Blake Walsh

15 Free Things to Do in Ramapo, NY

  • Published 2022/12/24

One of the largest towns in Rockland County, Ramapo was first known as New Hampstead in 1791.

The town’s name became Ramapo in 1828, from the Algonquian language of the Lenape people, meaning “sweet water” or “round pond.”

Ramapo’s population ballooned to 148,919, according to the 2020 census, from 35,000 in the 1960s.

Located only about an hour from the Big Apple, it offers all of the benefits of suburban living with plenty of fun things to do for people of all ages.

In 2012, CNN Money named Ramapo as the 58th best small city in the United States to live in.

If you want to go there, try the free things to do in Ramapo, New York.

Explore the Great Outdoors at Harriman State Park

Boardwalk trail at Harriman State Park

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Located in the village of Sloatsburg, the Harriman State Park is an extensive hiking, camping, and fishing destination with over 200 miles of trails.

Covering a massive 47,527 acres, Harriman State Park boasts 31 lakes with hundreds of miles of streams and breathtaking scenery.

Mary Harriman donated at least 10,000 acres and a million dollars to build the Park and its facilities.

The waters of Harriman State Park

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As a condition, the state would scrap its plans to build a prison in Bear Mountain and allocate an extra $2.5 million to buy more land and expand park amenities.

With more than 40 marked trails, the State Park is a haven for hikers and also features horse trails in its southern part.

As the second largest Park in New York, Harriman State Park is a must-visit for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts.

Mountain at Harriman State Park

Mwanner at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Go Hiking at the Ramapo-Dunderberg Trail

Nestled inside the Harriman State Park, the Ramapo-Dunderberg Trail is one of the longest of its kind in the park.

The 22-mile rocky trail has about 5,500ft of elevation.

Established in 1920, Ramapo-Dunderberg Trail was built by the Palisades Interstate Park Trail Conference.

Starting at the Tuxedo Train Station near the Ramapo River, the route winds its way through the Harriman State Park until it reaches Dunderberg Mountain, which extends over the Hudson River.

The trail has several rest stops where you can take a break and enjoy snacks.

Bring a copy of the trail map to stay on track.

Take a Stroll at the Herb Reisman Sports Complex

In Pomona Village, the Herb Reisman Sports Complex offers plenty of open space for you and your family to walk around.

You can go jogging on the paved path, relax on a bench, and admire the beautiful surroundings.

You can also sit back in the shade while watching the kids run around and have a blast on the playground.

The Herb Reisman Sports Complex has several sports fields where you can play soccer, softball, and football.

Play a friendly volleyball game on the sand volleyball court, or test your speed at one of their little league fields.

Conquer the Appalachian Trail

Direction sign of Appalachian Trail

Bdbox, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Located in Harriman State Park, the Appalachian Trail is one of the most loved trails in New York.

The Appalachian Trail is about 90 miles long and passes through five state parks, including Harriman State Park, which is accessible through one of its campgrounds.

Millions of people hike the Appalachian Trail every year, and if you’re looking for a challenge, it’s worth checking out.

Despite passing through a densely populated area and 30 miles on the northern part of New York City, the Appalachian Trail retains most of its feeling of solitude.

The state’s Bear Mountain Zoo and bustling Bear Mountain Bridge are at the Appalachian Trail’s lowest point, at 124 feet.

The first segment of the Appalachian Trail was finished in 1923.

One of the Appalachian Trail’s most frequently hiked portions is the stretch that passes through Harriman-Bear Mountain State Parks.

Stay the Night at the Tom Jones Lean-To Shelter

If you want to stay overnight in Ramapo, the Tom Jones Lean-To Shelter in Harriman State Park is a great option.

There are plenty of places to hike and explore around the shelter, so you can quickly fill your day with fun activities.

The Tom Jones Lean-To Shelter boasts two fire pits inside, so you’ll never get cold at night.

Located near Route 16, the Lean-Tos is built on top of a flat part of the Tom Jones Mountainside.

The Tom Jones Lean-To Shelter affords the perfect view of the breathtaking surroundings, which includes five of the 31 lakes in Harriman State Park.

It’s an excellent venue to go camping with your family or friends, especially if you are looking for a place to stay in the wild.

Walk around the Willow Tree Park

Located in the village of Willow Hills, Willow Tree Park is a tranquil place where you can walk and relax with your family.

The park features a nice walking path that measures 0.6km and circles around a big pond, where you can watch Canadian geese and ducks swimming around.

The park also has some picnic tables and a playground, so you can sit back and enjoy a nice meal while watching the kids play on one of the swings and slides.

You’ll enjoy the scenery as you stroll around and breathe the fresh air at any time of the year.

Willow Tree Park is a great place to unwind after a long day at work.

Whether you want to go for a run or sit back and read a book, it’s an ideal spot to spend time with loved ones.

Discover the Charms of Dater Mountain Nature Park

Scenic view of Dater Mountain Nature Park

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At the southern border of Harriman State Park and Bear Mountain Park, Dater Mountain Nature Park was once the home of the Munsee Indians.

Dater Mountain Nature Park covers a sprawling 350-acre area and features miles of hiking trails and eight federally recognized wetlands.

The Dater Nature Park, situated in the New York and New Jersey Highlands, is highly forested, has a variety of mountain peaks and gorges, and is traversed by several minor streams.

Some portions of the Dater Nature Park rise 940 feet above sea level, providing a perspective over Tuxedo Village, the New York State Main highway, and Orange County.

Trail lined with trees at Dater Mountain Nature Park

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In 2005, the Dater Mountain Nature Park’s trail network was finished, and now has three miles of marked paths that wind throughout the Park.

You can follow a 2.5-mile orange-blazed and blue-blazed trail if you want a quick exercise.

For a longer journey, hikers can continue on the Orange Trail until it meets the white-blazed Kakiat Trail at its end.

From there, they can access Harriman State Park.

Play with Your Pets at the Ramapo Dog Park

Nestled in Suffern Village, Ramapo Dog Park was established in 2018 and quickly became a favorite destination for local dog owners.

The park is divided into three separate areas, one for small dogs and the other for large dogs.

Both areas for small and large dogs are packed with play equipment, including hoops and ramps.

A third fenced area was created to let your dogs enhance their agility skills while practicing jumping and fetching.

All three areas are fenced in, so your pet can roam without worrying about getting lost or hurt.

The Ramapo Dog Park is a great place to bond with your dog outdoors and get some exercise.

Conquer the Kakiat Trail

There are fun things to do at the Kakiat Trail in Harriman State Park.

This rugged and challenging trail is perfect for hiking, offering plenty of shade along the way with majestic trees.

The Kakiat Trail is about three miles long, allowing you to explore this park’s natural beauty.

Along the way, you’ll encounter a variety of terrain, from rocky sections to flat sections with lots of mud.

When you go deeper into the trail, you’ll find a log cabin built in 1922.

You can choose where you want to go next: either follow the Blue trail to look at a piece of history or take a photo of the foundation of the Blauvelt Mill.

Otherwise, you can follow the orange trail and reward yourself with gorgeous views of the Manhattan Skyline.

With so much to see and experience, you’ll want to set aside plenty of time to hike the Kakiat Trail.

Make Your Way through Kakiat Park

Trail at Kakiat Park

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Nestled in Montebello Village, Kakiat Park has plenty of trails and open spaces to explore.

Kakiat Park was formerly owned by the Blauvelt family, who farmed on the land 200 years ago, where they grew apples, peaches, and other fruit trees.

The park allows you to walk or run on the trails, and there are also open spaces where you can play games or have a picnic.

Kakiat Park’s 376 acres of terrain range from plain marshes to undulating hills to mountainous hillsides.

River at Kakiat Park

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To enjoy a piece of history, you can look for the foundation of Blauvelt’s windmill, which is still located in Kakiat Park.

Stretching about 2,500 feet, the Mahwah River flows southwest, which is why large sections near the river get flooded at times due to severe rain.

Bring your camera when exploring Kakiat Park to capture its stunning scenery!

Views from Kakiat Park

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Learn to Play Tennis at the Clark Recreation Center

Are you looking for an exciting way to get active and stay in shape?

Head to the Clark Recreation Center, a local facility with tennis courts, to learn and practice your skills.

The center has eight tennis courts, perfect if you want to play with your friends or family.

You can also play a game of pickleball, a popular and fast-paced sport that combines elements of tennis, badminton, and table tennis.

Clark Recreation Center also features four other ball fields and a children’s playground.

A walking and jogging trail is also available.

Challenge Yourself at the Suffern-Bear Mountain Trail

Not for the faint of heart, conquering the Suffern-Bear Mountain Trail traverses the park’s length of 26 miles.

You can start your hike at the Suffern end of the trail from the Harriman State Park and end it at the other end in Bear Mountain.

The Suffern-Bear Mountain Trail, which is entirely yellow-blazed, may be finished over a weekend or, if you’re up for the task, in just one day.

The Suffern-Bear Mountain Trail is a steep, rugged, up-and-down, meandering roller coaster.

Due to some cliff edges that make up the trail, the section surrounding the Pyngyp, which is close to the halfway point, is particularly intimidating.

The Stone Memorial and Big Hill Shelters in Harriman State Park stand guard along the trail.

These shelters provide welcoming rest stops or overnight lodging if you’re conquering the entire course and need somewhere to sleep.

Visit the Harmony Hall – Sloat House

Exterior of Harmony Hall - Sloat House

Brian Logan Photography /

The Harmony Hall – Sloat House is a historic building located in the heart of Sloatsburg Village.

The mansion is one of the oldest buildings in town and a testament to its history.

The Harmony Hall – Sloat House sits on a two-acre lot and can be reached by the short, winding Oak Street.

Some remnants of the original property still exist, including a spacious garden, scattered trees, and a portion of the old roads leading to the neighboring Orange Turnpike, now known as NY 17.

The front porch of the Harmony Hall – Sloat House is sheltered by two enormous Norway spruce trees.

Federal architecture experts have cited Harmony Hall – Sloat House as a remarkable example of the Greek Revival architectural style from the mid-1800s.

Businessman Jacob Sloat planned and built the house around 1846 to 1848.

It is above a hill that previously provided a view of his successful mill.

Visit the H. Pierson Mapes Flat Rock Park

Are you wondering what a billion-year-old bedrock looks like and want to observe fascinating rock formations up close?

Then visit the H. Pierson Mapes Flat Rock Park.

The one-acre park is where the river bank outcrop of the Ramapo Mountains’ billion-year-old bedrock (Granitic Gneiss) is located.

This bedrock expanse has been smoothed by glacial outwash water movement and has long been a well-liked location for canoeing, fishing, and wildlife viewing.

H Pierson Mapes Flat Rock Park also offers the best public access to the 37-mile-long Ramapo River, where you can take in the beautiful views of Harriman State Park’s Torne Mountain.

If you want to go on an adventure combining history and nature, visit H Pierson Mapes Flat Rock Park!

Other Things to Do Nearby

If you want something to do outside the city, there are plenty of great options near Ramapo.

Explore the Anthony Wayne Recreation Area

Located in Bear Mountain, New York, the Anthony Wayne Recreation Area is a great place to get outside and explore nature.

Breathe in the gorgeous sceneries as you share a meal with your family at the picnic grounds, or take a walk and check out the playing fields.

The Anthony Wayne Recreation Area also features snowshoeing and cross-country skiing trails open for the public to enjoy.

The recreation area has many other activities as well, including Hiking.

You can explore the West Mountain Loop and hike through scenic vistas and dense forests.

The Anthony Wayne Recreation Area is great for spending time outdoors and enjoying nature’s beauty.

This recreation area is 27 minutes from Ramapo.

Final Thoughts

Whether you’re looking to explore nature or chill in its many parks, there’s a perfect activity waiting for you in Ramapo.

Ramapo is a small town full of charm and beauty, making it a great place to visit or even call home.

Why not try the free things to do in Ramapo, New York, for a budget-friendly adventure?


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