nyc Archives - Urban Outdoors



As the snow melts away, New York City finally becomes a wonderful place to spend time outside. While your mental image of NYC may consist of images of skyscrapers and cramped streets, hidden in the city are pockets of trails, streams, and rivers that make for perfect outdoor adventures. An afternoon spent kayaking in NYC can take you through fresh streams winding through urban settings or in the Hudson River (and most of these areas are free to paddle in!).

What we love about canoeing and kayaking is that it is an activity for everyone: you can be a “natural” without even taking a lesson! That being said, we highly encourage all New Yorkers to take advantage of the beautiful scenery in the city, and what better way than on the water? We wrote this guide to our top recommendations for the most beautiful places to go canoeing and kayaking in New York City.

Best Places to Go Canoeing and Kayaking Around NYC

A panoramic view  of kayaking in New York City with the picturesque skyline on the horizon.
Enjoy panoramic views of the city while kayaking the coast!

The Downtown Boathouse

As an all-volunteer non-for-profit with the goal of giving city residents access to outdoor recreational activities, The Downtown Boathouse offers free kayaking throughout the summer at Pier 26 and Governors Island. With views of the New York skyline and even the Statue of Liberty, this free option makes kayaking around New York City convenient and stress-free!

Pro-Tip: Boats are rented out for 20 minute intervals, but it is usually not busy in the mornings, in which case you can paddle for as long as you want! And if you are over eighteen, you can hop out of the boat and swim too.

How to Get There: Located off West St, between Hubert St and N Moore St.

Hudson River

With over 500 acres of park land, Hudson River Park offers a range of canoeing and kayaking experiences, from free to guided tours (recommended if you are a new paddler). If looking to fill an open afternoon, Hudson River Park will not disappoint; with trapeze on lush open lawns and kayaking the shoreline, it is sure to be an exhilarating time.

If nervous about paddling on higher-speed waters, Manhattan Kayak +SUP offers guided tours from Pier 84 ranging from three to 30 miles, depending on how far you want to adventure. And with views of the Statue of Liberty from downtown and the Empire State Building from Midtown, you’ll want to adventure far.

Manhattan Kayak operates from Pier 84, Downtown Boathouse from Pier 26, and Manhattan Community Boathouse from Pier 96.

Pro tip: Manhattan Community Boathouse offers free kayak rentals on a first-come, first-served basis during the summer and fall!

How to Get There: Visitors can experience the river and tours from three different locations: Pier 96 (cross at W55th Stat Pier 96 in Clinton), Pier 84 (cross at W44th St at Pier 84 in Maritime Entertainment District), or Pier 26 (cross at N Moore in Tribeca at pier 26 in Tribeca). If not driving, the nearest subway stops are 8 Av/W 12 St; W 14 St/9 Av; 11 Av/W 15 St; or 11 Av/ W 18 St on the A line.

Inwood Canoe Club

Offering a number of events throughout the spring and summer, The Inwood Canoe Club is a West Manhattan canoeing organization known for a free public paddling program along the Hudson River. Attendees learn paddling skills, gain access to the city’s waterways, meet other members of the community, and contribute to cleanup efforts along the Hudson’s shore.

Between Memorial Day and Labor Day, the club welcomes the public for guided 20 minute tours of the Hudson River. To cover the insurance associated with your visit, the club charges $4 for one day, or $15 for a season’s worth of kayaking. Having been a staple in the community for 100 years, the Inwood Canoe Club is the place to go for avid canoers and kayakers.

How to Get There: Near Inwood, next to Fort Tryon. If not driving, you can take the A or 1 train to Dyckman Street and walk west toward the Hudson River.

Two blue kayaks rush through the water with the New York skyline behind them in the distance.
Explore the urban outdoors by paddling around New York City! Photo Credit: Kam (Flickr CC)

Brooklyn Bridge Park

Located at Pier 2, the Brooklyn Bridge Park Boathouse offers some of the most convenient kayaking in New York City, and a newly redeveloped park creates beautiful atmosphere to experience the river.

The Boathouse has summer programs for kids, and has 50 specially planned trips to make your experience kayaking around NYC great!

The Boathouse offers walk-up kayak rentals and lessons – no experience necessary! This is the perfect choice for families looking for an outdoor adventure, as certain days are specifically set aside for children- and family-focused sessions.

How to Get There: If driving, cross Brooklyn Bridge and exit onto Old Fulton St. Take this to the boathouse. If not driving, the park is accessible by several subway lines (A/C, 2/3, 4/5, F, R) and bus routes (B25, B61, B63, B67). Visitors can also arrive via the NYC Ferry at Fulton Ferry Landing.

Kayakers surround New York City's harbors with the New York City skyline on the horizon.

Red Hook Boaters

Located in Louis Valentino Jr. Pier Park in Red Hook, the Red Hook Boaters offers free 20 minute kayaking trips beginning early June, first come first serve. This location is protected by the harbor, and therefore is pretty calm paddling- perfect for beginners!

Pro Tip: The kayaks provided by Red Hook Boaters are unsinkable and sea-bailing, meaning water that gets into the boat will immediately drain. Take advantage of this no-risk operation, it is 100% free!

After paddling, kayakers join the volunteer crew in beachfront pickup as a way to pay for their lesson- a pretty great way to get involved with the community!

How to Get There: If driving, cross Brooklyn Bridge and take I-27B south. Take exit 27 onto Columbia st. Scoot over one street west onto Van Brunt St and continue until Van Dyke St, where you will take a right and head down to the pier. follow signs for Ikea Plaza to Coffey St. If not driving, take the B61 to Red Hook and get off at the intersection of Coffey and Van Brunt Street, then walk two blocks west to the park pier.

Sebago Canoe Club

Located on Avenue N and Paerdegat Avenue North, the Sebago Canoe Club is the place for small boat enthusiasts. With the a huge kayak committee, the club hosts numerous events throughout the season, like tours of Jamaica Bay (free on Wednesday and Saturday) and Full Moon paddles.

With sailing, rowing, canoeing, and kayaking, Sebago Canoe Club certainly has it all! If planning to paddle with Sebago more than a few times a month, the membership fee is totally worth it. Members get unlimited access to equipment and use of the club’s cabin Harriman State Park for low cost.

Kayaking around New York City at the “grand-daddy of canoe clubs” is the perfect way to escape the city. Trips do have a low coast, but Sebago Canoe Club gives longer tours (about an hour) and paddles to streams other places do not offer.

How to Get There: If driving, cross Brooklyn Bridge and continue along Belt Pkwy until exit 13. Then turn left onto Seaview Ave. If not driving, take the #2 or #5 line to last stop Flatbush Ave/Brooklyn College. Connect to the B6 to Flatlands & Ralph Ave.

Kayaking in New York City turns into a fun adventure when you add a sail! Cruise the waves with this kayak-sail hybrid.
Cruise the waves of Jamaica Bay with this kayak-sail hybrid! Photo Credit: Kam (Flickr CC)

The Gowanus Dredgers

Located on 2nd Street in Red Hook, The Gowanus Dredgers have started many projects aimed at making the NYC waterfront safer and more accessible. Although they do very under-appreciated work, they take on the important task of educating the community about the shoreline and avoiding overflow and sewage problems.

Kayaking in NYC with this educational lens, the tour guides are ripe with knowledge on the city and how to help clean these beautiful waters. Said to be a unique experience very different from kayaking the Hudson River, this paddle tour is sure to be an eye-opening experience.

Participants are able to take a 20 minute paddle down the Gowanus Canal for free on Saturdays and Sundays from May through November. During your trip, participants are asked to join in the canal cleanup efforts by removing trash that has washed ashore.

How to Get There: If driving, cross Brooklyn Bridge, then continue on Boernum Pl until you can take a left at Atlantic Ave. Take a right on Hoyt St and then finally, make a left on 1st St. If not driving, take the F or G Line to Carroll Street & exit to front of Bklyn-bound train, cross Smith St. Walk three blocks down 2nd Street to the dock.

Red and yellow kayaks sit on the rocky shore beneath the Brooklyn Bridge, a very convenient launch spot for kayaking in New York City.
Access this awesome launch spotlight beneath the Brooklyn Bridge! Photo Credit: Charlie (Flickr CC)

North Brooklyn Boat Club

Located on Newtown Creek between Ash Street and McGuinness Boulevard, the North Brooklyn Boat Club offers both walk-up free paddling sessions in addition to private events for your corporate team or organization.

Paddling tours go through East River and Newton Creek, a tour favored by recent participants Jimmy Kimmel and Bill Murray (no biggie…). The only tour to go into Newton Creek, North Brooklyn Boat Club’s knowledge on this slice of paradise is vast and fascinating. This is a great way to see Manhattan- kids and pets welcome! Memberships for year-round activities are a steal- only $40 per year!

How to Get There: If driving, cross Brooklyn Bridge and continue on 27B until exit 33. Head north on McGuinness rd until you reach Pulaski bridge. The boathouse is right before the bridge. If not driving, you can take the G train to Greenpoint Ave. or 7 train to Vernon Blvd./Jackson Ave. Alternatively, B32 or B62 bus to Green St. and Manhattan Ave. or McGuinness Blvd. and Freeman St. will also bring you close to the boathouse.

Salt Marsh Nature Center

  • Location: Brooklyn
  • Rentals Available: Yes- at The Salt Marsh Nature Center

The Salt Marsh Nature Center is Brooklyn’s largest park, with flora and fauna that transforms the urban space. From Gerritsen Inlet, you can paddle through the quiet creeks and marshes for a few miles. If you’re feeling ambitious, you can head all the way out to the Atlantic Ocean or the Rockaways.

NOTE: You’ll need a permit to launch a kayak on your own here. The Nature Center also offers Ranger programs if you really want to expand your nature vocabulary. The Salt Marsh Nature Center is especially loved by families, birdwatchers (American Kestrels spotted here), and photographers.

How to Get There: If driving, take the Belt Parkway to Kings Plaza exit (11N) the go north on Flatbush Ave. Turn left on Ave U and continue west for 10 blocks. Pass East 33rd Street and look for a parking lot on the right. The Salt Marsh nature center is located on the left side of the street. If not driving, take the N, F, B or Q train to the Avenue U stop and transfer to the eastbound B3 bus to Burnett Street and Avenue U.

Paddle board and kayak in New York City to see the skyline in a whole new way.
Paddle boarders and kayakers can enjoy New York City’s views from the water! Photo Credit: Dan Nguyen (Flickr CC)

Kayak Staten Island

Located on South Beach, just beyond the northernmost end of the expansive Boardwalk, Kayak Staten Island is the perfect place for free kayaking in NYC.

Kayak Staten Island is a great local resource and over the years has fostered a community focused on preserving local waters, Signing a waiver is the only thing standing in your way from making a memorable kayak trip this summer.

All equipment is free, and paddle sessions last 15-20 minutes long. This is the perfect place for a last-minute water adventure! Pro tip: Kayak Staten Island is one of the only places open on the island to rent kayaks until 7 pm, the perfect time for a sunset paddle.

How to Get There: If driving, take Belt Pkwy into Staten Island and then exit onto Goethals Rd. Make a U turn underneath the overpass and continue until the river on the right. If not driving, take S78 bus to Hylan Blvd and Page Ave walk south, towards the water, to the end of Page Ave (from Staten Island ferry terminal) .

LIC Community Boathouse

Located on Hallets Cove (31st Street and Vernon Avenue), the LIC Community Boathouse offers free walkup kayaking on weekdays and weekends, with views of Roosevelt Island, Manhattan, Queens, and Brooklyn.

LIC offers a special one-hour paddle to Anable Basin for paddlers 18 years and older. Kayaking some of New York’s more challenging water, this epic journey is a great activity for intermediate paddlers. (Oh, and it’s FREE!)

Besides sponsoring awesome trips to Anable Basin, the LIC Community Boathouse plays a vital role in rejuvenating Long Island City, and educating the community on the local ecology. Said to be the all-around best boathouse for any interest, kayaking with LIC should definitely be on your list this summer.

How to Get There: If driving, take the Queens and head north on Vernon blvd. Turn left on 46th ave and the boathouse will be on the left. Midtown tunnel If not driving, take the #7 subway heading to Flushing / Main Street and get off at stops ranging from Vernon Blvd / Jackson Ave to Queensboro Plaza. At Queensboro Plaza, you can transfer to the N or W to reach points along the East River waterfront.

Flushing Bay

Located at the World’s Fair Marina launch, Flushing Bay is a part of the 160 square miles of connected streams and trails of New York City’s Parks and Recreation. Besides endless streams of water perfect for an all-day adventure, you can also kayak passed Rikers Island, New York City’s main prison facility (we swear, it looks pretty from a distance!).

NOTE: A permit is required to launch your own canoe or kayak, but it is definitely worth it for some peace and quiet on these tranquil waters. And if you need a kayak, Wheel Fun Rentals has you covered.

How to Get There: If driving, head east on Grand Central Pkwy and take exit 9E towards 25A. Then take exit 14 and turn left onto Linden Pl. Next, turn right on 120th St and then turn left on 18th ave. Take a last immediate left then right and continue until the bay. If not driving, you can take the 7 train to Willets Point, E, F, V & R trains to 71st Avenue past Meadow Lake or bus Q66 to Northern Boulevard.

Double kayaks are a great way to experience New York's waters with friends and family.
Grab a double kayak and explore New York’s waters with friends and families!

Esopus Creek

Esopus Creek offers some of the best intermediate kayaking opportunities in New York. With rugged terrain that flows clockwise around the Catskill Mountains, this day-trip from the city is a must for kayakers who want a challenge. With streams that reach Slide Mountain, the highest peak in the Catskills, kayaking Esopus Creek is certainly full of scenic views and adventure.

There are several Class II, III, and IV rapids to explore, with launch points off Route 28 in Phoenicia and Allaben. Pro Tip- the further north you go, the more challenging and narrow the waters tend to be, so keep this in mind if a beginner!

Saugerties Marina provides kayak rentals and has guided outings down the lower end of Esopus Creek.

How to Get There: If driving, take FDR Dr. to Harlem River Dr. Then take I-87 N up to exit 20 to get to the marina. If not driving, there are buses and trains that leave from Penn Station and Port Authority that bring you to only a 15 minute taxi ride to the park.

Cold Spring

  • Location: Phillipstown
  • Cost: 3 or 4-hour tours $110
  • Rentals Available: Yes- at Cold Spring

Located about an hour north of Grand Central Station, Cold Spring provides the perfect outdoor getaway for kayaking near NYC. With tours up to 4 hours, Cold Spring accommodates all levels, and paddles through the scenic Hudson Highlands.

Participants have the opportunity to see historic Bannerman Castle on Pollepel Island, explore Foundry Cove, and paddle through Constitution Marsh to see an amazing waterfall. Longer trips include lunch, but all tours are not free. With so much to see, kayaking around Cold Spring makes a great day-trip for the family.

How to Get There: If driving, head up FDR and continue on I-87N until exit 5, where you will follow signs for Sprain Brook Pkwy N. Continue until exit 5 and take highway 9A into US-9N. Take the exit into 403, and then take the right onto 9D. Continue until Phillipstown and then follow signs to the river. If not driving, there is a Metro Train leaving from Grand Central Station that takes you directly to Cold Spring.

Letchworth State Park

Although it may be a bit of a trek, Letchworth State Park has so much to offer, and is known as the “Grand Canyon of the East”. With five-and-a-half miles of Class I and II whitewater kayaking down the Genesee River, and some gorgeous waterfalls on the south end, the park is truly a paddler’s paradise.

Because some parts of the river have a quick current, this paddle is best suited for intermediate level kayakers. However, there is still an abundance of quite waters found in the three gorges in the park that are perfect for novice paddlers.

Plus, the park is half an hour south of Rochester, which has lots of cool restaurants and museums to explore. The park also offers rafting, hiking, and hot air balloon rides if looking to add to your kayak adventure.

How to Get There: If driving, take I-80W until you pass Tannersville, then head north on I-380. Continue onto I-81N, and then merge onto I-86W. Continue onto I-390N until you turn left onto Sonyea Rd. The state park is further down the road.

White rocky cliffs and lush green surround this beautiful getaway- a great destination for all abilities wanting to kayak near New York City.
Paddle through the lush green of Letchworth State Park on your next water adventure! Photo Credit: gardener41 (Flickr CC)

Additional Resources for Canoeing and Kayaking in NYC

What to Pack for Canoeing and Kayaking in NYC

  • Swimsuit: Wearing a swimsuit is essential for being out on the water! When canoeing and kayaking, chances are you are going to get wet, so best to be prepared! Click here to compare men’s and women’s styles and prices for our favorite swimsuits.
  • Sunglasses: Being out on the water is beautiful, but the water can really reflect light! Make sure to bring a pair of sunglasses and croakies to keep them from falling off.
  • Hat: It’s best to keep the sun off of your head to keep you cool. Whether you prefer a nice bucket hat or a vintage baseball cap, keeping cool will ensure an awesome trip.
  • Water Bottle: Keeping hydrated is no joke! Paddling is a great way to exercise and relax, but that means it takes a lot of energy too! Make sure to drink plenty of water throughout your trip with these cool water bottles.
  • Sunscreen and Bug Spray: Don’t let the elements stop you from having an amazing paddle! I recommend bringing sunscreen and bug spray in the boat with you to ward off any pests and sunburns.

For a more comprehensive gear list, check out The Ultimate Kayaking Gear List for more ideas on what to bring on your epic water adventures!

Related Links to Kayaking in New York City

New York City might seem like all skyscrapers and concrete from afar, but if you look closely, it’s also a city with tranquil green spaces and fantastic access to hiking trails. Case in point: the fantastic variety of hikes near NYC that you can get to easily on public transportation! We asked locals, snooped online, and wandered the Big Apple ourselves to come up with our guide to the best and most beautiful places for hiking near NYC.

A note on transportation: As city dwellers, we know it can often be hard to get to many of the outdoor areas near you without a car. Where possible, we try to include public transportation instructions, but renting a car may be necessary to get to some of these spots. We typically use and recommend Enterprise – they have the widest selection of cars at the best prices – but you can also click here to check reviews & compare rental car prices in your city.

Incredible Urban Trails for Hiking In NYC

The High Line

  • Location: Western Manhattan
  • Distance: 1.45 miles
  • Difficulty: Easy

Known as a tourist hotspot, the High Line is an industrial trail that starts in New York’s Meatpacking District, runs through Chelsea, and ends near the Javits Center. Originally, the trail historically served as a viaduct for the New York Central Railroad, and opened in 2009 as a hiking trail after being repurposed by the city.

Boasting beautiful city skyline views, paved pathways, and a central location, this short and leisurely hike is a fantastic one to do on your own or with the family. Here, you’ll trade forests and mountains for buildings and people watching, but we promise it’s a great way to see New York City outdoors.

Pro tip: Go early in the morning to avoid the crowds and get some solitude before the rush of tourists hits the trail.

Stunning tree-lined pathways in Central Park, NYC

Central Park

  • Location: Central Manhattan
  • Distance: Varies
  • Difficulty: Easy to moderate

Everyone who knows New York City knows Central Park, the expansive, wooded green area that lies right in the middle of Manhattan. On sunny weekends it seems like the whole city is here, running, reading on the grass, or chatting with a friend on a park bench. While there’s no specific route here we recommend the most, we do love getting lost on the tree-lined trails for hours and people watching along the way.

Pro tip: Central Park is a nice place for a walk or a hike during any season, but we’d recommend heading there in the fall. Fiery colors light up the park for a truly magical scene.

Bronx River Greenway

  • Location: The Bronx
  • How to get there: Take the 5 train all the way to 241st Street, the trail begins near the train exit
  • Distance: 8 miles
  • Difficulty: Moderate

A hidden gem in the Bronx, the Bronx River Greenway is popular with local paddlers and anyone wanting to soak in the peaceful forest vibes this river trail has to offer. Extending 8 miles, the river here was recently restored and has cool, clean water to swim in. On summer days you can find nature lovers out here to play – splashing in the water or hiking through the meandering trails of the park. If you’re looking for true nature hideaways for hiking in NYC, you’ll certainly find one here.

Pro tip: Bring a swimsuit! You can easily pair your hiking adventure with a kayaking excursion down the Bronx River or a quick swim.

Brooklyn-Queens Greenway

  • Location: Brooklyn & Queens
  • How to get there: Take the 7 train, then get off at the Main Street-Flushing stop and find the trail head nearby
  • Distance: Varies, total length is 40 miles
  • Difficulty: Varies

If you’re looking for hikes in NYC that take you through diverse urban and nature areas, the Brooklyn-Queens Greenway might be a great choice for you. This massive trail system runs through two boroughs and spans wildlife areas, forests, marshes, residential streets, and city parks. For runners, the trail offers an excellent stretch of largely uninterrupted running that will keep your senses stimulated for miles and miles.

Pro Tip: Near Alley Pond Park, you can spot what some say is the oldest living organism in New York City – a tulip tree lovingly named the “Queens Giant”.

Photo Credit: Kenneth Dellaquila

White Trail at Alley Pond Park

  • Location: Queens
  • How to Get There: Take the QM6 bus to Union Tpk/226th St, then walk ~15 minutes to Alley Pond Park
  • Distance: 3.4 miles
  • Difficulty: Easy

Speaking of Alley Pond Park, this beautiful park area is definitely worth a visit if you want to go hiking in NYC, even if you aren’t exploring the Brooklyn-Queens Greenway. Like we mentioned, you can find LOTS of trees here, including pine forests and the famous “Queens Giant” tulip tree. The White Trail is a family-friendly, easy hike that brings hikers of all levels away from the city streets and into what feels like pure, serene woods. The park sits on a moraine formed by a glacier and is home to many ecosystems across its forests, wetlands, and other terrain.

Gerritsen Creek Nature Trail

  • Location: Brooklyn, near Jamaica Bay
  • How to get there: The B3 bus goes directly to Marine Park, where you can find Gerritsen Creek Nature Trail
  • Distance: 1 mile
  • Difficulty: Easy

If you’re an avid bird watcher or wildlife lover, the easy, shoreside Gerritsen Creek Nature Trail is a fantastic spot to see all kinds of wetland wildlife, from herons to fish species. Located on the site of a former indigenous fishing settlement, Marine Park (where Gerritsen Creek is located) has undergone significant changes of the centuries, from industrialization to revitalization into a nature area. Nearby, you can also walk to numerous beach areas to enjoy the bay and the seaside vibes.

Photo Credit: Dana (Flickr CC)

Blue Trail at Inwood Hill Park

  • Location: Manhattan
  • How to Get There: Take the A train to 207th St station
  • Distance: 1.7 miles
  • Difficulty: Easy

Inwood Hill Park is a beautiful spot in Manhattan for hiking in NYC. The Blue Trail is its longest trail, winding through the park for a modest 1.7 miles. In this short hike, you’ll have the chance to see caves, ancient rock formations, and glacial potholes. At the Overlook Meadow, you can catch stunning views of the Hudson River across to the New Jersey Palisades. From the trail, you may also have the chance to spot a majestic bald eagle – Inwood Hill Park is known as one of the best areas in NYC to see them.

The Yellow Trail at Staten Island Greenbelt

  • Location: Staten Island
  • How to get there: Take the Staten Island ferry, then from the terminal, take the S62 bus. Disembark at Bradley Avenue and transfer to the S57 bus, which will take you to Brielle & Rockland Ave. The entrance is nearby.
  • Distance: 8 miles
  • Difficulty: Moderate to difficult

We couldn’t leave off New York’s final borough, Staten Island, and its lovely Greenbelt Conservancy & Nature Center. This diverse green area has 6 trails, including four that are only for hikers (no bikes allowed!). The Yellow Trail is unique because it’s a bit more challenging compared to other hikes in NYC. Gems like Todt Hill and Moses Mountain, as well as bald eagle spotting, await hikers who make the trek out to this nature center.

Photo Credit: Tom’s Playground (Flickr CC)

Hudson River Greenway

  • Location: Western Manhattan
  • How to get there: Any train or bus heading west in Manhattan
  • Distance: 12.9 miles total
  • Difficulty: Easy

As one of Manhattan’s most popular walking, hiking, and biking trails, we absolutely could not leave off the Hudson River Greenway as one fabulous spot for hiking in NYC. While this isn’t a place to go for nature or wildlife, it’s fantastic for people-watching and for soaking in the cosmopolitan feels of Manhattan. Along the trail, you’ll get fantastic views of both the city and the river, and on sunny, warm days, you’ll be in good company, as it’s a beloved outdoor hotspot that’s centrally located.

Best Hikes Near NYC (That You Can Visit Without A Car)

Breakneck Ridge - Best hikes near NYC
Photo Credit: Jeff P (Flickr CC)

Breakneck Ridge

  • Location: Cold Spring, NY (~1 hour from NYC)
  • How to get there: On weekends, take Metro-North from Grand Central Station all the way to Breakneck Ridge
  • Distance: 4 miles
  • Difficulty: Difficult

A local favorite for a more challenging, mountainous trail, Breakneck Ridge combines gorgeous scenery with accessibility to the city. At just one hour away from Gran Central Station, Breakneck Ridge is a fantastic spot for hiking near NYC that’s perfect for an adventurous day trip. The trail is about 4 miles of moderate to challenging terrain, including a few areas that require scrambling. Tough inclines are worth it, though – the views from the top of surrounding forests and mountainsides are absolutely jaw-dropping.

Read More: Everything You Need to Know to Hike the Breakneck Ridge Trail

Lake Skenonto Trail at Harriman State Park

  • Location: Sloatsburg, NY
  • How to get there: Take the NJ Transit train from Penn Station to Tuxedo Station, then walk 0.5 miles to the trail head
  • Distance: 8.1 miles
  • Difficulty: Moderate

If you’re looking for a true escape from New York City, the Lake Skenonto Trail at Harriman State Park winds through forested areas and rolling hills to a serene lake. Here, you can expect a moderate level of hiking, namely a few steep uphills to hike through the mountains before arriving at the lake. The trail is largely forested, but opens up to blue skies as you approach the lake. At just one hour from the city, the Lake Skenonto Trail is one of the most easily accessible nature hikes near NYC on our list.

Pro tip: If you’re visiting in the heat of summer, be sure to pack a swimsuit and towel and enjoy the cool, fresh waters of the lake as a reward!

Photo Credit: Eden, Janine and Jim (Flickr CC)

Old Croton Aqueduct Trail

  • Location: Dobbs Ferry, NY
  • How to get there: Take Metro-North from Grand Central Station to Ossining; you can begin your hike on the trail 0.5 miles from the station (click here for detailed directions)
  • Distance: 26 miles total (can be shortened)
  • Difficulty: Easy

For history lovers, the Old Croton Aqueduct Trail is one of the best hikes near NYC, where you can walk through the former area that ran fresh water from upstate into New York City.

Aside from being in the aqueduct itself, the trail also features some really interesting sites dating back 175 years or more, like the New Croton Dam, historic homes, and the real life Sleepy Hollow village (yes, the one with the Headless Horseman…). As an easy trail that’s suitable for hikers of all levels, Old Croton Aqueduct is a wonderful place to trade the city for tree-lined trails.

Arden Point and Glenclyffe

  • Location: Cold Spring, NY
  • How to get there: Take the Metro-North Hudson train to Garrison, then find the signs at the station for “Arden Point – Hudson Highlands State Park”
  • Distance: 3.8 miles
  • Difficulty: Easy

Easy, beautiful, and accessible – what makes for a better hike than that? Arden Point and Glenclyffe is a strikingly beautiful trail through pathways used during the Revolutionary War. Aside from the history, there are tons of scenic lookouts and breathtaking views from this loop trail, including views of the Hudson River, West Point, and some pretty lavish upstate homes.

Once you head towards the trail from the train, you’ll cross a steel bridge before starting towards Arden Point. Along the loop trail, you’ll find ruins of old buildings and serene forest areas dotted with lots of pretty views.

Storm King Art Center is a collection of more than 100 carefully placed sculptures

Storm King State Park & Art Center

  • Location: New Windsor, NY
  • How to get there: Take the Metro-North Hudson line from Grand Central Station to Beacon Station, then a shuttle to Storm King. There’s also a discounted pass sold at Grand Central called the Metro-North Getaway Package.
  • Distance: Varies
  • Difficulty: Easy

One of the most unique places for hiking near NYC is Storm King State Park – kind of like a state park meets an art exhibit. The park a naturally beautiful and scenic area with rolling hills and large meadows, and there are several trails all over the area that lead to various, massive art structures. Art lovers will enjoy this cross-section of nature trails, permanent art fixtures, and shifting exhibitions, and nature lovers will enjoy the many twists and turns the trail takes through the park area.

Stairway to Heaven (Appalachian Trail)

  • Location: Vernon, NJ
  • How to get there: Catch the NJ Transit bus #196 or #197 to Warwick. From there, it’s a 10-minute Uber or taxi to the trail
  • Distance: 2.9 miles
  • Difficulty: Moderate

For hikers who enjoy a challenge, as well as lots of surprises along the trail, Stairway to Heaven is one of the best spots for hiking near NYC. Located in New Jersey, the trail takes you to the top of Mount Wawayanda, twisting through rocky areas and forests to the summit, which boasts stunning views of the surrounding hills. Along the 2.9 mile trail, there are tons of beautiful rock formations as well as a picturesque suspension bridge.

Pro tip: With large, varied rock formations, climbers should come with gear to take advantage of the bouldering and scrambling opportunities.

Read More: A Complete Guide to Hiking the Stairway to Heaven Trail in New Jersey

Historic Fire Island Lighthouse in Fire Island National Seashore

Fire Island National Seashore

  • Location: Long Island, NY
  • How to get there: Take the Montauk Branch of the LIRR from Penn Station to Bay Shore, Sayville, or Patchogue to access ferry terminals. From there, you can find a list of ferry options to various parts of the seashore here.
  • Distance: Varies
  • Difficulty: Varies, mostly easy

Located on Long Island’s coast, Fire Island National Seashore is a different kind of hiking experience than the one on our list. For starters, much of the park area is only accessible by ferry, meaning you’ll need to set aside a full day for Fire Island. Second, since it’s so remote, you’ll be able to find fairly private seaside trails year-round, unlike some of the more popular spots on our list. The park boasts a beautiful historic lighthouse as well as sandy shorelines where you can explore. Just make sure to stay off the dunes – they’re protected areas on the island for many reasons.

Anthony’s Nose Trail (Appalachian Trail)

  • Location: Hudson Highlands, NY
  • How to get there: Take the Metro-North Hudson line and get off at the Manitou stop, then walk 1.5 miles to the trail head
  • Distance: 2.6 miles (5.6 including walk from the train)
  • Difficulty: Moderate

If you’re wanting to explore even more sections of the Appalachian Trail, Anthony’s Nose is a great place for hiking near New York City. Connected to the nearby Camp Smith Trail, this hike can lengthened depending on how far you’d like to go. It’s one of the quintessential Hudson Valley hikes and one we’d recommend for hikers of all levels!

Accessible by Metro-North, the short stretch of the Appalachian Trail at Anthony’s Nose features a 500-foot rock staircase – a real workout – following by stunning views along the mountain ridge. From the top, you can see the Hudson River, the Bear Mountain Bridge, and the surrounding mountains.

Bellvale Mountain (Appalachian Trail)

  • Location: Warwick, NY
  • How to get there: Catch the NJ Transit bus #197 to Route 17A and Kain Road, then walk to Continental Road to begin the hike
  • Distance: 8 miles (one way)
  • Difficulty: Difficult/Expert

For hikers wanting a bit more challenge than the other trails on this list, the Bellvale Mountain trail on the Appalachian Trail is a challenging ridge hike that requires some experience under your belt. Not for the faint of heart, those who do tackle the Bellvale Mountain trail will be rewarded with incredible views from the Prospect Rock viewpoint, which is the highest post of the Appalachian Trail in the state of New York. From the top, you’ll see breathtaking vistas of nearby Greenwood Lake, Sterling Forest, and the surrounding areas.

Additional Resources on Hiking Near NYC

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While most people think of New York City as a concrete jungle, there’s actually quite a wonderful variety of things to do outdoors, even in the winter. One of our favorite cold weather activities is hitting the slopes, and luckily, there are tons of areas to go snowboarding and skiing near NYC. We’ve compiled this list of 17 fabulous ski resorts near NYC, including several that are perfect for beginners!

A note on transportation: As city dwellers, we know it can often be hard to get to many of the outdoor areas near you without a car. Where possible, we try to include public transportation instructions, but renting a car may be necessary to get to some of these spots. We typically use and recommend Enterprise – they have the widest selection of cars at the best prices – but you can also click here to check reviews & compare rental car prices in your city.

Best Places to Go Skiing Near NYC for Beginners

We know that skiing as a beginner can be stressful, especially when you’ve got so many choices for places to go! We’ve chosen 4 resorts for snowboarding and skiing near NYC from our list that are especially good for beginners to help you find the right place to learn.

Thunder Ridge Ski Area (NY)

  • Distance from NYC: 68 miles (1.5 hours)
  • Experience Levels: All levels
  • How to get there: By car, Thunder Ridge is about one hour north of NYC on I-87. For those without a car, you can get to Thunder Ridge on the Metro-North Ski Train during ski season.

Thunder Ridge Ski Area is a smaller gem of a ski resort, and it made our list for two reasons: it’s less than two hours from New York, and lift tickets are much cheaper compared to some of the larger, more commercial resorts. This means that skiing here is accessible and affordable to many New Yorkers, and it’s not hard to get to.

There are just over 20 trails, with a pretty even mix of easy, intermediate, and expert slopes. Thunder Ridge also has two beginner ski areas and a terrain park for first-timers to get some experience under their belt.

Photo Credit: Shinya Suzuki (Flickr CC)

Camelback Mountain

  • Distance from NYC: 86 miles (1 hour, 45 minutes)
  • Experience Levels: Beginner and intermediate
  • How to get there: While it’s easiest to drive to Camelback Mountain Resort, there is a Martz Trailways bus from Port Authority that arrives nearby at Mt. Pocono. From there, you can take a taxi to Camelback Mountain Resort.

For beginners to intermediate skiers that want to gain more experience on the slopes, Camelback Mountain is a fantastic option for skiing near NYC. It’s located just under 2 hours from the city and you can take a bus there if you don’t have a car.

Many of slopes at Camelback Mountain are beginner-friendly, even the ones that start at the top of the mountain, so you can try your hand at some of the longer trails even if you’re just getting started on skis or a snowboard. When you’re not skiing, they’ve also got an indoor water park that makes for some fun and family-friendly apres-ski activities!

Mohawk Mountain (CT)

  • Distance from NYC: 100 miles (2 hours)
  • Experience Levels: Beginner to intermediate
  • How to get there: By car, take I-684 N and drive for 2 hours. Unfortunately, it is very difficult to get here without a car, so if you are carless in NYC, we’d recommend renting one.

While smaller than many resorts on our list, the family-run Mohawk Mountain is a fantastic choice for beginners looking for places to ski or snowboard on a budget. This ski resort is less expensive than most resorts on our list because of its small size – you can get a lift ticket for less than $40 on weekdays (and $67 on weekends)! Clocking in at just two hours from Manhattan, it’s a perfect place for first-timers to go skiing near NYC.

Locally, Mohawk Mountain is known as “the home of snowmaking.” This sentiment rings true, as there’s active snowmaking on 95% of trails. A lift ticket is also good for night skiing, as many of the trails are open past the evening hours and are well-lit. 30% of the trails are beginner or intermediate level, meaning that you can definitely hone your skills on the many trails offered at Mohawk.

Catamount Ski Area

  • Distance from NYC: 120 miles (2.5 hours)
  • Experience Levels: beginner to intermediate. 36 runs (35% beginner, 45% intermediate runs)
  • How to get there: By car, drive north on Taconic State Parkway for ~2.5 hours.

Located in Berkshire mountains, Catamount Ski Area is a small, 36-trail ski area that’s great if you’re looking for smaller crowds and a more intimate skiing or snowboarding environment. The resort features lots of beginner to intermediate trails, perfect for those still learning and wanting to practice their skills.

They’ve got great prices on passes – unlimited, 6 day, weekday, and night passes. There’s also a discounted college pass for anyone with a university ID.

Jiminy Peak - skiing and ski resorts near NYC
Photo Credit: Massachusetts Office of Travel (Flickr CC)

Jiminy Peak Mountain Resort

  • Distance from NYC: 155 miles (3 hours)
  • Experience Levels: All levels, with several beginner to intermediate options
  • How to get there: By car, take Taconic State Parkway north to the resort. Unfortunately, if you don’t have a car, we’d recommend renting one to get to Jiminy Peak as it’s quite difficult to get there via bus.

Situated in the Berkshire Mountains of Massachusetts, Jiminy Peak Mountain Resort is one gem of a places to go skiing near NYC. While there are trails and resources for all levels of snowboarders and skiers, it is an especially wonderful ski resorts near NYC for beginners to get on their feet, with tons of long, beginner-friendly slopes to practice on. It’s also got some of the most stunning views in the Berkshires.

Best Ski Resorts Near NYC for All Levels

Mountain Creek

  • Distance from NYC: 53 miles (1.5 hours)
  • Experience Levels: All levels
  • How to get there: By car, take I-280 W to Highway 15 – in total, it takes about 1.5 hours to arrive. There are also lots of bus options to get to Mountain Creek from NYC, including SnowBus, Rally, and OvR.

Located just an hour and a half from New York, Mountain Creek Ski Resort is an ideal day trip or weekend getaway from the city to hit the slopes. With 46 trails over 160 ski-able acres, Mountain Creek is a medium-sized resort that’s perfect for a peaceful weekend getaway on the slopes. There’s also a wide variety of difficulty levels at the resort, from easy, smooth green hills to black diamond drops.

Not only does Mountain Creek have skiing and snowboarding, but they also have tubing, which is a family-friendly activity that anyone can enjoy. At the resort, you can also rent gear, take lessons, or enjoy the terrain park to change things up a bit.

Jack Frost Big Boulder

  • Distance from NYC: 105 miles (2 hours)
  • Experience Levels: All levels
  • How to get there: The easiest way to get to Jack Frost Big Boulder is to drive, as most of the public transit options are local and don’t come from NYC.

Jack Frost and Big Boulder Resorts, lovingly known as JFBB, are a conglomerate of trails that make up a small and locally loved spot for skiing near NYC. The JFBB resort consists of just 36 trails, fairly equally distributed between easy, intermediate, and advanced-level terrain. As it’s just 2 hours from New York City, Jack Frost Big Boulder is a wonderful place to take a ski or snowboarding day trip and fly down several of their various slopes.

Photo Credit: David (Flickr CC)

Hunter Mountain (NY)

  • Distance from NYC: 128 miles (2.5 hours)
  • Experience Levels: All Levels
  • How to get there: By car, it takes about 2.5 hours to arrive via I-87 N. Without a car, you can get to Hunter Mountain via an Urban Sherpa bus directly from the center of Manhattan.

With its year-round resort amenities, Hunter Mountain is a well-known spot for skiing and snowboarding near New York City. It’s got all of the major amenities, from rentals and lessons to double black diamond rated slopes and a terrain park. While the terrain isn’t as well-groomed as some of the larger resorts, it’s a nice spot for a day trip to try out some new and different slopes near NYC.

Located in the Catskill Mountains, Hunter Mountain is amid-sized resorts for skiing near New York City with a variety of trails (67, to be precise). It’s also one of the few ski resorts near NYC to be part of the Epic Pass network, so avid skiers and snowboarders with an Epic Pass can hit the slopes here for no additional charge.

Mountain Trails Cross Country

  • Distance from NYC: 127 miles (2.5 hours)
  • Experience Levels: All levels
  • How to get there: By car, it takes about 2.5 hours to arrive via I-87 N.

Just a few miles from Hunter Mountain Ski Resort is another, smaller resort called Mountain Trails, which is one of the few ski resorts near NYC that focuses exclusively on cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. Its self-proclaimed slogan is “the best kept secret in the Catskills.” For those who have done cross-country skiing in the past, you’ll know that the game is much different than downhill skiing, but it’s a fun and rewarding adventure if you’re willing to give it a try!

You can get gear rentals and lessons on cross country skiing at Mountain Trails, as well as access to several different forested trails. With its excellent, accommodating staff and well-maintained trails, Mountain Trails is a great place for experienced skiers as well as first-timers to learn cross country skiing.

Belleayre Mountain

  • Distance from NYC: 135 miles (2 hours, 45 minutes)
  • Experience Levels: All Levels
  • How to get there: By car, you can get to Belleayre Mountain in less than 3 hours via I-87 north and NY-28 W. Or, without a car, you can get there on the Belleayre Ski Bus.

Located just under 3 hours from NYC, Belleayre Mountain is a mid-size resort that’s got something for everyone. With 80 trails and 4 lodges where you can grab food or relax, it’s a fantastic place to spend a day or a weekend cruising down the slopes. Their interactive ski map is awesome for seeing the layout of the resort by difficulty, and if you’re new to skiing, you can head to their Snowsports School for lessons, gear, and more.

Additionally, if you can manage to get to Belleayre on a Wednesday, they have a great “Why Not Wednesday” ski special at just $36 for a lift ticket. That’s one of the lowest daily lift ticket prices on our list (and is definitely worth taking a day off work for, in our opinion).

Photo Credit: David Reeves (Flickr CC)

Windham Mountain

  • Distance from NYC: 145 miles (2 hours, 45 minutes)
  • Experience Levels: All Levels
  • How to get there: Windham Mountain is basically a straight shot up I-87 by car, or you can take an NYC SnowBus, OvR, or Urban Sherpa bus.

Windham Mountain is one of the most beloved places to go skiing near NYC, and for good reason – it’s a truly beautiful and family-friendly resort area, perfect for skiers of all levels. There are 54 trails here over 280 ski-able acres of terrain, which means that there are several longer, uninterrupted stretches for skiers wanting to hone their skills and enjoy the slopes.

For those wanting to plan a winter getaway, Windham Mountain has several great play and stay packages that combine the thrill of skiing with relaxation at discounted rates.

Mount Snow

  • Distance from NYC: 217 miles (4 hours)
  • Experience Levels: All levels
  • How to get there: By car, head north on I-87 past Albany and you’ll arrive at Mount Snow. For those without a car, you can take the NYC SnowBus or OvRRide to Mount Snow from the city.

Mount Snow is a Vermont-based ski resort that’s great for all levels. On-site, they’ve got over 589 ski-able acres across 85 trails, plus a large lodge for accommodations, a terrain park, and more. As part of the Epic Pass network, ski enthusiasts can access the resort with an Epic or Epic Local Pass starting in mid- to late-November.

While it is on the farther end of these ski resorts near NYC, it’s about 4 hours away from the city by car, perfect for a long weekend of skiing or snowboarding and relaxing. While beginners can enjoy the easier slopes and snow sports school amenities, there’s also a thrilling expert area that’s all rated black diamond or above. After long days of skiing, kick back and relax at the cozy Mount Snow Grand Summit Resort, which features several dining options and ski-in, ski-out access.

Photo Credit: row4food (Flickr CC)

Gore Mountain

  • Distance from NYC: 238 miles (4 hours)
  • Experience Levels: Intermediate and expert (90% of trails)
  • How to get there: Drive ~4 hours via I-87 N, or take the NYC Snow Bus directly to Gore Mountain from various locations in NYC.

While it’s a bit of a haul from New York City’s center, Gore Mountain is well-loved by the more experienced skiers and snowboarders out there, with 90% of trails rated as intermediate or expert level. As New York’s self-proclaimed biggest mountain, there are 110 trails across four peaks and over 400 ski-able acres, meaning there’s tons of variety for thrill-seeking riders. It’s one of the premier ski resorts near NYC for more advanced skiers, and you certainly won’t be disappointed here!

Gore Mountain Resort also offers snow sports lessons, season passes, and cross-country ski trails in addition to the more traditional slopes. While there isn’t an on-site accommodation option, the Gore Mountain Lodge is a nearby hotel that offers a free ski shuttle to the slopes.

Stratton Mountain

  • Distance from NYC: 220 miles (2 hours, 15 minutes)
  • Experience Levels: All levels
  • How to get there: Stratton Mountain is one of the only ski resorts near NYC that provides its own transport service from NYC to the resort, called the Stratton Jitney. Alternatively, you can drive north on I-87 for just over 4 hours.

Stratton Mountain is a local favorite for those who live in the Northeast United States, and it’s one of the best and most comprehensive places to go snowboarding and skiing near NYC. Towards the bottom of the mountain, there are several trails that are perfect for beginners or new skiers/riders to get some practice in, while the peak mostly contains intermediate and expert-level trails.

For those who prefer cross-country skiing, there are also a handful of Nordic ski trails on the premises. If you’re looking for a change of pace or simply enjoy cross-country trails more than downhill, Stratton Mountain is one of the best places to go this winter!

Okemo Ski Resort view - ski resorts near NYC New York
Photo Credit: Rudi Riet (Flickr CC)

Okemo Mountain

  • Distance from NYC: 250 miles (4.5 hours)
  • Experience Levels: All levels
  • How to get there: The easiest and most flexible way to get to Okemo Mountain is by car. For those without cars, you can get to Okemo Mountain directly from New York City via an OvRRide bus.

As one of the most popular winter family-friendly resorts in the Northeast, Okemo Mountain is a beautiful gem of a resort in the Green Mountains. It’s one of the most beloved ski resorts near NYC, and for good reason. There’s a snow sports school and gear rentals for beginners and less-experienced riders, but the trails span from easy bunny hills to double black diamond thrillers.

Perhaps the coolest thing about the Okemo Mountain trails is that even beginners can ski from the very top of the mountain all the way to the bottom, on entirely beginner-friendly trails. For skiers, there are both downhill and Nordic (cross-country) areas at Okemo, meaning you can shake up your skiing experience with a variety of different terrain and trails.

When you’re taking a break or ready for some apres-ski relaxation, the Mountain Lodge at Okemo is the perfect spot to stay a few nights and enjoy gorgeous slopeside views.

Killington Resort

  • Distance from NYC: 256 miles (4 hours, 45 minutes)
  • Experience Levels: All levels
  • How to get there: The easiest way to get to Killington is via a 4.5-hour car ride. However, for carless folks, you can get to Killington on an OvRRide bus.

As one of the largest places to go snowboarding and skiing near NYC, there’s a LOT to do and a ton of trails to ski or snowboard at Killington Resort. Here, you’ll find trails for every experience level, from bunny hills to double black diamonds, as well as tons of on-site amenities for when you’re ready to rest from the slopes. They’ve got lessons, rentals, and learning areas for beginners, and snowmaking in several sections of the park.

Off the slopes, book at room at the Killington Grand Resort for the perfect winter getaway – complete with a spa, dining, and cozy rooms for a good night’s sleep!

Whiteface Lake Placid Ski Resort sign - ski resorts near NYC
Photo Credit: Erik Jaeger (Flickr CC)

Whiteface Lake Placid

  • Distance from NYC: 300 miles (5 hours)
  • Experience Levels: All levels, with LOTS of trails rated intermediate to expert
  • How to get there: It’s about a 5-hour drive through scenic Upstate New York from NYC, if you choose to use a car. Those without cars can get to Whiteface using the NYC SnowBus.

Most famous for being a host to the 1980 Winter Olympics, Lake Placid is a dream destination for riders and non-riders alike. With an expansive ski and snowboard area, a cute resort town, and plenty of lodges and relaxation areas, Whiteface Lake Placid is one of the most world-renowned ski resorts near NYC.

With two peaks, there’s a lot of variety in terrain that you can experience as a rider at Whiteface. Most of the beginner-friendly trails are centered toward the bottom of the mountain, while the expert-level slopes begin higher up. On top of skiing and snowboarding, you can also visit the Olympic Museum or give bobsledding a try!

When it’s time to rest your head, there’s no better place to stay in the area than the Whiteface Lodge, situated close to the slopes in the town.

Skiing Near NYC: Additional Resources

What to Bring to Ski Resorts Near NYC

  • Waterproof outerwear – Possibly the most critical pieces of clothing for your ski trip packing list is durable, waterproof outerwear. Burton and Helly Hansen are famous ski brands for having best-in-class clothing that will keep you warm in the coldest, snowiest conditions. Click here to shop ski jackets and compare prices.
  • Thermal layers – Thermal baselayers are absolutely critical for a smooth skiing experience, as these will keep you warm and dry underneath your outerwear. The best kinds of thermal baselayers are made of Merino wool, which is moisture-wicking and comfortable. Our favorite brand of thermal layers is SmartWool – their tops and leggings are soft, lightweight, but warm and durable for all kinds of outdoor activities, including skiing. Click here to shop thermal tops and leggings and compare prices.
  • Ski goggles – No ski trip packing list would be complete without a pair of fog-resistant ski goggles, especially if you’re going somewhere that makes artificial snow. Ski slopes often have snow blowing into the air several times a day and it can be hard to keep freezing snowflakes out of your eyes, even during clear days. We use and recommend these ski goggles. However, you can shop ski goggles and compare reviews/prices here.

If you’re looking for a more comprehensive list of things to pack, head to our Ultimate Ski Trip Packing List to view our full packing list and gear recommendations for the slopes!

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