Breakneck Ridge, NY
Give the weekend warrior in you a true workout and climb up to a west facing rock ledge with magnificent views of the Hudson River. This rugged assent in Hudson Highland State Park will both test and reward you! Take a well-deserved break after reaching the high flying American Flag and before heading out onto a scenic ridge line. From here you've accomplished a great feat and can fully appreciate the Hudson River, Shawangunks, and Catskill Mountains in the distance. Descend into a prominent oak forest and witness the summer blooms of the Mountain Laurel. Before calling it a day, summit South Beacon at 1,400 ft. and soak in the sights one more time from the old fire tower. Schedule this trip from sunrise to sunset for an unforgettable experience.
The Hudson River is federally recognized as a Great American River. It was vital in the development and expansion of this nation, as well as the commerce of the state of New York. The valley is littered with peaks and ridges and is home to much of the NY portion of the Appalachian Trail.
Length: 9.6-mile loop or 2.8-mile loop option
Elevation Change: 1,500 ft
Seasons: Spring through Fall
Trail Head: Tunnel Trailhead
This hike begins on the eastern side of the river and follows white blazes from the trail head off of Rt. 9D. It may begin with a cacophony of car horns and the company of fellow hikers, but this will dissipate as you delve into the strenuous climb.
You will work your way up to the first set of panoramic views accompanied by the American Flag. A few more directional changes and technical bouldering sections lead you to the ragged shoulder of the Breakneck Ridge. More views of the Hudson River, Pollepel Island, and Storm King Mountain present themselves along the ascent.
The trail finally begins to traverse a wooded passage, offering escape from the rocky climb. Soon, the bypass trail descends to the left and offers a short return option to the trailhead. If you haven't had your fill of adventure, the trail continues north. With this decision, you work toward your next reward of a 360-degree view of the River.
Mountain laurel flanks the descent to Squirrel Hollow Brook. Imagine pausing here to wet a bandana. You feel rejuvenated with touch of the cool cloth to your face and neck. Cross the brook before another ascent of the Devils Ladder. This is yet another steep and rock gradient.
Emerge into an opening at South Beacon Tower. 1931 tower may be unusable, but this view is the most magnificent yet. Take another leisurely rest before heading back to the trail head.
Option: Depending on time, opt to summit Sugarloaf Mountain on the way back.
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