Hello, friends! It’s officially fall, and it’s finally cooling off a bit outside, which means the weather is perfect for a nice long hike! And, since the leaves are starting to fall from the trees, you will have a much easier time finding some of the hidden treasures in the forests in and near NYC. We love finding abandoned buildings and ruins on our hikes, and if you do, too, you won’t want to miss these 8 amazing abandoned places all within 90 minutes of NYC!
1. The Old Millionaires’ Row at Palisades Interstate Park, NJ
Once upon a time, some of NYC’s wealthier citizens built themselves sprawling summer estates atop the Palisades in nearby New Jersey. The homes from this area once dubbed Millionaires’ Row have since been demolished in order to create Palisades Interstate Park, but you can still find the remains of a few of the once-grand homes, including Cliff Dale, which was built in 1911 and remains the most intact of the former Millionaires’ Row homes.
Where: Palisades Interstate Park, Alpine, NJ (approx. 20 miles from NYC)
How to find the ruins: Start at the Alpine Boat Basin in Palisades Interstate Park. Follow the white Shore Trail north then take the orange Closter Dock Trail uphill. Connect with the aqua Long Path heading south and keep your eyes open to spot ruins along the way!
2. Camp Bluefields at Blauvelt State Park, NY
One of the more expansive set of ruins we’ve discovered on our hikes is that of the former rifle range at Camp Bluefields in Blauvelt State Park. The range was used for training New York National Guard members in the early 1900s, and the tunnels from the firing range can still be found in the forest today. If you’re brave, you can walk inside and see what you’ll find, but I was content to just shine my flashlight in and stick with walking on top of them. Many people have reported they’re filled with bugs, so keep that in mind if you decide to explore!
Where: Blauvelt State Park, Blauvelt, NY (approx. 30 miles from NYC)
How to find the ruins: Take the 0-5, Red, and White Loop via the Long Path found on AllTrails which starts at Tackamack Town Park in Blauvelt, NY. This loop takes you by the rifle range ruins, and it also offers beautiful views of the NYC skyline, too! (Note: This trail can get super muddy – prepare your footwear accordingly!)
3. The Abandoned Greenhouses at the Welwyn Preserve, NY
The Gold Coast of Long Island had its share of millionaires as well, and several of the original Gold Coast homes still exist. You can visit one of the former Pratt family mansions at what is now the Welwyn Preserve in Glen Cove, NY. The mansion itself was preserved and is now a museum, but if you take a stroll on the grounds you’ll discover some of the old greenhouses which, sadly, did not get the same level of care as the mansion. Today, they’re used more as a canvas for graffiti artists, and they’re easy to find and explore.
Where: Welwyn Preserve, Glen Cove, NY (approx. 30 miles from NYC)
How to find the ruins: Park at the mansion at the Welwyn Preserve and take the trail just to the right of the mansion. You’ll eventually come across a brick path which will lead you straight to the greenhouses. Take a little extra time and walk down to the beach, too!
4. The Deserted Village of Feltville at the Watchung Reservation, NJ
Often you just find bits of abandoned buildings on your hikes, but at the Watchung Reservation in Mountainside, NJ there’s an entire abandoned village! The Reservation is home to the former village of Feltville, which had been built up around a paper mill owned by David Felt in the 18th century. Upon his retirement, the town couldn’t keep business going and eventually residents moved on to other towns and villages. Some of the buildings have been preserved and are used as museum or event space, but others look like they’re about to collapse so you’ll want to explore carefully.
Where: Watchung Reservation, Mountainside, NJ (approx. 20 miles from NYC)
How to find the ruins: We parked at the Trailside Nature Center and did the 6-mile History Trail Loop – the ruins are about halfway through the hike. For the quickest access, though, use the parking area at Cataract Hollow Road and then walk down the hill to the village (cars aren’t permitted on the road in the village.)
5. Van Slyke Castle at Ramapo Mountain State Forest, NJ
The Van Slyke Castle was built in the early 1900s atop a hill in what is now the Ramapo Mountain State Forest. It was originally built as a summer home called Foxcroft by a man named William Porter and his wife, Ruth. Porter passed a decade later and his wife Ruth lived in the castle with her new husband, Warren Van Slyke, for whom the castle now gets its name. The castle was abandoned after Warren and then later Ruth died, and it was eventually destroyed by a fire in the ’50s. Nowadays, you can explore the foundation and some of the exterior walls, as well as the former swimming pool.
Where: Ramapo Mountain State Forest, Oakland, NJ (approx. 35 miles from NYC)
How to find the ruins: Park at the Upper Lot on Skyline Drive. For a gentler ascent to the castle, take the Castle Loop trail counter-clockwise.
6. Iron Mining and Furnace Ruins at Sterling Forest State Park, NY
In Tuxedo Park, NY, you’ll find the beautiful Sterling Lake, which is rather lovely to circumnavigate. However, interestingly enough, there was once an active iron mine underneath Sterling Lake, and you can still find the remains of some of the mining buildings in the park today. You will also find a reconstructed Sterling Furnace, which was used to smelt iron ore by Sterling Ironworks (who are famously known for supplying the iron for the “Great Chain” that George Washington had set across the Hudson River during the Revolutionary War). The original furnace was built in the 1700s, and the current version was reconstructed in the 1950s.
Where: Sterling Forest State Park, Tuxedo Park, NY (approx. 45 miles from NYC)
How to find the ruins: Take the Sterling Lake Loop trail clockwise from the Visitor Center and you’ll come across the furnace first and then several of the old mining buildings.
7. Seaview Hospital at the Staten Island Greenbelt, NY
Built in the early 1900s, Seaview Hospital and its 37 buildings served as the largest tuberculosis sanatorium in the United States until the late 1930s. The buildings were shuttered, and though some reopened and are now in use, several others have been left to deteriorate completely. The buildings themselves are behind a rather ineffective fence, but you can still admire them from a distance on the trail if you’re not interested in a little urban exploration.
Where: Staten Island Greenbelt, Staten Island, NY (in NYC!)
How to find the ruins: Take the blue trail from the Brielle Ave and Roanoke Street trailhead. As you hike through the Bloodroot Valley, you’ll see the abandoned buildings on your right.
8. King Zog’s Castle at the Muttontown Preserve, NY
Built in the early 1900s, the Knollwood Estate in Muttontown, NY included a mansion, walled garden, and commercial farm. In the 1950s, it was purchased by the first king of Albania, King Zog, though he never ended up actually living in the mansion. He spent much of his life in exile, and rumors spread that he used the mansion in Long Island to store gold he pilfered from Albania before going on the run. The mansion was ransacked and vandalized many times while it sat vacant, and it was eventually razed in the ’60s. Today, you can find the remains of the walled garden and the grand staircase leading up to what would have once been the mansion’s front door.
Where: Muttontown Preserve, Muttontown, NY (approx. 30 miles from NYC)
How to find the ruins: The trail-markings in the Muttontown Preserve are incredibly confusing, so the easiest way to find the ruins is with the AllTrails app. There is parking at the Bill Paterson Nature Center and the Muttontown Preserve Equestrian Center, with the quickest access to the ruins being from the Equestrian Center.