Cheesequake State Park
Photograph: Shutterstock

The best hiking trails for NYC families to explore

Take a hike! Here are the best hiking trails for NYC families with toddlers and kids of all ages.

By Oliver Strand
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Just because you live in the Big Apple doesn't mean you can't spend time in the great outdoors. There are amazing family-friendly hikes close to NYC—in fact, the Bronx River Greenway and Inwood Hill Park are right in the middle of the city!

So: Check the weather, pack a picnic and make plans to visit mother nature with the fam. These hiking trails are great for children of all ages, from toddlers out for a stroll to bigger kids looking to go for a scramble. Hiking is one of the best things New York City Families can do right now.

After all, it's up to you to make this summer great. The pools are closed (bummer), as are the beaches (for now). But you can go for a spin on the best bike trails in NYC for families, or head out of town for berry picking—nothing says summer like a little PYO.

 

Hiking Trails for NYC Families

Bronx River Greenway Muskrat Cove
Bronx River Greenway Muskrat Cove
Photograph Courtesy Bronx River Alliance

1. Bronx River Greenway

This is New York City? The Bronx River Greenway has transformed this once-abused waterway into an 8-mile-long trail that feels far, far away from hectic urban life. The rolling landscape is great for kids and families, and links Concrete Plant Park, Starlight Park and other upgraded urban parks. Feeling ambitious? Follow the Greenway up into Westchester where the trail continues for another 15 miles.

 

Harriman State Park
Harriman State Park
Photograph: Shutterstock

2. Harriman State Park

Travel time: 55 minutes by car from NYC

The second-largest park in New York state has more than 200 miles of hiking trails that cover the range from toddler-friendly strolls to serious scrambles on the Appalachian Trail. The trails leading to Pine Meadow Lake are good for kids—and some of the most popular in the park. If you want smaller crowds, consider the trails around Lake Sebago.

 

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Inwood Park Spuyten Duyvil Creek
Inwood Park Spuyten Duyvil Creek
Photograph: Shutterstock

3. Inwood Hill Park

Located at the tippy-top of Manhattan, Inwood Hill Park has the only natural forest left on the island. A small network of trails takes you through lush landscapes that lead to the Harlem River. The trails aren't long but they can be steep, making this a great starter hike for bigger kids.

Mohonk
Mohonk
Photograph: Shutterstock

4. Mohonk Mountain House

Travel time: 1 hour 45 minutes by car from NYC

This private preserve of 1,325 acres includes 85 miles of trails that range from kid-friendly rambles to advanced climbs that require some serious outdoor skills. Mohonk charges for access, and it ain't cheap: $29 adults, $24 ages 4-12, free ages 3 and under. The upshot? The trails are in fantastic condition, and they're never overly crowded—even on beautiful weekends.

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bear mountain
bear mountain
Photograph: Shutterstock

5. Bear Mountain State Park

Travel time: 1 hour by car from NYC

This is where you take the kids after they prove they can handle the trails at Harriman State Park. This mountainous terrain on the Hudson River has more than 40 miles of trails, many of them rated intermediate—perfect for older kids ready to scramble across boulders and along steep rises.

Hiking
Hiking
Photograph: Shutterstock

6. Cheesequake State Park

Travel time: 45 minutes by car from NYC

This gem of a park includes 5 kid-friendly trails that range from an easy 3/4-mile stroll perfect for toddlers to a gentle 3-mile loop. The park is free, but there is a $5 vehicle fee for New Jersey residents, $10 for non-residents.

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Massapequa State Park
Massapequa State Park
Photograph: Shutterstock

7. Massapequa Preserve

Travel time: 1 hour by car from NYC

This 432-acre preserve wends its way along ponds and marshlands, and the mostly-flat park is great for shorter legs. The 20 miles of trails includes log bridges the kids will love—be sure to pack a picnic to enjoy in the shade!

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