Are there any good hiking trails near NYC for an autoless gal?
June 28, 2007 6:51 PM   Subscribe

I am looking for some good hiking trails near NYC that are easily accessible via public transportation that aren't too long (over 6 miles total) or too steep (no Breakneck Ridge for me yet, thanks). I am also looking for a good hiking club to join in NYC.

OK, here is the extra info... I am a Queens gal w/o a car who renewed her love in hiking recently. I am well on my way to losing 100 excess pounds that I gained after I quit smoking 4 years ago. I went away to a hiking spa in Vermont to get a jump start on my weight loss and rediscovered my love of the outdoors & nature. I used to hike a lot in NJ back when I had a car and lived in Elizabeth. I was much thinner and more agile. Now I live in Bayside (Queens, NY) and am living w/o a car (intentional, so that won't likely change). I walk 4-6 miles almost daily, but miss being in the woods. Alley Pond Park trails are getting old and I am looking to challenge myself like I did in Vermont. I want to get off the pavement!

I am pretty comfortable and surefooted on trails, but cannot yet handle long hikes or steep, extended climbs. I know some trails are accessible via Metro North along the Hudson, but they all read as fairly steep so I'm looking for other options no more than a mile from a train station or bus stop. I don't mind short climbs of 1/2 mile or less (rolling hills better than flat).

I would also like to join a good hiking club in NYC that at least partially gears itself towards those without a car. I would like one that has a good variation of hikes that I won't outgrow as I lose weight and gain strength. I know about the ADK and AMC, but am looking to hear from those who have experience with these groups and what they offer (I also plan on skiing again this winter so clubs that accommodate that as well are a plus). I did search online and am overwhelmed with the choices available... Shore Walkers to the ADK to City Walkers and am hoping for a little guidance on selecting one.

posted by Empyrean_72 to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (9 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
I found the AMC friendly and welcoming. They will even arrange rides for you.

On your own, you can take the metro-north to the appalachian trail stop.
posted by shothotbot at 7:08 PM on June 28, 2007

Take NJ Transit from Hoboken to Tuxedo, NY. You have to walk through the town (I think there are actually blazes on street signs and telephone poles) but you quickly get to a nice little trail. It's a little challenging for the first climb but levels out after that initial respect-building exercise. If you go for about an hour you get to Smith's Rock which is a very nice place for a lunch stop. Unfortunately, you have to go a bit further than that to get away from the graffiti and beer bottles left by the local teens but it's not too hard to do.
posted by bink at 7:41 PM on June 28, 2007

Best answer: A couple hikes you can get to from NYC:
-Cold Spring (take the Metro North) - there are many hikes within a 1 mile distance from the town. Stop and purchase a map before proceeding - but I've gone along flat, paved trails (the other side of breakneck) to hilly regions (Mt Taurus). I found that the staff at outdoor stores and bookstores in Cold Spring usually gave helpful advice.
-Take the bus to Bear Mountain (Bear Inn). Walk out of the park and explore former Doodletown (cemetaries, etc). Very flat hike. Five miles max.

I'm going to second AMC. I recently joined and every month you will receive a magazine with club hikes. Each hike has a description of steepness, speed, and mileage. Every hike I have seen lists public transportation. Go on beginning level hikes OR use the magazine to find the hikes since you will have the description and transportaiton info. AMC also offers many other outdoor activities - kayaking canoeing, biking

You may try googling AMC and look at the NY/NJ chapter. Many hikes are listed online - I bet you can find other easy hikes through the website

PS: If you ever want to try and easy, intro level hike through AMC you are allowed to attend as a 'guest' to try out the club. If you can't get info through the website, e-mail me and I can let you know if there are any upcoming intro hikes (along with info as to when/where) Pick a hike and try it out.

Have fun
posted by Wolfster at 8:18 PM on June 28, 2007 [4 favorites]

Another vote for AMC - They have intro meetings every Monday from 6-7 on Tudor Place where you can get some info as well (and you can also join then as well and get a spiffy looking Nalgene).
posted by langeNU at 7:46 AM on June 29, 2007

Have you tried using I haven't used the Hiking Meetup but i've used others and i think they're great. Meet lots of people interested in the same things you are.

If you don't know how meetup works: you sign up online and there are events every few weeks (more often or less often depending on each meetup). For things like this, people set up carpools to go special events, but there will probably be many local things as well. Its usually free or very low cost.

I admit that before i first joined i was apprehensive of people being "weird internet people" but it ended up being 110% fine.
posted by modernsquid at 9:04 AM on June 29, 2007

Best answer: Definitely consider the massive Greenbelt that takes up most of the center of Staten Island (it's directly accessible by bus). Hiking there is remarkably close to hiking in the woods. And you get the free ferry ride to SI, always a treat.
posted by allterrainbrain at 10:07 AM on June 29, 2007 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Oh yes, I signed into meetup some months ago, but haven't attended anything yet. I think it is time I did :-)

The AMC it is... They seem to have the most variety of activities as well which is cool since I enjoy more than just hiking.

I am bookmarking the Greenbelt in SI.

Does anyone know much about the Palisades? I know I can walk across the GW Bridge to access part of it, but are there buses that stop close to the State Line?
posted by Empyrean_72 at 2:26 PM on June 29, 2007

Yet another vote for AMC. I lead hikes and backpacks for the club, and recently began whitewater kayaking with them. It's a great group. Almost all their hikes are accessible by public transportation, and they are coded according to terrain, distance and speed so you can choose hikes that fit your level.

You can go on a few hikes to try it out before joining if you like. The only trick is getting the schedule without being a member -- the Monday meeting, previously mentioned, is probably your best bet there.
posted by SampleSize at 8:48 PM on June 29, 2007

The Palisades: one of the best hiking adventures you can get to using only your Metrocard. Just take the A to 181st, walk to street level the bridge is right there (it looks pretty nasty and car exhaust-filled when you approach it, but once you get onto the pedestrian walkway over the bridge, the air is okay because you're elevated above the car lanes).

Here are maps and directions to the various parts you can access via public transportation.
posted by allterrainbrain at 6:01 PM on June 30, 2007 [1 favorite]

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