As it’s starting to warm-up, I’ve decided it’s time to touch-upon a topic I get asked fairly frequently.
Seeing as I have a beard and wear a fair amount of flannel and often boots (ignoring my focus on chickens, farming, and sustainability), it appears I give-off a crunchy vibe, hence the abundance of questions lodged with me about the best places near the Stanton House Inn to enjoy some leaf peeping in CT, or just to commune with nature. In line with the stereotypes, I am of course able to offer a few suggestions. Hiking in Connecticut is fantastic, but there are some other great destinations in New York State as well. These are, in my opinion, the best hiking trails near NYC.
Best Hiking Trails Near NYC in Bedford, NY
The first one on my list is a bit off the beaten path, but close to the Stanton House Inn and worth the trip. Mianus River Gorge Wildlife Refuge and Botanical Preserve is in Bedford, New York, just over the border from Greenwich and about a 20-minute drive from the Inn. The whole trail is about six miles of moderately-difficult terrain with very well-preserved trails, which would likely take the average hiker about two and a half hours. My favorite parts of this park are the trail markers showing things both typical of the area and extraordinary–including the last stand of old-growth forest in the area. For those wanting to find the more vigorous of the best hiking trails near NYC, this is the place to go. While you’re up there, I’d highly recommend stopping-in to the picturesque downtown of Bedford. Keep in mind that dogs are not allowed here, as the main focus of this park is the preservation of local wildlife populations which are generally not huge fans of canines.
For those looking to go a bit further afield, my two favorite relatively nearby parks are Devil’s Den Preserve in Wilton, Connecticut, and Bear Mountain State Park across the Hudson from Peekskill, New York.
Best Hiking Trails Near NYC in Weston, CT
Devil’s Den is pretty easy for any skill level of hiker, but its big selling point is its relative proximity and its size–it’s a huge park offering some of the best hiking in Connecticut. Look at any map of Fairfield County, and that big green blob up north is Devil’s Den. One of my most recent memories of this park is getting lost there for hours looking for a spectacular view overlooking the Saugatuck reservoir on the western side of the park. I never found it, so let me know if and when you do. With little bridges crossing the myriad streams, outcroppings interspersed to provide views above the incessant woods, sunny little ponds, and rock shelters, this is a fun park to get lost in on a lazy afternoon with some beautiful hiking trails near NYC.
Best Hiking Trails Near NYC at Bear Mountain State Park
Bear Mountain State Park’s for the real hikers. Located about a 45-minute drive from the Stanton House Inn in Bear Mountain, New York, this park can be pretty strenuous, with a rather steep hike up the hill to join part of the Appalachian Trail. The Bear Mountain State Park hiking does offer a spectacular view of the Hudson River, Peekskill, and the road to West Point. This park has some of the most gorgeous hiking trails near NYC. Even for those not particularly interested in more difficult hikes, there’s a flatter area for outdoor activities–including the annual Oktoberfest at Bear Mountain.
Best Hiking Trails Near NYC in Greenwich
Don’t want to come to the area just to drive for an hour, round-trip? Well, there are some very nice hiking trails near NYC right in Greenwich, as well. My favorites include the Greenwich Audubon, which features a Nature Center, (somewhat) working demonstration farm (ie: they’ve got goats, chickens, and an apple orchard), and trails through woods, fields, and ponds, as well as plenty of educational opportunities for visitors of all ages.
Other places close to home include the Babcock Preserve, which is the largest park close to downtown Greenwich, and the Mianus River Park, another park fronting the Mianus River (pronounced My-ahnis, by the way, I’ve run into my fair share of snickering teenagers) on what was a former farm. Most of the parks around here are former farms, speaking of which, hence the numerous old rock walls criss-crossing them.
This is by no means an exhaustive list (I haven’t mentioned the Ward Pound Ridge Preserve, for example), but these are my favorite of the best hiking trails near NYC when guest needs at the Stanton House Inn are not immediately pressing. So be sure to take advantage of the warming weather and get some sunshine! Another fantastic way to enjoy Westchester County is to take a ride around Westchester bike trails, as a nudge.
The best part is that most of these hiking trails are close to us. And the travel time from New York City to Greenwich, CT, is only about an hour via car or train.
Photo Courtesy: BrightGarden (Peter)/Flickr