When you think of New York City, hiking isn’t typically the first thing that comes to mind. Believe it or not, though, there are actually some 300+ miles of trails right here in the city! NYC’s interesting and varied topography allows for hilly climbs through wooded areas as well as quiet, waterfront walks in the many city, state, and national parks located within the five boroughs. No matter what type of scenery you’re in the mood for, all five of these hikes below will make you forget you’re in New York City!
At 2,772 acres, Pelham Bay Park is New York City’s largest public park, and it has plenty of places to immerse yourself in nature. There are several miles of hiking and bridle trails, but we particularly enjoyed the Kazimiroff Nature Trail, which can be found on the 189-acre Hunter Island. There is a 1.24-mile Blue Loop and a shorter .94-mile Red Loop which can be combined for a longer stroll. On your hike, you’ll wander through quiet, wooded trails and have plenty of opportunities to take one of the many side trails out to the coastline. A makeshift boardwalk will also allow you to walk through the marshy wetlands where you can admire the many local birds that call the park their home. For more hiking in the Bronx, check out Van Cortlandt Park.
New York State’s newest state park is located right here in Brooklyn, NY. Shirley Chisholm State Park opened in 2019, and we enjoyed a cold and snowy hike there this past winter. Built on top of the former Pennsylvania and Fountain Avenue landfills, this 407-acre park has elevations of 130 feet, making it one of the the highest points you can climb in the five boroughs. The park is divided between the two landfill mounds, with a 2-mile hike on the Penn side and a 4-mile hike on the Fountain side. With Shirley Chisholm State Park’s elevation, you will have incredible views of the Manhattan skyline, or if you turn the other way, you can take in the cool breezes coming off of the beautiful Jamaica Bay. For another hiking option in Brooklyn, check out Prospect Park. Or if you want to visit another fantastic park built on top of a landfill, check out Freshkills Park in Staten Island.
At the northernmost tip of Manhattan, you’ll find quiet Inwood Hill Park, which is comprised of the last remaining natural forest on the island of Manhattan. There are three marked trails within the park that you can combine for a 4+ mile hike. Throughout your hike, you’ll be able to climb some hills, peek into caves, and take in majestic views of the Palisades across the Hudson River. Though you will hear some highway noise from the Henry Hudson Parkway below in some sections of your hike, the interior wooded section is as quiet and peaceful as any forest outside of the city. For another hiking option in Manhattan, check out Central Park.
Part of the Gateway National Recreation Area, the 12,600-acre Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge has several trails located near both the West Pond and East Pond. This is great place to take in the salty air of Jamaica Bay and do some birding in what is one of the largest bird habitats in the northeastern United States. The trails take you out in the open along the bay with views of Manhattan in the distance and then back into the quieter, wooded marshes on several of the spur trails. You can also combine trails on both the west and east side of Cross Bay Boulevard Greenway to get in a 4+ mile hike if you so desire! For another hiking option in Queens, check out Forest Park.
In the heart of Staten Island, you’ll find the 2,800-acre Greenbelt and its whopping 35 miles of trails just waiting to be explored. All of the longer trails can be accessed from the Greenbelt Nature Center or High Rock Park, and you can combine trails into smaller or larger loops to suit your preference. Most trails are in quiet, wooded areas, but some are close to residential neighborhoods or pass near golf courses, public parks, and even an old abandoned hospital complex. To get in a bit of elevation, head for Moses Mountain or the blue trail in the southern section of Latourette Park. For another hiking option in Staten Island, check out Great Kills Park.
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Or check out some of our other favorite outdoor destinations in and near NYC.