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Breakneck Ridge & Sugarloaf Mountain Hike

Total Distance: 5.5 miles
Difficulty: medium - difficult (multiple rock scrambles, 1,670'+ total elevation gain)
Estimated hiking time: 4+ hours - 2 people, 5 - 6.25 hours - group

The hike begins on west (southbound) side of the road just north of the underpass where you will find the Breakneck Ridge Trail (white blazes). This first section of the hike involves 1.5 miles of sometimes difficult climbing and rock scrambling.

The Notch trail (blue blazed) will merge with the Breakneck Ridge trail. Continue following the combined trails. The trails will make a left onto an unpaved, unmarked and rough woods road. Very soon after you will reach a fork in the road where the Breakneck Ridge and the Notch trails will take the right fork. You should take the left fork. About half a mile later make another left onto the Wilkinson Memorial trail (yellow blazes - some of which may have faded to white). In about 1.5 miles you will reach two nice views (and good lunch spots!) from atop Sugarloaf Mountain. Continue on Wilkinson trail until it takes you back to the road and your car (on the left).

REFERENCES: New York - New Jersey Trail Conference Map #102 (East Hudson Trails)

Driving Directions from NYC

From NYC take the George Washington Bridge to the Palisades Interstate Parkway (going north). Take the Palisades Interstate Parkway for about 40 miles until its end at the Bear Mountain Bridge. Cross the Bear Mountain Bridge and make a left onto Route 9D (north).

Take Route 9D north for about 11 miles passing through the town of Cold Spring. About two miles north of Cold Spring you will drive through an underpass. Park on the roadside just north of the underpass (GPS: N 41.44354, W 073.97791).

The total driving time is estimated at one hour without traffic.

Public Transportation

Metro-North Railroad's Hudson Valley line stops at the "Breakneck Ridge" station which about 0.25 miles north of the trailhead (212/532-4900 or 800/638-7646).

Click here for What to Bring on a Hike

Click here for Information for Group Hikes

Questions: Michael Brochstein

Breakneck Ridge as seen from just south of it. (December 2010)
The Breakneck Ridge trailhead next just north of the Breakneck Ridge underpass on the southbound side of the road (Route 9D). Note the box with "Trail Maps" sign on it.  These maps are nice general maps but no substitute for the NewYork-New Jersey Trail Conference map covering this area.  (September 2010)   Larger parking lot north of the trailhead on the southbound side of the road. (December 2010)
Next to the Breakneck Ridge trailhead is a small parking area, located on the southbound side of the road. (December 2010)
The Metro North "Breakneck Ridge" train stop about 0.5 miles north of the trailhead. It is located between the road (Route 9D) and the river. The "Breakneck Ridge" sign is not visible from the road. There is a pedestrian bridge located not far from the road (there is an very very short and unmarked access trail from the road to the bridge) which safely takes one from the road to the area of the train stop platforms. (December 2010)
A overview of the train platforms with Breakneck Ridge in the background.  The Hudson River is on the right and Route 9D is behind the trees on the left (December 2010).
Another overview of the area where the pedestrian bridge and the train platforms are located (December 2010).
The Newburgh - Beacon Bridge as seen from Sugarloaf Mountain. (December 2010)
Unique (and very well known) tree on Sugarloaf Mountain.  Storm King Mountain is on the far side of the Hudson River, behind the tree. (December 2010)
Elevation profile
View from across the Hudson River of Breakneck Ridge.  The hike starts at the bottom, near the water, just to the left of the ridge and then goes straight up the ridge which is slightly right of center in the above image (January 2009).   View from across the Hudson River of Mount Taurus, the mountain just south of Breakneck Ridge (January 2009).
View from "North Point" (on the Howell Trail) looking northward with Route 9W on the left, Storm King Mountain to the north and Breakneck Ridge and Mount Taurus on the right, across the Hudson River  - click on image to see an even bigger version (January 2009).
Pollepel (Bannerman) Island (December 2010)
A closer view of the ruins on Pollepel (Bannerman) Island (December 2010)
Pollepel (Bannerman) Island (October 2003)   Rock Scrambling at a higher elevation of Breakneck Ridge. (October 2006)

Last updated:  12/2010

Copyright © 2010 Michael Brochstein. All rights reserved.