As the weather starts to get warmer, exercising outside becomes an option once again. If you leave the New York skyline in the rearview mirror and head north just over an hour or so, you’ll find some really great hiking trails that boast beautiful views of the Hudson River and Valley — as well as surrounding lakes, mountains, and more. There are trails of every shape, size, and difficulty to choose from — plus a few non-hiking activities in case the adventuring gets to be too much. Hiking the streets of Montclair can sometimes be exercise enough, but keep reading to find out where to hike in Orange County, New York.
(Photo credit: Justin Logerfo)
Appalachian Trail | Various Points
Hiking along the East Coast means that there is a high likelihood to step foot on the Appalachian Trail. In its entirety, it stretches all the way from Maine to Georgia. This specific section of the trail in Orange County spans from the NJ border to the Hudson River. There are many different hikes to take, like on Bellvale Mountain, for example. The Bellvale hike is a nearly 7-mile section of the Appalachian Trail. It has many short but steep climbs toward the end of the trail and is more for moderately experienced hikers. Along this stretch, hikers can stop at a Trailside Museum and Zoo at Bear Mountain if they want a break from the hiking. Just be sure to check the maps to locate the rocky sections of this trail. Fun fact: this section of the Appalachian includes the lowest elevation along the entire Appalachian Trail.
Heritage Trail | Goshen + Monroe, New York
This 18-mile scenic route lies along the old Erie Railroad bed. It has since been converted to a paved path perfect for walking or bike riding — or even rollerblading. Travelers can take the entire trail or only explore part of it. Either way, visitors will see a bird/wildlife sanctuary, historic landmarks, lovely little streams and meadows, and pass through some great communities. You can check the map for directions to various points of the trail with parking access and bathrooms, including Airplane Park — a cute little park perfect for kiddos with a playground and old war planes to see. This is a flat and easy trail, great for beginners.
In case all the walking makes travelers hungry, there are plenty of places to pop off the trail for a bite to eat. A great place to eat is in Goshen where you can visit Delancy’s, El Rancho Mexican Restaurant, or Trailside Treats Creamery for a fun treat.
Read More: A List of Fun Outdoor Activities in New Jersey
Newburgh Waterfront Trail | 1 Washington Street, Newburgh
This trail is an easy 1 mile-long walking path right along the Hudson River. It’s quiet and serene, perfect for a casual weekend stroll. Local favorites including Hudson Taco and Newburgh Brewing Company are just steps away from this hike, so travelers can indulge in some local fare after a lovely walk on the water.
Pollepel Island/Bannerman Castle | 2 Red Flynn Drive, Beacon
(Photo credit: @bannermancastletrust)
While this is technically not in Orange County, MG couldn’t leave this castle off the list. Located just across the river in Beacon, New York, this castle is a great place to hike, tour, and even enjoy dinner. Adventure-seekers can buy a tour pass for $40 per adult or $35 per child 11 years and younger that starts at the dock in Beacon and travels to the island with the castle. The tour includes seeing the castle, the gardens, the residence (but you can’t go inside), and a return trip back from the island. We recommend wearing comfortable shoes, as there is some rough terrain during parts of the walking tour. There is also a 72-step climb from the dock to the start of the tour, so you’ll be exercising right from the beginning.
If you’re looking for something in nature but less about hiking, you can mark your calendar for September 3rd when the Bannerman Castle Trusts hosts the annual Farm to Table dinner. Tickets are $135 per person and include the dinner, guided tour, music performances, and art sale.
Sterling Forest State Park | 116 Old Forge Road, Tuxedo Park
This park is a hidden gem among other more well-known hiking destinations. This web of trails starts with a visitors center, which is a great place to begin because it has an interactive trail map, according to visitors. There are different hikes for different levels, so make sure to consider the length and difficulty. On the trails, you’ll get gorgeous views of the surrounding area and Sterling Lake. Plus, this park isn’t far from the NJ border.
See More: Outdoor Exercise Paths in Essex County
Stewart State Forest | Off of Ridge Road in Rock Tavern
This state park is made up of 7,000 acres of wildlife management area right by Stewart Airport, which is where Post Malone had to emergency land 4 years ago. It has 12 hiking trails, fishing, hunting, trapping, and more. The hiking trails range from half a mile to just under 3 miles long, so nothing here is too strenuous distance-wise. The trail is semi-paved, which makes it perfect for strolling, biking, or even bird watching. You can check the website for coordinates and directions for parking areas.
Storm King State Park | Storm King Trail, Mountain Road, Cornwall-On-Hudson
This 3.6-mile loop boasts some truly breathtaking views of the Hudson Valley. Adventurers say parts of the hike can be difficult, with some rock scrambling at one end of the trail (depending on which way you go), followed by very steep inclines. The rest of the hike is much calmer, but it offers amazing views that are well worth the trek. Make sure to check here for directions to the trailhead, because it can be a bit tricky.
While visiting, it’s fun to check out Storm King Arts Center, which is a 500-acre outdoor museum that has changing exhibits. Right now, visitors can see the Wangechi Mutu exhibit with her earth and bronze sculptures, Outlooks: Brandon Ndife exhibit, and more.