Difficulty: 2 out of 10 (easy little stroll)
Highlights: Hudson River beach, clifftop views
Distance: 1 mile, loop
Approximate roundtrip time: 1 hour
Total ascent: 150 ft
Max elevation: 123 ft above sea level
This hike is for you if: You want a short, easy stroll to a picturesque beach and unique clifftop view of the Hudson River.
Super-cool Google Earth flyover of hike route:
Google Terrain Map of hike route:
Background you can feel free to skip: Your experience at Little Stony Point will vary greatly depending on when you visit. I’ve been here on a sunny summer afternoon, when the place had a Jersey Shore atmosphere, with people in lounge chairs on the beach and boats anchored just offshore, with revelers blaring Bon Jovi. Other times, it’s a quiet place to take in a sunset over the water, with the Hudson Highlands as a gorgeous backdrop.
I’ve never been here in winter, but it must be a primo spot for watching the ice floes drift by, listening to them as they knock into each other.
The sandy beach here can almost be inviting enough to make you consider a dip in the Hudson (I’ve seen kids swimming here – ignoring the “No Swimming” signs – and they didn’t immediately sprout any extra eyeballs), but it’s often filled with driftwood and litter from the river. No matter – a Styrofoam cup here and there can’t take away from the natural beauty of this place, but I thought you should probably be warned that as awesome as Little Stony Point is, you probably wouldn’t use the word “pristine” to describe it. (Though my most recent visit was just before this cleanup day in 2011, so this place does get a nice spring scrubbing – thanks, awesome cleaning-up people!)
This is a great spot to visit after you tackle one of the bigger hikes in the area, like Bull Hill (right across the street) or Breakneck Ridge (about a mile up Rt 9D). I’d visited the beach many times before realizing that one of the trails takes you up on top of the small cliffs, which is a great spot to take in a view of the river. Wish I’d known about that trail years ago. On a summer evening with a nice sunset, this would be an excellent place to grab a few photos.
So come visit Little Stony Point, especially as an excellent way to top off a day of hiking around Cold Spring. Even if you’re tired from hiking elsewhere when you visit, you’ll make it, I swear. Whooooa-OH! Livin’ on a prayer! Take my hand, you’ll… sorry. Got Bon Jovi stuck in my head now.
1. From the parking area, walk past the giant Little Stony Point sign and across the pedestrian bridge that leads over the railroad tracks.
2. You’ll immediately come upon a fork at a sometimes-ignored “No Swimming” sign. Take a right here. (Update: On a more recent visit, that “No Swmiming” sign was no longer there. Whether it’s there or not when you visit, just hang a right at the first fork.)
3. At the next fork, take another right turn, heading upstream and towards the river.
4. At the next fork, take a left, and you’ll pop out onto the beach in just a moment. Go ahead and walk right up to the water. Nice view from this spot, isn’t it?
5. Facing the river, turn to your left to head downstream. You’ll see an informational kiosk just up the bank, which you can peruse at your leisure, if you’re into perusing.
6. Follow the main trail around Little Stony Point, hugging the shoreline. The eponymous cliffs rise up to your left. We’ll be standing up there in just a few minutes. Can you stand the anticipation?
7. As you walk around the cliffs, you’ll see an old mine shaft burrowing into the rock. I’ve climbed back in there before, back when I was young and less worried about catching infectious disease from whatever’s back there. I can’t say I’d recommend it, but feel free to explore, if you’re so inclined. I survived a trip back there, and you might, too. But it doesn’t open up into a bigger cave in the back, so you might want to keep looking for a different spot to build your evil-mastermind lair.
8. Keep following the shoreline trail as it wraps around the cliffs and returns you to the sometimes-present “No Swimming” sign at the original fork near the railroad bridge. Just before that fork, turn left to hop on the trail that heads straight back into the woods.
9. After a short climb, you’ll arrive at a cool little perch, right on top of the Little Stony Point cliffs. Careful here – there aren’t any guard rails, and it’s a pretty gnarly dropoff.
Hang out for a moment and enjoy the view. I really need to come back here when there’s a good sunset.
10. When you’re done, head back the way you came, and stroll back across the railroad bridge to your car, where, like a cowboy, on a steel horse you’ll ride. ‘Cause you’re wanted. (Waaaaanted!) Dead or a-live. Okay, sorry, I’ll stop with the Bon Jovi now.
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. 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 Little Stony Point 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 Little Stony Point parking area (the parking area is immediately north of that intersection, on the west side of Route 9D). My old-ish Garmin Nuvi lets me put in an intersection as a destination, so hopefully yours does, too.
GPS coordinates of parking area: 41.42654, -73.96571 (Clicking will open in Google Maps or the Apple Maps app, depending on your browser/device.)
Related resources: If you’re looking for actual facts and/or useful information, visit these pages:
- Littlestonypoint.org for information on events and volunteering (and thanks to all the volunteers who help maintain this very awesome park)
- A fantastic write-up on Philipstown.info, with excellent photos to boot
- More nice pictures and information at summitpost.org
More Little Stony Point pictures from the hike’s Picasa album:
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