iloveny-stack.jpgHike through pristine wilderness, cycle along a canal tow path, scale a rock face New York State is brimming with exciting ways to enjoy the great outdoors this summer! Albany, N.Y. - With millions of acres of protected wilderness and more than 2,000 miles of hiking and biking trails, New York State is a nature lover's paradise. In fact, Adirondack Park, with more than 6.2 million acres, is the largest park outside of Alaska-- bigger than Yellowstone, Yosemite, Grand Canyon, Glacier and Great Smoky Mountains National Parks combined. The Catskills Forest Preserve adds even more protected wilderness. New York's proud and longstanding history of preserving nature -- making it accessible and easy for people to integrate it into their everyday lives -- has positioned it as the birthplace of the modern environmental movement, inspiring visitors and residents alike.    The Path Through History introduced by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, makes it easier than ever to discover and appreciate the state's natural wonders. Natural History is one of 13 themes that bring 500-plus heritage sites across the state together. Additionally, more than 175 New York State parks provide easy access to recreational activities and historic sites that include hiking, biking, museums and more.  Visitors can explore attractions showcasing nature's important role in New York's history, as well as the natural wonders themselves. The Path Through History website lists points of interest, while identifying markers on major state highways and local signage with a distinctive Path Through History logo help point the way.   Following is a sampling of the Natural History sites highlighted in the Path Through History program along with other fun ways to get active and enjoy nature this summer.   Scale a Mountain. New York State offers many ways to reach the mountaintop. Experienced and novice rock climbers alike head for the Shawangunk Mountains (a.k.a. "The Gunks), the Catskills' renowned climbing destination. Those who prefer hiking can challenge themselves on The Adirondack High Peaks-46 peaks that reach about 4,000 feet in the Lake Placid area. The tallest, Mount Marcy, rewards experienced hikers with panoramic views that can extend to Canada.   Hike to Awesome Waterfalls and Lakes. Mountain lakes and cascading waterfalls create picture perfect scenes-and many are an easy walk from the road. In the Catskills, North-South Lake Campground in Haines Falls is the starting point for a gentle hike to Sunset Rock, overlooking North and South lakes. Nearby, the hike to Kaaterskill Falls is a moderate 1.4 miles round trip. Other popular Catskill hikes abound in the Minnewaska and Mohonk preserves. In the Finger Lakes, hikers at Watkins Glen State Park can marvel at the glen's stream as it drops 400 feet, cutting through 200-foot cliffs and creating 19 waterfalls. Horseback riders and hikers at Letchworth State Park quickly see why it's known as the "Grand Canyon of the East," while fans of Native American culture and pioneer life will marvel at William P. Letchworth Museum and the history of the development of the park. Favorite spots in Central New York include the 40 minute hike up Bald Mountain near Old Forge, which affords stunning views of the Fulton Chain of Lakes.   Where the Birds are. Birding is part of the allure of hiking the Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge, in the Greater Niagara region, which draws swans, mallards and nesting eagles. Bird watching enthusiasts will also revel in the 8,000 acre Montezuma National Wild Life Refuge in Seneca Falls in the Finger Lakes, home to more than 300 species of birds and other wildlife. The fragile dune environment of Lake Ontario, in the Thousand Islands-Seaway region, is the draw at Lakeview WMA (wildlife management area), where boardwalks allow visitors to walk over the dunes and access three miles of trails. And in the Chautauqua-Allegheny region, the Audubon Center and Sanctuary in Jamestown offers five miles of trails through its 600-acre wetland preserve.   Go the Distance. The New York State Canal System offers some of the best bicycling in the state. The Erie Canalway Trail, home to an annual 400-mile cross state tour, July 7-14, is a national Heritage Corridor. In addition, "End-to-ender" certificates, decals and inclusion on an honor roll go to anyone who completes the 360-mile trail between Buffalo and Albany. The Hudson Valley, another picturesque area for cycling, is easy to explore on the 9th annual 200-mile Cycling the Hudson Valley bike tour, July 30-August 4.   Thrill to Downhill Biking. When the snows melt, many top ski resorts convert their runs to mountain biking trails. Popular spots in the Catskills include Belleayre and Plattekill, while the Chautauqua-Allegheny region features Holiday Valley and Swain Resort. And steep slopes of the Adirondacks draw bikers to Gore Mountain, Garnet Hill Cross Country Ski and Mountain Bike Center and Whiteface Lake Placid, where hairpin turns and jumps create Olympic-level challenges.   Stay Off the Roads. Throughout the state, off-road biking is becoming more popular. Even Manhattan's Central Park closes to traffic on weekends and summer evenings. The 17-mile Powley-Piseco Road in the Capital Saratoga region offers the chance to pedal along one of the few remaining old Adirondack dirt roads, while on Long Island riders can enjoy the combination of seashore and cycling at Hither Hills State Park in Montauk.   And There's More.  Visit iloveny.com for more ideas on hiking, biking and summer fun on land and on the water. And be sure to check out some of New York's great State Parks  and their new free Oh Ranger! NY State Parks app that enables searches by location. There's also an easy to use on-line event finder. # # # About Path Through History Path Through History highlights historically and culturally significant sites and events throughout New York State. The program, introduced by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, builds on New York's already robust heritage tourism attractions. The initiative is currently focused on 13 themes including: Arts & Culture, Natural History, U.S. Presidents, Women's Rights, Canals & Transportation, Civil Rights, Colonial History, Immigration, Innovation & Commerce, The Revolutionary War, Native American Heritage, Sports History and the War of 1812. Important heritage sites and events across the state were selected with input from leading historians. For more information, visit http://cts.vresp.com/c/?M.SilverADivisionofF/9dff5b634c/045909ed29/d28e21e5df.   Each week, the I LOVE NEW YORK social media channels will highlight one theme from Path Through History, featuring photos, videos, event itineraries and more to showcase the rich history of New York State. Follow I LOVE NEW YORK on FacebookTwitter and Instagram or use #LoveNYHistory to join us on the journey down New York's Path Through History.   Follow I LOVE NEW YORK on social media: Facebook: Facebook.com/ILOVENY Twitter: @I_LOVE_NY Instagram: ILOVENY YouTube: YouTube.com/OfficialILoveNY Pinterest: Pinterest.com/ILOVENY Flickr: Flickr.com/OfficialILoveNY   About New York State New York State features 11 beautiful vacation regions. New York's attractions span from landmarks such as Niagara Falls to the wine trails of Hudson Valley and treasures like the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. Whether it's wide-ranging outdoor activities for the whole family like hiking, biking and boating, culinary wonders and farm-to-table fresh foods, or the rich history and culture of one of the 13 original colonies, New York State offers big excitement and tons activities for all travelers. For more information, visit http://cts.vresp.com/c/?M.SilverADivisionofF/9dff5b634c/045909ed29/46f740b2e1 for all of our spring and summer activities. Media can find press releases and more at thebeat.iloveny.com.   CONTACT: Melanie Klausner                       M. SILVER - A Division of Finn Partners                       (212)-754-6500, ext. 7310                       Melanie.klausner@finnpartners.com                         Eric Scheffel                       Empire State Development                       (518) 292-5274                       escheffel@esd.ny.gov