5 Great Places to Hike in the NYC Area

As summer sails off into the sunset and we move into the cooler months of autumn, it is great time to hike in and around New York City. Here are five places to hike that are especially interesting:

1. Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge
There are a number of good self-guided trails at the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge. The 1.8-mile loop around scenic West Pond in the rustic Jamaica Bay bird sanctuary is a great introduction to hiking. Or try the Upland, East Pond or West Pond trails. Whatever trail you choose, be on the lookout for some of the 325 species of birds and 50 species of butterflies that call this area their home.

2. Native Forest, New York Botanical Garden
Who would have guessed that NYC has fifty acres of virgin forest, with huge tree trunks rivaling the ones you find in Yosemite? Yes it's true, and the easy trails that meander among this old-growth timber and along the Bronx River in the New York Botanical Garden make a wonderful hike. Strolling through the flower gardens on your way out is a lovely way to end your day.

3. Randall's Island
Leave Manhattan for Randall's Island by crossing the East River via footbridge at 102nd Street and you'll find yourself in a different world. Turn north and enjoy the gardens along the waterfront path. Cross the bridge that traverses the wetlands between Randall's and Ward's Island and you'll find yourself at the Icahn Stadium sports complex. Continue hiking around the perimeter of the island, passing by ball fields and picnic areas until you find yourself back at the footbridge.

4. Old Croton Aqueduct Trail
The 26.2 mile Old Croton Aqueduct Trail is perfect for hiking. While you can enjoy a nice hike with beautiful scenery almost anywhere along this historic water pipeline that stretches between Yonkers and Croton-on-Hudson, many consider the 5.5 miles trail from Ossining to Croton Gorge Park the most interesting.

5. Shore Trail, Palisades Interstate Park
If you've ever noticed the breath-taking stone cliffs on the west side of the Hudson River north of the George Washington Bridge, you have a sense of what a treat it is to hike along the shore trail in the Palisades Interstate Park. This waterfront path is easily accessible via the Park's Englewood Picnic Area.

Victoria Otto Franzese is a proud New Yorker who owned, operated, and wrote for a successful online travel guide for 15 years. Now, thankfully, all of her travel is purely for fun. See where she'll be hiking on this fall at @VOFranzese.