Hit the Trails at These 7 Great Day Hikes Near Albany, NY
When the weather is nice, nothing beats taking a hike along a scenic trail in the great outdoors. Not only is it an excellent way to stay active and stretch your legs, but hiking allows you to experience the beauty of nature. To get started, here are 7 great day hikes near Albany that are worth the trip.
Please Note: To help prevent the spread of COVID-19, New Yorkers are asked to abide by social distancing guidelines and recreate locally in the region. Before you go hiking, read these tips by the NY State DEC. We've also highlighted specific regulations for the parks and trails listed below.
Editor's Note (9/1/2020 8AM): According to the New York State Department of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation, trails are open, and the visitor center lobby is open with no access to restrooms. Restrooms are available at the pavilion in the picnic area.
Day hikes can be a fun family adventure, and Peebles Island State Park offers easy hiking trails a short drive north of Albany. There are miles of paths throughout the wooded area, but the best one is the Perimeter Trail, which travels along the waterfront.
Location: Peebles Island is located in Cohoes about 12 miles north of Albany. The roads leading into the park are at the northeastern end.
Photo credit: Greg Hanselman
Editor's Note (9/1/2020 8AM): According to the New York State Department of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation, trails are open. In addition, please note that the Indian Ladder Trail is open and one way. The Overlook parking area is now only one-way traffic.
John Boyd Thacher State Park is located along the Helderberg Escarpment about 17 miles west of Albany. This New York State Park is renowned for its impressive limestone cliffs, waterfalls, and panoramic views of the Adirondacks, Green Mountains, and Hudson-Mohawk Valleys.
After getting a history lesson at the Visitor Center (currently closed to the public), you can start hiking the 25+ miles of trails within the area. The trails vary in length, so it's recommended you map out your route ahead of time depending on if you want a short or long hike.
Location: Drive west out of Albany on Delaware Avenue, which will become Kenwood Avenue. Then, turn onto New Scotland Road until you reach Thacher Park Road.
Climb to the Top of Vroman's Nose
Located in the Town of Fulton near Middleburgh (45 miles west of Albany), Vroman's Nose is a prominent geological landmark that features a moderate hiking trail. While Vroman's Nose itself is a stunning sight, the view from the top is just as cool.
From the parking area to the last rocky outcrop at the summit, the Vroman's Nose Loop Trail is about 1.8 miles round trip. Hikers will encounter a slight incline along the way, but overall, people of all skill levels can complete this hike. Watch your step near the top, as there are outcrops with steep sides. The flat summit is nicknamed "The Dance Floor," and it offers many photo opportunities.
Location: The trailhead for the Vroman's Nose Loop Trail is at a grassy parking area on West Middleburgh Road/Mill Valley Road. To reach it, take NY-30 south out of Middleburgh, and then turn onto Middleburgh Road/Mill Valley Road.
Grafton Lakes State Park comprises 2,500 acres of land within the surrounding landscape of the Rensselaer Plateau in Grafton, NY. Starting from Albany, the State Park is approximately 21-24 miles away, and many people go there for a wide range of outdoor recreational activities.
Over 25 miles of trails are available to explore with plenty of wildlife watching opportunities. Keep your eyes open for river otters, great blue herons, wild turkeys, barn swallows, and other local species. Learn more about Grafton Lakes State Park at the Welcome Center while you're there (currently closed to the public).
Location: Drive north then east from Albany until you reach Cropseyville. Then, stay on NY-2 until you reach the State Park.
Reach New Heights at Hadley Mountain
Are you ready for a hike that's worth the drive? Located about 64 miles north of Albany in the Southern Adirondacks, Hadley Mountain features a moderate hiking trail that's popular among both families and experienced hikers. The hike is 3.6 miles round trip, and there are only a few steep and rocky sections along the way; even your dog should be able to make it up easily.
At the open summit, you'll see a restored fire tower and forests and mountains in the distance. When the fire tower is open, you can climb up for a bird's-eye view of the Adirondacks.
Location: Hadley Mountain is located in the Town of Hadley, and the trailhead is approximately 1.5 miles down Tower Road after it branches off from Hadley Hill Road. The designated parking lot can accommodate over a dozen cars.
If you don't feel like driving too far into the Adirondacks for a great day hike, then check out Sleeping Beauty Mountain on the east side of Lake George. The Lake George Region is home to many hiking trails, but Sleeping Beauty is a favorite among locals and visitors.
During the summer and periods of dry weather, hikers can typically start their journey at the Dacy Clearing Trailhead in Fort Ann. However, if the gate to Dacy Clearing is closed, you must park at the Hog Town Trailhead and hike 1.5 miles to Dacy Clearing.
Beginning at the Dacy Clearing Trailhead, the path to the summit of Sleeping Beauty Mountain is 1.8 miles long. The well-marked trail has varied terrain, so be prepared for a few inclined and rocky sections. When you reach the open summit, you can enjoy views of the Adirondacks and Lake George.
Location: Sleeping Beauty Mountain is located 73 miles north of Albany. The drive will take you to Buttermilk Falls Road, which will turn into a dirt road called Sly Pond Road. This will become Shelving Rock Road, and soon after you will reach the Hog Town Trailhead parking area.
Spend the Day at North-South Lake Campground
Editor's Note (9/1/2020 8AM): Kaaterskill Falls is now open and can be accessed from the Laurel House Road and Scutt Road parking areas. The Molly Smith parking area and the Kaaterskill Falls Trail from NY 23A to the base of the lower falls will continue to be closed for trail construction.
Hiking adventures await at North-South Lake Campground & Day Use Area in Haines Falls, NY, located about 53 miles south of Albany. This site is actually the largest and most popular state campground in the Catskill Forest Preserve because of its beautiful scenery and the wide range of recreational activities available.
The campground provides access to a variety of trails, including a short hike to the Catskill Mountain House and longer hikes to Artist's Rock, Sunset Rock, Newman's Ledge, and Boulder Rock. Right outside the campground on Route 23A, there is another hiking trail to the spectacular Kaaterskill Falls.
Location: From Albany, head south on I-87, and then take Exit 21 toward NY-23/Catskill/Cairo. Then, take NY-23 W, NY-32 S, and finally NY-23A W to the campground.
Ready for a memorable day hike? Pack your bags and pick one of these 7 for your next outdoor adventure.