Breakneck Ridge to South Beacon Mtn., Putnam/Dutchess County, NY

I had previously hiked in Beacon on May 9th of this year, and wanted to return to the area and sample another set of trails. I selected the Breakneck Ridge trail, which begins in Putnam County before crossing over into Dutchess County.

I took this photo by the side of Route 9D, just north of the short tunnel through Breakneck Ridge. The trailhead is to the east side of the road, closer to the tunnel, and may be seen here. The path leads through a few trees and then begins climbing the ridge.

Breakneck Ridge Tunnel, Route 9D, New York

Breakneck Ridge tunnel

I don’t have any shots of the ridge itself, but it required a lot of scrambling. Here is a toad that I encountered along the way:

Toad

Toad

As I gained altitude on the ridge, the scenery grew nicer. Sitting in the Hudson River, not far from the eastern shore, is Pollepel Island, site of Bannerman’s Castle, a former munitions factory. You can also see the railway of the Metro-North Hudson Line. There is a flag stop at Breakneck Station, about 0.7 miles north of the trailhead to Breakneck Ridge.

Bannerman's Castle, Pollepel Island, New York

Bannerman’s Castle, Pollepel Island

Here is a close-up of what is left of the castle. As may be seen, the roof has collapsed, along with the interior floors, and one of the walls has collapsed.

Bannerman's Castle, Pollepel Island, New York

Bannerman’s Castle

Here’s a stitched panoramic view showing the Hudson to the north, as far as the Newburgh-Beacon Bridge:

Hudson River, from Pollepel Island to Newburgh-Beacon Bridge, New York

Hudson River, from Pollepel Island to Newburgh-Beacon Bridge

Climbing farther leads to an overlook on which people have planted a U.S. flag and POW/MIA flag. Across the Hudson River is Storm King Mountain:

Storm King Mountain, from Breakneck Ridge, NY

Storm King Mountain, from Breakneck Ridge

Here’s a stitched panorama, with Storm King Mountain in the center, and the Hudson stretching out to the north (right) and south (left).

Storm King Mountain, from Breakneck Ridge, NY

Storm King Mountain, from Breakneck Ridge

You know you are gaining some elevation when birds are flying below you:

Bird

Bird

At the top of the ridge, at around 1000′ of elevation, was a nice overlook and an impressive cairn:

Cairn at overlook, Breakneck Ridge Trail, Hudson Highlands State Park, New York

Cairn at overlook

I continued following the Breakneck Ridge trail. This gathering of branches looked artificial, as though someone had tried building a lean-to.

Branches gathered to build a lean-to?

Branches gathered to build a lean-to?

Here’s a colorful arachnid, which I imagine is a Harvestman:

Harvestman

Harvestman

This rock had a nice crack in it:

Split boulder, Breakneck Ridge Trail, Hudson Highlands State Park, NY

Split boulder

This was another rock that had cracked; I stuck my camera lens into the crack and took a photo of the surrounding countryside and Hudson beyond:

Hudson River as seen through split Boulder, Breakneck Ridge Trail, Hudson Highlands State Park, NY

Hudson River as seen through split Boulder

I kept going on the Breakneck Ridge trail until I reached the fire tower on the top of South Beacon Mountain. I had been to this spot on May 9th, coming from the Casino Trail.

Fire tower, South Beacon Mountain, Hudson Highlands State Park, NY

Fire tower on South Beacon Mountain

A 360 degree panorama:

360 Degree Panorama from Base of Fire Tower on South Beacon Mountain, Hudson Highlands State Park, NY

360 Degree Panorama from Base of Fire Tower on South Beacon Mountain, NY

A shot of the Hudson Highlands:

Hudson Highlands, Hudson Highlands State Park, NY

Hudson Highlands

I backtracked on the Breakneck Ridge trail, descending from South Beacon Mountain. I noted that this tree had selected a challenging place to grow: a depression in a rock, in which it was unlikely to find much soil:

Tree growing out of rock

Tree growing out of rock

I then departed from the Breakneck Ridge trail and took the Wilkinson Memorial trail. This essentially paralleled the Breakneck Ridge Trail, but at a lower elevation. Thus, there was not much to see, but it was an easier and faster route back to my car. Here’s another shot of Pollepel Island and Bannerman Castle:

Bannerman's Castle, Pollepel Island, New York

Bannerman’s Castle at Pollepel Island

Here’s a shot looking north, at Denning’s Point, Beacon Point Park and Riverfront Park, and the Newburgh-Beacon Bridge:

Denning's Point, Beacon Point Park and Riverfront Park, and the Newburgh-Beacon Bridge, NY

Denning’s Point, Beacon Point Park and Riverfront Park, and the Newburgh-Beacon Bridge

The Wilkinson Memorial Trail finally returned me to Route 9D, about 3/8 of a mile from the trailhead at Breakneck Point. I could see my car parked on the shoulder of the road from the trailhead, and it only took me about 5 minutes to walk back to it.

This was only about an 8 mile hike, but it took me about 9 hours (!), because of the scrambling required along Breakneck Ridge at the beginning (and also in a few other places, such as getting up to the peak of South Beacon Mountain).

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