If you live in Manhattan, but want to have a weekend adventure without taking a big vacation, then you have a ton of options. Manhattan is a huge city, without much green space besides Central Park, but close by you can find some awesome outdoor adventures. Some of them are located in upstate New York and will bring you high above the ground and into the mountain air, while others will take you down a raging whitewater river. Of course, there are also things you can do right in the city and are only a subway trip away. Here are a few ideas.
Climbing and Rappelling Down The Shawangunk Mountains
The Shawangunk Mountain range is in upstate New York. The area is famous for it's sheer cliffs which attract thrill seekers from all over the north east. In addition to climbing, there are also great spots to go bouldering, and rappelling. If you've already done lots of rock climbing in the many artificial rock walls in the city, you might love to try it out on the real thing. You can take a train out of Penn Station or drive to New Paltz, New York. This is home to the Mohawk Preserve. This spot is especially popular because it has easy access to the best sheer walls, and great climbing routes. You can bring your own gear, or rent the stuff from a local climbing shop.
Horseback Riding The Hills Of Van Cortland Park Or The Mashland Of Pelham Bay
If you feel like going horseback riding, then you can head north from Manhattan and into The Bronx. There are two huge parks in The Bronx (Van Cortland, and Pelham Bay) which have horsebacking riding. The parks are public, and have stables that are open to the public. You don't have to be a member of a private country club or any organization to use them.
The trails in Van Cortland head up into the hills. These are the same hills that the cross-county college athletes run (though the trails are separate). This area of the West Bronx is very hilly, you will get a sense that you are traveling up into the mountains even though you have never left the city. In the east Bronx, in Pelham Bay, you will pass through a beautiful marshland and nature preserve.
Raft The Whitewater Rapids Of The Delaware River
If you are really looking for a thrill, then head north out of the city and up into Orange County. This is where you will find the Delaware River. The river has some really fun whitewater spots (namely the Skiners Falls section, which is north of Milford Pennsylvania and Narroswsburg, New York) that you can run with inflatable rafts or kayakcs. You will find outfitters on the Pennsalvina side of the river or on the New York side.
The great thing about the Delaware river is that the rapids are not too dangerous. They are not the extreme Class 4 o 5 rapids that require helmets and expertise. They are just wild enough (class 2 rapids) to provide fun a great outdoor adventure. For more information, talk to a professional like Andy and Bax.