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3 Photogenic Spring Hikes For New Yorkers

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3 Photogenic Spring Hikes For New Yorkers

You wouldn’t know it amid the subways and skyscrapers, but New York City is within day-trip range of countless state parks and hiking trails. A short drive (or even train ride) can land you in the type of nature and remoteness that every New Yorker needs in order to maintain their sanity.

For novice and seasoned photographers alike, venturing out of the city in spring is refreshing in every way – physically, emotionally, spiritually and creatively. Central Park is beautiful, but sometimes you need a true getaway, you know? Here are three spring hikes to explore with your camera:

Harriman State Park

Located in Rockland and Orange Counties just 30 miles north of NYC, Harriman State Park spans more than 46,000 acres. It is New York’s second largest state park behind only the Adirondacks.

With 40+ hiking trails covering 200+ miles, Harriman State Park is a haven for hikers of all skill levels. There are 31 lakes and reservoirs, three beaches, two camping areas and tons of streams, brooks and lookouts. The area also borders well-known Bear Mountain State Park, which offers an additional 200+ miles of trails. The Appalachian Trail (yes, the one that goes from Georgia to Maine) runs through both parks, giving hikers stunning views of the region. Click here to see the various trails maintained by the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference. Portions of the area are accessible by train, but we’d probably recommend driving this one.


Staten Island Greenbelt

Bet you never thought Staten Island could be a hiker’s paradise. The Staten Island Greenbelt is NYC’s second largest park, with connected trails through 2,800 acres smack in the middle of the city’s often forgotten borough. The Greenbelt is nearly three times the size of Central Park and offers impressive diversity with forests, wetlands, ponds and 410-foot Todt Hill. This is a great place to start if you’re not sure whether you’ll really enjoy hiking and/or don’t want to invest much energy into getting there. There are six trails, most of them easy to moderate. Start at the Greenbelt Nature Center at 700 Rockland Ave., where you can pick up a map and learn more about the preserve.

The folks at NYC & Company suggest driving if possible. However, they also say you can take the free Staten Island Ferry, connect to the S62 bus and get off at Willowbrook Park. Click here to learn more.


Wittenberg Mountain

The Greenbelt is your conservative choice. If you’re totally stoked on hiking, in good physical condition and able to get an early start, Wittenberg Mountain has a view to reward you for a 2 to 3-hour drive. Check it out:


This peak in the heart of the Catskills comes up just shy of 4,000 feet. It’s a difficult, 8.85-mile hike that gets tougher as you ascend. It’s narrow, and it’s starting to sound kind of intimidating, isn’t it? Don’t be scared, though. A lot of people do it, to the point where it’s actually crowded on weekends. Click here for a hiker’s take on this challenging but spectacular hike.

These are just three of the hundreds of hiking trails that await outside the hustle and bustle of Manhattan. Stay tuned for three more, and feel free to provide your suggestions in the comments below.

Oh, and notice we didn’t say much about what makes these hikes photogenic? That’s because the imagery is yours to create. Happy spring, happy hiking and happy shooting!

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