20 Bucket List Hikes in Upstate New York for Every Skill Level

Post summary: A local’s guide to the best hikes in Upstate New York for every skill level. Including hikes from the Adirondacks, Finger Lakes Region, Catskill Mountains, Hudson Valley + more!

Indian Head hike in the Adirondacks is one of the best hiking trails in New York State

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When most people think of New York, they think of skyscrapers, crowds, and big cities. But, the truth is, there is so much more to New York State! In fact, if you’re looking for some of the best outdoor adventure in the USA – then Upstate New York is the place to be!

This beautiful region of New York is home to some of the best hiking trails, waterfalls, and gorges in the country.

As Upstate New York locals, we have explored many of the hiking trails in this beautiful part of the state and can’t wait to share our favorites with you!

In this post, I’m sharing some of the absolute best Upstate New York hikes for all skill levels, and discussing what makes each one so special.

So lace up your hiking boots and let’s dive into the planning, packing, and trail details (+ exclusive local tips!) for each of these breathtaking hikes in Upstate New York!

Keep scrolling for the best places to hike in Upstate New York, or jump straight to a difficulty category:

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20 Bucket List Hikes in Upstate New York


Regions of New York State: Where is ‘Upstate’?

Before we get started, here’s a map of the regions in New York State to help us get oriented.

Regions of New York State on a mapMap of New York State by New York Outdoor Guides Association

If you’re wondering which regions are considered ‘Upstate’ New York, then you might get different answers depending on who you ask.

In my experience, people from ‘downstate’ (aka NYC and Long Island regions) usually consider anything above Westchester as ‘Upstate’. However, if you ask an Upstate New York local, you’ll get a very different answer. For example, I actually just spoke with someone who argued that only places north of Saratoga were considered Upstate.

Either way, for the sake of this list, I included hikes in the Hudson Valley and above.

Important Tips for Hiking in New York

  • Leave No Trace. The Leave No Trace (LNT) Principles are 7 principles that aim to minimize human impact through respectful, responsible and sustainable outdoor practices. Please always remember to practice Leave No Trace, in a collective effort to protect these natural places, so that they can remain wild and free for generations to come. 

    For additional information, please review the Social Media Guidelines for Leave No Trace.
  • Do your research. This includes checking recent trail conditions (I prefer using AllTrails), downloading offline maps in case you won’t have service, and knowing what to expect in terms of length and difficulty.
  • Tell someone where you’re going and when you’ll be back. While this is Hiking Safety 101, it’s especially important when you head out into the wilderness of Upstate New York. While you probably won’t be the only person on these trails, accidents can/do happen and you always want someone to know where you’ll be.
  • Get an early start. These hiking trails in Upstate New York are popular for a reason, so you can expect to find crowds, especially on the more accessible hikes, and during summer and fall.
  • If you plan to frequent NY State Parks, consider purchasing an Empire Pass, which gives you unlimited entry to most of NY’s State Parks.

Sunrise over the mountains of Upstate New York

The Best Time to Plan Your Hike

Summer: This is the busiest season for hiking in Upstate New York. At this time of year, you can expect crowded trails and overflowing parking lots. However, it’s the best season for swimming, camping, catching sunrise, and planning longer day hikes.

Fall: Fall is the all around best time of year to plan your hike in Upstate New York. After all, New York State is world renowned for fall foliage and these hikes give you the perfect vantage point for peeping those fall colors.

Winter: If you’re an avid snowshoer and cold weather lover, then visit these trails around December and January! But don’t forget to pack your snowshoes and micro spikes!

Spring: Spring (early April – early June) is the best time for visiting waterfalls, such as Taughannock Falls, Buttermilk Falls, and Kaaterskill Falls. However, I would caution against hiking deep into the Adirondacks or Catskills at this time of year due to muddy trails and dreaded black flies.

Getting around Upstate New York

The absolute best way to get around Upstate New York is by car. You will have trouble accessing most of the hikes in the Finger Lakes and Adirondacks without one.

However, if you don’t have a car, then you can still access some of the trails in the Catskill and Hudson Valley area by taking a mixture of buses and ride shares.

If you’re visiting New York, I recommend combining several of these hikes on road trip to get a taste of the diversity of Upstate New York. For help planning your trip, check out my detailed guide and tutorial on how to plan your road trip using Google Maps!

What to pack

So, what should you pack for your day hike in order to be totally prepared? Here are my suggestions and some of my favorite essentials:

Day pack: You’ll need a quality backpack that is comfortable, waterproof, and has a lot of pockets. Use it to carry your snacks, extra layers, camera, and safety essentials.


Shop this unisex Osprey Daylite Plus Pack

READ MORE: Best Hiking Backpacks for Women: Find the Perfect Hiking Pack for Your Next Adventure

Sturdy, waterproof hiking boots: Upstate NY hiking trails have the potential to be wet, muddy, and rugged. You should be prepared for creek crossings, rock scrambling, and rough trails full of rocks and roots. For this reason, leave the running shoes at home and opt for comfortable, waterproof hiking boots.


Check out Danner’s Adrika Hiking Boots

Reusable water bottle: It’s important to carry water with you on any hiking trip, regardless of length or difficulty. Opt for a reusable bottle and a minimum of 1L of water for every 2 hours of hiking.

Head lamp: You never know if you might get stuck hiking down in the dark. Always carry a headlamp, like this one from Black Diamond.


Windproof jacket: High elevation summits, like the Catskills 3500’s and Adirondack High Peaks, bring strong winds and colder temperatures, even in the summer. Keep warm by always carrying a jacket, like these Primaloft jackets from REI.


Microspikes: Hiking in the winter or early spring? Carrying microspikes is essential. They’re basically a net of little spikes that fit over your boots to provide extra traction on icy trails. These Kahtoola MICROspikes are the best on the market. But you can click here to browse all of our recommendations for winter traction systems to find one that’s perfect for you.

Snowshoes are also required by law in the Adirondack High Peaks Wilderness when there is 8 or more inches of snow.

READ NEXT: What to Pack for a Day Hike: Essential Gear and Complete Packing List

Now that you know what to pack, it’s time to choose your trail! Here are some of the best hiking trails in Upstate New York for every skill level:

20 Best Hiking Trails in Upstate New York

Easy Hikes in Upstate New York

The Gorge Trail in Watkins Glen State Park

Hiking the Gorge Trail in Watkins Glen State Park, Ithaca New York

  • Location: Watkins Glen, New York
  • Region: The Finger Lakes
  • Distance: 1.5 mile loop
  • Trail Rating: Easy
  • Open: Watkins Glen State Park is open all year, but the Gorge Trail closes for the winter.

Watkins Glen State Park is considered the crown jewel of New York’s Finger Lake Region.

While there are several hiking trails in the Watkins Glen State Park, the Gorge Trail Loop tops the list as one of the best easy hiking trails in all of Upstate New York – and for a very good reason. The Gorge Trail follows Glen Creek, up stone staircases and over a series of bridges, through an ethereal landscape full of waterfalls, swirling pools, and wispy waterfalls trailing like ribbons down the sides of the canyon.

Hiking the Gorge Trail in Watkins Glen State Park is free. However, you will need to pay $10 to park. This parking pass is good for the entire day, so you won’t need to pay again if you plan to visit any of the other nearby state parks.

Cobble Lookout (Adirondacks)

  • Location: Wilmington, New York
  • Region: Adirondack Mountains
  • Distance: 2.6 miles out and back
  • Trail rating: Easy
  • Elevation gain: 242 feet

Cobble Lookout is the perfect hike for those who who want to experience the stunning views of the Northern Adirondack Mountains, without having to exert too much effort. In fact, the views at the end of this hike are so breathtaking, that it’s almost hard to believe how little effort it takes to get there.

This 1.3 mile trail gently winds its way through Wilmington Wild Forest before reaching an overlook with unobstructed views of Whiteface, Esther, and several other Adirondack High Peaks looming in the distance. Visit in late September to catch one of the most brilliant fall foliage displays in Upstate New York.

READ NEXT: When and Where to Catch the Best Fall Foliage in New York

Devil’s Hole Trail in Devils Hole/Whirlpool State Park

  • Location: Lewiston, NY
  • Region: Great Niagara/Western New York
  • Distance: 2.4 mile loop
  • Trail rating: Easy-moderate
  • Elevation gain: 410 feet

Looking for a fun and unique hike near Niagara Falls? Check out the Devils Hole Trail in Devils Hole State Park. The Devils Hole trail is a wonderful riverside gorge trail that features a well maintained path and several stone staircases that are sure to get your heart pumping.

This trail takes you down a series of more than 500 stairs to the bank of the Niagara River. To make it a loop, take a left at the bottom of the stairs and follow the path along the river to the second set of stairs. These stairs lead back up to the Robert Moses Recreation Trail. Turn left and follow this paved pathway along the top of the gorge back to the parking lot.

Combine this hike with a side trip down to the whirlpool (5.0 miles RT), where you’ll find class 5 rapids, a small cave, and some flat rocky outcroppings to relax on.

If you’re looking for some peace and quiet, try visiting during off-peak hours – Devils Hole State Park is typically less crowded from May to October.

Note: This part of the Niagara River is a popular place to fish, but under no circumstances can you swim here! And don’t attempt this hike without microspikes in the winter due to ice.

Gorge and Rim Trail Loop in Buttermilk Falls State Park

Buttermilk Falls waterfall with fall foliage in Ithaca NY

  • Location: Ithaca, NY
  • Region: The Finger Lakes
  • Distance: 1.5 mile loop
  • Trail rating: Easy-moderate
  • Elevation gain: 462 feet

There are dozens of beautiful waterfalls in New York’s Finger Lake Region, but there aren’t any quite as accessible as the spectacular Buttermilk Falls. In fact, the main parking lot is only steps away from the base of Buttermilk Falls. Hiking in Upstate New York doesn’t get much easier than that, amirite?

But while you can see the falls from the parking lot, it’s well worth your time to explore the other beautiful pools and waterfalls along the Buttermilk Falls Gorge Trail.

To make a quick loop, follow the Gorge Trail (0.65 miles) until you reach the upper park entrance. From there, cross Buttermilk Creek onto the Rim Trail, which loops around the top of the gorge and leads back to the parking area. Note that this hike is mostly uphill, so I would consider it more moderate if you’re not a strong hiker.

Tip: The deep, clear pool at the base of Buttermilk Falls is a wonderful place to swim during the summer months! If you aren’t planning to swim, I recommend arriving as early as possible to beat the crowds.

Kaaterskill Falls

Kaaterskill Upper Falls in the winter is one of the best places to hike in New York

  • Location: Palenville, NY
  • Region: The Catskill Mountains
  • Distance: 1.6 miles out and back
  • Trail rating: Easy-moderate
  • Elevation gain: 396 feet

Kaaterskill Falls is the most recognized waterfall in The Catskills, and one of the most popular hikes in Upstate New York.

Kaaterskill Falls is actually two waterfalls, the upper falls and the lower falls. At a combined 260 ft tall, Kaaterskill is one of the tallest waterfalls in New York State.

Both the upper falls and the lower falls are easy to access via a short hike on a well maintained paths. There are several places to park, but the most straightforward place is in the lot at the end of Laurel House Road. From there, follow the signs to make your descent to the base of the falls.

Taughannock Falls via The Gorge Trail in Taughannock Falls State Park

View of Taughannock Falls from the upper viewing platform

  • Location:  Ithaca, New York
  • Region: The Finger Lakes
  • Distance: 1.8 miles out and back
  • Trail rating: Easy
  • Open: Year Round, but the falls usually dry up in the summer

A quick, easy hike through a wooded gorge will deliver you directly into the amphitheater of Taughannock Falls, one of Upstate New York’s most magnificent waterfalls.

The views at the base of the falls are incredibly impressive, as Taughannock Falls plunges 215 feet into the pool directly in front of you. Look around and you’ll see that you’re almost perfectly encircled by cliffs towering over 400 feet high. Look even closer and you might find fossils embedded in the rock layers!

The best part? The Gorge Trail hike to the base of Taughannock Falls can be completed in under an hour. If you have time and energy left over, check out the nearby North Rim and South Rim Trail Loop (2.9 miles) that circles the upper part of the gorge. From there, you can get more completely unobstructed, picture perfect views of Taughannock Falls.

Tip: Your visit to Taughannock Falls can be easily combined with Buttermilk Falls, Robert H Treman and Watkins Glen State Parks as part of a Finger Lakes NY road trip.

Vroman’s Nose

  • Location: Middleburgh, NY
  • Region: Capital District/Albany
  • Distance: 1.5 miles
  • Trail rating: Easy
  • Elevation gain: 485 feet

Tiny mountain, giant view. That’s what you an expect from your hike up Vroman’s Nose. A short hike up a well marked path delivers spectacular sweeping views from several rocky outcrops atop steep cliffs. You can walk along the edge of the cliff or sit and soak in the views from a flat rocky overlook called the “dance floor”.

This popular Upstate New York hike takes less than an hour to complete, making it the perfect hike to catch sunset over the Schoharie Valley.

To return the parking lot, you can make a loop by walking along the cliffs edge to the final outcrop and following the trail that steeply descends down. However, I recommend turning around and returning the way you can, which lets you soak in the views all over again.

Moderate Hikes in Upstate New York

Mt. Jo

Three girls and a dog in the Adirondack Mountains

  • Location: Lake Placid, New York
  • Region: Adirondack Mountains
  • Distance: Short trail: 1.1 miles; Long trail: 1.3 miles; Loop: 2.4 miles
  • Trail rating:  Moderate
  • Elevation Gain: 700 feet
  • Price to park: $10 per car (cash)

Whether this is your first time or 100th time to the Adirondacks, Mt Jo is always a good idea. This Upstate New York hike is a favorite among visitors and locals alike, due to its ease of access, stunning views, and close proximity to Lake Placid and the surrounding High Peaks.

The trail begins at the Adirondack Loj parking area, directly across from the payment booth. Follow the trail around Heart Lake until you see the sign pointing to Mt. Jo on the right. This trail ascends slightly before reaching a junction that offers two options to the top.

You can opt to take the steep and rocky “short” trail (1.1 miles), or the much more moderate “long” trail (1.3 miles). Both trails rejoin at the summit, where you’re treated to incredible views of Heart Lake, the surrounding High Peaks, and the McIntyre Range.

TIP: Still have some energy left? Pair your hike up Mt. Jo with a hike up nearby Mount Van Hoevenberg. You can access the trailhead from the Lake Placid Olympic Training Center.

Gertrudes Nose/Minnewaska Trail

  • Location: Kerhonkson, NY
  • Region: Hudson Valley
  • Distance: 6.7 mile loop
  • Trail rating: Moderate
  • Elevation Gain: 1,141 ft
  • Price to park: $10 parking fee (cash or card)
  • Open: Minnewaska opens at 9AM. This trail is subject to seasonal closure due to weather conditions. Check for closures before you go by visiting https://parks.ny.gov/parks/minnewaska/details.aspx

I have three words for you: Panoramic clifftop stroll. That’s what you can expect from the 8 mile round trip trek to Gertrude’s Nose in the Hudson Valley.

Gertrudes Nose on Millbrook Mountain is one of the well-known hikes in NY. This moderate trail cuts through dense forest, traverses bare rock ledges, and ultimately leads to a protruding vista, with spectacular panoramic views stretching as far as they eye can see. Don’t forget your wide angle lens!

Gertrudes Nose is also one of the best hikes in Upstate New York for leaf peeping in the fall. Visit between mid October – early November to catch fall foliage at its peak. Just make sure to get there early! This hike gets super busy and parking tends to fill up by late morning.

This hike starts at the upper Awosting parking lots near the Visitor Center. For the best route, I recommend taking the loop counterclockwise. Follow the Millbrook Mountain Trail to Gertrude’s Nose and then take the Carriage Road back down.

Pro tip: Combine the Lake Minnewaska Loop Trail with the trail to Awosting Falls.

Giant Ledge and Panther Mountain Trail

  • Location: Shandaken, New York
  • Region: Catskill Mountains
  • Distance: 6.9 miles out and back
  • Trail rating: Moderate

Come experience some of the best views in The Catskills from the Giant Ledge and Panther Mountain Trail. This popular trail offers stunning views of the mountains, and is perfect for a day hike.

Be sure to take some time to enjoy the scenery from one of the many ledges along Giant Ledge. And don’t worry about crowds – even though this hike is super well-known, there’s plenty of room for everyone to spread out.

The hike to Giant Ledge takes about 3 hours and 27 minutes to complete, making this scenic Upstate New York hike short and sweet. 

Most people stop at Giant Ledge, which is more than enough bang for your buck. But if you’re interested in a more strenuous hike, you can bag one of the Catskill 3500′ summits by continuing up Panther Mountain. This route adds about two miles (one-way) and about a 1,000 ft vertical climb.

Sunset over the mountains on one of the best hikes in Upstate NYMountains of Upstate New York

Overlook Mountain Trail

  • Location: Woodstock, NY
  • Region: Catskill Mountains
  • Distance: 4.6 miles out and back
  • Trail rating: Moderate
  • Elevation gain: 1,397 feet

From 5 star views of the Hudson Valley to interesting ruins from an abandoned hotel, the Overlook Mountain Trail in the Catskills has a little bit of everything.

While this trail isn’t technical by any means, it’s rated as moderate due to a steady incline to the top via a super boring gravel road. But what the trail lacks in aesthetic on the way up, it makes up for in extraordinary views that are well worth the trek.

Check out the views from the fire tower and then follow the small trail to the right of the ranger station. This small trail leads to the cliffs, where you’ll find the jaw dropping view that you came for.

Chimney Mountain

Chimney Rock summit, a unique place to hike in NY

  • Location: Indian Lake, NY
  • Region: Central Adirondack Mountains
  • Distance: 2.6 miles out and back
  • Trail rating: Moderate
  • Elevation gain: 980 feet
  • Price to park: $5 (cash) in the pay box at the Chimney Mountain Cabins

Calling all geology lovers! Chimney Mountain is one of the most unique and exciting short hikes in Upstate New York. At the summit, you’ll find 360 degree views of the Central Adirondack Mountains. You can also spend hours exploring the natural stone formations, caves, peaks and crevasses that serve as a testament to the near constant erosion that has worn away at the mountain over time.

The trail is well worn and easy to follow. It ascends gently until the last 0.5 miles, where it turns into a steep scramble to the top.

Note: The caves on the mountain are only accessible from June 1 to October 14 to protect hibernating bats.

Balanced Rocks

The Adirondack Mountains, which offer some of the best hikes in Upstate New York

  • Location: Keene, NY
  • Region: Adirondack Mountains
  • Distance: 3.2 miles out and back
  • Trail rating:  Moderate
  • Elevation Gain: 850 feet

In my opinion, Balanced Rocks is very possibly the most underrated hike on this list. In only 1.6 miles, you can reach some of the most dramatic views in Upstate New York’s Adirondack Region.

The Balanced Rocks trail derives its name from – you guessed it – two giant rocks balanced on the edge of the bald mountain summit. The rocks were left behind by a glacier during the last Ice Age and make for epic photo ops and a great vantage point to take in the views of the surrounding High Peaks and the valley below.

The trailhead to Balanced Rocks is located directly off Route 73, just across the street from Cascade Mountain. The hike to Balanced Rocks is mainly uphill, with areas of scrambling and several spots that are not well marked. For these reasons, I suggest downloading the AllTrails map before you go.

Looking for more short hikes with epic views in the ADK? Check out this list!

Anthony’s Nose

  • Location: Cortlandt, New York
  • Region: Hudson Valley
  • Hike distance: 2.0 miles out and back
  • Trail rating: Moderate

Anthony’s nose is the best nose you can pick in Upstate New York!

Follow a piece of the Appalachian Trail to one of the best overlooks in the Hudson Valley. At only about 1.0 mile to the summit, the hike to Anthony’s Nose is short and sweet. The only significant elevation you’ll gain is over the first 0.5 miles of the hike. From there, it’s relatively easy going until you reach the summit that offers sprawling views of the Hudson Valley and the Bear Mountain Bridge below.

Tip: For even more views on the way up, follow the Camp Smith Trail (also known as “Anthony’s Nose Trailhead II”, which comes up from the other side.

Gorge Trail at Letchworth State Park

  • Location: Letchworth State Park, Castile, NY
  • Distance: 14 miles out-and-back
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Entrance fee: $10 day use fee to enter between 5/7 – 10/24. Entrance is also permitted with an Empire Pass Card.

It should come as no surprise that Letchworth State Park makes the list of best hikes in Upstate New York! Known as “the Grand Canyon of the East”, Letchworth is home to noteworthy waterfalls, dramatic cliffs, and scenic views overlooking Letchworth Gorge.

The best trail in Letchworth State Park is the Gorge Trail, which is 7 miles long (one way) and runs along the rim of the gorge. While the entire Gorge Trail typically takes an average hiker about 6-7 hours to complete, you definitely don’t have to hike the whole thing. In fact, you can follow it as far as you want, without compromising the experience! Just make sure you start at the parking lot by the Upper Falls.

To see all three waterfalls, follow the trail from the Upper Falls, past the middle falls, and down to the lower falls. This makes for a great, scenic hike that clocks in at just under 4 miles one way.

Whiteface Mountain via The Whiteface Veterans’ Memorial Highway

Hiking up a staircase on Whiteface Mountain

  • Location: Wilmington, NY
  • Region: Northern Adirondack Mountains
  • Hike distance: 0.5 miles out and back
  • Trail rating: Moderate
  • Open: The Whiteface Veterans Memorial Highway is open daily from 8:45am – 5:30pm between May 24 – October 14.
  • Price to park: $20 per vehicle + driver and $20 for each additional passenger. Visit the website for more details.

At 4’867 feet, Whiteface Mountain is the fifth highest peak in New York and one of the most iconic mountains in the Adirondacks! But the good news is that you don’t have to make the difficult 5.0 mile trek to enjoy the views from the top!

You can easily reach the same sweeping summit view driving the Whiteface Memorial Highway. The paved road twists and turns up the side of the mountain, before reaching a parking lot just below the summit. From there, you just have to hike the remaining 0.5 miles. The trail is made of stone staircases and natural rock, flanked by railings on either side.

Once you get to the top, be sure to hang out for awhile and soak in the views that span miles in every direction.

Difficult and Strenuous Hikes in Upstate New York

Cascade Mountain

  • Location: Lake Placid, NY
  • Region: Northern Adirondack Mountains
  • Hike distance: 5.8 miles round trip
  • Trail rating: Difficult
  • Elevation gain: 2286 feet

Get a taste of the Adirondack High Peaks by climbing Cascade Mountain, the 36th highest peak in New York State. While generally considered the “easiest” of the 46 High Peaks, the hike up Cascade is no easy feat. However, you can rest assured that the 360 degree views at the summit make the climb well worth the effort.

Like many of the Adirondack High Peaks, the summit of Cascade Mountain is home to extremely fragile alpine vegetation. For this reason, it’s important to always stay on the trail or bare rock only.

Have a little energy left over? Bag another High Peak by combining your hike up Cascade with adjacent Porter Mountain.

Note: Cascade Mountain is a very popular hike so parking fill up very quickly. If you can’t find parking, I recommend choosing a less popular hike nearby. Check out this list of Best Hikes Near Lake Placid for some back up options that are just as gorgeous!

Indian Head and Fish Hawk Cliffs

Indian Head hike in the Adirondacks is one of the best hiking trails in New York State

  • Location: Keene Valley, NY
  • Region: Adirondack Mountains
  • Hike distance: 11 mile loop
  • Trail rating: Difficult
  • Elevation gain: 1,978 feet
  • Permits are required between May 1 and October 31. You can get a permit at hikeamr.org

Hike Indian Head and Fish Hawk Cliffs in the Adirondacks for the most unique and mind-blowing view in New York State.

Over the last few years, Indian Head has shot to Instagram fame, quickly making it one of the most recognizable hikes in Upstate NY. With its unique view of Lower Ausable Lake and the surrounding High Peaks, it’s easy to see how so many people have become enamored with its breathtaking vista.

Clocking in at just over 11 miles round trip, there’s no shorter way to access this rocky overlook, which means you have to put in the work to get there. Make sure you’re prepared by reading my full guide below:

READ THE FULL GUIDE: Indian Head and Fish Hawk Cliffs (The Complete Hiking Guide)

Mount Marcy

View from the top of Mount Marcy, the tallest mountain in New York State

  • Location: Keene, NY
  • Region: Adirondack Mountains
  • Hike distance: 14.8 miles round trip
  • Trail rating: Difficult; average hike time 7-8 hours
  • Elevation gain: 3,166 feet (965 meters)
  • Price to park: $15 per car (cash) at the Adirondack Loj

Looking for a bit of a challenge? If your answer is a heck yes, then you’ll want to add Mount Marcy to your must-hike list. But be warned – Mount Marcy is a challenging hike that should only be attempted by experienced (and well-prepared!) hikers.

At 5,344 feet, Mount Marcy is the tallest mountain in New York State, and offers some of the best mountain views in the entire Northeast. However, the hike to the summit is no easy feat, and conquering this Adirondack High Peak is an all day affair!

The shortest route to the summit is 7.4 miles (one way). From the trailhead, the the hike begins relatively easy as it approaches the former Marcy Dam. From there, it ascends over varied terrain up to the bald summit, where you’re rewarded with 360-degree views of the Adirondack wilderness.

NOTE: Mount Marcy is home to fragile and endangered alpine vegetation. Only walk on open rock and designated paths at all times.

Big Slide via The Brothers


  • Location: Keene, New York
  • Region: Adirondack Mountains
  • Hike distance: 7.6 miles out and back
  • Trail rating: Difficult
  • Elevation gain: 3,126 feet
  • Price to park: $10 per car (cash) at The Garden parking lot. Parking is limited, so arrive as early as possible in peak seasons to get a spot.

Big Slide Mountain is, in my opinion, one of the best High Peaks in the Adirondack Park. With significant elevation gain, rock scrambling, ladders, and a jaw-dropping view of the Great Range, it’s easy to see why Big Slide Mountain is considered one of the best hikes in Upstate New York.

This 7.6 mile trail begins at the popular Garden parking area, about 20 miles southeast of Lake Placid. The first 1.5 miles follows a rocky ridge as you climb over The Brothers. Shortly after clearing The Brothers, the path turns to a rugged ascent to the summit of Big Slide, where you’ll be hard pressed to find better mountain views in this part of New York State.

Like all of the Adirondack High Peaks, this hike is challenging and should only be attempted by experienced, and well prepared, hikers.

Breakneck Ridge

  • Location: Cold Spring, NY
  • Region: Hudson Valley
  • Hike distance: 3.2 mile loop
  • Trail rating: Difficult

Prepare to use your hands and don’t look down as you scramble nearly straight up the side of Breakneck Ridge. Located only 1 hour north of NYC, the Breakneck Ridge Trail is an exciting and challenging climb that’s not for the faint of heart.

At only 3.2 miles round trip, this hike is short and sweet, and leads to insanely gorgeous views of the Hudson River and the mountains of the Hudson Highlands.

Breakneck Ridge is a popular hike for locals, upstate NYers, and basically anyone looking to escape New York City. So, as you can imagine, it gets pretty crowded. Be sure to show up as early as possible to beat the crowds – especially in the summer and fall!

TIP: To navigate using Google Maps, use the address on Route 9D in Beacon.

Visiting from New York City? This is one of the few hikes in Upstate New York that is easily accessible without a car. Simply take the Metro North! On the weekends, the train stops at Breakneck. During the week, you have to get off at the nearby town of Cold Spring and call a ride to the trailhead.

Wittenberg Mountain

  • Location: Ulster County, NY
  • Region: Catskill Mountains
  • Hike distance: 7.8 miles out and back
  • Trail rating: Difficult
  • Elevation gain: 2,600 feet
  • Price to park: The trailhead to Wittenberg Mountain starts at the Woodland Valley State Campground. Here, you’ll have to pay a small day use fee to park between May – October.

While Wittenberg Mountain is one of the hardest hikes in New York, it offers some of the best views in the Catskills. All you have to do is climb 2,600 feet over a strenuous 7.8 miles to reach them!

But in all seriousness, the rocky clearing on Wittenberg’s summit feels like it was custom-designed to serve hikers the best possible view in this part of Upstate New York. So for those hikers who are willing to make the effort, the view at the end is well worth the climb. The view includes Devil’s Pass, Peakamoose and Table Mountains, as well as the Ashokan Reservoir and Hudson Valley.

If you’re an extra seasoned hiker, you can extend this hike to include the summits of Cornell Mountain and Slide Mountain as well.


View these hikes on a map

I created a Google Map so you can easily reference all of these Upstate New York hikes on the go!  Click here to view and save the Upstate New York hiking trail map.

Map of the best hikes in Upstate New York

Have you hiked any of these beautiful Upstate New York hiking trails? Which one is your favorite? Let me know in the comments!

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Jackie - Adventure Travel Blogger and Author at The Adventures Atlas
( Adventure Travel Expert )

Hi, I’m Jackie! I’m a travel photographer and content creator based near the Adirondack Mountains of Upstate New York. I’m also a millennial who works full-time, yet I still find ways to travel frequently without breaking the bank, because traveling is what makes me feel most alive. Now I help fellow travelers who also work 9-5 and are looking for ways to travel more with limited PTO.

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