Summer hikes that aren’t a hike away

You'll feel like you conquered this
You'll feel like you conquered this

If you’re not already renting some Catskill cozinesss or staycating around town, why not take a hike? With little hassle, you can do Brooklyn’s parks one better and get some true country air. Here are a few bona fide hikes right in Brooklyn’s backyard.

For hiking trails close by, you can find exactly what you’re looking for through the New York/New Jersey Trail Conference. There, you can sort from easy to strenuous, and select for other fun stuff like going for a dip, waterfalls or even historical significance. Here are five trails easily accessible from the city to consider for the long weekend:

Old Croton Aqueduct State Historic Park
Once the sole supplier of fresh water to New York City, the Old Croton Aqueduct State Park offers 26.2 miles of hiking, biking and horseback riding. The park is open year-round during sunlight hours, and the hand-drawn map shows trails up and down the Hudson River—perfect for a day trip.
GETTING THERE: Take the Metro-North Hudson Line at Grand Central to the Tarrytown Station. Follow Franklin Street up the hill to South Broadway, then turn right and walk three blocks to Prospect Ave. Turn left and you’ve reached the Aqueduct route. A nine-mile hike will take you to the Greystone station, and you can return to the city from there if you so choose. The cost is around $7-$10 each way, and be sure to buy online for discounts.

Croton trail. Photo by ScubaBear68.
Croton trail. Photo by ScubaBear68.

Greenbelt Hiking Trails
Just across the water and a few bus rides later, you’ll be in the heart of Staten Island. Not the stereotypical strip-malled SI, but the part of the borough you don’t hear about—the Greenbelt. There are six choices of trails, and although difficulty and length vary, the surroundings don’t—they all have tons of trees, ponds, streams and other bits of nature to help you forget you’re in NYC. The Greenbelt is open every day from dawn til dusk.
GETTING THERE: The Staten Island Ferry is free from the tip of Manhattan, and once on the island, catch the S62 bus to Bradley Ave. to the S57 bus, getting off at Brielle and Rockland Ave. Call 718-351-3450 for more info.

Hook Mountain State Park
Part of the Palisades Parks Conservancy (the famous Bear Mountain is included as well), Hook Mountain stretches almost seven miles and, at 730 feet above sea level, offers breathtaking views of Rockland Lake and the Hudson River. And it’s especially good for history and birds—the area’s rich with Revolutionary War history and is a popular place to go hawk watching (according to their website, approximately 10,000 hawks pass through each year). Be sure to enjoy the gigantic swimming pool at the ridge of the mountain in Rockland State Park too.
GETTING THERE: take a Rockland Coach from Port Authority for around $5-$8 each way.

Another view from Hook. Photo by Patsy Wooters.
A view from Hook. Photo by Patsy Wooters.

Long Island Greenbelt
The Long Island Greenbelt stretches over 200 miles, and offers lots of different trails. The namesake trail is 32 miles of beaches and bluffs and definitely not for beginners, while the Walt Whitman trail is only 3.7 miles long and gives you the chance to walk in the famous poet’s shoes, or at least in his footsteps. This trail will take you to the highest point in Long Island, giving you a fantastic view of the ocean (and possibly spark some poetry). Take advantage of the FREE guided hikes offered by the Greenbelt Trail Conference, or become a member for only $30 and get maps to navigate yourself.
GETTING THERE: Unfortunately, this is the only trail of the bunch that doesn’t lie near public transportation, but not to worry—you can always car-pool or ride-share. Visit the Greenbelt’s website for directions or call 631-360-0753.

Long Island Grenbelt. photo by ScubaBear68.
Long Island Greenbelt. Photo by ScubaBear68.

Long Pond Ironworks State Park
Formerly an iron-working community, Long Pond Ironworks State Park now has park trails that stretch four to six miles, complete with fishing, hunting and boating. Some of the history of the small community was left behind—many of the old furnaces, casting houses and the like are still on the grounds. For history buffs, the Friends of Long Pond Ironworks offer free tours on the second Saturday of every month from April to November.
GETTING THERE: Simply take the #197 bus from the Port Authority Bus Terminal to Greenwood Lake in Passaic County, exiting at the trailhead at East Shore Road and Greenlake Turnpike. This runs a little pricier, at $12.75 each way.

Lastly, if you’re one of those really outdoorsy people who scoffs at the idea of roughing it by day only to return to the city’s comforts by night—if you want to sleep out there on the dirt, under the leaves—by all means do so. We’ll even point you in the right direction, with this enormous list of NY State campsites unearthed by our friends at Jauntsetter.


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