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.
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:
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.
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.
Here’s a stitched panoramic view showing the Hudson to the north, as far as the 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:
Here’s a stitched panorama, with Storm King Mountain in the center, and the Hudson stretching out to the north (right) and south (left).
You know you are gaining some elevation when birds are flying below you:
At the top of the ridge, at around 1000′ of elevation, was a nice overlook and an impressive cairn:
I continued following the Breakneck Ridge trail. This gathering of branches looked artificial, as though someone had tried building a lean-to.
Here’s a colorful arachnid, which I imagine is a Harvestman:
This rock had a nice crack in it:
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:
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.
A 360 degree panorama:
A shot of the 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:
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:
Here’s a shot looking north, at 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).