Background you can feel free to skip: If I were Lambs Hill, I’d be pretty upset about everyone calling me a hill. This place sure feels a lot like a mountain.
Our old hiking group used to climb nearby Beacon Mountain every summer, but we never found a good route to the top that didn’t involve bushwhacking our way through some deer trails (this was before the awesome trail improvements on Mt. Beacon). Eventually, that got old. I’d been hoping to find a go-to hike in these hills, since they’re so close to home, but hadn’t found one until I stumbled across the Scenic Hudson Fishkill Ridge page. Magnificent views? True wilderness? Rugged terrain? Sounded worth a visit.
Shortly thereafter, as I labored up the steep Overlook Trail towards the summit of Lambs Hill, soaked in sweat, a family of four came strolling downhill with two small children.
“We spent the night up there,” the father told me as they walked past. “Beautiful spot.”
“Excellent,” I said, then turned to watch them leave, realizing that they didn’t have an ounce of gear on them, not even a water bottle. How’d they do that?
A few minutes later, a huge group of twenty-something hikers came down the hill, none of them carrying even a backpack. How were they climbing this trail with zero supplies?
“Are you guys with a hiking club?” I asked the last person in the group.
“We’re with Luke’s,” I thought he said, and I nodded as if I understood. Turns out, they were all coming down from Malouf’s Mountain Campground, a full-service private campground with pretty cool-looking facilities off a spur trail from the Overlook Trail. If you’d like to make your stay at Fishkill Ridge an overnight extravaganza, this looks like a fun way to do it.
Assuming you’re just hiking the old-fashioned way, though, bring plenty of water and snacks for this one. The hike up the Overlook Trail to the summit of Lambs Hill is a strenuous and steep climb, visiting some unique dwarf pine forests and offering several expansive overlooks across Beacon and the Hudson River to the Gunks and Catskills beyond.
1. Like all the awesome Scenic Hudson parks, this one has a great web site with a printable trail map. We’ll be climbing the Overlook Trail from the Fishkill Ridge Trailhead, then banging a left on the White Trail to the summit of Lambs Hill.
2. From the Scenic Hudson parking area, head over to take a gander at the informational kiosk and grab a trail map if you need one (putting the map back at the end of your hike is good karma). To your right, the red-blazed Overlook Trail heads uphill, into the trees. When you’re ready, hop on it to begin your climb.
3. Keep left when an unmarked trail joins you in a moment, then turn right to stay on the Red Trail at a slightly-less-informational kiosk.
4. Ready, set, trudge! Just keep following the plentiful Red Trail markers. The next landmark is the spur trail to Malouf’s Mountain Campground, coming up in about a half-mile, after you climb 350 feet.
If you were staying at Malouf’s, you’d turn left here to enjoy the bounty awaiting you. For the rest of us, the hike continues.
5. The trail dips slightly to a seasonal stream crossing in less than ten minutes. After you cross that stream, the trail takes a hard right turn, and the real climb begins.
6. Another half-mile and 350-foot vertical climb brings you to an open rock formation that gives you your first taste of a view today, looking out across the city of Beacon.
7. If you’re here at the right time of year, you might see some blueberries about. Keep your eyes peeled!
8. From the first view, it’s about .6 miles and 300 vertical feet to a nice money spot amidst some dwarf pitch pines, which I didn’t know existed in the Hudson Valley outside of the Mohonk Preserve. You’ll pass some other views of Beacon along the way, but you’ll know you’re at the money spot when you see the towers atop Mount Beacon straight ahead, with nice (but partially obstructed) views to your right of the Newburgh-Beacon Bridge and Catskills beyond. At this spot, you’re just a few yards from the junction with the White Trail. Take a few moments to catch your breath and check out the pine cones.
9. When you’re ready to keep on chugging, follow the Red Trail through some scratchy pitch pines to its terminus, just a few yards behind the viewpoint you were just enjoying. Here, you’ll have to choose whether to turn right or left on the White Trail. Choose left.
10. From here, it’s a rolling .4 miles to the top of Lambs Hill. Follow the White Trail markers as they lead you to your destination.
11. Just before the short climb to the top of Lambs Hill, the trail parallels an old stone wall, then climbs steeply for a few feet. All of a sudden, the terrain opens up in front of you, and you get the feeling that all this climbing might be about to pay off. That feeling is correct.
12. Just a few more feet and you’re there. The summit of Lambs Hill graciously offers plenty of nice rocks to sit upon while you take in the view. At this moment, your legs would probably vote to call this place Lambs Mountain. And so would your eyes. Enjoy the long westward view across the Hudson Valley.
It’s been a long day to get this far — don’t begrudge your hiking partner a nap.
13. When you’re done soaking it all in, retrace your (copious) steps back to your car. Follow the White Trail to the junction with the Red Trail (being careful not to stroll past this junction, which is marked with some arrows on the rocks), turn right, and hoof it on the Red Trail all the way back. The descent took me 75 minutes with a toddler on my back.
14. If you see any Scenic Hudson people, give them a high-five and thank them for another awesome hike.
Directions to the trailhead: From either the Taconic Parkway or Route 9 headed south from Poughkeepsie, hop on I-84 and head west. Take exit 12 for NY 52 East, then turn left onto 52 (Main St.). After .3 miles, turn left onto Old Glenham Road. In about a mile, turn left onto Maple St. Maple St. splits in .1 miles, and you’ll veer right onto what is now called Washington Ave. Once on Washington Ave, take your first left onto Old Town Road. In .4 miles, turn right onto Sunnyside Road, which takes you through a nice little neighborhood. There can’t possibly be a hike starting in this neighborhood, can there? Your answer lies .4 miles ahead, on the left, where you’ll see the giant Scenic Hudson sign marking the gated Fishkill Ridge parking area. Turn left, park in the spacious lot and let the adventure begin.
You can also get directions by checking out the Fishkill Ridge: Lambs Hill entry on the HiketheHudsonValley.com Google map.
Sorta nearby address for your GPS: The intersection of Old Town Road and Sunnyside Road in Beacon, NY is just .4 miles from the parking area. Turn right onto Sunnyside Road and you’ll be there in a moment. My old-ish Garmin Nuvi lets me put in an intersection as a destination, so hopefully yours does, too.
GPS coordinates of parking area: 41.50717, -73.92852 (Clicking will open in Google Maps or the Apple Maps app, depending on your browser/device.)
Super-cool Google Earth flyover of hike route:
Google Terrain Map of hike route:
Related resources: If you’re looking for actual facts and/or useful information, visit these resources:
- The official Scenic Hudson Fishkill Ridge page
- The official Scenic Hudson Fishkill Ridge trail map
- A nice write-up for a longer hike from the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference, starting from a different trailhead
- Some nice Yelp reviews for Malouf’s Mountain Campground
- The official Malouf’s Mountain page
More Fishkill Ridge: Lambs Hill pictures from the hike’s Picasa album: