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Thread: Beacon and Breakneck - 6/18/5

  1. #1
    Senior Member Tom Rankin's Avatar
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    Beacon and Breakneck - 6/18/5

    As the other thread says, I don't hike much in my own back yard. I thought my own back yard was pretty flat. I was wrong! The Hudson Highlands can be quite challenging, even though they never rise more than about 1500'. But considering the trailhead is about 10 feet above sea level, you get the idea!

    We started out at the old incline railway parking lot on 9-D. The railway itself looked pretty overgrown and we saw no herd path, so we decided to take the tourist way up. A 1 mile trail starts here (an old fire road), and winds up the mountain, gaining about 1000' to start the morning off with a bang! Near the summit of North Beacon, there is a nice lookout over towards the Hudson River and beyond. We could see the Catskills and the Gunks in the distance.

    From there, we took another fire road (following red blazes) over to the old, rusty lookout tower. It sits on a bare slab of rock, atop South Beacon. The views here are more or less the same. It was interesting to see a vulture perched about half way up the tower. It eventually flew away when we got too close for his comfort.

    Now, we looked South West towards Breakneck. We could see what we thought was the ridge line, and there is a white blazed trail leading all the way there. But there was a lot of up and down in between. There was one nice stream about half way there, that looks like it would have water all the time. The trail is little used, sometimes even covered with grass, and very narrow at times. There is even a little posion ivy in a few spots, owing to the low elevation. There are a few places where we had to do some rock scrambling.

    (At one point, we asked some other hikers a question about another trail, and they whipped out a map. We were so embarassed not to have a map! We bought the set the next day).

    A little more than 3 hours after we staretd, we were at Breakneck. There are a few places off the main trail where the views are great. Storm King is just across the river, and Bannerman's Island can be seen down below. Using binoculars, we 'caught' a few people wandering around on the Island. The views down the river are a little obscured, but we could see North and West for a great distance. There were quite a few people at this end of the trail, and we later saw tons of cars parked near the tunnel. The Breakneck end is definitely more popular than the Beacon end.

    After lunch we headed back the way we came. We toyed with the idea of descending Breakneck to get to the tunnel, and maybe bumming a ride back to our car, but we decided to just walk back thru the woods. We met a few people on the way, some of whom we had seen earlier in the day going the other way. One was even a NH 4000'er. He wasn't convinced the glue marks on my hat had recently held a 4000'er patch, so I showed him my little 111 triangle.

    We got back to the car in a little over 6 hours. I estimate the trip was about 11 miles, and involved 2400' or so of up, down, up, down, up, down, etc. The weather cooperated as well. There were some light breezes, a few breaks in the clouds, and no rain. Most of the time, the trees offer plenty of shade. Not a bad little hike!

    Thanks again to everyone who gave us suggestions!

    If I get a chance, I'll tack on a few pictures to this post in a day or two...
    Tom Rankin
    Volunteer Balsam Lake Mountain
    Past President Catskill 3500 Club
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  2. #2
    Senior Member Artex's Avatar
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    Nice report, Tom! It sounds like the ridge was a little more up and down than I remembered, but glad you had a good time nonetheless.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Tom Rankin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Artex
    Nice report, Tom! It sounds like the ridge was a little more up and down than I remembered, but glad you had a good time nonetheless.
    Oh yeah! There is a 500' drop on both sides in the middle, where you encounter the stream. One side is pretty easy going, but the other side is steep and rocky. Then are are numerous smaller bumps along the way.

    I guess I should mention that I got bit by a tick, or at least almost bit. It was on the back of my leg. It came off quite easily, so maybe it hadn't bit me yet. But have a care if you go there. The brush is quite close in many places, and the trails are very grassy in many spots.
    Tom Rankin
    Volunteer Balsam Lake Mountain
    Past President Catskill 3500 Club
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    Senior Member MattC's Avatar
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    I may try this hike this weekend, since my friend-who-likes-to-hike-but-doesn't-that-much (FWLTHBDTM) will be his folks' place in Beacon. I've been resting my knees the last few weeks, but I did 5 miles yesterday in the Gunks and they feel pretty good.

    Thanks for the tip about the tick, Tom. If it came off easily, it probably wasn't "attached" yet, which means it probably wasn't on you too long. This means your chance of contracting LD is probably zero. Definitely a good thing to share stuff about where they are, since it helps others decide whether to wear pants or shorts. Definitely the later for me when hiking through grassy or brushy areas.

    Matt

    PS For the seasonal avatar police: I'm digtal photo-impaired, but I'm trying to obtain a suitable pic from a friend.

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    Senior Member MattC's Avatar
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    It's just too hot to write my own TR, so I'll glom onto Tom's to report that me and a friend did Breakneck from 9D today. Definitely an exciting, scrambly climb. We took our time, stopping for the various views of Storm King, the Hudson, etc. We had intended to go all the way to Mt. Beacon, but didn't even get close. It was just oppressively hot, and my friend was low on water, so we bailed at the blue trail which leads down into the notch between Breakneck and Mt. Taurus.

    There's a little dam along the brook, and just south of this are the ruins of the old Cornish dairy farm. There are rusty metal rack-things in the largest ruin which I assume were milking stalls. There's also an old well and some other ruins. The trail follows a woods road through this interesting area. I agree w/ Tom's observation that Breakneck is a popular area, owning to it's proximity to the Metro North stop. I picked up the NYNJTC East Hudson maps before doing this hike, and I look forward to further explorations of the Hudson Highlands, both east and west.

    Matt

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