Breakneck Ridge is a challenging hike that can be done as a day trip from New York City. Metro North trains will drop you off at the Breakneck Ridge "station" (a wooden platform in the middle of nowhere) that is within walking distance of the trail head. The trail is marked with white paint and becomes very steep within the first 5 minutes. Your climb will be more bouldering than traditional hiking, so expect to use all fours to negotiate the large rocks. There are several natural rest points on the way up which also have incredible views of the Hudson River and Storm King Mountain across the river. Overall the summit is about 1250 feet. The return trip is considerably easier and more gradual if you take one of the other trails down (I recommend red to the yellow, but check a map).
* This is a challenging hike. If you are a beginner, only go if you are in decent shape for considerable cardio. This will be like doing the hardest stairmaster of your life.
* Pick a day with fair weather. I don't recommend trying the hike on a very hot or cold day. Do not attempt the hike when its raining or when it's wet -- too slippery. Autumn is ideal, especially when the leaves change colors.
* Apply sunscreen to exposed skin -- there is a fair amount of exposure during the climb.
* Wear comfortable clothes and stretch before you begin. It is considerably windier and cooler as your climb.
* I can't stress enough to wear comfortable shoes with good support and tread. Hiking boots may be too heavy - high-top sneakers are better. Don't even think about sandals or flip flops.
* Wear hiking gloves or something to protect your hands. You will definitely be using all fours to get up the boulders.
* Pack a lunch, snacks, and plenty of water.
* There are no facilities on this hike.
* Bring a map (http://nysparks.com/parks/attachments/HudsonHighlandsNorthTrailMap.pdf). I had cellular service and the trail was shown in Google and Apple Maps, but don't count on your phone to guide you.
* The hike takes several hours, including rest stops.
* Enter the trail head on the side of the road closest to the railroad tracks. The trail will take you up, over the road, and to the boulders. Then the fun begins!
* Return along the bypass trails through wooded terrain. This descent is much shallower than the climb.
* Don't forget to bring a camera!
If you have time and energy afterward, the town of Cold Spring is quaint and has a strip of restaurants, coffee shops, ice cream, etc. It is about two miles south of the trail head, but unfortunately this walk requires walking on the side of the highway. On the plus side, trains stop more frequently in Cold Spring than Breakneck Ridge. Have fun!
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