FIVE HUDSON VALLEY HIKES WITH A WOW!
Let’s get outside and hike! Days are growing shorter, and temperatures are slowly dropping so now’s the time to enjoy what’s left fall. Why not climb to the heights and see all the magnificence that is the Hudson Valley? There’s nothing like a day outside. And nothing we at Hudson Valley Happenings enjoy more that reaching a summit. The bluffs along the valley and the peaks in the Catskill Mountains have so many vistas to embrace. Go for it. Head out to one of these five top spots with breathtaking views. Here we at HVH offer up five of our favorites, from easy walks to extreme climbs.
Mount Beacon, Beacon, NY
Length: 2.5 to 7.7 miles (if you do the whole loop)
Elevation: 1,004 ft. to overlook; 1,561 ft. to fire tower & 2,603 ft. the whole monster loop
Difficulty: Moderate to extremely beastly
Traverse well-tended trails around Mount Beacon. The hike is steep but with the many switchbacks, it’s manageable. The reward is at the summit – a panoramic view from the Hudson Highlands northwest to the Catskills. Walk another mile, 60-feet up, to the South Mount Beacon fire tower. The climb is worth it – you can see from Manhattan to Albany on a clear day. The Mount Beacon Fire Tower is a bonus…climb those steps and you feel like you’re in the clouds. Tackle the entire 7.7-mile loop but only if you dare! Trail is free and open all year, dawn to dusk.
Wind up your day…The Roundhouse is a meticulously restored old mill and worthy of an overnight stay. After your trek, you’ll appreciate the delish food, water views and comfy bed! The restaurant has a modern American menu drawing on the riches of the Hudson Valley, along with local wineries and distilleries. All the tables are picturesquely placed to see the creek and waterfall through floor-to-ceiling windows. The sleek white and light wood hotel rooms are in the Roundhouse and Mill buildings.
Overlook Point, Fishkill, NY
Length: 5.5-mile loop
Elevation: 1,735 ft.
Difficulty: Moderate (do trail clockwise if you have bad knees!)
The Fishkill Ridge Loop starts on the Overlook Trail, at the Sunnyside Road parking area and climbs to the Fishkill Ridge Trail. Great views are visible nearly right away, especially on clear days when you can see the New York City skyline. At 1.2-mile mark you look west and see the town of Beacon with the Newburg-Beacon Bridge in the background. You pass near the Bald Hill summit, go down into some woods where you come across a marked airplane wreck. On your way back at this time of year, you get a view to the northwest of the Fishkill Correctional Facility (a reminder that the urban world is very nearby) and the Hudson River.
Get a pick me up: The Blacc Vanilla Café in Newburgh is a must try! The signature creamy, sweet espresso packs the wallop needed for this hike. Pair it with one of their eggs sammies and try the grits. Due to Covid, hours have been limited to Friday – Sunday, 7 am – 3 pm.
Millbrook Ridge, Livingston Manor, NY
Length: 7.1-mile loop (up and back)
Elevation: 3,480 ft., total climb 1,480 ft.
Drive up from Livingston Manor to Alder Lake Road, about 40 minutes, for a hike that’s all eye candy. Millbrook Ridge Trail passes the stone ruins of the Coykedall Mansion and wraps around scenic Alder Lake to the left. The trail is an easy ascent, that is, until you pass Beaver Meadow. After a second beaver meadow, the climb grows harder. A little less than a mile and a half out, you reach the ridge peak – 3480 feet! The view – mind blowing. It’s all much easier going back. Retrace your steps and if you want to linger longer, take the Alder Lake Loop around the other side back.
Pick a pint: One top stop for us at HVH is Catskill Brewery. Grab a growler or an IPA and rest your achy limbs. No food served so we suggest BYOE (bring your own eats). May we suggest a brisket sandwich or a half rack of ribs from the Smoke Joint? To die for!
Balsam Mountain, Arkville, NY
Length: 4.7 miles
Elevation: 3,610 ft.
Difficulty: Moderate to hard
Park at Rider Hollow and pass over Todd Brook a handful of times on your ascent to Mine Hollow Trail. From there, follow the blue-blazed Pine Hill West Trail. Continue on to the Balsam Mountain summit. It’s pretty flat and brushy up here but absolutely eye-popping. Grab your cam!!! Shoot away!!! Pose for selfies! Carefully!! You’ll have hit an elevation high of 2188 feet. Decent is fast and rocky so pace yourself. The trail is accessible all year but bring your crampons; it gets very snowy and icy as winter approaches.
Start your day: Begin with a hearty breakfast at Arkville Bread & Breakfast, aka Jack’s. Owner Jack is known to dance a mean boogie while whipping up your eggs. His breakfast sandwiches and coffee are a perfect take-along for your hike. Or stay and dine in the “caboose.” Part of the shop is a train car. You’ll love it.
Breakneck Ridge, Cold Spring, NY
Length: 3.2 mile loop
Elevation: 1250 ft.
Breakneck Ridge, including the bypass and Wilkinson Trail Loop, is extremely difficult and involves a lot of rock climbing. You must be nimble and quick! The white trail markers steeply ascend an exposed rock-covered ridge. You can see the Hudson as you go up. The approximately 30-minute intense hike – a stairway to heaven – is worth it once you get up to the summit. Stand on the rock ledge marked with a flagpole for a breathtaking (as if you aren’t already breathless) panorama.
But two other trails have dynamite panoramas without the exertions. Bull Hill is nearby, lacks the sharp inclines but has all the beauty. Also, a shorter 1.5-mile hike, Nimham trail, newly opened this year, is another great alternative.
Recover from your day: For more than 150 years someone has been serving hearty food and pulling thirsty-quenching pints on this spot. Whistling Willie's opened in 2007 and proudly continues the hospitality. From burgers to wings, brews to spirits, you can’t miss.
There are so many outstanding peaks with outrageously wonderful views along the Hudson Valley and beyond. Check out Hudson Valley Happenings Parks & Trails for even more great vistas! Sit down, soak it up and enjoy the vista, baby!