When I moved to NYC from Wyoming five years ago, I went from a state with a population density of six people per square mile to a New York apartment with six roommates. I knew if I was going to keep my sanity, I’d need to find ways to escape the crowds and breathe in the outdoors -- which has become impossible to do in the city's parks and beaches. 42 million people will visit Central Park this year, according to a new report in the New York Times, up 7 million from 2011, and crowds on the High Line have tripled since 2010.
Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to get out, even if you don’t have access to a car -- I mean, a car definitely helps (and if you've got one, hit these upstate NY hiking spots), but any of the following places can be reached without one. If you’re willing to lug a bike onto a Metro North train, your outdoor possibilities will expand quite a bit. But even if you’re just going to stick to public transit and your own two feet, there are plenty of places to explore. If you want to get more creative, or just want to make some new friends, also consider joining an outdoorsy Meetup (more on that below). There are many groups around the city that organize carpools for hiking, camping, and other outdoor excursions.