Bull Hill (Mt. Taurus)



Cold Spring, New York, weather forecast

Scenery:  4.5 cameras out of 5

Difficulty: 7 out of 10 (steep climb)

Highlights:  Sweeping views, steep climbs, abandoned quarry

Distance:  3.6 miles, up-and-back

Approximate roundtrip time: 3 hours

Total ascent: 1,350 ft

Max Elevation:  1,276 ft above sea level

GPS goodies:  Google Terrain map and a cool (though choppy in parts) Google Earth flyover of hike route

This hike is for you if: You want to climb a mountain (don’t let the “Hill” part of the name fool you – this is a mountain) to see some of the best views in the Hudson Valley.

Background you can feel free to skip:  It’s easy to forget about Bull Hill, with its more popular sibling, Breakneck Ridge, less than a mile up the road.  You can almost picture Bull Hill stomping its foot and saying, “Breakneck, Breakneck, Breakneck!” in the same way Jan Brady complained about Marcia.

But this is a hike that shouldn’t be missed.  It’s not a rock scramble like Breakneck, just a good old-fashioned climb with several fantastic views and points of interest along the way.

It’s also directly across the street from Little Stony Point, which is a perfect place to wind down after you return from conquering Bull Hill.  (Bull Hill is sometimes referred to as Mt.Taurus.  If I was Bull Hill’s publicist, I’d probably advise it to go by Mt.Taurus all the time, but it’s more commonly referred to by its somewhat wimpier-sounding bovine appellation.)

Whatever you call it, this is a beautiful spot, and a choice place to watch the sun dip behind Crow’s Nest and Storm King Mountain on the other side of the river (assuming you have a good flashlight and a sense of adventure to attempt the rocky descent of Bull Hill at dusk, which someone with good sense probably wouldn’t try.)

The town of Cold Spring is blessed with several awesome hikes just outside of town.  Whenever I visit this hike, my itinerary goes something like this: Bull Hill, Little Stony Point, Cold Spring Pizza.  Perhaps there’s a better way to burn half a day.  Perhaps not.


Trail guide:

1.  From the parking area directly across Route 9D from the Little Stony Point parking lot, begin your ascent on the white-blazed Washburn Trail.  Check out the trail map box or snap a picture of the posted map before you begin.  If you’re the planning type, you could also print out a Hudson Highlands trail map before you come here.  (If you snag a map from the box, it’s good karma to put it back at the end of the hike.)

2.  You’ll immediately come to a well-marked junction with the blue-blazed Cornish Trail.  Stay right on the White (Washburn) Trail.

If you wanted to make a 7-8-mile loop out of Bull Hill, you could come back to this junction via the Cornish Trail later in the day.  If you’d like to try that beast of a hike (we’re hitting most of the highlights on our shorter stroll today), you can check out the very nice New York-New Jersey Trail Conference write-up of that hike (which calls it a 4.8-mile hike – that seems low to me, but if I were you, I’d trust the NY-NJTC over me, too), or plot it out for yourself using the nice online Hudson Highlands park map (Washburn Trail-> Notch Trail -> Brook Trail -> Cornish Trail).  Wait, this Localhikes write-up gives that same hike as 7.5 miles.  That sounds closer to me.  In any event, if you’re tackling that hike, enjoy it, crazy person!  

3.  Ascend through a deciduous forest for about ten minutes as you approach an old abandoned quarry.  It’s about .4 miles and 150 vertical feet from the parking lot to the quarry.

4.  Emerge into the old quarry and take a look around.  The low grasses and small trees make this place feel like a savanna.  I always expect to see gazelles hopping around in here, but so far, my search for the elusive Bull Hill gazelle has yielded only disappointment.  Good thing it’s such a cool place otherwise.

Right at the entrance to the quarry, the trail takes a hard right (almost a U-turn), while an unmarked trail heads into the quarry.  Turn right here to continue ascending on the White Trail.

5.  Now the serious climbing begins.  Our next point of interest is Table Rocks, at which we’ll arrive in another .3 miles and 297 vertical feet.  It took me about ten minutes to get there.  (Per Kelsey’s comment below, it can be easy to lose track of the trail markers in this section – they are spread a little thin here, and the correct trail itself isn’t always obvious, as the White Trail has been rerouted here and it’s easy to step off onto an old unmarked section of trail.  You’ll want to very carefully play a game of “Find the Next White Blaze,” keeping the quarry close — but not too close — on your left while you head uphill.  Per Jeff Kent’s helpful comment below, you can also “look for a pipe on the right side of the main trail…follow the pipe off to the right and you’ll stick to the white trail.”)

As you ascend, keep an eye on your right for the rocky outcropping that affords a very nice view of Cold Spring, West Point and the river valley beyond.  If you’re feeling lazy, nobody would blame you if you decided to make this your final destination.  Table Rocks would qualify as a grand finale anywhere else.

6.  From Table Rocks, we’ll continue climbing around the quarry, eventually heading past it and up the hill beyond.  It’s .6 miles and nearly 600 vertical feet to our next milestone: the junction with the yellow-blazed Undercliff Trail.  Happy climbing!  Keep following those white blazes, and we’ll see you at the junction with the Yellow Trail.

7.  When you arrive at the White Trail and Yellow Trail junction, you’ll find it marked with blazes and spray-painted arrows.  You are standing close to some very awesome views.  Take a left on the Yellow Trail to start checking ‘em out.   (We’ll be coming back to this junction in just a few minutes.)

8.  Stroll along the Yellow Trail as some river views open up to your left.  We’re going .3 miles from the junction with the White Trail.

Keep walking until you come to a rocky viewpoint that lets you look up the river to the north.  This is your turnaround spot.  Stop here and soak in the view for a moment.

If you find the trail bending hard to the right, heading back towards Bull Hill and away from the river, you’re going too far.

9.  After you’ve checked out the views, retrace your steps back to the White/Yellow junction.

10.  Turn left to head uphill on the White Trail.  The best viewpoint on Bull Hill is .21 miles and 180 vertical feet up the trail.  I promise, it’s worth the climb.

11.  READ THIS STEP CAREFULLY OR YOU’LL MISS THE WHOLE POINT OF CLIMBING BULL HILL!  The trail doesn’t take you to the best viewpoint on Bull Hill if you aren’t looking for it.  You have to wander about 30 feet or so off the White Trail to get there.

It’ll take just shy of ten minutes to reach the viewpoint from the White/Yellow junction at a casual pace.  Keep a lookout on your left for some boulders that you can’t see past.  That’s where the action is.

On my most recent trip here, I hadn’t been to Bull Hill in a few years, and I walked right past the viewpoint.  After much cussing and befuddlement, I had to circle back later in the day to find it (I did a longer loop hike, and I learned that I like the shorter up/back version of Bull Hill that we’re doing today much better.)

I watched several other hikers walk past this spot without stopping, not realizing that the most money spot on Bull Hill was just a few feet away.  I wonder how many people come here and don’t know that they just walked right past one of the best viewpoints in the Hudson Valley.  My point: keep a close eye out here or you’ll miss the spot altogether.

One hint that you’re getting close: you’ll see a white arrow painted on a rock in the middle of the trail.  From here, it’s just a couple more minutes up the hill – you can almost see your destination through the trees.

When you get to the boulders on your left just a minute after that arrow, climb up on top.  Get ready to plop down and enjoy the sweet fruit of your labor, and feel super awesome that you found a spot that so many people stroll right past.

12.  Look south to see the Hudson winding its way towards New York City, where the shad enter the river from the sea and dead mobsters enter from various bridges.  This is one of my favorite views in the Hudson Valley.

Straight across the river, the western Hudson Highlands smile back at you.

To the north, find more rivery awesomeness, with Breakneck Ridge plunging to meet the water.

**UPDATE September 2013: If you’re feeling adventurous, you could follow Brittany’s comment below to ANOTHER unmarked money spot on Bull Hill.  Get out, right?  I’ve never been there myself, but I’ll be on the hunt for it next time I’m here.  The elusive Bull Hill money spot can be harder to find than the elusive Bull Hill gazelle.

13.  Once you’ve sufficiently soaked it all in, follow the White Trail back downhill all the way to your car, where you can scour under the seat for a well-deserved candy bar.  If your legs have anything left in ‘em, head across the street to Little Stony Point and listen to the water lap on the beach for a little while.  Really, you should check out Little Stony Point.

14.  Time for some pizza!

 


Directions to the trailhead:  From Beacon, head south on Route 9D.  In less than five miles, you’ll pass under a tunnel at the trailhead to Breakneck Ridge.  About one mile after that tunnel, you’ll see the well-marked parking area for Little Stony Point on your right.  Park in the spacious lot directly across the street, on your left heading south.  If you enter the village of Cold Spring, you’ve gone just a few hundred yards too far.

You can also get directions by checking out the Bull Hill (Mt. Taurus) entry on the HiketheHudsonValley.com Google map.

 

Sorta nearby address for your GPS:  The intersection of Fair St and Route 9D in Cold Spring, NY is directly south of the Bull Hill parking area (the parking area is immediately north of that intersection, on the east side of Route 9D).  My old-ish Garmin Nuvi lets me put in an intersection as a destination, so hopefully yours does, too.

 

Related resources:  If you’re looking for actual facts and/or useful information, visit these resources:

  • The informative Bull Hill Wikipedia page that gives an interesting explanation for how this mountain got its name
  • A nice write-up for a longer loop hike on the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference Bull Hill page (pretty sure that 4.8-mile estimate is a lowball, though)
  • The longer loop hike detailed on Localhikes.com, with plenty of user reviews
  • This dude’s page where he posts a nice 12-minute video of his Bull Hill hike.  If he planted the camera by himself in all those places, he must have walked 20 miles that day.  Also, he missed the money spot, just like I warned about in Step 11!  The trail should really take you directly there.  Oh well, you’ll feel cooler when you find it now, like those nightclubs in LA with no signs.
  • A nice write-up for the longer Bull Hill hike on NYCdayhiking.com
  • Another nice write-up for the longer hike, on which they also appear to have missed the money spot.
  • People seem to dig making videos of this hike.  Here’s another one.  Watching now to see if they find the money spot.  Watching….watching…They missed it!  “There’s nothing going on on this hike.”  Unless you know where the awesome money spot is!  It really should be marked.  I strolled right past it the first time, too.
  • Blammo!  Jeremiah didn’t miss the money spot!  Check out his very cool video of a beautiful winter hike at Bull Hill, complete with panorama of the money spot beginning at about 2:18.

More Bull Hill (Mt. Taurus) pictures from the hike’s Picasa album:

Was this trail guide useful to you?  Please leave a comment!




45 thoughts on “Bull Hill (Mt. Taurus)

  1. Hi! I did this hike today, as well as Bash Bish Falls & Little Stony Point, using your guides. I just want to say, thank you so much for creating this resource! So often there is NO info about a hike out there, and usually I don’t mind striking out and having an adventure, but hiking alone, far from home and on a tight schedule, it was nice to have some honest and solid info in my pocket. I might not have tried these hikes if you hadn’t made the info so accessible! Many, many thanks. :)

    Amanda

    • Awesome! Thanks so much for taking the time to write. I’m really glad to hear that these guides have been useful to you, and that you’ve been having some good new adventures. And also that these guides didn’t lead you into the wilderness. I mean, further into the wilderness than they were supposed to.

      Here’s to many more happy trails!

      Mike

  2. Hi! Thanks for posting and sharing…we use your site to figure out which hikes we want to do depending upon the time we have and how much energy we want to waste. :)

    Keep it up!

  3. Thanks for the great guide! We printed it out for our hike last weekend, and passed some other hikers who were using it as well. There seem to be some trail markers missing around step 5, but we eventually sorted it out thanks to people coming down who had gotten lost there as well. All the photos and time estimates were very helpful! Looking forward to trying another one soon.

    • That’s too cool! I still haven’t bumped into anyone using my guides out on the trail, but that would really make my day. As for the part about getting lost at step 5, that is far less cool. Is there anything I could have changed in the guide to make it clearer? My guess is that you successfully made the U-turn at the quarry, then lost the white blazes as they headed up to Table Rocks. They re-routed the trail through that section a while back, and it can be difficult to pick up the next trail marker. I’ll put a warning at step 5 above — let me know if that doesn’t do the trick, and thanks for the helpful feedback!

      • Yes, that was the trouble spot — no markers to be seen for quite awhile. That warning should help people out, thanks!

    • If you do the loop described by the NY-NJ Trail Conference, it is 4.9 miles – honest to goodness. I plotted it with my GPS. It took me 3 hours with several stops to take in the sights. Once you get to the top of Bull Hill, the rest is either flat or downhill. It’s a great way to relax after hiking up the Bull! The Blue trail takes you through a nice section of woods and through a really cool cairn garden. It’s super trippy. The Red trail runs along a swift moving stream with mini waterfalls. Finally the Blue Cornish trail takes you through the old estate. I definitely recommend the loop as opposed to going up Bull Hill and back down. Trust me – this is a lot more fulfilling!

      • Ed, thanks for the information and recommendations! This is my frustration with GPS units – they can give wildly different results. On my last visit here, I did the loop to the Cornish Estate, coming back on the Undercliff Trail (too much up-and-down to recommend in the trail guide, I think – you end up climbing Bull Hill twice this way). This should be a bit shorter than the loop returning on the Cornish Trail described by the NY-NJTC (which would be a much better way to make a loop here, just as you recommend), and my GPS clocked my hike at 7.7 miles. It felt like 7.7 miles, too. 4.9 sounds low to me, but it’s possible your GPS gave you better results than mine gave me. And like I said above, I’d trust the NY-NJTC way before I’d trust me, too. Can somebody bring a tape measure out here?

        • You’re welcome, Mike! I’ve used the yellow Undercliff trail as well, except I tuned onto it while still on my way up the Washburn trail. I took that to red trail to the Blue Cornish Trail. I measured that loop at 4.3. So if you went to the summit of Bull Hill first and then doubled back to the yellow Undercliff Trail, you added at least 1.3 miles to the loop I did. So at the very least you did 5.6 miles! I have an older Garmin GPSmap 76CSx. I clear the track log right as I start my hikes. when I finish, I save the track and import it into the Garmin Case Camp software and that is where I get my distances from (as well as an elevation profile). I did notice that the Trip page of my GPS always reads longer. I’ve started using an app on my phone called Run the Map as a backup and it has been very close to imported tracks.

          Anyway, thanks again for this awesome website. I’d highly recommend that people download the free Android and iPhone app called PDF Maps. You can then purchase NY-NJ Trails – 102 – East Hudson (North) for $3.99. This covers from Mt. Beacon down to Cold Spring. I also purchased NY-NJ Trails – 113 – West Hudson (East) which includes Storm King to Black Rock Forrest. These maps are just like the NY-NJTC printed maps and it will show your location right on the map! This way people can make their own hikes and add pinpoints to highlight places they would like to share :)

          • Ah, that makes way more sense! On my trip, I went on the Washburn all the way over Bull Hill and down to the Cornish Estate, then took the Undercliff back up, trying to make sure I hit all the views, but it’s not a route I’d recommend. I really like your suggestion — Washburn up to the money spot described in this trail guide, then back down to Undercliff all the way down to the Cornish Estate, then Cornish Trail back to the parking lot – that would be a really nice way to hit the highlights without overdoing it. I’ll probably try that next time I’m here. Glad we had this conversation!

            And I’ll have to add that app to the recommended resources section of the FAQ, too. Very cool. Thanks for all of your comments!

    • Google Maps gives it as 1.0 miles and 20 minutes walking from the Cold Spring Metro North station to the Bull Hill trailhead. Not ideal, but doable. Someone new to hiking could do this hike, but it is a tough one. You could always bail after seeing the view at Table Rocks if it’s no longer enjoyable to keep climbing. Hope that helps!

  4. This is a rough hike, but the views are well worth it I ran into a guy who said he hikes a lot and this is the hardest one he’s done. As for the disappearing white trail blazes…once you start climbing, don’t stick too close to the edge of the quarry, even if you see people there like I did. That trail is RIGHT on the ledge and not for the faint of heart. Instead, look for a pipe on the right side of the main trail…follow the pipe off to the right and you’ll stick to the white trail.

    • Wish I had read this before! Me and my mom blazed our own barely hiked path up the side away from the edge. Not sure how we missed all the white markers, but eventually we did reconnect to the trail.

      • Glad you found the trail again! I’ve updated that section of the trail guide with a link to Jeff’s comment. Hope that’ll help future hikers – thanks for your feedback!

  5. Are there other nearby trails to Cold Spring that are not as far as Bull Hill? I read somewhere that the trailhead is not that far from the train station.

    • Bull Hill (and Little Stony Point right across the street) are the closest to the center of town, as far as I know. Breakneck Ridge, a mile up the road, has its own weekend-only MTA stop. Constitution Marsh and Indian Brook Falls are also very close, but would be a long-ish walk from town. Hope that helps!

  6. Thanks so much for your awesome guide! We went to Fishkill Ridge last weekend using your guide and this weekend I think we will do the MT Taurus day plan you have here. We are new to the area (from Seattle) so we have really enjoyed using your detailed guide to hikes in the NYC area. Maybe we’ll see you on the trail some day!

    • Welcome to the Hudson Valley! So glad to hear that these guides have been useful for you in exploring the area. Hope you like what you’ve seen so far!

  7. Thanks for the great write up. Is this hike safe to take kids? I saw someone’s comment about the trail being right on the ledge. I think that was the wrong trail but I would love to double check before I venture out. Thanks!

    • The ledge trail is not the blazed trail, but you can easily venture over to the edge to have a look if you’d like. I’d say it depends on the age and ability of your kids. I would not take mine, though I did drag them up to see the quarry. The climb up from the quarry is pretty relentless with multiple steep rocky sections. Since it starts at the base of the hill, it’s also a long hike that wore me out.

    • Thanks, EJ! Yep, Jeff Kent is spot-on. The trail doesn’t go close to the edge of the quarry. The issue would be how much of a hike your kids are up for — this is a steep climb, but not a scramble. You could always plan on making Table Rocks your final destination, and see if your kids are pumped up to keep going from there.

  8. You should make “Money Spot” stickers with arrows and post them on the trail ;)

    Great work on the website and one of the few I trust for great hiking recommendations in the Hudson Valley. Thanks!

  9. Awesome trail, your guide was helpful. We (my husband and 3 children) did it today and added on the cornish trail. My 5 and 6 year old had a blast.

  10. This is a great site! I’ve done this hike and mt. Stissing using your guide and they are so helpful! I originally walked right passed the little white arrow (we have found we are really good at blazing our own trail by accident), but ended up finding another amazing view rock that was really close to the trail. It’s past the white arrow a few minutes on right. its after the spot on the left where there are the two table rocks (one a little lower, but the higher one has a great view) I noticed a huge rock that looked like it had potential. Cut through the woods a little ways and a after a bit of scrambling up rock there is a really good money shot of the whole area.

    • Awesome! I just updated the trail guide with a link down to your comment for anyone else who might like to hunt down this other money spot. Can’t wait to get back here and try to find it myself — thanks, Brittany!

  11. I think you’re the coolest hike teacher, ever! I have done Breakneck Ridge, Anthony’s Nose and Mt. Taurus using your guides! Visited Mt. Taurus again today (only went as far as the Table Rocks the first time because I had a friend with me who was sick. You didn’t need to know that, really) and finished it. It was too foggy, though… and I didn’t see anything from the “Money Spots”. I guess I’ll have to go back some other day. Thank you!

  12. this site has been such a great resource– we have done anthony’s nose , fishkill ridge and cat rock (i think that is what it is…) we want to do this or breakneck tomorrow — i am training to climb kilmanjaro and trying to find ways to get out in the real world and hike that is close -ish to home is TOUGH!–thank you SO SO SO much for the work you put into this!!!

    • That’s awesome to hear, Lori! Thanks for the kind words, and good luck with all your training – sounds like quite an adventure!

  13. This was an amazing and adventurous hike! The hike ascent was a bit strenuous and a very good cardio workout. The views are extremely amazing, whether you are at the Table Rocks, the cliff edge above the old quarry, and various rock outcroppings near the summit! I highly recommend Mount Taurus to all!

    • Just added your video of your Bull Hill winter extravaganza to the “Related resources” section at the bottom of the trail guide — awesome work!

  14. Thanks so much for your guides, as always. I wouldn’t dream of looking for information anywhere else.. Did this one today – the snow hasn’t melted yet, so it was an adventure (we almost missed the money spot!) but this was so helpful. Thank you!

    • Thank you, Amanda! I’m impressed you made it all the way up there in the snow, and glad you found the money spot!

  15. Thanks for the info. Wanted to try an alternative to Breackneck, since we’ve done it a bunch, already, and this was a great option.

    Want to try the loop next time.

  16. I also wanted to mention that you can do a shorter loop by going left at the yellow trail intersection and following the Undercliff trail. That hits the Red trail right near the wooden bridge. The rest is the same as the big loop and this one is 4.3 miles.

    Great trail guides! Thanks for taking the time to make them!

    • Ed, thanks for this recommendation! I clocked this same hike (returning on the Undercliff Trail) at 7.7 miles. Our GPS units will just have to agree to disagree, I think. But it’s another good option, if folks are feeling especially spry and want to give it a whirl! Thanks for the kind words on the trail guides – very much appreciated.

      UPDATE: Per our conversation in the comments above, I’m now totally on board with this suggestion. I may try to bust out a Bull Hill II to document that hike (though it’ll likely be a while before I can get to it). Thanks, Ed!

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