The 7 Best Cold-Weather Hikes Right Outside of New York City

Whether you stray one or five hours from the city, you’re in for a scenic winter wonderland.

Don’t let the cold weather keep you inside. Unsplash

We all need an escape from the city sometimes, especially during winter. While you get ample opportunity to enjoy the outdoors in the summer, and can even frolic in Sheep Meadow throughout spring and fall, New York City’s colder days often keep us curled up next to our radiators, holed up in shoebox apartments. It can be a particularly dismal time for those partial to outdoor adventures.

But that doesn’t have to be the case. Luckily for anyone seeking an athletic dose of the great outdoors, there are some spectacular hiking spots to hit even in the cold weather, all just a short ways away from the Big Apple

From snow-capped mountains to forested paths, nature comes in all forms across these hikes. Venture two hours away and escape to the Catskills, or embark on a longer six-hour trip to Whiteface Mountain. On the other hand, if you don’t want to actually leave the city, there’s a paved path in Central Park that makes you forget that you’re smack in the middle of a bustling city. 

Whether you’re seeking a grueling 10-mile endeavor or a short jaunt, there are trails for every kind of hiker out there. So unwrap yourself from your fuzzy blanket cocoon, get off the couch and prepare to immerse yourself in nature. Don’t let the cold keep you indoors all winter long—instead, try one of these seven hikes right outside (or in one case, within) New York City.

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Letchworth State Park. Unsplash/Clay Banks

Letchworth State Park, Wyoming County

Regarded as the “Grand Canyon of the East,” Letchworth State Park boasts incredible scenery. Highlights include 66 miles of hiking trails and waterfalls as high as 600 feet. What makes this a great place to visit in the colder seasons is the breadth of activities offered, from snow tubing, to cross-country skiing, to snowmobiling.

Giant Ledge, Catskills. Flickr/TheTurducken

Giant Ledge, Catskills

Venture a couple of hours out of the city to the Catskills for a popular, must-hit hike. Pick between a three- or seven-mile hike, depending on how much of a workout you are after. If you want to extend your day trip to an overnight visit, consider Urban Cowboy Lodge

Breakneck Ridge. Wikipedia Commons

Breakneck Ridge

Straddling Dutchess and Putnam counties, Breakneck Ridge is a mountain just under an hour-and-a-half drive from New York City. You can choose short or long loops, both of which offer breathtaking views of the river below. While this hike tends to be popular given its accessibility from the city, the winter time makes for a less crowded experience. It’s definitely on the more challenging side, so proceed carefully, especially if there’s ice.

Whiteface Mountain. Unsplash/Morishikiq

Whiteface Mountain

If you are up for an adventure (and a five- or six-hour drive), the Adirondack Mountains await. Whiteface Mountain is the fifth-highest mountain in the United States, so you know that you are in for some spectacular scenery. That said, during winter, the full trail is best for experienced hikers. There are several other paths for beginners to try during the cooler months, and you can even opt for a snowshoe hike. And, of course, there is ample skiing for those itching to hit the slopes.

Central Park. Central Park

Ravine and North Woods, New York City

If you don’t feel like leaving the city, you can still immerse yourself in nature—after all, Central Park is Manhattan’s backyard. The Ravine is a particularly densely wooded area of the park, with a narrow watercourse called the Loch with three waterfalls. It’s more of a walk than a hike, but it’s still movement in a serene setting.

Mount Tammany Red Dot Trail. National Parks Service

Mount Tammany, New Jersey

Forming the east side of the Delaware Water Gap, this three-and-a-half mile loop features a stunning overlook of the river. It’s fairly steep and strenuous, but the shorter distance makes it more manageable than others. That being said, don’t underestimate the workout that you’re signing up for.

Silver Mine Lake Loop, Hudson Valley

Prepare yourself for some muddy encounters on this loop—we advise going on more mild days. It’s a little under four miles, and the trailhead is an abandoned ski area. You’ll hike around a lake, climbing up to the William Brien Memorial Shelter, where you can even camp out overnight.

The 7 Best Cold-Weather Hikes Right Outside of New York City