Breakneck Ridge

West Point, New York 10996

Breakneck Ridge

Breakneck Ridge Professional Guide

Detailed Trail Description from our Guidebook

"Scramble up rock faces, work your way along ledges, and find your way to some stunning views on the toughest hike in the Hudson River Valley. No book about hiking the lower Hudson Valley would be complete without the area’s signature hike to Breakneck Ridge.

Its rocky cliffs, visible from miles away, came into being during quarrying operations in the 1850s, but this fact does not detract from the imposing figure they strike on the Hudson Highlands skyline."

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Detailed Trail Descriptions from Our Guidebooks

60 Hikes within 60 Miles: New York City (Menasha Ridge Press)
Christopher & Catherine Brooks
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"Stupendous views, rock-scrambling, and strenuous climbs are a good part of what this thrilling jaunt is about, with a special accent on strenuous. This is one of the more memorable hikes in the Highlands, with a colorful finish by the remnants of an old estate and dairy farm—ruins far more extensive than the average ghost town. For many, this is the Holy Grail of highland trails, but don’t try it without sturdy hiking boots and plenty of water." Read more
AMC's Best Day Hikes in the Catskills and Hudson Valley (Appalachian Mountain Club Books)
Peter Kick
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"This demanding hike up the steepest and most exposed scenic trail in the Highlands offers sustained views from open ridges, with a return through quiet forests." Read more
Hiking New York (Falcon Guides)
Rhonda and George Ostertag
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"On the east side of the Hudson River in Hudson Highlands State Park, this trail makes a rugged ascent from near river- level to roll along a knobby ridge to a restored and re- opened fire tower. From the highland ridge and the tower, you take in views of the Hudson River, the Shawangunks, and the Catskill Mountains. A mixed forest embellished with mountain laurel and spring and summer wildflowers shapes much of the hike." Read more

Breakneck Ridge Reviews

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11/27/2018
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7/26/2018
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7/21/2018
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7/14/2018
This hike has some amazing views of the Hudson and is close to the city which is nice, but it's definitely strenuous. Make sure you're well hydrated and bring plenty of water. The tough sections can be pretty steep going up and down.
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6/1/2018
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5/15/2018
Stunning views, really enjoyed this hike!
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11/17/2016
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.
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9/28/2014
Fabulous views some of the best i've seen in this park of NY. The beginning is a straight very steep climb, hand over hand pushing your way up. Once at the top you can take an easier way down then you went up or you can continue on the white trail which will take to a a few others trail or to the fire tower which is what we did. This was much further then we thought it would be. Once we got to the tower we were pretty tried and running low on water which was worried sum because we still had to decent back down on the yellow to breakneck train station. Our decent was confusing and not marked clear enough, we made some wrong turns which ate up time. Bring more water then you think. Give youself more time then you think you will need. The best part of this hike is the beginning assent to the top. Not sure if is worth going to the tower from breakneck. There are other hikes you can do that are much shorter which will bring you to the fire tower .They will also be very steep in the beginning aswell but shorter in length vs getting there from breakneck. All in all this is a strenuous hike with rewarding views which are worth it!
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8/24/2013
I can't ask for a better trail! 2 warnings: 1) It is a very popular trail and is FULL of people at all skill levels. 2) It is an intense hike. Bring twice as much water as you think you need and it will take you much longer than you think it will.
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8/20/2011
This is easily my favorite trail in the Hudson Valley, with the incredible views and ruins, it has everything I look for in an adventure. I'm usually someone who needs to get far away from roads and civilization, but with the steep ascent you quickly forget about everything but how to get from one boulder to the next. Breakneck Loop also offers a few different ways to head down if you feel you don't have it in you to crank out all 9 miles. Great Trail!
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Trail Information

West Point
Nearby City
3.6 miles
Distance
1,442 feet
Elevation Gain
Loop/Lollipop
Trail Type
Difficult
Skill Level
4 hours
Duration
Spring through fall
Season
Hiking
Additional Use
Views
Features
Hudson Highlands State Park Preserve, Route 9D, Cold Spring, NY 10516; (845) 225-7207; parks.ny.gov/parks/9/hunting.aspx
Local Contacts
NatGeo TOPO! Map (USGS): West Point, NY; NatGeo Trails Illustrated Map #1508: Appalachian Trail, Delaware Water Gap to Schaghticoke Mountain; New York–New Jersey Trail Conference Trail Map #102: East Hudson Trails
Local Maps

Activity Feed

Dec 2018