New York has some incredible places to hike that are made even better in the winter. Before moving to the New York City area, we didn’t really hike in the winter. New York has changed us into being winter hikers. Winter in New York can be a magical thing. Read further to find my list of favorite hikes in New York State in the Winter.
****Note: This post may include affiliate links to products I recommend. I may earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you) from purchases from these links. But no worries, I only include links to products that we have tried or truly recommend!
*****Everything in this article is my personal opinion and experiences. Check your own resources and choose to do anything I discuss at your own risk. Some of the things in this post may be dangerous and not recommended for every body.
Blue Mountain Fire Tower Trail
Blue Mountain is located in the Adirondack Mountains. In the heart of the Adirondacks, they get a ton of snow and the lakes freeze over so thick that people drive snowmobiles more than cars around.
The Blue Mountain Fire Tower Trail is around 4.8 miles out-and-back. There is around 1500 feet of elevation gain on the trail. The first mile of the trail is pretty gradual and the second mile of the trail is pretty steep.
We have hiked this trail in the winter and in the early fall, and I think that the trail is actually easier in the winter. It is definitely colder in the winter, but if you have fresh snow in the winter, it will give you a lot more traction than the slick rocks that are present in the summer and fall.
At the top of Blue Mountain, there is a fire tower with spectacular views on a clear day. In the winter, it can be dangerous to ascend the fire tower, so definitely don’t go up if you feel that it is unsafe or too icy. It is also very windy at the top of the fire tower which can make you very cold. We were definitely freezing from the top of the fire tower in the winter.
The Blue Mountain Fire Tower Trail is definitely gorgeous after a fresh snow, with the trees covered with fluffy snow like whipped cream. Out of all the winter hikes we have done in New York over the past few years, Blue Mountain Fire Tower Trail is definitely one of my favorites.
For more information on hiking to the top of Blue Mountain in the winter, check out my Blue Mountain Fire Tower Trail Blog Post.
Heart Lake, Adirondack Mountains
Heart Lake is also located in the Adirondacks, more north than Blue Mountain, in the High Peaks region which is close to Lake Placid. I love Heart Lake and we have been here more times than I can count. At Heart Lake, there is a lodge (loj) and campground in addition to being the starting point for many of the most popular trails in the entire Adirondacks. In the winter, it is much harder to summit any of the high peaks such as Mount Marcy or Algonquin Peak. To even go deep into the high peaks area, you are required to have snowshoes.
A trail that is easier than summiting a high peak is the trail around Heart Lake. The trail around Heart Lake is a flat 1.2 miles and is a well-groomed trail most of the way. You still may need snowshoes, but the trail is much less difficult than any high peaks trail in the winter.
If you’re feeling super adventurous, you could try to climb Mt. Jo from Heart Lake, but you will definitely need spikes and possibly snowshoes in the winter. The trail to the top of Mount Jo is 1.8 miles and pretty steep and rocky. It could be tough depending on weather conditions and your experience, but the views are gorgeous.
If you are interested in more places to see in the Adirondacks in the winter, check out my blog post: Adirondack Road Trip.
Harriman State Park
Harriman State Park is a really special place to us. It is located right on the New York-New Jersey border on the NY side. Harriman State Park is a large state park with tons of hiking trails and its even crossed by the Appalachian Trail. It’s so close to New York City and is beautiful at all times of year.
Harriman State Park has a lot of great trails to explore in the wintertime. Since there is a wide variety of trails, you could hike here multiple times throughout the winter and experience different scenery each time.
One trail I recommend in the winter is the Elk Pen Loop. There is a ton of gorgeous scenery, lakes, mountain-top views, and forests. The Elk Pen Loop Trail is around 7.5 miles in total.
To hike in Harriman State Park in the winter, you will definitely need microspikes.
For more information on hikes in Harriman State Park, check out my Harriman State Park Blog Post.
P.S. The best place near Harriman State Park for hot coffee and the best pancakes in the world is Dottie Audrey’s Bakery Kitchen near Tuxedo Park, New York.
The Taconic Mountains are part of another area that is relatively close to New York City. There are various trails throughout the Taconic Mountains, which range from southwest New York to southern Vermont.
My favorite trail that we have done in the Taconic Mountains is the Alander Mountain Trail via Robert Brook and South Taconic Trail. In total, the trail was around 5.4 miles. We did this trail in late winter and had great sweeping views of the surrounding valley. The are some steep parts of the trail, but nothing that felt too incredibly dangerous or difficult. There are some exposed rock portions of the trail, so you should have microspikes with you while hiking the Alander Mountain Trail.
Hudson Highlands State Park
The Hudson Highlands State Park is an extremely popular place for people from New York City to hike. Even though it is crowded, it has great views of the Hudson River and surrounding area. Some popular trails in the Hudson Highlands include Anthony’s Nose, Breakneck Ridge, and the Notch Trail.
A hike in the Hudson Highlands State Park that is great for winter hiking is the Bull Hill Short Loop Trail. Bull Hill Short Loop is 4.3 miles in total and has around 1,100 feet of elevation gain. The Bull Hill Loop Trail has a nice view of distant New York City and various other views of the surrounding area.
The trail is super close to the town of Cold Springs, where you can find super cute shops and restaurants along the Hudson River.
Pro-Tip: Definitely arrive early here, especially on the weekends as the parking area can fill up as early as 7 or 8 am.
Some of the prettiest waterfalls in New York can be found in the Catskill Mountains. Waterfalls that may look small in the summer can be totally transformed in the winter when the water freezes all around, creating giant ice castles. This is the case with Plattekill Falls, close to Hunter, New York in the Platte Cove Preserve.
In the summer, Plattekill Falls can have a small trickle of water, but in the winter, especially mid-to-late winter, it is a magnificent sight to see. The walk to Plattekill Falls from the parking area is very short, but there are several other trails in the area, including the Huckleberry Point Trail.
If interested in visiting another frozen waterfall while in the area, check out Kaaterskill Falls. Here you can find my entire blog post on Kaaterskill Falls.
Minnewaska State Park
Minnewaska State Park is part of the Shawangunk Mountains. It has an incredible trails that weave through beautiful forests and along cliff edges. Minnewaska State Park has amazing rock structures, lakes, and waterfalls. Since Minnewaska State Park is a rather popular place, the trails are wide and well-groomed, making in the perfect place to hike in the winter time.
Gertrude’s Nose Trail is a great trail to hike in the winter, especially if it is your first time visiting Minnewaska State Park. The Gertrude’s Nose Trail is around 6.7 miles in total and has around 1,100 feet of elevation gain. On this trail, you will see great sweeping vistas of the nearby valley, walk through pine forests, and maneuver cool rock formations.
For more information on visiting Minnewaska State Park, check out my Minnewaska State Park Blog Post.
Hunter Mountain Fire Tower
Hunter Mountain is one of our favorite places to hike in the Catskill Mountains. It has a fire tower on top and can be approached from many different routes. One of my favorite routes up Hunter Mountain is the Hunter Mountain via Spruceton Horse Trail. This route is 9.1 miles, but has a more gradual ascent than some of the other possible routes.
At the top of Hunter Mountain, there is a fire tower that you can climb to the top to see 360 degree views of the Catskills.
One note, the temperature changes drastically as you ascend the mountain. At the bottom of Hunter Mountain, you may be wearing a light jacket, but at the top may need a puffy coat and microspikes. Don’t underestimate the weather here and make sure you are prepared throughout the hike.
Overall, these are some of my favorite places to go hiking in New York in the wintertime. Do you have any questions or suggestions? Please let me know in the comments down below!
Thanks for reading!