Rugged Babe on Car-Free Upstate Escapes

  |  July 23, 2013

Rugged Babe is successful relocator who will opine here on the joys and less-than-joys of country living. 

As a (former) New York City resident for seven long and roach-filled years, I know the importance of escaping from the city for a little bit of nature and relaxation. I also know the importance of getting away from NYC without a car. And even with a car — you don’t always want to venture too far.

Here are some spots that make it easy to get your outdoor fix. All day-trip visits, all perfectly feasible without a car, not that expensive or treacherous.

Rockefeller State Park Preserve – Westchester

Rockefeller State Park Preserve

Take the Metro-North to Tarrytown, then spend about $25 (ridiculous!) on a cab ride to the park. Make sure to ask your driver for a business card in case you get stranded without a ride back to the Metro-North station later.

The park has a lovely visitor center with self-composting toilets. Yuck-fest, yes, but kind of cool, too. There’s also a mini art gallery for you to stroll around while you wait for your hiking buddy to finish filling their self-composting toilet. Take a trail map and you’ll be on your way.

Rockefeller State Park Preserve deer

This is a truly lovely trail walk on wide, clean bridle paths. You will not exert yourself too much. You will enjoy lots of scenic views, including woods and ponds. You may even find yourself strolling up to Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture.

There is actually a secret back-way in, which you’ll know when you see it, because you’ll all of a sudden stumble upon adorable free-range pigs. Follow the trail up a bit and you’ll arrive at Stone Barns itself. Grab a bite at the cafe, wish you were dressed well enough to have a sit-down meal at their marvelous restaurant, and enjoy the gorgeous pastoral landscape.

Stone Barns Center for Agriculture pigs

This is a delightful trail to explore over the course of an entire day. Just make sure you bring food and water along. You’re in the suburbs, people — buying anything is nearly impossible (except at Stone Barns).


Lenape Ridge/Minisink Trail Loop – Port Jervis

Lenape Ridge Minisink Loop Trail

Photo by Dan Balogh

I haven’t personally walked this trail yet, but it’s on my list of “Trails to Do.” Take the Metro-North to Port Jervis (end of the line!), stop at the rustic, local, organic Burger King right outside the station (just kidding, but maybe you need to use their bathroom?) and you’re on your way.

Get this — you have to walk two miles on the Delaware River Heritage Trail before you even get to the trail you’re looking for! Fortunately that’s what you’re here for, isn’t it? And you’re a city person, you can walk ALL day. We know, we know.

Lenape Ridge Minisink Trail Loop

Photo by Dan Balogh

This trail is also (I’ve heard) the place to go if you’re from the late 1990′s and are still into geocaching. On your way back to the Metro-North station, you’ll have another incredible opportunity to stop at Burger King and take in the local flavor. And (good to know), you can buy train tickets at a kiosk near the tracks, in case you forgot to purchase a round-trip on your way up.

Have more public transit-friendly excursions around New York City? Leave a comment and let us know.

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