Cold Spring New York's
Breakneck Ridge: One of the
Finest Hikes in the Hudson Valley

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.

What You'll See Hiking Breakneck Ridge

After an intense vertical ascent up the mountain, incredible views of the entire region are to be had. It's definitely worth all the huffing and puffing.

Nearest, you'll see Storm King Mountain hulking 1,300+ feet into the air, just across the Hudson River.

Rest at the flagpole and enjoy the scenery...

You're at the gateway of the Hudson Highlands - an ancient fjord carved by glaciers through the Appalachian mountain chain.

Looking north you'll see the Newburgh-Beacon Bridge; Mt. Beacon; Cornwall Bay; the Shawankgunks; the Catskills Mountains; as well as the Hudson River towns of Newburgh, Beacon, and Cornwall-on-Hudson.

Video: Hudson River Kayaking, Bannerman's Castle

Also to the north,  Bannerman’s castle stands in a state of beautiful decay 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 near Cold Spring New York's waterfront. It's called Foundry Cove and includes Constitution Island.  During the Civil War this area was used by West Point to build rifles and other iron products. 


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 and the village of Cold Spring, New York, from the hike along Breakneck Ridge

Looking south towards Foundry Cove

How to Get to Breakneck Ridge, Cold Spring New York

By Train: Metro-North has two stations located near the trail head: Breakneck Ridge and Cold Spring. Both are about a 1.5 hour ride from Grand Central Station. However, the train only stops at the Breakneck Ridge station on Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays.

From the Breakneck station, just walk a quarter mile south on 9D towards the tunnel. The trail head is on the river side of the road.

On weekdays, you must get off at the Cold Spring station. You can then hire a taxi, or walk to the trail. It's about 2.25 miles further.

From the Cold Spring Station, walk up Main Street and turn left on Fair Street.

Continue on Fair Street until you reach route 9D.

Bear left on 9D and follow for another mile or so. Beware of traffic, especially at night.

After walking through the tunnel and passing the Chalet restaurant you'll see the trail head on the river side of the road.

By Car: 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).

The Hike

Once you get to the trailhead you begin by climbing up a steep rock escarpment. 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…

cold spring new york, breakneck ridge, hike

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