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Pets allowed
Yes-restrictions
Guided tours
No
Backcountry camping
No
Lodging
No
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

Hudson Highlands State Park spans nearly 6,000 acres and sits on the eastern side of the Hudson River Valley in Dutchess, Putnam, and Westchester counties. Its proximity to New York City makes it a very popular destination for thousands of visitors each year. These spacious lands offer excellent opportunities for a number of outdoor activities, including hiking, fishing, boating, birdwatching, mountain biking, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and hunting (seasonal). An extensive network of trails, maintained by the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference, traverses the many sections of this park, bringing trekkers from the river’s edge and marshlands to the mountaintops and exposed rock faces. There are historical ruins throughout the property, and each section maintains a unique and special history that is cherished by the Hudson Valley. The New York Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation (NYSOPRHP) maintains a map of the Hudson Highlands to help you navigate your route throughout these beautiful lands.

Breakneck Ridge is the most popular trail in the United States east of the Mississippi River and often rated as one of the best day hikes in America. The most popular trail is an approximately 5-mile loop to the summit that rises 1,250 feet within the first three-quarters of a mile! Just to south, Mount Taurus (Bull Hill) is not as steep of a climb but offers a higher elevation gain on the 2.6-mile Washburn Trail (White) to the summit. Beginning in the days of the American Revolution, these mountains were mined extensively for their iron and copper. Operations continued into the early 20th century, and many of the paths throughout the park are on these former vehicle roads. Results of the excavations are most apparent on the steep quarried rock faces on the south of the ridge.

The trailheads for these two mountains are unmistakable by the lines of cars that park along Route 9D to the north and south of a large tunnel. Many also take the Metro-North train to the Breakneck Station on the East Hudson River line or the Cold Spring Station, which has more regular service. Between these two mountains, the Cornish Trail (Blue) meanders through the former estate of Edward J. Cornish, his country home until his death in 1938. Visitors will find the remains of the mansion, a greenhouse, and, farther up the trail, a barn where he kept his prized Jersey cows.

Mount Beacon is on a separate parcel of land owned by Scenic Hudson, the City of Beacon, and the Town of Fishkill. This section connects to the Hudson Highland’s northern parcel along the Fishkill Ridge and the Overlook Trail. All of these trails connect to the Mount Beacon Fire Tower, which marks the highest summit in the Hudson Highlands. On a clear day, you can see all the way south to New York City and north to Albany, the state’s capital.

Lambs Hill and the Fishkill Ridge are in the northern part of the park. The Overlook Trail climbs to the summit and provides the views farthest up the Hudson River Valley. From here, you can navigate the trail network down to the Beacon Reservoir, a water source for the nearby town.

Denning’s Point, which bends out in the Hudson River, has archeological evidence which may date back to inhabitants from 4,000 years ago. During the American Revolution, Alexander Hamilton penned the first of the Federalist Papers here while visiting an estate. More recently, it operated as one of the more than 130 brickyards in the Hudson Valley until it was left to ruin in 1939.

One of the distinct elements of this area is Bannerman’s Castle, located on Pollepel Island. It can be seen from many of the mountaintops and stands as a prominent historical landmark in the heart of the Hudson Valley. While this island has a rich history among Native Americans, Frank Bannerman VI is responsible for building the Scottish-inspired castle between 1901 and 1918 to store and display his military surplus items, a business which acquired him much wealth. Since an accidental explosion almost 100 years ago, the island has been vacant except for a few caretakers, and the castle, while still majestic, continues to deteriorate. Access to the island is only permitted via organized tours. Kayaks and canoes are also available for rental with Hudson River Expeditions.

Anthony’s Nose marks this park’s southern limit. It’s across from Bear Mountain State Park, and like the mountains to the north, it has is a steep western face that drops to the Hudson River. Here, the Appalachian Trail crosses the Bear Mountain Bridge into the park for few miles before continuing on to Connecticut and Massachusetts. Canada Hill and Sugarloaf Hill, also part of this park, can be seen from here to the north.

The Hudson River Conservation Society (HRCS) made its first purchase of the park in 1938, acquiring 177 acres of the Breakneck Ridge. The next year, enough money was raised to purchase 200 acres with Anthony’s Nose. The following purchase of Little Stony Point was made in 1967 to prevent Consolidated Edison from running power lines across the river and through the Hudson Highlands for their pumped storage power plant, which was stopped by public action. Over the decade, the Rockefeller family’s foundation gave New York State a deed of trust for land purchases in the Hudson Highlands that enabled the group to acquire an additional 2,500 acres. About 1,033 acres were also donated by Henry Osborn II, a former HRCS President.

Directly across the river, Storm King Mountain, in Storm King State Park, displays a striking rock face with Highway 218 wrapping around a cut edge. Beyond this mountain lies the Black Rock Forest with the most land in the area sustained above 1,200 feet. Out to the northwest, you can see the Shawangunk Mountains and Skytop Tower atop the Mohonk Preserve.  On clear days, you can see the Catskill Mountains breaching above the horizon to the northwest, where there are 35 peaks over 3,500 feet.

NYSOPRHP requests that you remain on the trails to minimize impact on the forest environment. This helps to protect the many rare and delicate flora on these mountains and prevent erosion. The only potable water is available in Garrison and Cold Spring. Lyme disease, transmitted by deer ticks, has become a major concern and danger throughout the Hudson Valley, so please check your body for these pinhead-sized creatures during and after your adventure. Camping and fires are prohibited throughout the park, and all-terrain vehicles are not permitted on the trails. Dogs are permitted on leashes that don’t exceed 10 feet. For additional information on hiking tips and safety, visit the NY-NJ Trail Conference website.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Winter
Spring
Summer
Fall

Congestion

High

Parking Pass

Not Required

Pros

Incredible history. Amazing views.

Cons

Very popular all times of the year.

Address

Breakneck Rd
442
Beacon, NY 12508
United States

Features

Geologically significant
Historically significant
Bird watching
Wildlife

Location

Field Guide

Nearby Lodging + Camping

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