Head out on the perfect day hike in the Hudson Valley! Find out why the Breakneck Ridge hike is one of the most popular trails in the area. Along the way walk over large boulders, scale the rocky wall, and view stunning panoramic landscapes. Just a short distance from New York City this is a great way to get out and explore.
I have been hiking all over the country this past year and this hike was one of the most ✨ thrilling ✨ we’ve done. Although it’s short, it packs a punch as you huff and puff your way to the top of the summit. People who are afraid of heights might want to skip out on this trail or just complete the short loop. Read the complete trail guide below!
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Table of Contents
Breakneck Ridge Hike Details
Quick Hike Details
Length: 1-4.5 miles
Difficulty Level: Moderate-Difficult
Elevation: 1,443 Feet
Where is Breakneck Ridge?
Breakneck Ridge is located in the Hudson Highlands State Park in the Hudson Valley, New York. It is right outside of the town of Beacon, on the Eastern side of the Hudson River.
The trailhead leaves from the side of Stern Road or NY-9D. There is no official parking 🅿️, but you can park along the road side. On a crowded day, parking can be difficult, so get there early. Once you park on the road you can walk towards the trailhead sign.
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How to Get to Breakneck Ridge?
if you’re getting to Breakneck Ridge by car 🚗, then you will need to take the highway through the Hudson Valley. You’ll take highway New York State i-287 until you get to exit 13 for Palisades Parkway toward Bear Mountain.
Continue on the Parkway for 8.7 miles until you get to the exit for US 202. Then, you continue on that for a little less than a mile, before turning onto NY-9D. Breakneck Ridge will be 11 miles ahead on your left.
Many New Yorkers love to visit the Hudson Valley area and Breakneck Ridge because it is fairly accessible. On weekends, the train stops right at Breakneck, but during the week you’ll have to get off at Cold Spring. This town is about 2 miles from the Breakneck trailhead, but you can hike from there. The train 🚃 takes about an hour and a half to get there, so go early to make sure you get the most out of your day.
Once you get off at the Breakneck stop, you will need to walk for about half a mile to reach the trailhead. Along the way, you will see the trail for Sugarloaf Mountain ⛰, but you will continue on to get to the beginning of the Breakneck Ridge hike.
Things to Know Before You Go
💵 There is no entry fee to enter Hudson Highlands State Park. Parking is free, but there are limited spaces along the road, so the earlier you go the better off you will be.
☀️ Weather changes quickly when you get into the mountains. Make sure to be prepared for inclement weather as you hike on these trails.
⏰ Technically, Hudson Highlands has opening hours, but the trail is accessible at all times of day.
⛺️Most people that visit the area stay in the Beacon or Cold Spring areas. You can find great inns and hotels there.
🦮 Pets are allowed on the trail, but you are only permitted to bring a maximum of two dogs. They must be kept on a leash that is 6 feet or less. Make sure to clean up after your animals when you hike!
🍃 Remember to follow the Leave No Trace Principles. As always, you want to leave nature looking better than you found it.
How to Hike up to Breakneck Ridge?
One of the best parts of the Breakneck Ridge hike is the clear signs and labels at the beginning of the hike. There are four clear options that you can take, which they have on a sign. You can choose to do a short, moderate, or hard loop 😓 or you can trek to Cold Spring. Each of these options are different mileages with varying difficulty as you can see in the picture.
- The Short Loop is 1 mile and takes 1 hour
- The Moderate Loop is 2.1 miles and takes 2 hours
- The Long Loop is 2.8 miles and takes 3 hours
- The route to Cold Spring is 4.5 miles and takes 4 hours.
When you see the sign at the beginning of the trail, make sure to take a picture 📸 of it, so you do not get lost. There are clear directions for each route option on the sign. You will need to stay focused as you walk, so that you do not make a wrong turn. It is pretty easy to follow as long as you remain on the trails and follow the markers.
No matter which loop you decide to take one thing is true: this is a very steep trail. Part of what makes this hike so exciting 🤗 is the climbing that you will have to do. Much of this trail is over rocks and boulders to reach the summit. All of the hard work is at the very beginning of the trail, so you’ll get it over right away.
As soon as you enter the woods, you’ll notice a very steep ascent right away. This trail requires that you rock scramble for about a mile as it quickly climbs.
For those doing the short loop, you will turn half a mile into the climb.
Use your hands and feet 🧗🏻♀️ for balance and support as you climb up the rocky walls of the ridge line. There are parts of this trail that get very close to the ridge, but you will be rewarded with great views. You can take breaks to make the climb go easier.
Once you get to the peak, you will see a flag pole. From that point, you’ll be rewarded with stunning panoramic views over the Hudson River and the rolling hills. This is a great spot to stop, take pictures, and simply enjoy the hard work you’ve put in. From this point, your hike will vary based on the route that you are taking. We took the moderate loop and the trail descended through the woods 🌳. It was a very serene and peaceful walk. We really enjoyed this wonderful short day adventure!
What to Pack for this Hike?
Breakneck Ridge is a fantastic day hike, which is very popular. Although it may seem like you can easily set off on this trail, you should always be prepared. This trail climbs high up onto the ridge line and therefore is dangerous during inclement weather. If you see storms in the forecast, then you should not do this trail. Below you’ll find a list of gear that you should bring with you.
- Comfortable Hiking Boots
- Hiking Poles
- Small Pack
- 3-4 Liters of Water
- Snacks and Food
- First Aid Kit
- Bug Spray
- Hat to block sun
- Rain jacket or light winter jacket
- Satellite phone
- Downloaded Maps
The Breakneck Ridge hike is the perfect trail for a day trip to the Hudson Valley! The hike takes no more than a few hours and you get amazing landscapes 🤩 over the area. It is a wonderful way to get out and explore. After a day of climbing you can reward yourselves by visiting one of the cute towns nearby before heading home.
Let me know if you enjoyed this trail guide in the comments!
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