PSP Member Recommended Family Friendly Day Hikes

Lake Minnewaska
Lake Minnewaska is a favorite hiking destination for PSP members. Photo via here.

PSP Member Recommended Family Friendly Day Hikes!

This page includes tips and recommendations of where to hike close to NYC from members of the PSP Hiking and Camping Club, plus resources around the web they recommend. Want to join the PSP Hiking and Camping Club? Go here >

 

Resources:

NYC Park’s list of Hiking Trails

New York New Jersey Transit: Where You Can Go By Bus or Train
"We looked up some trails here."

The Gone Hikin' blog
"The Gone Hikin' blog has descriptions of lots of easy hikes, mostly in NJ. There is at least one park in NJ accessible by train, but I don't know the details."

Long Island Trail Enthusiasts MeetUp
"I've also joined Long Island Trail Enthusiasts (LITE) on meetup and it seems they do a fair amount of planned hikes. we haven't yet joined them, but thought i should mention it."

Tales of a Mountain Mama
"I've found this website super helpful."

New York City Day Hiking

 

Related PSP articles:

Camping with Babies and Toddlers

 

PSP member recommend hikes

hiking-family

(also see what hikes member's do NOT recommend here)

 

The Appalachian Trail
“The Appalachian Trail is accessible on weekends from Metro-North's Harlem line, and by bus from a few places. Those are probably on the NY-NJ trail conference site.”

"We ended up doing part of the Appalachian trail near Lake Canopus this last weekend. It was lovely and I think it would be a nice walk for children."

 

Bald Mountain and Doodletown
We ultimately decided to go with a car rental. and we did this 6-mile loop/trail, Bald Mtn & Doodletown. More info >

 

Bear Mountain
“To catch more fall foliage we went hiking again at Bear Mountain. It's about an hour drive up the Palisades Parkway, about 40 minutes before Breakneck ridge. This was also a really scenic hike with the fall colors changing. we think since the trail was wide this time, our 2.8 year old didn't walk on her own as much - she was distracted by the rocks and leaves on the ground (which she had to collect) - we had to do a fair amount of carrying her, esp. on the steep incline and on the way back down. My husband mentioned it was more scenic than the breakneck ridge hike - the hike itself and the views at the top."

"We love Bear Mountain. It's short train ride to Peekskill from Grand Central (little over 1hr) and 15min or so cab ride from the station. We have a dog also and usually stay at the Overlook Lodge which is dog friendly. There is a small zoo and museum nearby too and the hike is not too strenuous for child or dog. You can go for dinner at the Bear Mountain Inn. Nice little day or weekend trip for the family."

 

Blue Hill’s Property
“Blue Hill's property is lovely and easy, good cafe to end up at toward the day's end too.”

 

Bull Hill
“Bull Hill is a good one.”

 

Cold Spring
“Cold Spring is here. There are 2 trains early in the morning, I think, that also go to Breakneck Ridge if you're up for the scrambling steep climb too and you can take the train back from Cold Spring (runs every hour) at the end. There is a fun bar with outdoor seating right by the train tracks where I've hung out after hikes waiting for the hourly train. The trailhead is about a 1 mile walk from the Cold Spring train station.”

"Anything in and around Cold Spring, except maybe Breakneck Ridge (for obvious reasons!!)."

"Cold Spring is also lovely! Take Metro North from Grand Central there. Walk to town. Then either get taxi or walk to trails. Breakneck Ridge is near and popular. 11 year old can definitely hike it. Lots of cafes for breakfast, late lunch or early dinner. You can also walk along Hudson River front there. Beautiful.

 

Cornish Estate Trail near Cold Spring
“There are also some great dairy farm ruins called "Cornish Estate."  It's accessible by MetroNorth, but maybe a mile hike from the train to the trailheads so a car might be better. There's a great "hidden" pond to swim in after your day of hiking called "Little Stony Point Park."

 

Dater Park
“I don't know of anything around 30 minutes away, but we frequently go to Dater Mountain with our 2 year old. We usually go on Sunday  mornings and it takes us about an hour and 15 minutes to get there.” More info >

 

Harriman State Park
“Harriman State Park is really close on the Metro North.” 
“Harriman is wonderful and tons of hikes at various lengths.”

 

Inwood Hill Park
"
Other options might be Inwood Hill park, or some of the other relatively wild city parks."

 

Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge
“We had a nice time recently at the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, in the middle of the bay at Broad Channel.  Technically accessible via the A, but I recall the walk as long and not that pleasant.  A very easy drive, though, maybe 40 minutes for us.”

 

Kakiat Trail
“One more we like...Kakiat Trail. This one is close to Dater Mountain, just about 15 minutes longer drive.” More info >

 

Lake Minnewaska Trail
“Easy, beautiful, space to swim in the lake!”
“There are some great hikes in Minnewaska.”
“Minnewaska state park near New Paltz has lovely hiking, and New Paltz is a nice day trip with restaurants, shops, wineries, if you have a car.”

 

Mohonk Preserve
“Mohonk preserve is my favorite.”

 

NY Botanical Gardens
“NY Botanical has some lovely trails in a real forest.”

 

Palisades
“Giant Stairs at The Palisades, also other easier options if this is too challenging (and it is pretty challenging). You can even take a $9ish bus there from Port Authority.”

 

Pelham Bay
"
Other options might be Pelham Bay, or some of the other relatively wild city parks."

 

Sam’s Point
“Just wanted to report back that the hike thru Sam's Point was amazing. with the fall colors and the incredible scenic views, it was truly breathtaking. It was not easy as we chose to take the long loop at 8.5 miles, but the last three miles were not too rough as it was just the carriage road back to the parking lot at the conservation center. our daughter hiked with us for about half the time, and was on my back for the other half. we ended up splitting up with a faster group of friends, while the slower group stayed with us and hiked slowly. it took us about 6.5 hours with a 45 min. Break for lunch at the waterfall. The temps were perfect, just had to bring layers for the AM and for the sunset.”

 

Teatown Lake Reservation in Ossining (Westchester)
“About 1 and 1/4 drive away [...] and has a number of trails of varying difficulty, including one mile around a lake that's great if you're carrying a baby in a backpack carrier. There's also a nature center with some animals and nice clean bathrooms!

 

Tuxedo Park
“Tuxedo Park has some good trails and you can take Metro North. The station is right by the entrance to the trails.” More info >

 

New Paltz
“We were up near New Paltz hiking in the Mohonk Preserve. The trail along the stream at the Coxing Trailhead turned out to be great for our 18 month old, so I thought I'd share our experience with the group. It wasn't a lengthy "hike" for us but more of an exploratory ramble: the trail follows a wonderful stream that has a series of small waterfalls and little pools, and Aubrey enjoyed watching the water flow, throwing pebbles in the stream to make plunking sounds, touching the soft mosses growing along the stream bed, looking at the spring flowers, walking along the boardwalks, and clambering around on the rocky flats beside the water. There's a lot to see down at her level, so we just took it slow and followed her curiosity. We also ate in the pleasant picnic area at the trailhead, where there's enough space for kids to run around and play.
The trail isn't steep but it has a lot of exposed roots, so I'd say it would be best for those who are either surefooted and mature enough to pay attention to where they're walking or young enough to agree to hold your hand. And you would want a change of clothes, for even on a cool spring day we couldn't help getting close enough to the water to get wet (in the summer, a lot of people go swimming in these pools--including a group of local nudists, just as a head's up!). The Mohonk Preserve can be a bit pricey, though: unless you have a membership, they charge $12 a person for adults; children under 12 are free.”  

 

And some not-so kid friendly hikes to be aware of...

 hiking-sign

 

Cascade
“[We went on a] hike of cascade mountain in Keene, NY of the Adirondacks. it's nearly 5 miles round-trip and I don't think we made a wise choice given the tricky ascent and descent. I've heard Sleeping Beauty and Giant Mountain trail are probably better for kids, that are kid-friendly (Ii looked this up after the fact, oh well. so much for planning).
We chose Cascade b/c the last time hubs and i did this, i was pregnant with the little one. Now 5 years later we get to make the ascent again, this time with her in tow. The last mile or so she was quite upset. but up until that point, she hiked like a champ. it was quite windy and cold at the top.”

 

Harriman

“There's at least one port authority bus that drops you off at a trailhead at Harriman. I did a 7 mile hike while 8 months pregnant this way. I wouldn't necessarily recommend it, I was tired, but it was great.”