With finals looming, it might do you some good to clear your head. I think we can all agree that New York City can be beautiful, but sometimes it is important to get away from the pollution and city lights. For a while, I had no deep appreciation for nature, but that completely changed when I began to go on hiking trails. Here are three places, open year-round, that are just a bus ride, train ride or rental car away.
Harriman Trails is just 30 miles from New York City. It is the second largest state park in New York, reaching 41,618 acres compared to Adirondack State Park, which reaches 6 million acres. At this trail you will have scenic views that you will not forget. The park is huge and has 10 trails of your choice. Not only is there hiking, but there are other activities such as horseback riding and mountain biking trails. There are beaches available as well for those breezy summer days. If you would like to visit this park in the winter, they also have some trails open for cross-country skiing. Harriman is a boundless place to visit all year.
Here's how to get there.
Bear Mountain State Park, located just beside Harriman but considered a separate entity, is 5,067 acres and has breathtaking views. The park is located in Highland Falls, New York. This state park officially opened in May of 1913 and has been enjoyed ever since. I actually had the pleasure of going to Bear Mountain, and it is now one of my favorite places. When you first enter the park, there is a large lake where people have the option of canoeing or using the paddleboats for just $5. After you have enjoyed the water, you can start your hike up the mountain. I would have to say that this mountain is fairly difficult to complete, but it is worth it. For those who cannot walk very well, there is also a scenic drive up the mountain on Perkins Memorial Drive. There are people who come from all over the country just to come to Bear Mountain, and for us, it's just 45 minutes away. (Remember the city is also chock full of car rental options.) When people come to Bear Mountain they also have a choice of staying in a hotel designed to look like a large cabin.
Here's how to get there.
Letchworth, also known as the “Grand Canyon of the East,” is a little further away, but it is worth it for the spectacular views. There are waterfalls at different points on the trail and long views that overlook the tops of trees. When you reach the highest points of this trail, you will feel inspired by what you see, and I can only imagine how beautiful the views would be in fall with the leaves changing. There are waterfalls that reach up to 600 feet. There is also a lot of interesting history here. In 1851, construction began on a railroad bridge. At that time, it was the longest and tallest wooden railroad bridge in the world. Unfortunately, a fire broke out in 1875 and destroyed the bridge. Engineers then had to restore the bridge with an iron and steel design that is still in place today.
Letchworth is more than five hours from the city, so find a friend with a car (or rent one) and spend the weekend.