Best Summer Hikes for New Yorkers Without a Car

By Mathew Katz on July 2, 2014 6:54am 

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  Hiking with a dog, for a workout, or to swim is easy for New Yorkers, even if you don't have a car.
Hikes for All Occasions
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NEW YORK CITY — Summer is a great time to hit the great outdoors, even if you can only get there by train. 

A little-known secret is how easy it is to escape the city and visit a whole other world of forests, rivers and lakes — one that's close enough that you can easily visit it on a day trip.

The diverse terrain of the Hudson Valley and New Jersey means you can hit up a variety of hikes. DNAinfo New York has put together a guide to some of the best for all occasions — including romance, hanging out with friends or just letting your city dog get a taste of nature.

Best Hike for a Workout - Breakneck Ridge
Transit Directions: Take the Metro-North Hudson Line from Grand Central Terminal and request a stop at Breakneck Ridge. Trains only run to Breakneck Ridge on weekends.
Weekend Round-Trip Cost: $26.50 Adults, $13.50 Children

This trail is a favorite of regular hikers because it's so easy to get to. Upon arrival, it'll immediately get your blood flowing with a long, vertical 720-foot scramble up to the first bump in the mountain. After a small flat area, the ascent continues to get you to a total of 1,207 feet above sea level and incredible views of the Hudson River. 

If you're looking for a bit less of a sustained workout, you can break off the main trail after the first ascent and follow the Undercliff trail to Cold Spring, where you can grab brunch on the porch at Hudson Hil's Cafe & Market.

Best Car-Free Hike Without Taking Public Transportation
Transit Directions: A shuttle from Trail Taxi picks up passengers from Park Slope, Downtown Brooklyn, Union Square and the Upper West Side and takes them directly to the trail.

Weekend Round-Trip Cost: Round trips start at $60 and you can even have the shuttle pick you up the next day — giving you a night to camp out. Dogs are also welcome in a crate for an added $25.

Being able to get to the trail by bus or train is great for outdoors-minded New Yorkers, but the MTA can't take you everywhere. That's what the Trail Taxi is for. The new shuttle service from Park Slope-based Gear to Go Outfitters has weekend trips to the Catskills, the Gunks and Hudson Highlands, with more routes to come.

The service came after owner Kevin Rosenberg realized that many people were signing on to the outfitting company's guided trips just to get a ride up to the mountains.

"They didn't need a guide, they just needed a ride," he said.

Best Hike to Pop the Question - Camp Smith Trail
Transit Directions: Take the Metro-North Hudson Line to Peekskill Station, then take the free shuttle to the Bear Mountain Inn.
Round-Trip Cost: Peak: $28.50 Adult, $14.00 Children. Off-Peak: $21.50 Adult, $11.00 Children.

Want to make the ultimate commitment with the nature-lover in your life? Take them on this hike to the top of Manitou Mountain. The trail gives you fantastic views of the Hudson Valley at the summit and it's not as popular as nearby Bear Mountain, giving you some privacy when you drop to one knee. 

Best Hike for Your Dog - Cornish Estate Trail
Transit Directions: Take the Metro-North Hudson Line from Grand Central Terminal and stop at Cold Spring. Follow signs to the trailhead.
Weekend Round-Trip Cost: $26.50 Adults, $13.50 Children

This easy to moderate 4.5-mile hike in Hudson Highlands State Park is easy to get to from the Metro-North Cold Spring station and a perfect place for you to take your pooch so he can enjoy nature without running too far out of sight.

The hike will also take you past the haunting remains of the Edward G. Cornish estate, which dates back to 1917.

If you are going to bring your pooch, make sure you have a way to get him to the train. Dogs are allowed on Metro-North trains on weekends, though MTA subways require you to carry your pet in a container.

Best Hike for Camping Overnight - Appalachian Trail
Transit Directions: Take the Metro-North Harlem line to Appalachian Trail Station. The train from the city only runs on weekend mornings.
Weekend Round-Trip Cost: $30.50 Adults, $15.50 Children

This is one of the trails that is furthest away from the city, but the famous 2,200-mile trail has its own stop that's two hours upstate on Metro-North. Pack a tent and a sleeping bag and you can spend a day hiking through picturesque vistas and a night enjoying campfires and s'mores. Make sure to check the Appalachian Trail Conservancy's website for rules about fires and to see if there's a fire ban in effect.

The trail also has 250 backcountry shelters which, though grimy, can bring a welcome respite on a rainy or windy day.

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