Grab your park pass, pack your granola and get ready to hike! Late August into September is a beautiful time of year to get out on the trails. Leaves will start to turn across the country and the summer temperatures are calming down, making the conditions perfect to plan a weekend off-the-grid.
Hiking is an excellent activity for overall wellness, offering a wide range of physical, mental, and emotional benefits. Mentally, it offers a break from the hustle and bustle of daily life, allowing you to unwind and clear your mind for a while. The sights and sounds of nature can have a calming effect.Physical fitness is also a big plus, as it engages various muscle groups. It helps increase cardiovascular endurance, which can lead to better heart health. Hiking can almost function as a form of moving meditation with the peace and relaxation it brings. It encourages mindfulness as you focus on the greenery around you, your breathing, and the rhythm of your steps.
This week, we’ve rounded up some of the most beautiful hiking trails in New York State, with varying difficult levels - whether you’re looking for a challenge or just a relaxing day with Mother Nature, we’ve got you covered.
Oyster Pond Trail, Montauk Point State Park
The trail hike to Oyster Pond is fairly flat and easy to follow, making it a fantastic excursion for hikers of any level. Accompanied with a bevy of gorgeous views, picnic areas, and the Montauk Point Lighthouse Museum, Oyster Pond Trail makes for a perfect day trip. Grab a few friends, pack your water bottle, and get ready to go!
Gorge Trail, Taughannock Falls State Park
The Gorge Trail at Taughannock Falls State Park is about 1 mile long before reaching some of the most beautiful waterfalls you’ll see all year. This trail is a great choice for running, hiking, cross-country skiing, and even snowshoeing! No matter the season, a trek along the Gorge Trail makes for a very centering outdoor activity.
Kaaterskill Falls Trail, Catskill Mountains
The Kaaterskill Falls have been referenced many times in art and writing, and for good reason! Considered by many to be the highest drop of falls in the entire state. This trail is quite popular, so make sure to be mindful of maintaining the ecology during your visit. Be respectful of wildlife, and Leave No Trace!
Buttermilk Falls Trail, Buttermilk Falls State Park
Buttermilk Falls State Park consists of multiple sections of large park with stunning woodlands, sparse wetlands, and a flowing cascade leading to the Cayuga Lake. If you’re in the mood to lose yourself in nature for awhile, give Buttermilk Falls a go. The large expanse of land and scenery gives every visitor a sense of peace and quiet even at its busiest.
Shaupeneak Ridge Trails, Shaupeneak Ridge Park
Shaupeneak Ridge Park presents a thrilling landscape for hikers in the mood for more of a challenge. Its 2.2 mile stretch of rugged trails and turns will get your muscles moving and your heart pumping, and takes about an hour to complete. The hike ends with a lake view, and gives promise to hikers looking to unwind in a lush, natural atmosphere.
These are our picks for the fall season, but there are so many more beautiful spots out there!
Before we sign off for the week, we want to remind you to be respectful on the trails! Follow the Leave No Trace principles, which includes sticking to established trails, respecting wildlife, and keeping noise levels relatively down. When embarking on a hike, learn about the specific rules and regulations for the trail and area you plan to visit. Different parks and regions may have unique guidelines, so be sure to do some research ahead of time. Now get out there, trailblazer!
Photo of Oyster Pond Trail, by Dominican Abroad.