New York has nearly thirty state and federal scenic byways where you will find beautiful mountains, rivers, forests, farms, and water views ranging from small rivers and ponds to Great Lakes. The Empire State’s scenic byways are located mainly in upstate New York, but there are a few byways a short drive from New York City. Here are 10 Great New York Scenic Byways.
Adirondack Trail Scenic Byway
At a distance of 188 miles, the Adirondack Trail Scenic Byway runs through Adirondack Park, which is the largest wilderness park in the Continental U.S. The Byway runs between Malone, near the Canadian Border, and Fonda, which is northwest of Albany. The northern portion of the Byway is known for historic architecture. The central portion is where you’ll find lakes and beaches. The southern portion is where the Byway meets with the Mohawk River and the Old Erie Canal. Besides lakes, you will see waterfalls, ponds, streams, woods, mountain peaks, and wildlife. The central and southern portions of the Byway runs along the Sacandaga River.
Black River Trail Scenic Byway
The Black River Trail Scenic Byway begins in Rome and runs for 94 miles to Black River Bay, a popular camping and fishing location on Lake Ontario. The Black River runs along the Byway starting just north of Boonville. Along the Byway, there are dairy and maple syrup farms, forests, Nordic skiing trails, picturesque foliage, and charming communities. The Tug Hill Plateau is visible to the west and the Adirondack Mountains are visible to the east.
Catskill Mountains Scenic Byway
Located in Ulster and Delaware Counties, the Catskill Mountains Scenic Byway runs between Andes and Olive. The 52 mile Byway passes through forests, waterways, charming villages, and rolling farmlands. The Ashokan and Pepacton Reservoirs, providing water to New York City, bookend the Byway. The Belleayre Mountain Ski Center, catering to both alpine and Nordic skiers, is located on the Byway in Highmount.
Great Lakes Seaway Trail
One of the longest scenic byways, the Great Lakes Seaway Trail stretches for 518 miles from Massena, at the New York-Canada border, to the Pennsylvania-Ohio state line. From Massena, you’ll see the St. Lawrence Seaway, which connects the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean. The Trail passes by the St. Lawrence River, the Niagara and Oswego Rivers, Lake Ontario, Lake Erie, the Erie Canal, and the Thousand Islands region. There are lighthouses, wineries, state parks, waterfront villages, scenic vistas, forts, and historic sites along the Trail. Two castles, Boldt Castle and Singer Castle, are located in the Thousand Islands region. The Trail also passes through Rochester, Niagara Falls, Buffalo, and Erie, Pennsylvania.
Maple Traditions Scenic Byway
The Maple Traditions Scenic Byway is an agricultural byway, running 80 miles between Lowville and Ogdensburg. Along with farmlands, there are fields, woods, hiking trails, and waterways along the Byway. Maple syrup producers are located throughout the Byway along with the American Maple Museum. Some of the farmlands are owned by Amish families, who use their traditional methods of working the land.
North Fork Trail Scenic Byway
Situated 80 miles from New York City, the North Fork Trail Scenic Byway traverses 36 miles between the Long Island towns of Southold and Orient Point. The Byway, part of Route 25, takes you past wineries, farmlands, and wetlands and through quaint towns and villages. Heading east, there are views of the Atlantic Ocean and its beaches. Many of the farms sell fresh produce in season. The Horton Point Lighthouse is located near Southold.
Named because it passes through Lake Placid, where the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympic Games were held, the Olympic Trail is a 170-mile byway connecting Lake Ontario and Lake Champlain. The Trail, one of the oldest highways in New York, goes through part of Adirondack Park. Along the Trail, there are mountains, hills, rivers, villages, lakes, and forests. For many, the highlight of travelling the Olympic Trail is visiting some of the Winter Olympic sites in and around Lake Placid.
The Revolutionary Trail
The Revolutionary Trail is a 158-mile byway connecting Albany and Port Ontario, on Lake Ontario in Oswego County. The Mohawk River follows the byway from Oneida County to Albany. Along the Trail, there are scenic valleys, woodlands, the Fort Stanwix National Monument, and the Saratoga National Historic Park. American Revolutionary War troops battled and defeated British troops on the grounds of what is now The Saratoga National Historic Park, affirming U.S. independence.
Taconic State Parkway
Close to New York City, the Taconic State Parkway connects Kensico Dam in Westchester County to Chatham in Columbia County. The 104-mile Parkway was the brainchild of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who wanted a scenic road to traverse the eastern Hudson River Valley. The Parkway brings you through wooded hillsides and forests, farmlands, state parks, a reservoir, creeks, the Hudson and Taconic Mountains, and Lake Taghkanic. The Appalachian Trail crosses the Parkway in Dutchess County. The Parkway is open to passenger vehicles only, and is a divided highway for the entire distance except for the southernmost three miles.
Upper Delaware Scenic Byway
The Upper Delaware Scenic Byway is a 53-mile byway that runs parallel to the Upper Delaware Scenic & Recreational River along the border between New York and both New Jersey and Pennsylvania. The Byway starts in Port Jervis and ends in Hancock, within close proximity to New York City. The River provides an ideal spot for tranquil kayaking, paddleboarding, rafting, or tubing. In autumn, the scenic outlooks provide picture-perfect foliage views. There are rock landscapes, hiking trails, Nordic ski trails, farms, historical museums, a state forest, a wildlife preserve, and a covered bridge along the Byway.