1 Palisades Park, N.Y.N.J.
A stunning mix of wilderness -- natural stone staircases, soaring birds of prey -- and I LOVE NY -postcard views of the Manhattan skyline. Start at the foot of the George Washington Bridge and do a three-hour loop hike using the Long Path and the Shore Trail. (201-768-1360, www.njpalisades.org.)
2 Minnewaska State Park, N.Y.
Minnewaska has more than 50 miles of former nineteenth-century carriageways (flat, woodsy) and marked wilderness trails (heart-stopping rocky overlooks). Take the Upper Awosting Carriageway to Lake Awosting, a crystal-clear sky lake with its own lifeguard on duty through Labor Day; then return on the Castle Point Carriageway (about nine miles total). (845-255-0752.)
3 Harriman State Park, N.Y.
Avoid the noisy day-tripping families on Bear Mountain. Instead, strike out for the top of the Timp, a 1,000-foot mini-peak just to the south that takes about an hour and a half to climb. On a clear day, you can see the Twin Towers. Take the Timp Torne Trail, which starts off Route 9W. (845-786-2701.)
4 The Pine Barrens, N.J.
Home to the Jersey Devil, and long a body drop for the Philly syndicate, this eerie landscape of pitch-pine and cedar groves that American Indians fearfully avoided is perfect for day hikes. Beginners will enjoy doing sections of the sandy Batona Trail, which extends for 50 miles through the Bass River State Forest. Experts can set out with map and compass on any of the unmarked sandy roads that crisscross the region. (609-561-0024.)
5 The Appalachian Trail in High Point State Park, N.J.
Alternating meadows, shaded valleys, and ridge-top views of surrounding lakes make this stretch of the AT, along the spine of the Kittatinny Mountains, one of the most exhilarating. We love it in the summer because it's huckleberry season. FYI: So do the bears. Park at High Point and use one of the other park trails to do a loop. (973-875-4800.)
6 Sterling Forest
A surprisingly unspoiled region on the N.Y.-N.J. border. Take the Sterling Ridge Trail and explore Colonial-era ironworks, the ruins of a nineteenth-century village, and eventually, after an eight-mile trek, a fire tower with a 360-degree view of the forest. (845-786-2701.)
7 Catskills Park, N.Y.The Escarpment Trail treats you to one jaw-dropping view after another throughout its 22-mile length, but luckily, the best part -- Kaaterskills Falls, a spectacular 260-foot cataract -- comes in the first mile. Afterward, take a dip in North Lake, which has a public beach with lifeguard through Labor Day. (845-255-5453.)
Wild Earth Adventures (845-354-3717) offers guided versions of most of the hikes on this list.
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