Trails and Ales: New York

For tourists and locals alike, we round up the 5 best hikes outside NYC where you can cap off your adventure with an ice cold beer
July 14, 2018Words by Zak Suhar and John SuharPhotos by Zak Suhar and John Suhar

Summer in New York City is in full swing and the long days are calling all adventurers out of hibernation to explore some of the best parts of the city. And there’s plenty to do within city limits, From Central Park to Prospect Park and Governors Island to Rockaway Beach.

But for those who want to escape the crowded sidewalks and blazing hot subways, we’ve rounded up our favorite shortlist of accessible hikes outside city limits. Our recs range from a quick 30 miles away to a two hour road trip out of the city.

Photo: John Suhar

Whether you’re a long-time New Yorker or are just passing through, read on for some of the best trail and ale pairings just a short jump outside of the city.

Sleepy Hollow 

Rockefeller State Park Preserve in Briarcliff Manor

Distance from NYC: 30 miles

Ways to get there: 30 minute train to Tarrytown / 1 hour drive / 3 hour bike ride

Hike: 13 Bridges Loop Trail, 1.9 miles, very easy 

Beer: Blue Hill at Stone Barns

Photo: John Suhar

First on our list and the closest distance from the city is Sleepy Hollow in the Rockefeller State Park Preserve. The property is the former estate of the Rockefeller family offering 1,425 acres open to the public year round, sunrise to sunset, and more than 30 trails with 20 miles to explore. This is more of a stroll than a hike, but the scenery is worth it.

One of our favorites is the Sleepy Hollow Trail—it’s a beginner and scenic trail. Two other highlights are 13 Bridges Loop Trail, 1.9 miles of easy grade, and the Old Croton Aqueduct State Historic Park, 0.9 miles of easy grade. All scenic paths wind through wetlands, woodlands, meadows, and fields and past streams, rivers, and lakes while traversing wood and stone bridges. For those looking for more than just a stroll, the Preserve is an idyllic spot for running and horseback riding. With 180 recorded species of birds, it’s a must-visit area for birders, and the Pocantico River makes a great spot for fishermen trying to catch brown trout as well.

When you’re done exploring, make a stop at Blue Hill at Stone Barns. This working four-season farm and educational center has a Cafe and Grain Bar where you can grab snacks, farm-fresh lattes, and other locally grown goodness. For a cheaper option, Sweet Grass Grill is your spot with outdoor seating closer to the Tarrytown train stop. If you have extra time, check out the Sleepy Hollow Manor or the Tarrytown Lighthouse before making your way back to the city.

Anthony’s Nose 

Hudson River Valley in Cortlandt Manor

Distance from NYC: 50 miles 

Ways to get there: 45 minute train to Manitou / 1.5 hour drive / 5 hour bike ride

Hike: Anthony’s Nose Trail, 2.6 miles, medium to hard 

Beer: Peekskill Brewery

Photo: John Suhar

Second on our list and a short train ride away from Grand Central is Anthony’s Nose. This spot is situated on the Appalachian Trail and offers up stunning views. This hike is a medium to hard difficulty because of the steep 900-foot climb, but views at the top of the Hudson River and Bear Mountain Bridge overlook are well worth it.

Once you get off the Manitou stop you’ll want to hike along Route 9D to the trailhead, then follow trail markers up to the top. Be sure to hike around the summit and find your own section of secluded rock and watch the sunset away from other hikers before making your way back the same way you hiked up. If you’re feeling up for it, head across the river to Bear Mountain to get in another hike or travel to the Storm King Art Center, a 500-acre open-air sculpture park.

After exploring, grab a taxi or drive south along the Hudson for 10 minutes to Peekskill Brewery to cool off with a beer sampler and some food. Be sure to try the amazeballs, herb fries, and all their local beers. After a sampler, the Eastern Standard IPA will likely have won you over for a solo pint.

Breakneck Ridge 

Hudson River Valley in Cold Spring

Distance from NYC: 60 miles

Ways to get there: 1 hour train to Breakneck / 1.5 hour drive / 6 hour bike ride

Hike: Breakneck Ridge Trail, 3.7 miles, hard 

Beer: Whistling Willie’s

Photo: John Suhar

Third on the list is another quick train ride from Grand Central dropping you off directly at the Breakneck Ridge Trailhead or the nearby Cold Spring stop. A quick walk from the Breakneck Ridge stop begins a strenuous hike where you rock scramble up 1,500 feet to summit. As you climb, you’re rewarded with sweeping views of the Valley at several points along the trail.

Similar to Anthony’s Nose, the unique rock formations make for many secluded areas to explore once arriving at the summit. There are a number of different trails to take. Some hikers elect to do an out and back and descend the same way they came up, while others choose to follow the trail down the other side of the ridge. If you choose to descend on the other side of the ridge, be sure to explore the Ruins of Northgate and the Cornish Estate and take in the sites of the old greenhouse and the large estate that still has many walls and chimneys intact.

From the estate, we suggest following the trail out of the woods and taking a short walk along the road into the town of Cold Spring. Reward yourself with a stop at Whistling Willie’s for some popcorn, sandwiches, and drinks. Try the local Peekskill Eastern IPA, or the Captain’s Kolsch from nearby Pleasantville. On your way back to the train station, stop in at Old Souls outdoor store and the Cold Spring General Store, both situated along the charming Main Street. Before boarding the train, a favorite final stop for us is grabbing a Moo Moo’s Creamery cone before heading back to the City.

Kaaterskill Falls

Great Northern Catskills in Hunter

Distance from NYC: 120 miles

Ways to get there: 2.5-hour drive

Hike: Kaaterskill Falls Lower Trailhead, 2 miles, easy to medium 

Beer: Circle W Market

Photo: Zak Suhar

Our next hike is approximately a two hour drive northwest of Manhattan and takes you to one of the most scenic waterfalls in the area. Rent a car in New York City or take a train north to White Plains to avoid traffic driving into the Catskills. A local favorite, this popular hike takes you to an incredible 260 foot waterfall that cascades over two drops.

Park at the designated area along Route 23A and walk over to Bastion Falls before making your way to the upper falls. The steep and rocky trail is easily marked all the way up to the base of the lower falls. Explore the main falls then hike the staircase up to the top for a rewarding aerial view. If you want to do the hike in reverse, there’s an option for that too. Park and hike in and out from the Upper Trailhead, then descend down to the falls. We recommend stopping at all viewpoints to soak in Kaaterskill in its entirety.

After exploring, head to Circle W Market and General Store for a quick snack then head over to the Deer Mountain Inn for a delicious cocktail or a beer. On your way back to the city, head over to Miss Lucy’s Kitchen in Saugerties for a delicious farm to table meal, and be sure to try their seasonal revolving microbrews. Planning to make a weekend out of this trip? Book a night at the Getaway House and experience life in a tiny home.

Hunter Mountain Fire Tower

Great Northern Catskills in Hunter

Distance from NYC: 140 miles

Ways to get there: 2.5-hour drive

Hike: Hunter Mountain via Devil’s Path Trail, 6 miles, hard 

Beer: Last Chance Antiques & Cheese Café

Photo: Zak Suhar

Last on the list is the Hunter Mountain Fire Tower, the second highest peak of the Catskill Mountains, the first of 23 fire lookout towers built by the state in the region. Similar to Kaaterskill Falls, drive straight northwest out of Manhattan or take a train to rent a car just north of the City.

There are two routes to make it to the top, one from the Becker Hollow parking lot, and one from the Trail Access near Devil’s Tombstone Campground. The one from Devil’s Tombstone can be done as a loop or a hike in hike out route. There are a bunch of switchbacks in the beginning but after a few miles the trail levels out before junctioning into Hunter Mountain Trail and Spruceton Trail leading to summit. Try to get to the tower for sunrise or sunset for golden colors painting the Catskill mountains. On a clear day the hike offers wonderful views of the other 3,500 foot peaks and the valleys between them.

After exploring, head over to the town of Tannersville for a drink at Last Chance Antiques & Cheese Café. Choose from over 300 beers, and compliment your IPA or lager with over 100 cheeses. For a fancier option, head to The Prospect at Scribner's Catskill Lodge and try the Devil’s Path IPA from Catskill Brewing Company or a Burn’t Maple Old Fashioned. If you’re up for a detour on your way back, head an hour southwest to The Kaatskeller for incredible ambiance, mouthwatering pizza, and amazing cocktails. To make a weekend of this trip, book a night at Hunter Mountain or Scribner’s Catskill Lodge.

For more information on hikes along the Hudson River Valley, the Catskill Mountains, and areas outside of New York City, Hike the Hudson Valley and Catskill Hiker are great resources.

Photo: John Suhar

What are your favorite hikes within a day trip from NYC? Let us know in the comments and we hope to see you out there. 

Zak and John Suhar are brothers, photographers, and the best-of-friends living in New York City. They grew up in the Midwest amongst rolling hills, pristine waters, and expansive forests — wild environments that instilled within each of them a deep appreciation for the natural world and for the people who call this planet home. Follow them on Instagram @zaksuhar and @jtsuhar

>>Next: Trails and Ales: San Francisco


Trending Gear