That New York Hiker Life

A rare glimpse of yours truly on the trail.

A rare glimpse of yours truly on the trail.

Have you ever heard of the New York City bubble? Maybe it’s a new term I just invented, or maybe you have a different name for it, but no matter. My point is that at times us New Yorkers can get a little wrapped up in our own world that we forget about everything outside of the five boroughs. It happens far more often than we realize too—I mean, we have so much here that we forget to explore other places. The realization creeps up on you too—I remember one year I didn’t leave Manhattan for three months, and that included crossing the East River into Brooklyn or Queens. It wasn’t until I was traveling back up to Massachusetts to visit family that my Manhattan hermit status revealed itself.

However, even without traveling outside of my home city, I never lost my desire to explore. I’m a wanderer by nature—comfort stresses me out, and when I start to fall back into a routine, the little travel bug in my head starts subtly directing me to Google travel deals (see my future post on Chicago 2015).

New York City also forces you to keep a tight budget, so while the impulsive half of me is ready to book a flight to Europe next week, the practical side is screaming ‘YOU WILL NOT BE ABLE TO EAT IF YOU DO THIS!’ The practical side always wins. But even on a New York budget, this doesn’t mean you can’t be impulsive. There’s plenty of day trips outside of the city that won’t break the bank, but will still silence that need for adventure for a short period of time. That’s how I stumbled upon my newest obsession: hiking.

Well, my love for hiking isn’t new. I grew up in central Massachusetts, where scaling a mountain is a pretty common recreational activity. It was part of my lifestyle, and I loved it. Moving to New York, you don’t necessarily think of hiking as a common activity—my first year living here helped me coin my own version of ‘Urban Hiking,’ where I pushed myself to trek for miles through the city streets. I traded in cascading waterfalls and pristine mountain views for meandering paths through Central Park and photo opportunities along 5th Ave. I would still get my exercise, just in a different environment. Eventually, however, my love of the great outdoors would resurface, and I’d hear the mountains calling me back home.

The MetroNorth drops you right at the trail head for Breakneck Ridge.

The MetroNorth drops you right at the trail head for Breakneck Ridge.

Lucky for me, even without a car, I can still fulfill my craving on a whim—New York City’s vast network of public transportation can bring me to some of the area’s best hiking destinations in just a few short hours. The popular Breakneck Ridge trail requires just a $28 round trip ticket that drops you right at the trailhead on the weekends (the MetroNorth stops at the Breakneck Ridge stop right after Cold Spring twice a day on Saturday and Sunday mornings, and picks you up again at two times in the afternoon, although the trail does lead right into Cold Spring, offering you a chance to explore the town’s restaurants and antique shops). So, for less than what you probably pay for a night out at the bar, you get an experience of a lifetime with some of the most beautiful views of the Hudson Valley. It’s well worth the trip.

New Jersey’s public transit also offers some breathtaking adventures, and for those on a very limited budget, you can even find places to hike in and around the city (my yearly pilgrimage to the Cloister Museum is still one of my favorite occasions for scenic views).

If you’re looking for something a little more adventurous and you have a car (or Zipcar), there are plenty of trails within an hour or two of the city. It just takes a little exploring on the Web to find exactly what you are looking for, and to head out on the open road.

Once you get to the top of a very steep climb, the view is absolutely worth the effort.

Once you get to the top of a very steep climb, the view is absolutely worth the effort.

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