Less Traveled Trails – NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation


There are many popular hiking trails in New York State and popular trails are popular for a reason, but New York also has many hidden gems just waiting to be explored. These are places you won’t see anywhere on Instagram, and you’ll have no trouble finding a spot to park when you arrive.

Crown land belongs to all of us. When you’re in the woods, remember to love our New York lands by recreating responsibly, planning ahead, and practicing Leave No Trace™.

Visit each link for area information, trail maps, driving directions and other recreational opportunities.

Long Island

Clarence Beaver Trail (Kings Park Single Area)

There are two trail loops that lead hikers through oak scrub and early succession habitat. The longest hike is the 1.1 mile blue loop trail, and there is also an accessible 0.3 mile yellow trail.

Ridge Interpretive Trail (Ridge Conservation Area)

Three trails on the property vary in length and can take you through a number of habitats including a pond, wooded area, field, and marsh. As you walk along the red and blue trails, you’ll find numbered wooden posts with text about Long Island’s unique ecosystems.

New York

View from the Norton Basin Natural Resources Area Trail

Norton Basin Natural Resource Area

Over 1700 feet of winding trails traverse the property. The main route of the trail begins near Bayswater Park and heads north towards Healy Avenue. The trails are somewhat primitive in nature.

Mount Loretto North State Forest

This property has five trails that traverse the property through forests and around wetlands, one of which is wheelchair accessible.

Wood of Saint Francis

St. Francis Woodlands offers visitors three trails, all less than a mile long, to explore its wooded hills and upland marsh habitats. This property is part of the Staten Island Greenbelt, one of the largest urban nature preserves in the United States.

Hudson Valley

landscape at vernooy kill falls

Landscape at Vernooy Kill

Vernooy Kill Falls (Sunset Wilderness)

This multi-use snowmobile-equestrian trail begins at the trailhead on Upper Cherrytown Road in the City of Rochester, passes Vernooy Kill and Balsam Swamp to Greenville and returns via Spencer/Trails End Road in an 11.2 mile loop . The most popular destination is the Upper Falls of Vernooy Kill. Here the water drops about 60 feet in a series of small pools and waterfalls.


view from the top of the silver lake mountain

The view from the top of Silver Lake Mountain

Silver Lake Mountain (Taylor Pond Wilderness)

The summit of Silver Lake Mountain (2,347 feet) can be reached by the 0.9 mile trail that climbs 900 feet from the trailhead on Silver Lake Road. The summit offers views of Silver Lake, Taylor Pond, and Whiteface Mountain.

Floodwood Mountain (Saranac Lake Wilderness)

The Saranac Lakes Wild Forest contains over 80 miles of hiking trails. The Floodwood Mountain Trail is 1.6 miles and climbs 600 feet to the top of Floodwood Mountain (2,304 feet).

Mount Sawyer (Blue Ridge Desert)

The majority of the Blue Ridge Wilderness is isolated and without trails. The Sawyer Mountain Trail is one of the few designated trails on the property. The trail is 1.1 miles and climbs 600 feet from the trailhead on State Route 28 to a lookout near the top of the mountain.

Red Horse Trail (Five Pond and Pepperbox Wilderness)

The Red Horse Trail stretches 5.3 miles from a trailhead on the shores of Big Burnt Lake on the north side of Stillwater Reservoir in the Independence River Wild Forest to Clear Lake. The Trout Pond and Salmon Lake lean-tos are located along the trail. The trailhead is only accessible from the water.

Bear Lake, Ledge Mountain (Black River Wilderness)

The Bear Lake Trail (blue and yellow markers) is a total of 5.1 miles from the trailhead on Wolf Lake Landing Road to the Big Woodhull-Sand Lake Falls Trail (blue markers, 3.2 miles) and from Bear Lake to Bloodsucker Pond and Big Woodhull Lake (yellow markers, 1.9 miles).

The Ledge Mountain Overlook Trail (aka Vista Trail) is 1.1 miles and climbs 310 feet from the trailhead on State Route 8 to a ridge top with sweeping views of the West Canada Valley Creek. The access road to the trailhead parking lot and the first part of the trail is through private land. Stay on the road and trail, do not trespass on private property.

NYC Center

Hawkins Pond Trails (Hawkins Pond State Forest)

Hawkins Pond State Forest includes approximately four miles of nature trails that lead hikers through woods and fields and around the scenic pond. The trails are used for cross-country skiing during the winter months.

Muller Hill Historic Site (Muller Hill State Forest)

An accessible 0.25 mile trail leads to a wildlife viewing area on Muller Pond and also to the Muller Hill Historic Site where Louis Muller’s mansion was located. In 1907, nearly 100 years after construction, the mansion was consumed by fire and reduced to ashes. Not much remains of the house today. An interpretive site is planned for the forest to recognize the cultural and natural history.

group of hikers on an empty trail

A group of hikers enjoying a less populated trail

McCarthy Hill State Forest

McCarthy Hill State Forest includes several miles of trails. The loops are used for cross-country skiing in the winter and hiking in the summer. A section of the trail is actually part of the Crystal Hills Branch Trail off the Finger Lakes Trail (foot traffic only).

Urbana State Forest

A short loop trail also provides access to Huckleberry Bog. Huckleberry Bog is a wetland that is home to highbush blueberries and a variety of other heather-like plants. An interpretation brochure is available on site. Also located on the property is a portion of the Bristol Hills Branch Trail off the Finger Lakes Trail (pedestrian traffic only)

Tracy Creek State Forest

There are no designated recreational trails on the property, but the closed DEC Road (aka “Long View Trail”), old skid roads, deer trails, and old farm tracks are available for exploration . This forest also includes open fields that are somewhat unique on state forest properties.


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