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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RT Distance 6 Miles
Elevation Gain 1442 Feet
Activities Hiking
Skill Level Advanced
Season Summer
Trail Type Out-and-Back
Features
River
Scenic

Reviews

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Overall rating: 

Rock Climbing

If you take a right instead of left you take the harder route which is pretty much rock climbing the whole way up It’s very intimidating and dangerous don’t go if you’re scared of heights

Breathtaking in every sense of the word.

I showed up on a Saturday at noon in the rain and there were still many people ready to take on the challenging hike. The first part definitely feels like rock climbing rather than hiking. Grip gloves are highly recommended. The pouring rain made it an even greater challenge because there was thick mud and the humidity was high so I broke a sweat fairly early! There were people of all ages taking on this hike which thoroughly surprised me. Start on the white trail and then take the yellow trail down for some beautiful valley views and a nice creek (pictures attached)! Bring food and really good hiking shoes! Ending in cold spring is also a really good choice because you can see the beautiful village.

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!


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