When it comes to Long Island's geological treasures, mountains are notably missing. However, Long Islanders longing to view dramatic waterfalls, ride a mountain bike or clip on crampons don't have too far to go. For an escape to the mountains, or at least the most breathtaking of hills, within a few hours of the city, try these peaks.
The Catskills (Update Andes is about 150 miles from NYC)
People hear "Catskills" and often think "Borscht Belt." But beyond the traditionally Jewish resorts is the 700,000-acre Catskill Park with 98 peaks over 3,000 feet. Three hours north of the city, Andes, a picturesque former logging town listed on the State and National Register of Historic Places, offers hiking, along with restaurants, art galleries and antiques shops.
WHERE TO EAT The owners of Two Old Tarts (twooldtarts.com) started baking for a farmers market, and popular demand spawned this bakery and cafe that incorporates locally grown ingredients.
WHERE TO STAY When visiting the Catskills, check out the Andes Hotel (andeshotel.com), a 10-room inn, tavern and restaurant, combines rustic charm with enough elegance (and live music on weekends) to keep any New York sophisticate happy.
DON'T MISS A 3.9-mile round-trip walk on the Andes Rail Trail (andesworks.com/rail-trail) takes hikers past beaver dams and bucolic views of the Tremperskill Valley. Another mountaintop hike past lichen-covered stone walls and attractive vistas is the 3.7-mile Palmer Hill Trail (catskillmountainclub.org).
The Poconos (Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania, is about 120 miles from New York City)
The Poconos' wooded hills historically attracted honeymooners to heart-shaped pools but now see a different breed of traveler. Less than three hours west of the city, Jim Thorpe, named for the Olympic athlete and often called the "Switzerland of America" for its steep hillsides, narrow streets and terraced gardens, has become a mecca for mountain bikers and outdoor recreationalists.
WHERE TO EAT At Moya (jimthorpemoya.com), the palate is never far from the palette as diners enjoy eclectic cuisine surrounded by contemporary art.
Pictured: The beautiful scenic landscape of The Lehigh Gorge in the Pocono Mountains.
WHERE TO STAY The 45-room Inn at Jim Thorpe (innjt.com) in the Poconos, offering the Broadway Grille & Pub, is situated in Jim Thorpe's fetching Victorian downtown, listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
WHAT TO DO The Lehigh Gorge (dcnr.state.pa.us) is a steep-walled canyon with a dramatic 26-mile riverside trail accessed in town and passing several waterfalls. Visitors can also view the gorge's striking cliffs from a vintage rail coach on the Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway (lgsry.com).
The Adirondacks (Saranac Lake is about 300 miles from New York City)
The Adirondack Mountains, which include the six-million-acre Adirondack Park, have long attracted climbers seeking to scale the region's 46 peaks over 4,000 feet at least once -- and for the real fanatics, once each season. Five hours north of the city, the unpretentious town of Saranac Lake sits at the heart of this vertiginous abundance, which also has its share of picture-perfect lakes and streams.
WHERE TO EAT The Eat 'N Meet Grill and Larder (eatnmeet.com) is a hole-in-the-wall eatery offering hearty takeout to hikers, as well as a small dining area.
WHERE TO STAY Gauthier's Saranac Lake Inn in the Adirondacks (saranaclakeinn.com) is a vintage 32-room lakefront hotel remodeled in eco-friendly fashion and offering free use of boats and paddleboards.
WHAT TO DO Not up for the 46 High Peaks? Visitors can become "Saranac Lake 6ers," starting with the 6.6-mile round-trip hike up 2,864-foot Haystack Mountain (saranaclarke6er.com/haystack). For something different, the Robert Louis Stevenson Memorial Cottage and Museum is a slice of quirky history about the "Treasure Island" writer who lived here in 1887 (adirondacks.com).
The Berkshires (Lenox, Massachusetts, is about 140 miles from New York City)
For travelers seeking a dose of culture with scenic beauty, the Berkshire hills deliver. There are concerts at the Tanglewood music festival, as well as top-notch dance performances, museums and summer theater. About three hours northeast of the city, the gracious historic town of Lenox is the cultural heart of the Berkshires.
WHERE TO EAT The dining room at the Wheatleigh hotel (wheatleigh.com), an opulent restored Italianate palazzo-style estate built in 1893, serves dishes such as rabbit with polenta and loup de mer with sunchoke and Swiss chard.
WHERE TO STAY To stay so close to Tanglewood in the Berkshires, you can almost hear its musical strains, the Apple Tree Inn (appletree-inn.com) has rooms in an 1885 mansion and a lodge, serves breakfast and has been around since 1937.
DON'T MISS Dating to 1934, the Tanglewood festival (bos.org) is world-renowned for its symphony, pops, chamber music, jazz and blues concerts from late June through early September. For exercise, stroll the formal gardens and tour The Mount (edithwharton.org), home of author Edith Wharton (pictured), who wrote about interior decoration when not penning novels such as "The Age of Innocence."
The Shawangunks (upstate New Paltz is about 85 miles from New York City)
The Shawangunk Ridge may be a major rockclimbing area of North America, but visitors don't have to be climbing aficionados to enjoy the impressive Shawangunks. At the foot of the mountains and two hours north of the city is the town of New Paltz, with a state university, boutique shops and restaurants and a handful of enchanting historic villages nearby.
WHERE TO EAT A Tavola Trattoria (atavolany.com) serves pan-Italian creations at farm-kitchen tables surrounded by local antiques.
WHERE TO STAY When visiting the Shawangunks, check out the Mohonk Mountain House (mohonk.com), a rambling ridge-top lodge built in 1869, offers manicured grounds, carriage roads and access to Shawangunk hiking trails.
DON'T MISS There are numerous climbing opportunities and hiking trails in the Mohonk Preserve or Minnewaska State Park Preserve. For a break from rigorous activity, tour historic Huguenot Street's 17th- and 18th-century stone houses, many with their original furnishings (huguenotstreet.org).