Hike Breakneck Ridge

New York Breakneck Ridge Trailhead

Added by Shaun O'Neill

Breakneck Ridge is an isolated location with unbeatable views of the Hudson River. It is among the toughest hikes in NY, with steep rock scrambling.

This short but steep loop hike in Hudson Highlands State Park offers multiple panoramic views of the Hudson River along the way. Please note that only experienced hikers should attempt this route – although the hike seems short, the elevation gain and steep rocky scrambles offer serious technical challenges.

The hike begins on Breakneck Ridge Trail (marked by white blazes) at the south end of the parking lot, near the tunnel. Relatively quickly, you will reach a lookout over the Hudson, where you can see Storm King Mountain and Bannerman's Castle. You will then walk along a rocky ridge for about 20-30 minutes before reaching the next panoramic view, marked with a flagpole. This is a good place to rest before the climb ahead (a good habit for all of the vistas you'll get to later on).

From here you will be facing a nearly vertical outcrop of rocks, which is the most technically challenging section of the hike. If you prefer a less difficult route, follow the X's to the left to an alternate path. After this ascent, the trail levels out briefly (to your relief), followed by another climb to a view of Bull Hill and the valley below.

The trail then makes a number of descents, ranging from mild to steep, before coming to a junction with Undercliff Trail, at 0.7 miles. Keep to the left on Breakneck Ridge Trail. Next is another steep climb to a vista – at least the upward battle is quickly rewarded!

You will pass by another lookout spot, continue on the ridge trail until you reach the Wilkinson Memorial Trail (yellow blazes), which will take you all the way back down to the road.

Plan to go on this hike during a dry season – you don't want the upward climb to be slippery due to rain, snow, or ice. Weekdays are also best for this location, to avoid any crowding.

Pack List

  • Ten Essentials
  • Sturdy footwear
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Activities:

Hiking

Skill Level:

Advanced

Season:

Summer

Trail Type:

Out-and-Back

Distance:

6 Miles

Elev. Gain:

1442 Feet

Rating:

Features:

River
Scenic

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How to Get There

3 months ago

Super Fun & Rewarding

Nice little dose of danger here :) a solid class 3 scramble up the cliff of the ridge-- 0.7 mi feels like a lot more. But by the time you've reached the first plateau, the hardest bit is behind you. A few downs and big ups ahead, but nothing like that first mile. Wear good shoes and start early, and don't go on the weekend!

3 months ago

9 months ago

perfect difficult day hike escape

This is a challenging trail for exercise and focusing and the perfect length back down for contemplation before re-entry into daily life. Weekdays preferred.

9 months ago

9 months ago

Great Hike

Really rewarding and fun hike. The rock scramble in the beginning is the best part but you definitely need good hiking boots. Beautiful views of the Hudson!

9 months ago

about 1 year ago

really fun!

More challenging than I expected... i.e. didn't think I'd have to use my hands and arms (and sometimes my butt going down) but it was a great hike. Beautiful views in the fall. Easily accessible from NYC via MetroNorth.

about 1 year ago

over 1 year ago

Great trip - definitely steep. Several false summits. But not too bad if you're in decent shape.

over 1 year ago

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