This is an INTERMEDIATE Rock Scramble
If you are afraid of heights this is NOT the hike for you.
We will scramble up the 1.5 miles of verticle rock ridges on the AT marked by white blazes turn on The Breakneck Bypass with red blazes and then finish down the blue trail. We will stop for a lunch break by waterfall which will provide a refreshing foot bath for those who choose to dip their toes.
Hiking Shoes or boots required. At least 2 liters of water is a must. Hats, sunglasses and sunscreen strongly recommended!!! Hiking or biking gloves optional.
Park on 9D just north of tunnel in dirt parking lot.
We will start promptly at 9:15am due to summer heat and crowds that flock to this popular NY hiking challenge.
The lower reaches of Breakneck Ridge attract scores of hikers in every season except winter, and the sight of so many cars parked in the pulloff of Route 9D just north of the railroad and auto tunnel two miles north of Cold Spring can be off-putting to hikers who enjoy isolation on the trail. If you choose to make the climb, however, you'll find the crowds diminish with every contour ring on the way up. Locating the trailhead is simple. From both the train station and the parking area you need to walk south along Route 9D almost to the tunnel. There a stone building marks the eastern side of the New York City Aqueduct's crossing of the Hudson. You'll see the trailhead at the building's base.
The navigation once you locate the trailhead is equally simple, since if you deviate much from the rock ledges that comprise most of the trail, you'll fall hundreds of feet down the mountain's south face. Utmost care is required on Breakneck, and deaths have occasionally been the price exacted for carelessness. When you reach the summit the surrounding landscape flattens out considerably. You feel you can reach out and touch Storm King, directly across the water. Taurus looms to your southeast, and the views of West Point are unsurpassed. Relax, picnic, and enjoy the views, because you have plenty of time. While the climbing is arduous, Breakneck is not a long-distance hike.
Note on your trail map that you can make the most vertiginous part of Breakneck a one-way trip by following the white blazes of the Breakneck Ridge Trail one way, and then turning onto the Breakneck Bypass (red blazes) for a far easier descent. The Bypass strikes the Wilkinson Memorial Trail (yellow blazes) after roughly 0.4 miles. A left at the trail intersection deposits you at Route 9D about as far north of the parking area as you were south of it when you began. (we are going down BLUE)
There is nothing like Breakneck in all the Highlands, and if your hiking appetite runs to the rugged, Breakneck is probably the testiest piece of terrain south of the Shawangunks, which attract not only hikers but rock climbers.