Breakneck Ridge Trail from NYC: Dangerous to Hike?
What Is Breakneck Ridge?
If you’re not familiar with New York, Hudson Valley is the region north of New York City aptly named as it is bordered on the west by the Hudson River. Breakneck Ridge is probably the most infamous hike in the Hudson Valley. In fact on the weekends there is a transit stop just for Breakneck Ridge along the Metro North Railroad line out of NYC. This hike is not for beginners, children, or pets (in my opinion). However, this was one of the most fun hikes I have been on because it involved a lot of strategy, challenge, and occasionally teamwork.
View of the Hudson River partway up the trail
How To Get There From NYC
- From New York City, depart from either Grand Central Terminal (GCT) or Harlem-125th Street Station. Buy a ticket to “Breakneck Ridge” (available only on weekends) for about $30 for off-peak round trip fare.
- Departing from GCT, the train commute is 1.5 hours.
- Upon arrival to the Breakneck Ridge train stop, you will be instructed to head towards the back of the train. Only one door will open and you will exit and head towards the road.
- Once you get to the road, walk carefully on the shoulder for <1/2 mile to the trail head.
- Follow the crowd!
Hikers taking a breather on rock ledges
Hiking Breakneck Ridge
The hike from the trail head begins with some trekking across rocky terrain followed by a lot of steep scrambling. If you go on the weekend you are sure to be accompanied by a lot of other hikers because this is a really popular hike. If you’re interested in hiking it without the crowd, try going on a weekday. I had to wait at a lot for people in front of me to get through certain sections before I could continue.
Nearly vertical climb: up, up, up!
The recommended route is to start by following the Breakneck Ridge Trail identified by white trail markers. After most of the scrambling, there will be an intersection that say “TO 9D” marked with a red trail marker for Breakneck Bypass. Follow the sign to NY 9D to complete your hike.
Did I follow the recommendation? Nope. I knew there was a fire tower through the woods if I kept going. I continued on the trail to the Mount Beacon Fire Tower, which is actually considered to be it’s own day hike. There are alternate routes and more trails that you can select to continue your adventure on for a longer hike. Select and plan your route ahead of time using this map.
Flagpole after the first section of rock scrambling: just when you think you’ve already gone far, you’ve really just begun…
Past the rock scrambling, the rest of the trail is a bit more dog-friendly if you have already survived hoisting your dog up and around the rocks and ledges. As I already noted, however, I do not recommend this hike for dogs. I saw someone who had brought two dogs and it seemed like a lot of group effort to get the dogs up the trail. Personally, I would feel uncomfortable having my dog that close to the ledges able to easily slip and fall. In addition, it would have made the hike less fun for me because I was already having to hoist myself up in a lot of sections.
Tips for Hiking Breakneck Ridge
- I was warned that it is a bad hike for anyone afraid of heights. For anyone worried about that, I will say that I am sometimes hesitant about heights but I still found this hike to still be really enjoyable and the views were absolutely rewarding.
- Don’t want as much of a challenge but still want to try this hike? You can avoid some of the climbing by going on an “alternate” route at a few sections.
- Please make sure to wear proper footwear! I wore my Salomon hiking boots which were sturdy as I climbed all over rocks and kept good grip when I climbed.
- Don’t be an idiot. Be aware of your surroundings and pay attention; there are many places you can slip and it will be a serious and potentially fatal fall.
- Ticks are common around here so use bug spray, wear pants and long sleeves, and do a thorough body check when you finish your hike.
- No camping here.
Rewarding views from up the trail
Would you do a hike that requires significant rock scrambling?