Cold Spring New York - If you're around, or want to take a ride up on the Hudson line, it’s no secret that Breakneck Ridge is THE best hike in town. Heck, Newsweek magazine listed it as one of the top ten hikes in the United States.
View of Storm King Mountain from Flagpole at Breakneck Ridge
What You’ll See…
As you traverse up rocky scarps, Storm King Mountain hulks 1,300+ feet into the air, about 10 football fields away across the Hudson River.
Stop and rest at the flagpole and enjoy the scenery.
The intense vertical ascent up to this point may have tired you out a bit. But, you'll see that it was worth your while.
You're at the gateway of the Hudson Highlands, an ancient glacier carved fjord cut through the Appalachian mountain chain.
To the north, on either sides of the river, you'll see the Newburgh-Beacon bridge, Mt. Beacon, Cornwall Bay, the Shawankgunks, the Catskills skyline, as well as the waterfronts cities of Newburgh, Beacon, and Cornwall-on-Hudson.
Also to the north, look out for Bannerman’s castle located on Pollepel Island. This crumbling castle is all that remains of an ammunition stockade built by Francis Bannerman in the early 1900s.
Looking south you’ll notice a marshy area of the Hudson's eastern shore, just south of Cold Spring New York's waterfront.
This marshy area, along with Constitution Island, is known as Foundry Cove. It was a revered site for Native Americans and served as a strategic military location for George Washington fighting off the British. (West Point Military Academy is right there, too.)
As you hike the interior of Breakneck Ridge, look out for little blue and silver lizards. They seem to be everywhere in the summertime. Also, you’ll likely see some eagle, vultures, hawks, and deer.
Looking south towards Foundry Cove
The Hike and How to Get There…
Train: If you're in New York City, that's quite simple. This trail has it's own train stop: Breakneck Ridge. It's about a 1.5 hour ride from Grand Central Station. The train only stops here on Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays.
If you're going on another day, get off at the Cold Spring station and hire a taxi, or walk to the trail.
Driving: take Route 9D about 2.3 miles north of Cold Spring New York village.
Park on the river side of the road, just north of the tunnel (see video). Here you access the Breakneck Ridge Trail (white markers).
Follow the trail for 1.5 miles, climbing up steep rock escarpments.You'll soon reach the flagpole, and all those glorious views.
After you pull yourself from the flagpole area, you'll go up and down a couple valleys on wooded trails.
From there, you can connect to the Yellow and Blue marked paths and go the full length of the Breakneck Ridge trail (5.5 miles, 4+ hours). Use the trail map that’s freely available at the info post at the entrance to the trail and explore, do your own thing.
I typically hook a left and follow the red markers (bypass trail) back to 9D after the valleys. This abbreviated loop should take about 2 hours and leaves you with enough time and energy to head into the village of Cold Spring New York for some brews and bites afterwards:)
Watch the video of our hike at Breakneck Ridge!
How Difficult Is It?
The Breakneck Ridge Trail (white markers) climbs very high in the first 1.5 miles. At times, it’s a straight up rock scramble. If you’re not comfortable climbing and grabbing steep rock I’d suggest a different hike. It's ranked as a medium-difficult hike…. But don’t be discouraged (if you are) It’s a wildly popular trail used by people of all types and ages.
Give yourself 2-4 hours to complete the hike outlined in the map below. *Note that this is a somewhat abbreviated hike. The full trail, extends all the way to Mt. Beacon.
What Else to Do?
Be sure to check out the village of Cold Spring, New York – Just 2 miles south on route 9D. Antique shops, Ice cream, a water front plaza, Kayak Rentals, restaurants, B&Bs, and delightful side walk strolls await you…
Directions from Your Exact Location and Map...
The following map shows the shorter route (white to red to yellow marked trails) - taking the Breakneck Ridge Bypass Trail.
Zoom in and toggle the map to see where the other trails go.
To get easy-as-pie and accurate directions from your front door, just type in your address below as the starting location.
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