If you’re seeking to escape the urban bustle and find some forest bathing comfort in the woods, look no further than Harriman State Park. The second-largest state park in New York, Harriman offers visitors an assortment of outdoor adventures to choose from and lots of great hiking trails to explore. Whether you’re looking for a scenic skyline to reflect on, a more challenging summit to reach, or just a relaxing walk in the woods, you can find it here. Some of the best day hikes can be accessed from several locations throughout the park, depending on your destination and desire.
Hikes near the Stephen & Betsy Corman AMC Harriman Outdoor Center
Located only 30 miles from Manhattan and accessible by public transportation, The Stephen and Betsy Corman AMC Harriman Outdoor Center is an ideal destination to set up basecamp for outdoor activities. Hidden in the heart of Harriman State Park, there are multiple trail options to explore right outside your cabin door.
Breakneck Pond Loop (Easy)
This 2.3-mile loop offers visitors a chance to view Breakneck Pond from every angle. Begin at the boat house and cross the bridge towards the other end of the lake. Follow the path blazed with a green diamond, traveling around the lake. While this trail is primarily flat with minimal steep inclines/declines, it is a bit rocky. This hike is typically suitable for kids ages 8 and up.
Suffern-Bear Mountain Trail (Moderate)
Starting at The Stephen & Betsy Corman AMC Harriman Outdoor Center, take the unmarked trail leading from the Mountain Laurel 3 cabin, then take a left at the junction to connect with the Suffern-Bear Mountain trail. Follow the trail for 0.8 mile over moderate terrain to Big Hill Shelter, where you’ll experience great views of Harriman State Park (and on clear days, views of the Manhattan Skyline). Continue on Suffern-Bear Mountain for another mile to the Jackie Jones Mountain Fire Tower*, then return the way you came. Hike is 3.6 miles round trip.
*Currently the fire tower is closed to climb.
Hikes Near Reeves Meadow Visitor Center
Located on the southwest corner of Harriman State Park, this visitor center welcomes hikers, bikers, and more before they head out for an outdoor adventure. On weekends, knowledgeable AMC volunteers offer programs to learn more about the area’s natural features. Features includes a store with snacks, gifts, and last-minute gear, plus water, maps, restrooms, and picnic tables. Address: 100 Seven Lakes Drive Sloatsburg, NY.
Pine Meadow Trail (Easy)
Starting from Reeves Meadow Visitors Center, this relatively easy out and back trail is popular for running and hiking. It follows Stony Brook through the woods where you encounter a few bridges* crossing over both Pine Meadow and Stony Brook. From the visitor center, take Pine Meadow Trail (red on white blazes), following Stony Brook all the way to Pine Meadow Lake. It is about 2.4 miles to get to the lake and another 2.4 miles back.
*Make sure to check ahead to see if any bridges are out and have a map on hand in case you need to adjust your route.
Reeves Brook/Raccoon Brook Hills/Pine Meadow Trails (Moderate/Challenging)
From the parking lot, head east on the broad red-on-white-blazed Pine Meadow Trail, passing the Visitor Center on the left. Turn right onto the white-blazed Reeves Brook Trail as it parallels the brook. Continue on the white-blazed trail bearing left. About 1.5 miles from the start, you’ll encounter a steep escarpment at the junction with the blue-on-white-blazed Seven Hills Trail. Turn right onto the Seven Hills Trail. Another 0.5 miles is the junction with the black-on-white-blazed Raccoon Brook Hills (RBH) Trail, on the left. Continue on the Seven Hills Trail to a west-facing viewpoint, known as Torne View. Retrace your steps to the junction with the RBH Trail. Turn right and follow this black-on-white-blazed trail, which descends to cross a stream on rocks. Continue to the junction of orange-blazed Hillburn-Torne-Sebago (HTS) Trail on an open rock ledge (the junction is marked by paint blazes on the rocks). Turn left on the HTS Trail and descend to a wooded road where the HTS Trail meets the red-on-white-blazed Pine Meadow Trail. Follow Pine Meadow Trail back to the parking area. Turn left and briefly follow the joint HTS/Pine Meadow Trail along the road. To the left, follow the footpath and cross over Quartz Brook on a wooden bridge to the Pine Meadow Trail and the junction with the yellow-blazed Stony Brook Trail on the right. Continue on the Pine Meadow Trail left (close to Stony Brook). Bypass the stream by crossing another wooden bridge back to the Reeves Meadow Visitors Center where you began. This is approximately a 5-mile hike.
Hikes Near Palisades Information Center
This information center on the Palisades Parkway is a great stop for travelers heading to nearby Harriman and Bear Mountain state parks, or farther north to the Catskills and Adirondacks. Similar to the Reeves Meadow Visitor Center, the facilities offers a store with snacks, gifts, and last-minute gear, plus water, maps, restrooms, and picnic tables. On weekends, volunteers provide programs on the area’s natural history and what to look for when on the trails. Address: Palisades Interstate Parkway (on the center island between exits 16 and 17) Bear Mountain, NY.
Hessian Lake Loop (Easy)
This easy loop around the lakeshore is great for a waterside stroll and is especially accessible for those of all ages and abilities. The lollipop trail follows along the water and dips down to the Hudson River Dock where it provides great views. From the Bear Mountain Inn, follow the path clockwise. The 1.5-mile loop around Hessian Lake is mostly flat and paved and offers views of Bear Mountain’s boulder fields and massive crags peeking through openings. Stop at the Hudson River Dock for impressive views of the river, Hudson Highlands, Anthony’s Nose, and the Bear Mountain Bridge. Then retrace your steps back to Hessian Lake and continue south toward the Bear Mountain Inn.
Bear Mountain (Moderate/Challenging)
Begin at Bear Mountain Inn parking. lot*, 0.4 miles south of the Bear Mountain traffic circle on US 9W—located at the northern end of the Palisades Interstate Parkway—at the western entrance to the Bear Mountain Bridge. Walk in front of the inn, bearing left toward the southern end of Hessian Lake. Follow the shore to the west. Here you will make your first encounter with the Appalachian Trail on the paved path. Leave the AT on the left (this will be your return route) and continue along the western shore of Hessian Lake. After about 0.5 miles, join the Major Welch Trail. Keep left at the location of a bench and follow the gradually ascending Major Welch Trail, paying attention to stay on the marked trail—keeping the water tower to your left. As you gain elevation, you’ll encounter rock slabs and more difficult terrain but scenic views of the valley. Cross Perkins Memorial Drive and continue on the trail to the left. Once you reach Perkins Tower, the Major Welch Trail ends. Continue to the white-blazed Appalachian Trail across the entrance from the tower. As you descend you will cross over Perkins Memorial Drive, turn right and follow the road down. Bear left on the Appalachian Trail to the Suffern-Bear Mountain (SBM) Trail junction. Follow the AT and SBM past the old ski jump and tower. Here the SBM ends. Continue on the AT back to Hessian Lake (sign will point you toward inn) and return to the parking lot the same way you started. In total, you’re looking at a 4-mile hike with some challenging sections and rock stairs.
*Parking at the lot is generally available 365 days a year when the park and zoo are open, but please check ahead of your trip and to see if any fees apply.
Other Outdoor Adventures at Harriman
If hiking isn’t your thing, you needn’t worry. Whether you want to cool off with an evening swim, practice your angling skills, paddle a placid lake, take a spin around the park, or just sit and relax and enjoy the view, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.
- Swimming in Breakneck Pond: A designated roped-off swimming area at the beach offers protection from boating traffic, a smaller floating dock at the back has a ladder to climb up and relax on, the dock right off the beach has a 3-foot deep kiddy pool, and space to simply lounge in Adirondack chairs and take in the scenery. Note that due to a permit with New York State Parks, the Corman Harriman Outdoor Center is only open to overnight guests—no day use. If you are looking to swim, Lake Welch and Lake Tiorati are open for public swimming.
- Fishing* in Breakneck Pond: Fishing is allowed designated areas. You can fish anywhere off the Breakneck Pond loop trail which travels around the lake with small paths that lead to the pond. You can also fish off boats while you are in the water, just avoid the swimming area.
- Boating in Breakneck Pond: The Corman Harriman Outdoor Center offers kayaks and canoes to all guests who have a reservation free of charge. There is no need to rent or reserve these boats ahead of time. Keep in mind that boats cannot not be taken into the swimming area and swimming off the boats is prohibited.
- Biking in Harriman State Park: Biking in Harriman State Park is a very popular pastime as well. Seven Lakes Drive (the main road that travels from the top to the bottom of the park) offers a nice mix of terrain, including hills and flats with scenic views especially during foliage season. It’s possible to ride to Seven Lakes Drive from the Corman Harriman Outdoor Center, but the terrain on the driveway may not be conducive to all cyclists.
* No fishing is allowed from the swimming dock/beach or the big rock.