Breakneck ridge is one of the most famous hikes along the Hudson River in New York. Its panoramic views and steep trail make for a great 1/2-full day hike. The views of the Hudson Highlands are certainly worth its relatively short but steep ascent.
|View of the Hudson River from Breakneck Ridge, New York|
Gosh, I started this trip as way to visit family and friends in Boston and now I'm in... upstate New York? Such is the way of this traveler! To be completely honest, I knew almost nothing about hiking in New York. I mean, I know about the Adirondacks and the Catskills, but my knowledge of the other 75% of the state is quite limited. As it turns out, there's some great hiking just 60 miles north of New York City.
Breakneck ridge, so I have read, is one of the standard hikes in the Hudson Highlands and is famous for its views. The trail sports great views of the Hudson River, Storm King Mountain, and much of the Hudson Highlands. The large cliffs on the Southeastern side of the mountain are due to a quarry which once existed.
View Hiking Breakneck Ridge, Hudson Highlands, NY
in a larger map
The parking lot for the hike is just past or before the tunnel, depending on which direction you're coming from. Its not marked but its an obvious pull out and there are about 6 parking spaces. I imagine they probably fill up quickly when the weather is good.
Experienced hikers will not find this trail challenging; its pretty much standard steepness for anything in the White or Green Mountains. However less-experienced hikers may be tempted to think this trail is easy with a short distance; it is a shorter hike (3.0 miles) but the steepness at the beginning of the hike may be too much if you're not used to hiking steep mountains.
The hike begins immediately ascending and crosses over the tunnel and up the mountain. Its pretty steep and you have to keep a good eye out for the white blazes which mark the trail. Its somewhat of a scramble in several sections so you may or may not want to use your hiking poles. Fortunately there are views at nearly every part of the trail up. At any point, you can just stop and enjoy a view of the Hudson while you catch your breath.
|Storm King across the Hudson|
|View of the quarry cliffs on the upper section of the trail|
There are, of course, a half dozen false summits on the way up but it shouldn't take more than an hour to an hour and a half to make it to the highest point on the trail. You can make a longer hike out of the day by continuing on to the actual summit of breakneck ridge but there's not much to be seen after the main ridgeline.
After you top out, you will meander around the woods for a while before you come to the red-blaze trail which veers off to the left. It is NOT well marked and it took a bit of wandering around to find the true trail at first. It gets better marked as you come down further. Its not nearly the steepness on the way down as it was on the way up. Eventually you will get down to the highway and just hang a left to walk back to the parking lot. Overall distance is about 3 miles and the time it takes is about 2.5-3 hours.
So there you have it! Its a great hike which will take most people about a half to 3/4 of a day. Its steep enough to be a challenge but short enough to be done with time for an early dinner. Plus its not too far from New York City!
Read. Plan. Get Out There!