Harriman State Park, Hudson Valley
Harriman State Park is the best friend of anyone in NYC who gets desperate for regular time away from the concrete jungle. The second-largest state park in New York, Harriman has 225 miles of trails, including pieces of the Appalachian Trail, and is by far the best one-stop shop in the area for hiking, cross-country skiing, boating, fishing, and camping. With more than 47,000 acres of forest, lakes, and mountain tops, Harriman is marvelously large for being so close to the city -- big enough that there is endless territory to explore (and not toooo many people), but close enough to be worth it for a day trip or overnight camp. It’s got foliage worth traveling for in the fall, great views through the bare trees in winter, and in July and August, you may even find wild blueberry bushes to graze on. Lake Sebago is a popular destination for swimming and canoeing, and if you’re looking for hiking trails, you can’t go wrong anywhere -- check out MyHarriman.com, a great resource for information about specific hikes and activities.
Where to camp: If it’s camping you want, there are plenty of options, but keep in mind that sites more accessible to roads and parking lots will also have more crowds. For car camping with facilities and plenty of company, check out Beaver Pond Campground. For rustic camping with just a short hike in, try the overnight parking lot off Kanawaukee (set GPS or Google map to 41.23038 N, 74.13996W) that accesses Tom Jones shelter a half mile in, or Bald Rocks shelter, which offers some of the best views in the park on the 1.5-mile hike in. Or, for more secluded lakeside camping, seek out the rustic campsites surrounding Pine Meadow Lake, where there's plenty of peace and quiet, and great swimming. Park your car (or bike) at Lake Sebago’s south shore off Seven Lakes Drive and make the two to three mile hike in to find your getaway.
How to get there: Harriman is easiest accessed by car -- the park is just 25 miles north of the George Washington Bridge and can be reached in just an hour in good traffic on Saturday mornings. But the adventurous can find it even without a car. Take the Metro-North Port Jervis line to Sloatsburg; from there it’s a two-mile walk or bike ride to Reeve’s Meadow parking lot on Seven Lakes Drive, which has trailhead access to plenty of good hiking trails, including trails that take you another three to four miles to campsites on Pine Meadow Lake.