Beacon NY makes the perfect launch pad for getting outdoors and exploring the Hudson Highlands State Park. Seriously, this is some of the best hiking in the valley! Let me be your guide and I will show you where to go, how to get there, and why this place is totally worth it.
There are LOADS of trails in the Hudson Highlands Park system -most of which are easily accessible from the city of Beacon NY. For the purpose of this page we're just going to focus on The Casino Trail to the Fishkill Ridge Area
*This page does not include the uber-popular Breakneck Ridge trail, because I already have a page written about that here.
The Famous Casino Trail to the Fire Tower
The Casino Trail is by far the most popular and easily accessible trail from downtown Beacon NY. Using this trail you will quickly (depending on your strength, of course) reach the peak of Mount Beacon, and the Fire Tower.
The name is derived from the fact that this trail roughly follows the path of the old incline railway which led to the Mount Beacon Hotel and Casino.
The Casino and most of the railway burned down a long time ago, but there are several areas of track remaining and a crumbling brick power-house near the peak which still has the rusted out pulley gears.
Park near the trail head off 9D near Bob’s deli. There's a parking lot for the trail, but if it's full you can park alongside Howland Ave.
This is the base of the casino trail.
Follow the old rusted rail bed until you reach the metal stairs. This is your first steep ascent.
The (red blaze) Casino trail is fairly steep and strenuous.
It’s switchbacks for about a mile until the first overlook - The top of the incline rail way.
Here you’ll see the brick ruins of the pulleys and machinery used to haul passengers up the mountain way back in the day.
Get to the top and you find a magnificent platform for taking in the views. And yes, they are spectacular. Some of the best the Hudson Valley has to offer.
After soaking up the views and taking plenty of photos, continue on the .. . trail towards the fire tower. If you’re not afraid of heights, climb the metal staircase. Once on top, you’re likely standing at the highest possible elevation in the Hudson Valley east of the river.
Fishkill Ridge: Overlook/White Trail
In another part of town, you can also find the much quieter, less traveled Fishkill Ridge area of the Hudson Highlands park.
On busy weekends, the casino trail can be an absolute mob scene. So, if you’re looking for something else - I suggest trying this, too.
Park at the end of Sunnyside road, a little dead end street in Beacon’s foothills. You’ll see signposts with information about the area’s wilderness and wildlife.
Then you'll begin a very steep ascent on the Overlook Trail (red). No switchbacks here. Along the way you’ll see a large conglomerate boulder, deposited in the last ice-age.
You’ll travel along through the woods for a while, going through some dips in a valley and over a stream and back up.
Don’t worry, the big views are coming! You just have to get to the top first! :) After ascending about a half mile, you’ll start to see the trees dwarfing and the views peeking through.
Then you get to the spine of the mountain with more incredible views, and all those little shaded areas under dwarf-pine trees next to large gleaming boulders.
The Overlook trail (red) then hooks up to the White Trail, and will take you to a well-known stop at Lambs Hill. This trail loops back to . . .the overlook where you can head back down to your car.
Which trails to use? Fishkill Ridge - Incline Railway (where to park)
Fishkill Ridge (where to park)
Main trail - Where to park and how to get there?
Places to eat nearby? When you’re all good and pumped out from the hike, or before you set off and you want to load up on snacks - visit Bob’s deli and grab a classic, fat packed sandwich. Bob’s has been serving mount beacon hikers since. “get quote from bob - what’s one of your signature sandwiches?”
What the deal with the rail?
The old rusted rail you see is what remains of the Beacon Incline Railway. Back in the 1920s, it was a very popular tourist destination - to take the rail way up to the casino atop the mountain.
Can you go camping at the Hudson Highlands State park?
How many square miles of the park?
What is the geological history of the Hudson Highlands?
How difficult is each trail? The Casino trail is moderately difficult. It is about . . miles to the fire tower and a whopping . . . foot ascent. It’s steep, but switchbacks make it easier to climb.
Can I go backpacking for several days?
Which trails offer the best views? There are so many places for excellent views. If you follow either the Breakneck Ridge trail, or the overlook trail, Fishkill Ridge
How many miles of trails are there? There are about 42 miles of trails in the Hudson Highlands State Park. So you can come back again and again and try something new. By far the most popular are the Breakneck Ridge (white blaze), Casino Trail (red blaze).
I’ve outlined the Breakneck Ridge hike here, so on this page I will highlight two others: The Casino Trail and the Overlook Trail.
Can I get there via the train? You can by taking the Breakneck Ridge stop (only on Saturdays). This will set you off for Breakneck Ridge. Which can take you to Mount Beacon if you follow the Breakneck Ridge trail (white blaze) You follow that for 4.4. miles until you reach the fire tower and connect to the Casino Trail and head down into the city of Beacon. You could then feasibly walk through town to the river and hop back on the train.
How to get to the fire tower? The Casino Trail will take you to the fire tower. Once you get to the first lookout spot (which is amazing in of itself) you can keep going. You’ll hike through the mountaintop terrain for another 2 miles or so until you get to the fire tower. I recommend climbing to the top for the full effect.
What odd little bits of history would I like to know?
What time can you access the park?
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