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Members of Brooklyn’s ever-growing population of runners looking to log some off-road miles are lucky to have easy access to the paths and trails of Prospect Park. But for those times when you really want to feel at one with nature, even the idyllic grounds of the park will fall short.

Just over an hour north of the city, though, lies the mighty Bear Mountain, with its 52,000 acres of forest and, if you count neighboring mountains and interconnected state parks, some 235 miles of trails waiting to be explored. Easily reached via Metro-North or by car, Bear Mountain makes for a perfect day trip: leave your apartment at 9am, and by 10 or so (let’s face it: traffic depending) you’ll be among other runners, hikers, and cyclists looking to get their fix of the great outdoors. (Though really, we recommend leaving much earlier; few things are as restorative as early morning light and mountain air.) There are trails for every level of runner, from simple dirt paths to extremely technical terrain filled with jagged rocks and roots that’ll challenge even the most experienced athlete—which is why the North Face holds its annual Endurance Challenge series of races there each spring. Between April 30 and May 1, brave trail runners will line up for distances ranging from a reasonably sensible 5k to an obviously insane and unfathomably difficult 50-miler.

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Whether you’re there to race or for more casual pursuits, take our advice and hit up nearby Peekskill Brewery for lunch on your way home. The beer is among the best being made in the state (try the Eastern Standard IPA or it’s boozier older sibling Higher Standard) and with beautifully prepared menu items like poutine and a porchetta sandwich, the food is perfect post-workout fare.  

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Photos by Eric Ryan Anderson

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