Connecting New York City and its northern suburbs, Metro-North Railroad provides a wide variety of outdoor locations to explore not too far from the heart of the city. The surrounding mountains of the upstate area allow for numerous hiking trails and bike paths, which only get better in the autumn months, boasting breathtaking views of foliage that can’t normally be seen in Manhattan. Here are some of the best places to observe fall foliage via Metro-North.
Beacon Fire Tower Hike
Beacon Mountain is a bit of a strenuous hike, but the views will be worth it. You’ll go just a bit further along the Hudson Line, this time getting off at Beacon Station. From there, it’s a 1.5 mile walk to the trailhead. You’ll be hiking along the Casino Trail and Breakneck Ridge Trail on your way up the mountain, passing by the historic remains of the Mount Beacon Incline Railway. It’s a three mile hike to the summit, and you’ll be traveling mostly uphill throughout, so be prepared. Your main destination is the Beacon Fire Tower, which stands high on the summit of Beacon Mountain, 1,610 feet above sea level. From there, you can enjoy stunning views of the multicolored trees that line the Hudson Valley, the Catskills Mountains, the Southern Hudson Highlands, and, if you’re lucky, even New York City!
You can either go down the way you came if you’re too tired for more, but if you’re not, you can hike through more colorful woods along other trails that will take you down the mountain a different way. Whatever you do, though, you’ll end up at the same trailhead that you started your journey at.
Journey time: 1 hour 40 minutes
This is the only biking entry on our list, although you technically can still hike there. The Harlem Valley Rail Trail is a rail trail that has been under development from the mid 1980’s, opening in 1996 and sections being added in further years. The current trail stretches almost 27 miles, with a further twenty miles currently being planned. The trail begins at Wassaic Station, accessible by Metro-North’s Harlem line, and ends in Taconic State Park. It’s a great trail to bike for twenty odd miles, enjoying the foliage that surrounds the road. Metro-North allows bicycles on trains under certain conditions, which you can find out here.
You’ll have to plan a round trip, though, since the train doesn’t serve Taconic State Park; this trip will need to be an out and back ride to Taconic and back to Wassaic. Also, Wassaic station is only served by select trains. Check the schedule for more details.
Journey time: 2 hours 12 minutes. Cost: $40.50 Round trip
The Appalachian Trail is one of the longest hiking-only footpath in the world stretching over 2000 miles long and traversing 14 states. While you definitely won’t be hiking the entire length of the trail, you’re still going to be treated to some amazing views. Naturally surrounded by the Appalachian Mountains, the trail is teeming with trees chock full of beautifully colored leaves as far as the eye can see. Even just a day’s worth of hiking will provide you with sights that will last you the entire week, if not a lifetime.
The trail is easily accessible by Metro-North’s aptly named Appalachian Trail station on the Harlem line. At first glance, the station won’t really look like much of a station, with just one side platform wide enough to accommodate one train door. But it’s the quickest way to get to the trail itself, which crosses the track a bit south of the station. From there, it’s a three-mile hike toCat Rocks, one of the most popular destinations for day hikers from New York. It’s a prominent lookout onto the trail, and you’ll be treated to excellent views throughout the way.
Trains only serve the Appalachian Trail station on weekends and holidays, so plan accordingly.
Journey Time: Just under 2 hours $35 round trip