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

This was a repeat of my August 1, 2010 hike, except that this time instead of a solo outing I went with four other hikers. Also, instead of Summer it was a Spring (that felt more like a late Winter).

10:25 a.m.: We met on Route 9D, and began the hike up Breakneck Ridge, which is listed in several guide books as a demanding and rewarding scramble. The ridge gains 1260′ in a horizontal distance of about 3/4 mile. Many people were out hiking, including a large group that started before us, and others close behind us.

Breakneck Ridge, NY

Beginning to climb Breakneck Ridge

10:36 a.m.: It wasn’t long before the hike turned into a scramble.

Scrambling Up Breakneck Ridge, NY

Scrambling Up Breakneck Ridge

Climbing from the Hudson River, it wasn’t long before Breakneck Ridge offered nice views of the river and Storm King Mountain.

Storm King Mountain, from Breakneck Ridge, NY

Storm King Mountain, from Breakneck Ridge

We continued our scramble:

Scrambling Up Breakneck Ridge, NY

Scrambling Up Breakneck Ridge

11:07 a.m.: Breakneck Ridge seems to arrive at a peak, but then one discovers there is a farther distance to go.

Storm King Mountain, from Breakneck Ridge, NY

Storm King Mountain, from Breakneck Ridge

After conquering Breakneck Ridge, we continued on the white-blazed trail to the northeast, eventually stopping for lunch. I went almost three hours without taking photos.

2:00 p.m.: Continuing, we reached a wooden deck beside the trail, which offered a nice view of the Newburgh-Beacon Bridge. How did the deck builders get the materials there?

Newburgh-Beacon Bridge, NY

Newburgh-Beacon Bridge

2:36 p.m.: A hanging rock beside the trail:

Hanging Boulder, on Trail between Breakneck Ridge and South Beacon Mtn, NY

Hanging rock

The trail had dropped to about 1000′ in elevation, but we had to climb 500′ to reach the fire tower at South Beacon Mountain.

3:02 p.m.: We finally reached our objective, the fire tower on South Beacon Mountain. The temperature on this day was in the 50s, but at times the wind was stiff, and I had to repeatedly take my fleece jacket off and put it back on. The wind was especially fierce on South Beacon Mountain, and we only stayed a few minutes. The stairs at the fire tower were chained off, as always, but there were a number of young people there who ignored the chain and climbed the tower. We stayed on the ground.

Fire Tower on South Beacon Mountain, NY

Fire Tower on South Beacon Mountain

Another view of the Newburgh-Beacon Bridge, as well as communications towers on North Beacon Mountain.

Newburgh-Beacon Bridge, from South Beacon Mtn, NY

Newburgh-Beacon Bridge, from South Beacon Mountain

Meredith rests on a ledge below the top slab on South Beacon Mountain, finding shelter from the stiff wind.

Resting on a Rock Ledge

Resting on a Rock Ledge

3:18 p.m.: After a few minutes, we began our return trip, backtracking at first on the white trail. Here, Meredith explores her “inner koala bear,” as the other hikers admire her prowess.

Climbing a Tree, with Admiring Witnesses

Climbing a Tree, with Admiring Witnesses

. . . but after a few seconds they lose interest.

Climbing a Tree, with Bored Witnesses

Climbing a Tree, with Bored Witnesses

3:26 p.m.: The white spots visible in this photo are tiny remnants of snow or ice.

Hudson Highlands, NY

Hudson Highlands

We debated whether it’s easier to scramble uphill or downhill.

Scrambling in Hudson Highlands, NY

Scrambling in Hudson Highlands

When the white trail intersected the yellow trail, we turned onto that, hiking for a couple of hours in which I didn’t find anything to photograph.

5:28 p.m.: Our final climb of the day was only about 100′, to the peak of Sugarloaf Mountain, which offered a view of the Hudson and Pollepel Island.

Pollepel Island, from Sugarloaf Mountain, NY

Pollepel Island, from Sugarloaf Mountain

Storm King Mountain:

Storm King Moutain, from Sugarloaf Mountain, NY

Storm King Moutain, from Sugarloaf Mountain

On Pollepel Island, Bannerman’s Castle continues to deteriorate:

Bannerman's Castle, Pollepel Island, NY

Bannerman’s Castle

The trail then led us back to our cars on Route 9D. Our loop hike was about 8 miles, and took us 7-1/2 hours. I don’t know what the elevation gain was, but it was at least 2000′.

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