How to Hike a Trail Less Traveled

March 17, 2020
New York-New Jersey Trail Conference


How to Hike a Trail Less Traveled


Social distancing? We prefer to think of it as seeking solitude and connecting with nature.

Update March 23: 

We take the responsibility of caring for the people who protect and use trails very seriously. Overcrowding on trails—even trails normally not well-traveled—has made social distancing difficult, if not impossible. As parks throughout the region close to protect public safety, the Trail Conference is asking our volunteers and trail users to be a part of the solution. We must all do our part to slow the spread of COVID-19. Staying home is the safest option during this time. Get some fresh air in your backyard, start seeds or another gardening project, or take a walk around the block. But please, stick close to home.

Need to Know:

  • Stay Home

    Staying home is the safest option at this time. If you are not well, stay home except to receive medical care.

  • Stay Local

    Avoid popular areas. Expect trailheads and parking areas to be at capacity. If that is the case, leave and visit another trail. Prepare alternatives ahead of time. NYS parks and NJ parks are your best resources for up-to-date information on closures. Check these pages before you head out.

  • Stay Solo

    Practice social distancing. Keep a distance of at least 6 feet between yourself and others.

  • Stay Safe

    Our medical professionals and first responders are already overburdened. Refrain from risky activity that could result in injury. Always stay on the trail. Know that some trails in our region may still have areas of ice and snow.

The most popular trails and outdoor destinations in our region all have alternatives that are equally spectacular—and we’re sharing our favorite trails less traveled. Bonus: When you opt for an alternative hike, you’re part of the solution and practicing Leave No Trace principles to help alleviate the overuse of popular trails. 

If going outside, do so locally, without travel. Right now, most state parks in both New York and New Jersey remain open, with facilities like restrooms closed. NYS parks and NJ parks are your best resources for up-to-date information on closures. Check these pages before you head out. 

To make finding a connection with nature easier, we will be adding additional hikes and other resources, including free maps. Be sure to check back periodically for updates and more resources.

Practice Leave No Trace

  • Plan multiple alternatives in case trailhead lots are full.
  • Avoid adventuring during high-use times, like the weekends. Sunrise and sunset hikes are a great way to avoid the crowds.
  • Keep group sizes small.
  • Keep considerable distance from other hikers, particularly at summits or when resting.
  • Stick to the trail to prevent erosion.
  • Carry bags to pack out your waste.
  • Minimize campfire impacts (be careful with fire). Much of our area is currently under a burn ban to reduce the risk of wildfire. 
  • Remember: Stay local in your outdoor adventures out of consideration for other communities.

New Jersey Parks + Trails


New York Parks + Trails

  • Orange County
    • Harriman State Park - Silvermine Lake Loop
      • 4 miles; moderate difficulty
      • Some seasonal road closures are still in effect in this park, but Seven Lakes Drive is open to access this hike's start
    • Sterling Forest State Park - Doris Duke Trail
      • 4 miles; moderate difficulty
  • Putnam County
    • Fahnestock State Park - Catfish Loop 
      • 5 miles; easy to moderate difficulty
  • Westchester County
    • Ward Pound Ridge Reservation - Rocks Trail
      • 7.5 miles; moderate to strenuous in difficulty


The New York-New Jersey Trail Conference is a volunteer-powered nonprofit founded in 1920 to help people discover the restorative benefits of nature. The Trail Conference is a resource to ensure you have all the information you need to have a safe, enjoyable experience outdoors. 

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