This loop encompassed the Ridge, the Tower, and Sugarloaf Mountain. It took up most of the day- we drove up the NJ parkway and found the trailhead without issue. Our hike started at 9:30am. This trail has a dramatic start- reminiscent of the Hells Brook Trail in Vermont. The views open up within 1/4 mile, and they keep getting better as you ascend the ridge to the flagpole. The second part of the ridge leads to a T, where you could opt to see a "haunted" mill, or head on further to the Breakneck cutoff. The weather seems to stay very calm here. You enjoy views of the Hudson from 1000 feet up, without the winds you might expect on similarly exposed trails.
We decided to go for the South Beacon Tower this time, and we were rewarded with perfect weather for the effort. The only concern was the limited hours of light. We made good time to the tower, as the trail was well marked for the most part. We took 1 misstep going to the tower, and 1 misstep enroute to Sugarloaf. These are excellent statistics given my propensity for wandering aimlessly.
The views from the South Beacon tower were amazing! We could see the city skyline form there. Of course, it was freezing up there. So we drank some tequila, ate some pepperoni, and packed it up.
The return trip was a bit grueling, as it was getting dark and cold. We made it to Sugarloaf and spent a few seconds there. My legs started to cramp up at that time. Luckily for us, the hardest part was behind us. The rest of the trail was coasting downhill to the trailhead, where we hit a local restaurant, and had a beer.
Total hike time: 7 hours.