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6 Hudson Valley Trails for Hikers of All Experience Levels

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Adobe Stock / leszekglasner

Whether you’re a newbie to the local hiking scene or an avid hiker, there’s a trail on this list that will satisfy every outdoor adventure.

HAPPY TRAILS

We may be biased, but the Hudson Valley is one of the best destinations in New York for enjoying the outdoors. With dozens of parks and mountains, there is an endless variety of miles to cover. The HV stretches over three regions from north to south: Upper Hudson Valley, Mid-Hudson Valley, and Lower Hudson Valley. Those regions are separated into the east and west sides of the Hudson River. You can find trails in the Hudson Valley State Parks, including Minnewaska State Park, Bear Mountain State Park, Harriman State Park, and Hudson Highlands State Park, as well as in the Shawangunk Mountains, and the Catskill Mountains. Try our top spots to get your run on.

Hiker running. hudson valley trails

Photo courtesy of Mohonk Preserve

FOR BEGINNER/INTERMEDIATE RUNNERS

Guyot Hill, Spring Farm Trailhead at Mohonk Preserve

Located in the center of the Shawangunk Mountains near Minnewaska State Park, Mohonk Preserve, a designated National Historic Landmark in Ulster County, consists of 70 miles of carriage roads and 40 miles of trails for hiking and biking. This is a moderate-to-strenuous 9-mile round-trip trail. Follow rough, cross-country, and hilly trails through forests, past the cliffs of Bonticou, and finally to the summit of Guyot Hill. This run covers some of the route for the Preserve’s annual Pfalz Point Trail Challenge Fundraising Run (October 2, 2022). Beginner runners can do an out-and-back on one of the smaller carriage road paths until they’re ready to go further.

Breakneck Ridge Trail

Part of the Hudson Highlands State Park, this trail in Dutchess County is 3 miles long and offers three routes—the short loop, the classic loop, and the trail to the town of Cold Spring. Breakneck Ridge is a difficult route that involves tricky scrambling to get to the top views, but thanks to local groups and volunteers, hikers and runners finally have a not-so-vertical alternative to reach the panoramic view, on the Nimham Trail. (The “short loop” will have a steep incline up an elevator of stone steps that should be walked and connects to the new Nimham Trail to the top.)

Leatherstocking Trail

Stretching nearly 2 miles long on approximately 30 acres of land, the Leatherstocking Trail provides avid walkers, runners, and nature enthusiasts with a beautiful respite from the typical day-to-day in Westchester County. The well-preserved path stretches east from New Rochelle to Mamaroneck and can be accessed by several residential streets. Families and children will love the ease and comfort of the dirt path, and runners of all levels will enjoy the change of scenery as they hop on the trail from the village roads and back to the neighborhood roads again. (Try the annual Paine to Pain Half-Marathon on October 9, 2022—a giant single loop that winds its way through the woods and trails of five different lower Westchester parks.)

Perkins Memorial Tower Trail

Bear Mountain State Park is a top Hudson Valley hiking destination with an expansive trail system and iconic views. Perkins Memorial Tower Observation Loop is a 3.9-mile course that attracts visitors from all over the state for its 360-degree view of the surrounding area atop Bear Mountain. On your run soak up the area’s beauty as you climb to the top of the tower. While you can run the entire loop, this one takes some time, so opt for an out-and-back (go out as far as you can and head back the same way) to cover some easier terrain and beautiful sights. Some suggest doing this run counterclockwise, starting off on the Appalachian Trail, an easier path with less rugged terrain, which takes you to the Major Welch Trail into a more wooded area. (The tower is usually accessible from April to late November, depending on the weather conditions.)

Storm King Mountain Loop

The Storm King Mountain trail in Cornwall-on-Hudson offers an opposing view from the popular Breakneck Ridge trail across the river. The course along Storm King Mountain showcases excellent outlooks of the Hudson River and other prominent Hudson Valley features. To enjoy these views, it will require an extended steep uphill climb before it flattens out to a more mellow trail through a forested area. The top offers open views, a spot to rest and take it all in. You’ll follow the orange-blazed Butter Hill Trail until it merges onto the Highlands Trail (blue markers)/Stillman Trail (yellow markers). You’ll continue on this trail for one mile until you reach the top of Storm King Mountain. Plan a trip to the Storm King Art Center, an outdoor museum with more than 115 art sculptures.

FOR ADVANCED RUNNERS

Escarpment Trail

For serious runners only, this rugged 20-plus miles trail in the Northern Catskill Mountains runs from Windham to North Lake in Haines Falls, NY in Greene County. This single-track trail has total elevation changes of nearly 10,000 feet and requires runners to navigate over boulders, downed trees, gullies, and hidden roots the entire distance (there are also sections of the course that travel along cliffs). This is not for your average runner but for the athlete who trains 12 months a year and has spent years building a base and gaining long distance experience. (The Escarpment Trail Race was established in 1977 and has been taking place ever since.)

We recommend alltrails.com for insider info on local routes and reviews from other runners.

Related: How to Run Properly and Avoid Injury in the Hudson Valley

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