Fantastic Fall Hikes in Central New York

Lean-to in the woods

Cool temperatures bring comfortable hiking weather and spectacular color to Central New York.

Outdoor adventurers can explore more than 350 miles of trails in any season, but autumn offers some of the best views. Stunning fall foliage puts Central New York on par with the Adirondacks or Catskills when it comes to hiking destinations. Whether you’re adding a day hike to your travel itinerary or planning a weekend, Central New York can accommodate any skill level or distance.

The Hiking Bounty of Chenango County

More than 70 miles of the Finger Lakes Trail (FLT) run through the heart of Chenango County, which is home to 32 state forests and tons of day hikes or backpacking trips.

“The beauty around us is amazing,” says Peg Fuller of the FLT-Bullthistle Hiking Club. “Some of our hikes are short, but very educational, and some are longer hikes with views you cannot capture in pictures.”

Well-maintained and clearly marked, there are a number of branch trails punctuating the FLT that form loops of varying distances.

The Plymouth Trail is one of the more popular loops. This 5.4-mile FLT side trip runs through the former New Michigan State Forest (now called Pharsalia Woods) near the popular Bowman Lake State Park.

Bear Brook near Oxford is a favorite of Fuller’s. The 2.3-mile walk includes lean-tos, benches and beautiful views, including a waterfall.

Off the Finger Lakes Trail, the 1,200-acre Whaupanaucau State Forest includes many paths for meandering and scenic overlooks of the village of Norwich.

The Hidden Urban Trails of Binghamton

“There are a couple of gems right here in the Binghamton area,” says Kevin Normille of the Triple Cities Hiking Club.

You don’t even have to leave city limits (or campus) to get to the 182-acre Binghamton University Nature Preserve, which features numerous trails.

Once a country club and popular park for employees, the IBM Glen has one of the most unique landscapes in the area.

Stone paths and bridges wind through some of the oldest and largest trees in Broome County. Scenic streams and waterfalls reward hikers, who can also unwind next to outdoor fireplaces and picnic spots along the way.

“There are about 15 different places we go for our hikes that are all within 30 minutes Binghamton,” Normille says.

Chenango Valley State Park is a great place to couple a lakeside hike with a night of camping. Hikers can parlay a short trail in the Hawkins Pond Nature Area into a longer walk through the neighboring state forest.

Scenic view of fields

Take the Long (Path) Way through Schoharie County

The Long Path Trail stretches some 350 miles from metro New York City to the Adirondacks. Two of its most popular miles reside near Vroman’s Nose near Middleburgh in Schoharie County. The unique geographic formation is the centerpiece of what is arguably Central New York’s most beautiful vista.

“It is one of New York state’s most popular hiking destinations with spectacular views from many rock outcrops on the top of steep cliffs,” according to CNY Hiking, a comprehensive website featuring a large list of descriptions for Central New York hiking trails. “If you’ve never done this hike, add it to your ‘to-do’ list.”

The best way to introduce yourself to the region is to contact a hiking club in any corner of Central New York. Many like the Adirondack Mountain Club Susquehanna Chapter host hikes most weekends.

Add More Adventure to Your Central New York Hiking Trip

Looking for more must-visits in the great outdoors of Central New York? Check out this bucket list of outdoor adventures and complement your trip with breaks for craft brews, food and great fall activities.

Here are a few hiking clubs that can guide you to some of Central New York’s best trails or take you on a group hike, typically offered on the weekends.

Triple Cities Hiking Club

FLT-Bullthistle Hiking Club

Adirondack Mountain Club Susquehanna Chapter

North Country Trail Association Central New York Chapter

Tramp and Trail Club