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.
If you find this free trail guide useful, please provide payment by picking up at least one piece of litter on your hike. Cha-ching! Thanks for being awesome! (And here’s a quick primer on Leave No Trace, too, to help us keep the trails nice and fresh for each other.)
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.)
Resources & Interactives
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 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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Comments (28)Was this trail guide useful to you? Please leave a comment!
Does anyone know the story of the heart shaped pile of rocks? It’s clearly a memorial, but does anyone know who or what for?
Thank you for your thorough guide!
I hiked there for the first time ~2 years ago and it is my favorite hike. I would love to revisit again. Google states the trail is closed on weekends. Is this true?
Hi, Lucy! I believe that is outdated information – it was true last year, when many trails and parks were closed due to Covid, but I’m fairly certain that it’s not true anymore. If someone who has been there recently during a weekend can confirm, that would be wonderful! (Incidentally, I do see exactly what you’re talking about – when you Google this trail on a weekend, it tells you that it is closed, and opens 7am Monday. It looks so authoritative! But I’m almost positive that it’s wrong.) Can anyone else out there confirm?
Can I walk from the Metro North Cold Spring Station to the Little Stony Point trail?? How far is it?
Looks like a nice hike. How big is the parking lot? Does it get crowded during the week? Would love to check the spot out
I have discovered some strange plant material on the northern edge of the promontory, along the beach and rocks. They look like miniature black flowers, and they’re hard and they feel artificial, but I’ve seen them growing on a vine, so they’re not artificial. I thought that they were seed pods at first, but none of them were broken open. littlestonypoint.org is no longer working, so I can’t look there for information. Do you know what these little things are, or who could I possibly ask? My best guess is that the tidal estuary water got absorbed into some vine flowers and killed them.
Hi, Alex! I remember finding handfuls of those things along the bank of the Hudson when I was new to the area, and wondering what the heck those things were. They do feel artificial, don’t they? They are water chestnuts, an invasive species, and they’re all over the place in the Hudson River. You can find more about them here: https://www.riverkeeper.org/campaigns/river-ecology/invasive-species/. (The picture at the top of that page sure looks a lot like your picture!)
Thanks for checking in here, and happy adventuring to you!
Thank you muchly!
I know the beach is closed on weekends right now, but is the trail open?
Sarah, my apologies for not getting an answer to you sooner — but for anyone else who stumbles across this question, yes indeed, the trails here are open again (they closed for a time during COVID, but are back in action now).
Hi! Do you know if the beach is open on the weekends these days? Thank you!
Hi, Kelly! Yes, it sure is! (For hiking — it’s never open for swimming.) It’s very popular on weekends — get there early if you can, or visit on a weekday if you’d like a little solitude out there. Hope you have a great visit whenever you go!
This looks very thorough. Appreciate it. We live in New York City, and for a long time I have wanted to take a swim in the Hudson, but not down here where the current is very strong. Could I swim if I swam parallel to the shore on this beach? I hear that people do? It’s on my bucket list to swim in the Hudson, and the pandemic has made me want to do a few things on my list just in case! Lucy
Hi, Lucy! Swimming here is officially not allowed, and I’ve never done it before, so I can’t really speak to it. If you’re willing to travel further north, I know there is swimming allowed in the Hudson at the Kingston Point Beach: https://www.kingston-ny.gov/content/8401/10588/10622/default.aspx. Hope this helps, and good luck checking things off your list!
Just want to point out that swimming is not allowed because it is dangerous to swim in parts of the Hudson due to currents and depth. The Hudson Highlands is the deepest part of the Hudson. Water quality is an issue at various places along the Hudson. Riverkeeper has a good map of safe water swimming sites. Too may people have drowned off Little Stony Point swimming.
Can you camp here ?
I’m afraid that’s a negative, Ghost Rider. No camping allowed here (or in the Hudson Highlands across the street). I have compiled a list of some nice local camping spots in the FAQ, though, in case that might be helpful to you.
I have been there a few times in summer and winter(Actually I was there yesterday).The view is totally awesome.In the winter you can hear the ice crashing on the shore.When I look out over the river I think this is the way it looked for thousands of years.I always wanted to go into the mine shaft but get too freaked out……After I leave I go to Cold Springs and stop into the Depot for a glass of wine.
There is no mention of bathroom facilities and I did notice that new ones were installed. Are they open in winter?
Can you kayak?
Hi Keila — I have never kayaked on the Hudson and am not familiar with the rules, but it looks like there’s some precedent for putting in here, with the disclaimer that it is “not a practical launching area”: http://www.paddlenewyork.com/hudson/lstoneypoint.htm
Planning a hike there this weekend and can across your page. Thanks for all the insightful info
Is it permissible to swim?
oh wait, i just read it. =) single dog hike, it is!
I’m assuming this hike is pet friendly? My dog would be on a leash.
I just did this hike on January 5th. Unbelievable! It was like having my own personal tour guide and hike to myself! To sit there and watch and hear as the icebergs smashed into the shoreline and each other was too cool! I followed your guide and it couldn’t have been any more spot on!!!!! Can’t wait to try more hikes, thanks!
This comment made my day, Tom — glad you had a great day out there!