and mild rocky terrain for the adventurous little one. There are other trails as well near the Alpine Boat Basin where a hiker can get really close to the water.
The High Line– Chelsea
When a visitor travels The High Line, which used to be railroad tracks, they capture amazing, unique views of the city. You can walk the entire length of the High Line, 1.45 miles, or enter at different points, found here under Park Access & Info. There are a ton of attractions in the park, from Chelsea Market to the 10th Avenue Square and Overlook, to keep the little ones entertained. The park does not lack in nature either, especially when you visit the Gansevoort Woodland. The High Line is open year round but the hours change seasonally.
Camp Smith Trail– Appalachian Trail
28 Bear Mountain Bridge Rd, Cortlandt, NY 10567
1 hour and 15 mins from Midtown
The Camp Smith Trail, specifically on Manitou Mountain, is a 4 mile loop which is a little bit of a workout for you and the kids, but it can always be made shorter. The hike offers plenty of panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and plenty of photo opportunities. If you are up for a challenge with teens, Anthony’s Nose is near the Camp Smith Trail and offers an all encompassing view after a steep climb.