**Update July 2018** The parking lot at Mt. Beacon is open (and improved!) after a brief closure for construction in early 2018. See this Scenic Hudson article for more details: Parking Improvements at Mount Beacon Park to Enhance Enjoyment of Popular Hudson Highlands Hiking Destination. And thanks to Noelle for dropping a comment below to let us know that the parking lot is open again!
Background you can feel free to skip: When my old hiking group used to climb Mt. Beacon, our usual path took us on a bunch of deer trails, which was, as far as we could tell, exactly what our trail book was telling us to do.
“Are we lost?” new hikers would always ask as branches slapped them in the face.
“Not really,” I’d reply, heading in the general direction of the decrepit old fire tower that didn’t have any stairs, following in the hallowed hoofprints of the furry souls who blazed those barely visible trails.
Fortunately, Scenic Hudson and the Mount Beacon Incline Railway Restoration Society have made that old route obsolete, and you can now traverse a very well-maintained trail system all around Mt. Beacon. As an added bonus, the newly renovated fire tower (which reopened on June 22, 2013) now has stairs! It’s much more pleasant to climb that way. Thank you, Mt. Beacon Fire Tower Restoration Committee and all the people who sponsored the individual stairs (especially you, CHUNK THE DOG).
You can make your day on Mount Beacon as easy or as difficult as you’d like (assuming you’d like to climb at least 1,000 vertical feet). To get to the first overlook at the old casino ruins, you’ll have to climb about 200 stairs, then proceed around a bunch of steep, rocky switchbacks.
The view at the casino overlook is so awesome, you could absolutely make it your final destination. If you headed back to your car from here, you would have bagged yourself a nice 2.4-mile roundtrip hike, complete with a righteous clifftop money spot.
To me, though, it’d be a shame to be this close to the Mt. Beacon fire tower without paying it a visit. That’s the hike I’d recommend to most hikers, if you have enough gas in the tank for the extra 2 roundtrip miles and 500 vertical feet that it will cost you to visit the tower.
This is one of the rare fire towers around here where you have the option to chicken out and still have some awesome views. Not AS awesome, but still awesome. Just throwing that out in there in case you like hiking, but hate heights. There’s still plenty to see here.
If you’re feeling super-crazy-ambitious (and you’re going to pay very close attention to the trail markings), you could continue after the tower over to Fishkill Ridge along the Wilkinson Memorial Trail, adding an extra 3.3 miles and 1,042 vertical feet to your day (the tower is the high point on this hike, so your additional ascent comes from the rolling hills along the rest of the loop).
For most hikers (I’m guessing somewhere around 95%), adding this additional mileage will be overkill — the best views are at the casino ruins and the fire tower. But if you want to make a big fat loop out of your day here, there are more sights to be seen in the hills beyond the tower.
I’ll write the trail guide below as if you’re doing the entire beast of a 7.7-mile loop, but I’ll also advise you when to turn around and retrace your steps back to your car if you’re just going to the overlook or the tower, as I expect the vast majority of hikers will be doing.
However much of a hike you decide to tackle here, just be sure that you do pay Mt. Beacon a visit. It’s one of the most popular hiking destinations in the Hudson Valley because it deserves to be.
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 (See “Directions to the trailhead” below), make sure you brought all the supplies you’ll need. If not, there’s always the convenience store across the street. (Don’t worry, you’ll be getting into nature soon enough. But for now – Oreos!)
Speaking of nature, if it’s calling, boom, there’s a porto-potty in the parking lot. The big kind! We know how to treat hikers right around here.
When you’re done with all that, check out the informational kiosk (might as well learn something while we’re here), then follow the gravel trail behind the kiosk, toward your date with altitude.
2. Walk around the wooden gate and proceed along the gravel path. You’re on the red-blazed Casino Trail right now (or heading towards it) — I didn’t notice any blazes until a little further up the trail.
In this first section of trail, you’ll see some inviting nature-walk-type trails intersecting from the left, but I’d recommend turning down their invitations. You’ll need all your calories to spend on the upcoming climb.
3. Just a few minutes from the parking lot, you’ll come to the ruins of the Mount Beacon Incline Railway, which was the steepest railway in the world during its operation. Cool, right? Also, try not to think about the fact that you’re about to climb the mountain that was once home to the steepest railway in the world.
4. Just past the ruins, you’ll arrive at an impressive staircase. If you were able to forget about the whole steepest-railway-in-the-world thing, the 200 or so metal steps here will probably remind you.
When you get to the top of the stairs, turn around to check out the modest hint of a view behind you. Also, feel free to do the Rocky Balboa hands-in-the-air jumping thing.
5. You’ll start to see some red blazes along the trail now. About five minutes after the steps, the Red Trail turns hard to the right, and you’ll see three yellow blazes on your left, marking the beginning of the Yellow Trail. (If you do the entire 7.7-mile loop, you’ll come back to this spot via the Yellow Trail much later in the day.)
For now, ignore those yellow blazes and keep following the Red Trail, turning right and heading uphill.
6. This area is laced with unmarked trails, sometimes from hikers taking shortcuts instead of following the switchbacks (bad for erosion, and for karma). Keep your eyes peeled for those red blazes and don’t be lured (accidentally or otherwise) by the siren call of the unmarked trail. Beyond that, you know, just keep going uphill.
7. About fifteen minutes from the top of the stairs, you’ll arrive at an unmarked fork. On our visit in late summer 2013, the right fork had two wooden posts in the ground, with one helpfully tagged “EVOL”. Doesn’t matter which way you pick – these trails meet up again in a few feet. I chose left. I won’t be offended if you pick right. (But I think left is the actual trail.)
8. About ten minutes after that unmarked fork, you might notice that things have taken a turn for the rockier. And, somehow, for the steeper. Just keep on chugging.
Historical curiosity: The Mt. Beacon Incline Railway was once the home of the real-life Little Engine That Could. You think you can, you think you can.
9. From the unmarked (except by EVOL) fork, it took us about 15 minutes to reach the upper ruins of the Mt. Beacon Incline Railway. Follow the trail as it hooks right to visit the ruins, where you’ll get your first real taste of a view for the day.
10. Have a look inside the ruins and check out the views and the old railway machinery. The real estate listing for this place: Charming brick Cape Cod with breathtaking views and excellent ventilation. Original appliances included. Just looking for right owner and a little TLC! (But for real, how awesome would it be if this place was restored and back in business? We’re all pulling for you, Mt. Beacon Incline Railway Restoration Society!)
11. When you’re done looking inside, head down the stairs directly to the left of the building, then take a left to follow the path a short way to the awesome clifftop overlook at the site of the old (now non-existent) casino.
12. Grab a seat. Take it in. Eat a granola bar.
13. When you can peel your eyes away from the view, take a look at the hills behind you. There are some communications towers looming over the trees, marking North Beacon Mountain. And there, off to the right, up on the hilltop (South Beacon Mountain), see that teeny-tiny tower? If you’re going to the fire tower, that’s where you’re headed, one mile (one-way) and 500 vertical feet from here. Up for it?
If not, retrace your steps back to your car from here, carefully following the Red Trail the whole way down. Hope you enjoyed the trip! You may not be visiting the fire tower today, but you’ll get the last laugh – when the rest of us are stumbling back down the hill later today, you’ll already be polishing off your last slice of post-hike pizza. Bon appétit!
14. Oh, you’re heading to the tower? Excellent decision. Let’s do this thing.
We’re going to continue following the Red Trail toward the tower. To pick up the scent of the Red Trail again, walk across the old casino grounds toward the tower. On the far side of the clearing, you’ll find a red blaze on a large tree that’s standing by itself. **UPDATE November 5 2014 ** According to Beatrice’s comment, that red blaze (pictured below) is no longer there, and is now on a smaller tree further back. Thanks for helping to keep this guide current, Beatrice!
Just past that tree, if you’re anything like me, your dog will take a dip in a disgusting giant puddle. Ah, how refreshing. Then you’ll take a right to hop on the well-marked dirt road that’ll bring you closer to the tower. As always, ignore any unmarked trails (there are plenty of them out here) and follow the red blazes.
15. In less than ten minutes from the casino clearing, you’ll come to the best-marked intersection of the day, with a large sign pointing toward CASINO SITE, back the way you’re coming from. Across the intersection, notice the FIRE TOWER sign. That’s your huckleberry. Continue straight across the intersection to keep following the Red Trail toward the tower. (UPDATE 4/21/2015: According to Mandy’s comment below, the signs may no longer be there. If that’s the case, never mind about this being the best-marked intersection, but you’ll still head straight across the intersection to pick up the red blazes on the other side. Thanks, Mandy! UPDATE 7/25/16: Per Rafael’s comment below, I should explicitly state that “straight” means the little red-blazed trail that dips downhill straight ahead, not the larger unmarked road that climbs the hill to your left. Thanks, Rafael!)
16. Just a couple minutes after the well-marked intersection, no more Mr. Nice Road. The Red Trail becomes an actual trail again. Oh yeah, we’re climbing the tallest mountain in the Hudson Highlands. Almost forgot.
After some steep climbing, you’ll pop into a clearing (it took us nine minutes to get there from the intersection with the signage) with a clear view of the tower, which is now a good deal closer. You’re getting there!
17. Five minutes after that clearing, you’ll arrive at the (unmarked) spot where the White Trail used to ascend to the fire tower, departing up the hill to your right. On the day I was here, this is the trail everyone was still using, including me, because, at that point, I didn’t know that a well-marked reroute of the White Trail was just ahead.
The most obvious (but not that obvious) sign that you’re at this spot is (as of late summer 2013) a faint blue blaze on a tree in the middle of the well-traveled path to your right.
From here, it’s .2 miles and 164 vertical feet to the tower. What you SHOULD do is continue down the Red Trail for another minute, turn right to stay on the Red Trail at an unmarked fork, then turn right onto the freshly blazed White Trail to hop on up to the tower.
I’ve never taken that new section of White Trail, though. Next time! Instead, I turned right a minute too soon (just like everyone else) and took the old, rocky, very well-beaten path up to the tower, which still bears some of the old trail markings.
It’s good karma to take the actual trail – they’re usually rerouted for a reason. So, you know, whichever way you pick, hop on up to the tower! See you there.
18. Dude. What a spot.
Even before you muster the courage to climb the tower, there are some awesome views to greet you as you stand atop the summit of South Beacon Mountain. Pretty sure that was a peregrine falcon that just flew by, too.
When you’re ready, take a deep breath and give that sucker a climb, thanking each of the people on the name plates for providing us some nice sturdy stairs to climb.
From up top, you’ll have views of pretty much everything. The Beacon Reservoir and Catskills to your northwest, the Newburgh-Beacon Bridge and Gunks to the west, and, to the south, the southern Hudson Highlands, and, you know, lots of other hills and stuff.
On a clear day, you can apparently see New York City from up there. I wasn’t here on a clear day.
19. When you’re done taking in the views, carefully descend the tower (I didn’t need to tell you to be careful, did I?)
and retrace your steps back down to the Red Trail, returning the way you came up.
**UPDATE March 2021** Be careful to follow the White Trail back the way you came — the White Trail also heads in a different direction from the tower, so be careful here! One hiker reported taking the White Trail the wrong way, and had to backtrack. Don’t let that happen to you!
20. Decision time! If you’re done hiking for the day (well, halfway done), take a left on the Red Trail and retrace your steps all the way back to the casino overlook, and then down to your car. This is the course of action I recommend for pretty much everyone. You’ve seen the best views you’re going to see today. The only reason you’d continue along the 7.7-mile loop is if you really want to get into nature (you’ll have much less company where we’re headed next), you want to see some more nice views, and you think walking another 5.5 miles (and climbing another 1,000 cumulative vertical ft) from here sounds like a good time.
You heading back home? That’s a good call. Hope you enjoyed the trip today! If you happen to see CHUNK THE DOG on your way home, be sure to give him a pat on the head. Otherwise, have a safe trip back to your car!
21. You’re still here? You beast! Okay, you asked for it.
If you came back down on the proper, freshly blazed White Trail, hang on a second while we wait for the degenerates who took the old way. If you took the old, unmarked way down, turn right on the Red Trail, hang a right at the unmarked fork to stay on the Red Trail, then meet the rest of us at the junction of the Red Trail and White Trail, where we’re all waiting, tapping our feet and giving you disapproving looks.
Take the left fork (it’s a actually a right turn if you’re coming down the White Trail from the tower) to continue on the Red Trail.
22. In just a minute, you’ll arrive at another fork, where you’ll go left to stay on the Red Trail.
23. In less than five minutes, you’ll come to an intersection with three red blazes that mark the end of the Red Trail. Thanks for the good times, Casino Trail! At this intersection, you’ll turn left to hop on the yellow-blazed Wilkinson Memorial Trail.
We’ll be on the Yellow Trail for the next 1.9 miles. Meandering along, it took us 70 minutes to reach the next junction (a left turn onto the Blue Trail, but we’ll worry about that later).
24. Just keep hoofing along, following the ample yellow blazes. In less than ten minutes, more southerly views will open up to your right.
And then, ten minutes later, hey, more views! This time, you’re looking out over the Beacon Reservoir.
This section of trail alternates between plunging you into the woods and taking you across bare rock faces. Look for yellow markers on the trees and painted yellow blazes (and the occasional cairn) on the rock faces.
Good rule of thumb for life in general, and especially for this trail: Keep your eyes peeled for giant spiders that hang out at the same height as your face. I was here on September 13, 2013, and I narrowly missed catching a giant, exotic-looking spider in the face on at least two occasions.
From some web searches, it looks like these were marbled orb weavers. If you do catch one in the face, you can take some solace in the fact that they are “harmless to people,” as soon as you get done screaming. They’re also apparently busiest in the late summer, so if you’re here at a different time of year, maybe you won’t see any. If you are here in late summer, another good rule of thumb: Let your hiking partner go first.
What were we talking about again? Ah, yes! The Yellow Trail. Keep following it. It took us 23 minutes from the Beacon Reservoir overlook to reach another nice, open spot with southerly views. You can juuust make out some tiny little buildings on the horizon, very far away – if that’s not New York City, it’s gotta be close.
25. A couple minutes after that overlook, alert hikers might notice the little state park boundary marker just off the trail. Ten minutes or so after that, the Yellow Trail takes a well-marked bend to the right – don’t get bucked off! This trail takes several sharp turns in this section, but they’re all well-marked. Stay on your toes! And on the Yellow Trail.
26. The intersection of the Yellow Trail and Blue Trail is almost a T – the Yellow Trail turns sharply to the right and uphill, while the Blue Trail begins to your left, sloping gently downhill. You’d probably hop on the Blue Trail by accident if you weren’t paying attention to the markings – it looks like the logical way to go, and it is.
Bid adieu to the Yellow Trail here and turn left onto the Blue Trail.
27. Here’s where the logic ends. The Blue Trail really wants to buck you off of it. Remember that, and play, “Where’s the next trail marker?” for the entire (fairly short – approx. 15 minutes) length of your stroll on the Blue Trail.
In a couple of minutes, you’ll find yourself strolling beside some impressive stone walls to your left.
If you weren’t paying attention, you’d follow the trail through a break in the wall in just a moment. But, of course, you ARE paying attention, so you’ll see that blue blaze on the smaller trail to your right, at the little fork. See it? Good! Go that way, to your right.
28. In two more minutes, arrive at another fork, where an unmarked trail follows a stone wall to the left. Turn right here to stay on the Blue Trail. (Tried to trick us there, didn’t you, Blue Trail?)
29. In about ten more minutes, you’ll arrive at what was, as of late summer 2013, a 100% unmarked fork. Well played, Blue Trail. It took us a couple of scouting jogs to figure out which way to go. The answer is left.
And if your eyes are really sharp, you’ll see the nail with the blue fragment of what used to be a really useful trail marker on a tree to the left of the fork. (On the back of that same tree, you’ll see a nice intact blue marker that you’d only notice if you’re approaching the fork from the other direction).
**UPDATE** Alert hiker EdC reported the blazing issues along the Blue Trail, and that the always-awesome New York-New Jersey Trail promptly came out and improved it. Sweet, and thank you both!
30. A minute after that unmarked fork, you’ll arrive at a local landmark: Dozer Junction.
Here’s how this junction came to be:
“Hey guys, there’s a bulldozer over here. Help me move it?”
“How about we just leave it and call this place Dozer Junction?”
“Dude! Let’s go drink some beer.”
Actually, I have no idea what a bulldozer is doing out in the woods, but, you know, here it is. Even more important — three blue blazes are also here, marking the end of the Blue Trail. Goodbye, Blue Trail, and nice try! You didn’t buck us off, you wily devil. But not for lack of trying.
31. From the dozer, you might be tempted to take the wide, unmarked trail straight ahead and uphill. On each side of that trail, though, you’ll see two white blazes. You need to hang a left onto the less-obvious White Trail here, following the two white markers on the skinny tree to the left. See ‘em? Excellent. Onto the White Trail we go.
32. We’ll be on the White Trail for 1.64 miles, climbing over the top of Lambs Hill and descending back towards Mt. Beacon. We’ll ascend 361 ft and descend 958 ft on this section, before we turn onto the Yellow Trail. It took us about an hour to reach that junction from here. Let’s get to it!
Follow the amply blazed (but apparently less-trammeled) White Trail as it winds up Lambs Hill.
You’ll crest Lambs Hill and descend to a nice westerly overlook of the Hudson Valley (this is the final destination of the Fishkill Ridge: Lambs Hill hike, if you ever want to come here again via a more direct route). It took us 10 minutes to get here from Dozer Junction. Not a bad spot for a break, if you’re looking for one.
33. After you’ve relaxed for a moment, continue along on the White Trail, picking your way downhill and following an old stone wall.
10-15 minutes from the summit of Lambs Hill, you may notice the Red Trail exiting to your right, with a three-way arrow on the rock to help you see this junction.
Pay it no mind, and keep heading straight on the White Trail. Going down!
34. Enjoy wide intermittent views as you plunge downhill. From the Red/White junction, you’ll descend 788 feet on the White Trail.
Hey, look! There’s the tower we climbed like 100 miles ago.
Keep following those white blazes as the trail twists and turns down the hill. Don’t be lured onto any unmarked trails – there are a few lurking around here.
It took us about 15 minutes from the Red/White junction to reach our next turn – you’ll see a dirt road through the woods, then the White Trail dumps you out onto it. Turn straight/left onto the road to continue on the White Trail, which joins this road for just a moment.
35. In less than a minute, turn right to follow the White Trail as it splits from the dirt road.
36. In about five minutes, the White Trail crosses a stream on a nice wooden footbridge.
You’ll then walk past what can be a very nice cascading stream, perhaps worthy of being called a waterfall. We visited in late summer, though, so it was more of an enthusiastic drip when we were here.
About five minutes after the footbridge, follow the White Trail as it crosses the stream again, being careful not to stroll past this stream crossing on the unmarked trail that continues straight along the right-hand bank.
37. If applicable, when you cross the stream, say hello to your friendly neighborhood marbled orb weaver.
38. My time estimate for the next turn is going to be WAY off. I thought the Yellow Trail junction should have been closer than it was to that stream crossing, so I burned a bunch of time and calories investigating unmarked trails that went nowhere. It took me 18 minutes from the stream crossing to reach the clearly marked junction with the Yellow Trail, but it should take you about half that, or less.
In any event, keep a sharp eye out for the Yellow Trail splitting off to your left – careful not to burn right past it! Veer left here to bid adieu to the White Trail and hop on the Yellow Trail.
39. Once you’re on the Yellow Trail for a moment, you’ll see the official three-blaze beginning of the trail. We’ll be on this trail for about one mile.
40. The Yellow Trail meanders through the woods for about ten minutes before you come to a confusing T-intersection with a yellow blaze on a thin birch tree, and no indication of which way to turn.
We tried left first – that was wrong. Turn right here to stay on the Yellow Trail, heading downhill.
(Right after you turn, you may notice the nail that once tacked a very helpful yellow blaze to that tree on the right-hand side of the intersection.)
41. The remainder of the Yellow Trail is well-marked. Just keep following those yellow blazes and ignoring any unmarked trails.
Enjoy the breeze rustling through the leaves, the birdsong high above, the pristine trail beneath your feet, and the rusted-out SUV stuck in the brush.
Maybe it’s meant as a habitat for woodland creatures, like when they make an artificial reef by sinking a ship. As far as local landmarks go, Discarded Woodland SUV pales in comparison to Dozer Junction, right?
In any event, just after the SUV, veer left at the unmarked fork to stay on the Yellow Trail.
42. In another 2-3 minutes, veer left at another unmarked fork to stay on the Yellow Trail. (We had to duck under a small birch tree here, but this may be remedied by the time you come ambling through.)
43. Dude, uphill again? I know, it’s lame, but you’ll climb less than 100 feet here. Probably seems more like 1,000.
Just past a row of metal poles (if these are here to keep SUVs from being discarded in the woods, they might have been installed a little too late), you’ll arrive at a familiar intersection from waaaaaay earlier in the day (Step #5 above): the Red Trail/Yellow Trail junction.
Choose the right fork, which heads mercifully downhill again.
44. From here, retrace your steps from earlier in the day to follow the Red Trail all the way down. Hello again, stairs!
And then, five minutes later, your car! Bet you thought you’d never see it again. You’ve conquered the entire 7.7-mile beast loop. Congratulations! You are super hardcore. If you did this hike with other people, now is the appropriate time to high-five them. However large or small your party is, you should probably turn around and air-five Mt. Beacon, too.
Also, if you didn’t snag any Oreos before the hike, you are entitled to eat an entire column of them right now. Feel free to cross the street and cash in.
Directions to the trailhead: From intersection of Route 9D and I-84 in Beacon, head south on Route 9D for 2.6 miles. Route 9D (also called Wolcott Ave. in this stretch) bends hard to the right, and you’ll see Howland Ave on your left. Just past the intersection of Route 9D and Howland Ave, you’ll see the very well-marked entrance to the Scenic Hudson parking lot for Mt. Beacon Park. Turn left into the parking lot from 9D and let the adventure begin! (You can also turn left onto Howland Ave and then turn right into the parking lot, if that suits you better.)
You can also get directions by checking out the Beacon Mountain (Mt. Beacon) entry on the HiketheHudsonValley.com Google map.
Sorta nearby address for your GPS: I can’t get Google maps to recognize the intersection of Wolcott Ave (aka Route 9D) and Howland Ave, so let’s use the address for Bob’s Corner Store (right across from the trailhead) instead:
790 Wolcott Ave
The well-marked Scenic Hudson trailhead is just yards south of that address. Rock and roll! And thank you for all the awesome natural places to explore, Scenic Hudson!
GPS coordinates of parking area: 41.49371, -73.9597 (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 (beast loop):
Related resources: If you’re looking for actual facts and/or useful information, visit these resources:
- The official Scenic Hudson Mt. Beacon Park page
- The very nice official Scenic Hudson trail map (which includes the overlook and fire tower, but not the entire loop described above)
- A great 2011 New York Times article on the hike and railway restoration efforts: Once a Fast Track, Now a Real Hike to the Top
- The succinct Mt. Beacon Wikipedia page
- More information on the fire tower from beaconfiretower.org
- Big plans and good info on the Mount Beacon Incline Railway Restoration Society homepage
- More info on the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference’s Mt. Beacon Park page
- A very nice trail guide for the exact same loop hike (they clock it at 8 miles even) described above from the always-awesome New York-New Jersey Trail Conference
Was this trail guide useful to you? Please leave a comment!
Want to support trails in the Hudson Valley? Here’s one great way: Visit the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference homepage and click on Volunteer, Donate, or Shop! (Then you can volunteer, donate, or shop, depending on your mood.)
Comments (162)Was this trail guide useful to you? Please leave a comment!
I wasn’t paying attention and missed the tower which led me to the Wilkerson Memorial Trail (“WM”). I didn’t realize I might be lost until I stood on a rock, looked to the left and noticed the tower in the far distance. WM was more difficult than the North-Point Trail in Catskills. It’s an up and down trail. Plus, some of the trees with tags fell so I got stuck multiple times not knowing where to go.
If you’re up for a challenge you can get to WM by passing the white trail leading to the tower. Turns out that was only part of the WM trail so I’ll probably take a train out to Beacon and do the full trail in a month or two.
Sorry the trip didn’t go exactly as planned, Efrem, but it sounds like you made the most of it. Enjoy your next adventure out there when you come back!
this page is spot-on, perfect description of my experience up to Fire Tower Dec.4, 2022 —- visiting from Albuquerque ———– what a beautiful spot on the Earth
about 40% chicken’d out at the last landing before the top of Fire Tower ——- 60% because wasnt outfitted warm enough and was shaking cold, scared I was going to drop my camera! I said to the young guy behind me “Too freaky for me” and got back to terra firma (I’m only 69 but . . . .)
Mark, welcome to the Hudson Valley, hope you’ve had a great visit! You sure picked a nice spot to check out while you’re here. Sounds like a perfect adventure. Thanks for the trip report and the kind words!
Keep up the Good Work, Mike ———– Here’s what I posted at FB w/a few photos:
Where I was last Sunday
Hiked up top of Mt Beacon, then over and around sylvan
ridge and saddle through an entmoot dense forest of Maple, Oak,
ancient Linden, White Birch,
to the Fire Tower at summit of South Mount Beacon (elevation 1,610 feet —- add
60 feet if you climb the tower)
These mountains 600 million years ago were 15,000-foot giants, this hard cold granite
& gneiss wore down over time, craggy trail, in some places 45-degree incline good
for the lungs, yowza
“Mt Beacon” for the beacon signal fires used by the Continental Army through here 1779
Views north-west to Catskills, the hamlet of Beacon on the Hudson (elevation 138 feet
where I started), full
view of the mighty Hudson River stretching north and south and the Newburgh Bridge, rolling wooded hills upon hills, ancient cordilleras, in every arcadian direction, the
view south 70 miles to NYC looking like the City of Oz so distant where I was in the days
before, my visit to New York after 3 long years of New Mexico solitude (So important
to stay connected, especially during these sideways times)
In California my dear old Dad got away from us this very day (December 4) ten years previous
Winter coming on
Very nice post, Mark – thank you for sharing it here!
Thank you as always for a detailed, funny, and thorough write up. We did cold spring to beacon via beacon fire tower and clocked it at about 11 miles. Love how you incorporate the history and stories into your guides.
Wow – that’s an impressive day, Kira! Thanks so much for the nice feedback. Glad you had a great day out there, and I hope everyone in your crew ate a large pizza by themselves afterwards. If not, you’ve earned the tokens to do that at your earliest convenience. Happy continued adventures to you all!
We did this hike yesterday and it was awesome, thank you for the great trail guide. We did not do the beast part but went up to the fire tower. The view of the fire tower from the casino area can look intimidating but don’t let that stop you. The next part of the hike was nothing compared to the beginning. The beginning is steep and pretty relentless but definitely worth the views once you get to the top.
Glad you had a great hike up there, Joe! Thanks for the kind words and the nice trip report!
Long time reader/hiker and first time commenter here! Thank you so much for the amazing resource that is this website! I hiked to the fire tower yesterday and wanted to note that the white trail leading up to the fire tower is unfortunately quite overgrown. I took the unmarked trail down to avoid offering myself as a tick snack a second time. The unmarked trail is shorter, steeper, and a little eroded, but very wide and not overgrown.
Gretchen, I come from the future to thank you for this helpful and kind comment! (That’s my way of saying sorry for taking more than a year to reply. 🙂 I’d probably go the old way just out of habit – nice to hear that it’s still a good option since the new(ish) White Trail is overgrown. Thanks for sharing this helpful info here! (And I’ll be quicker to reply next time, promise!)
I killed my legs finishing the white and yellow of the beast loop. Literally stopped walking, but I had no where to go except back to my car. This should be like difficulty 11 or 12!
But that just means this is my limit and I can train on this route. I’m so out of shape but I plan to go again.
I’ve really appreciated this resource while planning a trip from NYC to Mt. Beacon! I’m wondering if you have a ballpark estimate for the amount of time it would take to hike to the fire tower. I’m guessing it’s about 45 minutes to an hour until the first overlook, and then another half hour to the fire tower? Does that sound accurate?
Hi, Cody! Thanks for the kind words, glad this page had been useful to you! My “Approximate Roundtrip Time” is a standard part of every trail guide on this site, and you can find it just above the Background section (on mobile devices) or to the right of the Background section (on laptops/desktops). I gave 1.5 hours to the overlook (roundtrip) and 3 hours to the tower (roundtrip), so your estimates are pretty spot-on. Hope you have a great trip out there whenever you go!
Did this hike on Saturday 3/27/2021. Loved it. Took 4 hours from start to the tower and back with stops for photos and rest.
The guide is thorough and guided directly to the tower – thank you.
It was a steep hike at times but manageable. Lots of places to rest and take in nature. The fire tower at the top was an added treat. Great views, the hawks flying by looked like I could reach out and touch the.
Note there are 2 white trails when going back, we took the wrong one for about 5 minutes. Encountered a deer – that was our sign that this was not the right way. Went back to the tower and picked up the white trail that we came on.
We got there at 8:30am and it wasn’t very crowded going up. On the way down the trail was packed with folks going up.
Thanks for the kind words and the helpful comment, Michelle! I added an update above (with a link down to your comment) warning people to be careful to take the correct White Trail when they come down from the tower. Hope that helps others to avoid the same issue. Thanks for sharing your experiences here!
Hi! Thanks for the amazingly thorough guide. Do you consider this hike something a beginner can do? I’m trying to get out of the city and I’ve never really been properly hiking and was looking for some suggestions! Also, how long do you think the hike will take? And is it even open this month? Thanks!
Hi, Sophia! Thanks for the kind words! Yes, the trail is easy to follow and quite popular, but it is a CLIMB. So I’d say with sturdy footwear and plenty of water, a persistent beginner could do this hike, as long as you’re up for climbing at least 1,000 vertical feet (or more, if you’re heading to the fire tower). It is indeed open, though there is also still some ice on the trails around here (I did see a recent post on Facebook that Mt. Beacon is still icy in spots, but passable without microspikes), but that should be less of an issue in the coming days. I’ve listed the approximate hike time in the trail guide above as 1.5 hours to the overlook and back. Hope this helps — happy adventuring to you, and good luck if you give it a go!
Hiked Beacon this morning. Spikes were fine all the way up to the fire tower, but if you plan to do the entire loop, you will need snowshoes beyond that point. Snow is too deep to attempt with spikes, unless you enjoy post-holing and sliding all over for a few miles up to Lambs Hill and then on your descent.
Does anyone know if Mount Beacon has reopened as of 7/2/2020? I saw an announcement earlier in the spring saying the trailhead on Howland Avenue was closed. I did not see a notice explicitly stating that it has reopened, but I don’t see it on another list of current closures. Can anyone help?
Hi, Ian! Yes, it is indeed open again (and has been since early June). I’m keeping track of closures and re-openings here, and doing my best to keep it as current as possible: https://hikethehudsonvalley.com/hudson-valley-trail-closures-and-parking-restrictions-due-to-covid-19/. (If you’re going on a nice weekend, be sure to get there very early to avoid the crowds.) Good luck out there!
Hello! I followed this guide and went today when I found out the trail at Bull Hill was closed. It was really hot, but beautiful and not too crowded! I made it to the fire tower and turned around. Thanks so much for your guides!
Just wondering since I can’t seem to find any accurate info. Seems like the Wilkinson trail is closed due to the fires from Breakneck but the trails leading to the fire tower are fine right? Wanted to try the fire tower tomorrow
Hey, P! I believe that’s correct that the trails up to the fire tower on the Mt Beacon side are open, if only because it would have been big news if they’d been closed, and I would have expected that to be reported in the same stories that reported the Breakneck closures. My best guess is that they’re open. Would love a report if you check it out today – good luck, hope all goes smoothly!
Yup checked it out on 3/12. Everything up to the fire tower was open. Not sure about the other trails since I didn’t venture past the tower. But looks like the trails in the area is opening again starting 3/14.
My husband and I did this hike for the first time this past weekend. It was awesome and we loved the hysterical directions from Mike. It made it that much more enjoyable.
This comment made my day today, Jackie — thank you so much!
Thank you so much for this trail’s information. It was incredibly helpful. Did this trail this past weekend (8/17/19) and was so happy with it. It was definitely a work out getting up to the top. Everything was correct and even the part about the casino signs being missing. Unfortunately the ruins have new graffiti all on the walls (why? i will never understand). We followed the white trail up to the tower and had a bit of difficulty – to me it was not very well marked once you were on the trail. And then there were confusing arrows pointing to each other. Fortunately a fellow hiker told us the right way to go. But we def followed everyone else down the unmarked trail to get back to the red. I am thinking of starting at the upper red trail and winding back down to the fire tower the next time. Are those connecting trails uphill like the uphill starting at the stairs? Also, I love your idea of payment by taking out a piece of garbage! Luckily when I was there, we didn’t find any!!
Did this hike (4.4 mile version) today, April 1, 2019. Couple of updates: the unmarked fork in #7 is no longer unmarked, and you were correct – the left fork is the official trail and is now well marked with blazes. It is worth noting that as soon as the two paths come back together, you have to take a HARD right (switchback) to stay on the red trail – if you take the left fork, it looks like the trail is straight ahead (except for the absence of blazes). The signs in #15 are definitely no longer there, but there are plenty of red blazes to point the way. Finally, we did not see the “faint blue blaze” marking the old trail to the fire tower, and since there were few other hikers today we didn’t have anyone to follow up the old path. The new white trail to the fire tower is VERY well marked. On our way back we identified what we assumed was the old white trail but the new one is now pretty well established. Thanks as always for your clear instructions!
My wife and I took this trail to the casino site, then to the fire tower, and back. The directions were great.
We missed the “old” white path on the way up to the tower, and took the new, very well marked white trail (with markers and plenty of painted blazes on the rocks with arrows pointing the way), which was steep, especially at the end, but a fun climb. We took the old path on the way back, in part out of curiosity, because that is the path that 90+% of hikers were taking, and we figured it led to something neat. It has very few markings (I noticed one blaze of a white hand shape on a rock). It was an un-noteworthy gradual and wide decline back to the red trail.
Hiking in late March, on an almost-70-degree day, we were hoping we wouldn’t encounter much ice on the way up. That was mostly true, although there was one tricky incline about two-thirds of the way from the stairs to the casino (around the first picture in 8 above) that was very icy. But after that, we didn’t see any ice any further up.
Did the ‘Beast Loop’ yesterday. Wonderful walk. On the way back we read up on the history of the railway track. Passed by there many times before, but never walked. A good workout for sure. But worth it all the way!
Was intrigued by the many oaks that have a moss collar around their base. Need to find out more about that….
Glad you had a nice day out there, Frank! Interesting observation on the moss, too – never noticed that before. Let us know if you find anything out!
Bobs corner grocer is 790 wolcott avenue, directly opposite parking lot
Awesome hike. Fantastic views. Wore spikes the entire way and did the beast loop. Lots of ice and snow so took some extra time to complete the loop but overall a great day. I hike all the time all over the east coast and I will be the first to tell you this is a tough loop. From beginning to end it is in your face both view wise and toughness wise. Overall have to say one of all time favorite hikes. Loved seeing the dozer
Thanks for a great guide. Only confusion I had was some blue plastic ribbons in the middle of the yellow section that had me confused if it was the blue path or not — it wasn’t, all trails had proper trail markers. Felt good to get to dozee junction, and know I was on right path 🙂
Thank you so much! Timing-wise, when would be the best time to arrive during mid-summer (late July/early Aug), if you’re planning to do the entire loop?
I just did the fire tower today, via the casino trail. it took 2.5 hours start to finish/
Hi, B! If you’re hitting this hike on a weekend, the earlier, the better. It gets quite crowded this time of year. If you show up early, you’ll have less company out there, and you won’t have to hurry to get around the whole loop before dark. Hope that helps, and I hope you have a great trip, whenever you decide to tackle it!
What a great detailed guide ! thank you in advance 🙂 we are going to complete this whole hike this sunday 7/29/2018. Last time we got lost there, ended up on another side of the moutains and had to pay like $40 for the cab to just to go our cars, not this time !
I printed your google maps but i trying google map app to start navigation from your start point so it can guide us exactly on your trace but i don’t think that app has that feature yet or i think am missing something.
Thanks so much, James! Hope you have a better experience out there this time! As for following my GPS trace in Google Maps, there’s more information on getting that to work in tip #12 on the Hiking Tips page: https://hikethehudsonvalley.com/hiking-tips/. Hope that helps!
Yes, i got it working ! Thanks Mike !
Might be too late now since we will be there in few hours but does the parking/nearby place has electrical outlet by any chance ? i want to make some hot cholocate for my freinds lol
Hi James — I’d be surprised if there’s an accessible outlet out there, but I hope you found a way to make the hot chocolate happen anyway! Hope you had a great day out there today.
Heads up, Bob’s Corner Store is at 790 Wolcott Ave, not 640. I took a cab from the Metro Notth station to 640 Wolcott, but that’s about a mile from the trailhead.
Fergal, my sincere apologies. I still see several places online, including Yelp, where the address is listed as 640 Wolcott (which must be where I got that info initially), but you are correct, and I have updated the address above to 790. Hope you were able to get the cab to take you to the right spot. Thanks for saving other hikers the hassle!
The parking lot is completed!!
Great views. Fire tower is really nice. The ascent to the first overlook was the hardest part— once you get to the first viewpoint (casino remains), the hike to the fire tower is not that bad. I went on a Saturday and there were plenty of people around. It took us about 2 hours to go up to the fire tower and back.
Thanks so much for letting everyone know, Noelle! I’ve updated the trail guide above and removed the warning about the closure. Much appreciated!
Can you please tell me if there is a parking or hiking fee
Hi, Tammy! Nope, it’s free! I’ll always put a “Cheapskate Alert” in the info at the top of the trail guide if there’s a fee associated with a given hike. Happy (free) adventuring out there!
Good news! We hiked Beacon today and the parking lot is officially open again! Had a great time, and the fire tower is as cool as ever.
Did the hike the weekend before the parking lot closed and opted for the whole big loop. It was definitely worth it to me, trails were well marked for the majority of the hike and there was great views along the way. This is the first hike that I have done that is documented on this site and I want to make sure to say thank you for putting this site together. I really appreciate how thorough the info is and how everything is mapped out. I live in CT and wish someone would make something like this for the various CT hikes. I will definitely be using this site to choose more hikes for the future.
Note to self: always review the site carefully before rushing off to start hiking.
On Saturday morning we (me, the Mrs., my older brother, and my 9 year-old daughter) set off to take this hike. Now I had only glanced at the article, really and somehow came away thinking that the “big fat 7.7-mile beast of a loop” was actually 4.4 miles. No one but me could really make this mistake I don’t think; 7s not really looking much like 4s. About a half hour into the Wilkinson Memorial Trail we realized that something was amiss. What followed was a sometimes harrowing, sometimes hilarious look into the hearts of hikers or rather one hiker and 3 murderous companions.
We survived. Looking back at the site now I feel even dumber.
Thank you so much for this invaluable resource.
I just did this hike yesterday (August 7, 2017). Very rarely do I disagree with our amazing hiking guru, but I am going to have to when it comes to this hike. In my opinion, it is the second half (i.e. the 5.6 miles that turns it into a loop) that is the amazing part. So, the first 1.2 miles up is very steep and very hard, and a great work out, but it is PACKED with people. When you get to the top it is an accomplishment, but the view is hard to enjoy with the crowds. Same thing can pretty much be said when continuing on to the fire tower. But then, if you continue on you pretty much see no people and its one of the best hikes I’ve done from this website. It is not too hard, and there are at least 5-6 additional view spots and a waterfall! And, as the only person there, I enjoyed these views so much more than the first ones. They may not have been 360, but they were breathtaking. In sum, if you have the time and the athletic capability, you are doing yourself a disservice not to do the full hike, it is incredible! Thanks Mike!
Does anyone know if the port-a-potty is back at the entrance? It wasn’t over the winter, but I figure that might’ve just been because it was winter. I’m taking some new to hiking friends there this Saturday and the most asked question, especially among the ladies who refuse to use bushes, is “WILL THERE BE A BATHROOM?!?!”
I posted your question to the site’s Facebook page. Check this link for up-to-the-minute information on the Mt. Beacon port-a-potty!
Happy adventuring this weekend!
It is there. I saw it this morning.
Hi everyone – I am planning to hike Mt. Beacon on Memorial Day wknd and will be taking the Metro-North from Grand Central To Beacon Station. It seems to be a lengthy walk from the station to the trailhead… can anyone suggest options? I’m not sure if cabs/etc are readily available at the Beacon station.
If you consider yourself moderately fit, aren’t worried about time and haven’t been to Beacon, I actually suggest taking the longer 2 mile-ish walk (there’s a shorter way) through downtown Beacon to get to the hill. I did the hike a few months ago and in my mind I felt like the walk through the town was part of the Mount Beacon Journey. It’s such a beautiful little place, Seriously, while walking through the town I texted my GF and was like, forget NYC we need to move to Beacon., plus it helps you plan out where to have dinner when you’re done, though I suggest the Two Way Brewery which is like a 2 minute walk from the station, they also serve food. You also walk over a little bridge over Fishkill Creek which is a decent picture spot too.
But if you don’t want to walk, I don’t recall seeing any cabs at the station, but then again, I wasn’t looking for them. But I do know there is a bus that drops you off near the trail, but I don’t recall how often it runs.
Oh also, on the trail, pay close attention to Step 17. above. That came into play for me on the trail, I ran into a couple unsure about the correct path and I was also unsure, so we consulted this site and made our way up.
I totally agree with Chris. I’ve taken the train up from NYC and hiked Mt. Beacon twice. If you’re used to walking a lot in NYC, it’s not really a terrible walk from the train station to the trail head. I usually walk from the station along Wolcott Ave/9D which takes you along the edge of town straight over to where the trail starts right by the Bob Mountain Grocery. If you take that path, it’s just over 1 1/2 miles, and honestly, it’s beautiful because you have the mountain in your sight the whole time, which gets you excited for climbing it! Cutting through Main Street adds a mile on, but you DO get a feel for the restaurants and shops of Beacon and can scout out places to eat after your hike (I’m a Doctor Who fan, so I’m partial to the Pandorica). I don’t know about cabs, but Chris is right that there are some buses than run through main street that can get you closer if you don’t want to walk from the station to the trail.
Have a blast! It’s a beautiful hike! I recommend going all the way up to the fire tower if you can. The view is amazing.
Went on the 7.7 mile loop today. It was an ambitious feat but I did it. I have to say this guide is awesome. Thank you so much for it! Really good and easy-to-follow directions. And written in a way that’s not boring. It felt like I was hiking it with you there. So good. Thanks again!
Supposed to top out at 65 tomorrow and I am itching to bang out a long hike. Has anyone done the Beacon-Lambs Hill loop in the last week? I expect lots of mud, but do I need my spikes as well?
Went here on 1/21/17, this guide was spot on (minus the toilet at the beginning, which I suspect is due to it being January). So spot on that it came into play on the trail. I ran into a couple trying to get to the tower near the rocky way and the guy was like, “I SWEAR you go right here” and she was like “NO, the white trail is over there, see!” I was like, “guys, this guide online says you take the new, freshly blazed white trail.” and they were like “is the guide Hike the Hudson dot com?” …”yeah!” … “we LOVE that guy!” So, anyway, some strangers bonded over their love of this site on this trail.
Side note: This is pic from the gear ruins is like my most favorite picture of me now, if I had a rock album this would be it’s cover. So go here if you want a new rock album cover.
This comment made my day! Thanks so much, Chris. (Even if you hadn’t left this awesome comment, I’d still totally buy your album with that shot on the cover.)
Thanks for the guides! They’ve been really helpful to us as we are beginning to explore more Hudson Valley hikes. Beacon was wonderful today!
Thank you, Robin! Really appreciate the kind words, glad you had a great day out there!
It’s snowing here right now .Are running shoes sufficient ?
Hi, J! That sounds really dangerous to me. They’d be very slippery, and they’d likely get soaked through in the wet snow today. I recommend only attempting this with waterproof hiking shoes/boots, ideally with micro-spikes attached or at least accessible in your pack. Hope that doesn’t sound too alarmist, but I really recommend against tackling this very steep hike in snowy conditions without the proper gear.
Thank you for the prompt reply, it was a good hike even though temperature was low.
We made it only to the overlook , we couldn’t go to the fire tower . There was snow but it was beautiful. The trails were well marked and the view was great .
I have been trying to upload pics but it wasnt successful. Sorry for the repeat in comments.
It was a winter wonderland today but was beautiful
So glad to hear all went well out there, Jessy! Sorry to hear about the problem uploading pics, too — not sure what the issue is, but you’re not the first to run into it. Would love to see some of them!
I actually saw one of those marbled orb weaver spiders on a Breakneck hike – they look so cool and scary, but luckily they’re not poisonous or venomous. This is a picture of the one I saw:
New York skyline from the tower
Very cool – thanks for sharing that pic here, S!
This is so good
Anyone went here recently?I plan to in 2 weeks , was wondering if the trail markers are still visible?
I did the loop as described yesterday. All of the trails are extremely well marked and I had no issue route finding what so ever. I believe the trail markers have been improved since the report was written as even the locations the author detailed (yellow, blue trail, etc…) as confusing were very straight forward.
Awesome – thanks for the update, Brian! That’s good to hear.
Forgot to mention. Great trip report summary and webpage.
thank you , that’s awesome
This article is amazing , so much detailed information, thank you so much
Wish my husband and I read this more as we hiked because we totally went the wrong way on the long loop. After the tractor we made the mistake of going right on the white trail. Ended up going north west to route 9 in Fishkill. First time we ever had to cab it back to out car. 13 miles of walking.. yay! Only us!! Lol.. but it definitely was an hike and may just do the out and back next time. 😉 Oh and our dog Remington loved it!!!
hey , how did you get a cab from there?
We walked into Fishkill … That’s when we realized we took a wrong turn. So we walked 2 miles on the road to McDonald’s! Lol… Quite the adventure. The cab driver was awesome and let us in the van with our dog! Found an amazing restaurant in Beacon that allowed dogs and ate sooooo much 🙂
Would love to know the name of the place you went to eat! We’ll be taking our dog up with us, so always looking for puppy friendly joints!
Mike, Thank you for all the details you provide on the descriptions of the hikes. I always check your site wherever I’m going on a hike. The pictures help a lot. Thank you…
Just did this trail on a Saturday up to the tower and back. I went up for sunset, and came down with a head lamp. The views were insane. I’m not sure if I’ve seen a better viewpoint, and I’ve been 10,000+ ft up in the swiss alps. The colors in the sky were amazing, the wind felt great on a 95deg day.
A note though is that at the no longer marked fork, where you say to go straight, i would just clarify for others that straight means the little trail going down, not the large road climbing up.
On my way down I managed to get lost somewhere near the bottom (since it was night time), ending up on what might have been a service road. Luckily, it put me out of the forest only a couple minutes walk from the parking lot, so for any other hikers that accidentally leave the red trail, you’ll probably be fine.
Thanks for the guide, excellent as always! This was the third hike of yours that I’ve done, and they have all absolutely floored me.
Beautiful shot, Rafael! And thanks for the thought on an update to make things clearer — I’ve updated Step 15 above accordingly. Much appreciated!
Incredible trail guide. My buddy and I made the Beast Loop our virgin trek in the Hudson River Valley, and had no regrets! Highlights were the Fire Tower and the open rock faces on the yellow trail part of the larger loop. Started around 8am and finished at 1pm, so great time estimate. Once we rejoined red trail at the end the afternoon crowd had joined in and the parking lot was full. On the larger part of the loop we hardly saw anyone which was great. Thanks again, Mike, and keep up the good work! My buddy and I will be back to try more trails.
I’m doing this on Saturday and hopefully II can out up with the 7.7 mile beast. Anyway, I’ve been eyeing this trail for the longest time since I’ve done Breakneck and Cornish trails already. I’m a Rail to Trail hiker so I have to choose a trail that’s close to a train station enough- something this one is not. But darn it, I’m doing this and I’m taking the beast loop! Fourth of July weekend will be pretty epic. Btw, your trail breakdown is very helpful for lone hikers like me. Just wondering, who takes your photos?
Thanks so much, Breech! Hope you had a great hike if you ended up tackling the beast loop. As for the photos, I just snap them as I stroll along. Some of my buddies have also contributed photos to a few of the trail guides. Happy adventuring!
Mike, I’ve been using your guides for a few years now and I want to offer a belated note of gratitude. Can’t begin to tell you how much fun I’ve had with friends and family as a result of your guidance. I was up on Beacon yesterday, Feb. 2. What a difference a year makes! I was using microspikes until the second week of April last year. Yesterday… no snow, and barely any ice. Sadly, this mountain gradually is becoming more of a dump. Garbage all over the place on North Beacon and more graffiti keeps getting sprayed on the railway ruins. Even worse, the lesser traveled paths up to South Beacon have new graffiti. Yesterday, I was almost run over by a guy in full moto gear on his motocross bike as Casino ends and WMT begins. Erosion is getting worse from jeeps and ATVs. A few more heavy rains and the erosion is going to make things worse. Never thought I would say this, but I might start avoiding Beacon moving forward…
Awesome descriptions. Thanks so much. My wife and I did the hike today and you got us all the way to the top of the tower. Thanks so much!
Thank you so much for the detailed descriptions. Solo first journey on this trail (all the way to tower) was thoroughly enjoyable with the help of your explicit detail. Thanks again!
Thanks for this great guide! I hiked Mt. Beacon with friends this week. It was a fun hike and was very beautiful but I wanted to warn people that we got several ticks each,. It was surprising since we used tick spray and stayed on the paths. If you do the hike take precautions and be sure to do a thorough tick check afterwards.
Thank you so much for giving such great instructions with photos and landmarks. You did an amazing job!!! I am looking forward to doing it today!!
Thank you so much for this guide, it was great! Super easy to follow and we had an awesome hike this past weekend. Just a tip: I think at what used to be the well marked intersection from step 15, you’ll notice on your left is a trail going up and then on your right the trail continuing. The red marker that indicates you should go to your right/straight is basically non existent (it looks like most of it got ripped off) so we went to the left (which is actually a road-road, saw people on ATVs going on it). After a few minutes we noticed there are no trail blazes so we turned back, and saw the sliver of the blaze we missed and continued on. Saw a few people do the same thing we did so just a tip to be aware it is definitely not a well marked intersection anymore!
Took my wife and two boys (aged 9 and 7) up to the Firetower this morning. Thank you so much for the trail guide. The photos are a great help. We had an amazing time and didn’t get lost once! 🙂
Thank you so much for your thoroughness in documenting these hikes. Because of your tips and trail descriptions, I was easily able to do my first Hudson Valley hike on Monday up to the fire tower of Mt. Beacon with no trouble at all. I am a novice hiker, but I felt like an expert because of the information your site provides. I had a blast on my first hike, and I fully intend on doing a lot of the other hikes featured on Hike the Hudson Valley. Thanks again for being awesome!!!
Really appreciate all the kind words, Emmy – thanks so much! Glad you had a great day out there, and hope you have many more great hikes in the area.
Absolutely best trail description! Very helpful photos. Laughed at the thumb-pointing direction. :-O
Possible to run it ultra-style? As in, with plenty of power-hiking, etc.?
Hi Rochelle! I’ve only ever walked it, but if you know any people who are crazy enough to run up and down mountains, then I don’t see why this one would present any unusual difficulties. Except for the fact that it is a mountain, I mean. If you are running up and down Mt. Beacon, you most definitely deserve to eat at least an entire sleeve of Oreos, beforehand and afterwards. Good luck!
Thanks! I’m heading there this morning. Woo-hoo! I live in the city but am training for a 50K with massive elevation gain, so this seems like just the right amount of wrong. Will report back.
Good stuff. I ended up getting a little lost (uh, my fault entirely), but it was all good. Added on some extra miles! Definitely recommend power-hiking, not running, the steep initial ascent, but much of the blue trail is an absolute delight to run, and I really appreciated running down that same steep red trail on the way back down (although it did seems to terrify/freak out a few other hikers).…
Fun fact: If you accidentally find yourself on someone’s private property like I did (uh, like I said, I got a little lost), be aware that the bulldozer in their yard is NOT, actually, the Dozer junction…
Thanks again for the guide; it was fun. 🙂
Best description of a trail I have read…entertaining and informative. Thanks!
By a lucky chance I found your website while looking for a new trails to hike. This is awesome !! Love the way you describe all trails and have pictures . I hike every weekend and it’s hard to find a website that posts pictures. Thank you for this ! I’m heading to Mt. Beacon today.
Awesome, Paul – thank you, and I hope you had a great trip out there today!
Went up about 3 weeks ago and there was still tons of snow, hopefully all gone now. The ruins were super cool but we got turned around because of the weather before the fire tower, hoping to get back out there now that warm weather is here! The “casino” sign mentioned in step 15 *may* be down because of the winter weather – can’t say for sure though, since there was so much snow and ice, but we were looking for it and couldn’t find it. Hopefully we were just turned around though! But a mild warning! Great guide as usual, your ranking systems help me pick which hikes I do with certain friends in order to make them love hiking as much as I do! Thank you for all your work!
Thanks for the heads-up, Mandy! I just added a link to your comment from Step 15. Much appreciated!
Maggie – my wife and I just hiked Mt Beacon and the fire tower today. The trail is well-packed snow the entire way and is slippery in spots. We were happy to be wearing microspikes, as were most of the other hikers we met along the way. By afternoon the surface was wet and soft so traction coming down was poor; without traction aids of some sort I suspect a couple falls would be expected. A week from now I think there will still be plenty of snow but more muddy spots opening up. You want real boots; snowy/slushy trails are not the place for running shoes.
Thank you! That is very helpful!
Thanks so much for taking the time to leave this comment! I thought it might be helpful to the many hikers considering getting out there sometime soon, so I just posted your comment to the Facebook page for this site.
Much appreciated, and glad you had a good day out there!
Has anyone ever hiked Mt. Beacon in March? My boyfriend and I will be hiking it on March 21, 2015. We are athletic, but not experienced hikers so any tips you have would be appreciated. Thanks!
Hello. I have done the beast loop a second time now. I really enjoy it. All credit to you for this excellent guide. I would not have even known about it if it weren’t for you. Much thanks! But, this time I was left with curiosity about a possible additional loop that can be added to it. I noticed when you hit the Yellow / Blue junction (where you take a left to follow the blue trail to Dozer Junction), the yellow trail actually continues to the right. In looking at a map, I believe if you follow it, you will eventually reach a junction where the White (Fishkill Ridge trail) branches off to the left. This is the same white trail you reach at Dozer Junction, except following it from here takes you on a long-cut over to Bald Hill, then eventually hits Dozer Junction and Lambs Hill. I was just wondering if you had any experience with this additional section of trail (near Bald Hill), and know approximately how much time and mileage taking this long cut would add to the overall hike. Thank you for any input!
interesting, has anyone ventured out this way? i saw the same trail heading to the right by the dozer but didn’t want to risk it
Hello, I was thinking to try this hike on Tuesday 25th, it seems that the weather will be decent, in 50s, no rain. Do you recommend going at this point in the year or should I wait and do it in spring? In comments above people mentioned that there might be snow there, very windy and also leaves on the ground (falls, slips worry me), I am in my 30s and in good shape, but wouldn’t want to do the hike now if in the spring it would be more enjoyable and less risky. Would appreciate your suggestions. Thanks.
Hi Allison — Another hiker just posted a picture from the overlook at Mt. Beacon to this site’s Facebook page. I asked him about the trail conditions up there now — you can see his response here: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=556795917791457&set=o.230042960363651&type=1&theater
Sounds like it’s pretty doable now, but you’ll need to be careful on the slippery leaves if you give it a go. Hope that helps!
The website and photos were a big help.
Great way to spend Veteran’s Day.
Humor was a must on the way down since
most of the leaves are down and covering the
loose rocks. Great workout 🙂
Awesome, Alice – glad to hear it!
I did this hike today and just wanted to put out a big thank you for creating this fantastic website. Without your trail guide I probably wouldn’t have ventured out into the wilderness by myself… I will try another one soon before the winter cold completely freezes my motivation to remove myself from my snuggly nyc apartment…
The only change I noticed was that the red marker on your picture #14 is no longer there, it is now on a smaller tree behind it.
P.S. If I wanted to send you something out of gratitude for your work, how would I do that? You probably don’t want to post your address here where any old internet weirdo can see it, but could you email it to me? :-}
Thanks so much – I just updated Step 14 with a link down to your comment. I’ll drop you an email, too, though I should really be the one sending you stuff for helping to keep this guide current. Thank you!
So I went this morning. Started at 5:30am, reached the tower by 6:30am. There were 50mph gusts so I couldn’t climb it. Attempted the loop, followed the white, looking for the red, then yellow, then blue. Found the blue first, which if not for the markers would not be a trail. Led is back up towards the tower (I think) brought us to the red, which eventually led us to an unmarked trail that came out on 9d just passed the disc golf & Clearwater. Where did I go wrong?
I’m going back out shortly, I’ll let I know if I figure it out.
Teresa — Sorry to hear it! I’m looking at a map now, trying to figure out where things went wrong. Are you saying that you went directly from the White Trail, just under the tower, to the Blue Trail, without ever finding the Red or Yellow Trails? If that’s the case (and from your description of the nearly non-existent blue trail), I’m wondering if you found old markers from a blue-blazed trail that is no longer maintained – there isn’t a Blue Trail on the map anywhere near the tower. (I have a picture of an old blue blaze in that area, in Step 17 above.) The Red Trail->Yellow Trail connections are very close to the tower, within just a few minutes, so if you’re not seeing them immediately upon coming down off the tower and descending that rocky bluff, that sounds like where the problem might be.
I’d love to hear a follow-up if you figure out what happened, especially if the trail guide above needs to be revised to help others avoid the same issue. Good luck!
I’m looking at the map again — if you kept heading south after the tower (instead of retracing your steps back north, to the Red Trail, per Step 19), the White Trail does indeed hit the blue-blazed Breakneck Ridge & Notch Trails after a while (blazed Blue+White if you go left, Blue and then Blue+Yellow if you go right). Following either of those trails could eventually take you back down to 9D. That’s my new best guess — if you retrace your steps back to the Red Trail after the tower, you should be good to go. Could that be it? Hope so — in any event, good luck out there, and please let me know if the trail guide needs revision!
I went back up but reached the top at sundown so we went back down the red. I had only looked at your guide before I left the first time, so I didn’t have it with me. We must’ve ended up on the old blue like you said, it wasn’t even a deer trail lol. Do you know if the one we ended up on is before or after the red we were supposed to find? Is there anyway to put together a trail map that includes this whole area. It’s impossible to find a good map, online anyway. I don’t think your guide needs revision, I’m a master at getting lost in the woods. We definitely followed the white trail south from the tower, we descended down some steep bluffs at the bottom the blue blaze was on our right. So to be clear we should’ve went down from the tower the way we came up & then kept an eye out for the yellow due north of the tower?
Mystery solved! Yes, from the tower, you should backtrack back to the Red Trail (Step 19 above), then take a right to continue onto the Beast Loop, or left to head back to your car. If you’re going to tackle the entire loop, you’ll need to be really careful to follow the directions above exactly (there are a ton of turns and different trails), and I highly recommend springing for the NY-NJTC map for this area: http://nynjtc.org/product/east-hudson-trails. You won’t regret that purchase, I promise. Hope that helps, and good luck on your next visit!
I just got back from doing the full loop alone – my first solo hike. Thank you so much for this very detailed write up. I think I would still be out there somewhere without it. Somehow I missed the turnoff from the Red trail to the Yellow trail after climbing the tower. The turn is so obvious that I am embarrassed to admit I missed it somehow. Ended up going 10-15 minutes down the unmarked trail that goes straight ahead before I finally convinced myself to turn around. I checked your guide and realized I must have overshot it, and found it easily after returning. Also, the first Yellow trail looks like it is getting overgrown in parts, I think it needs more foot traffic. But, the views from that trail were totally worth it.
Overall, this was an excellent hike with a variety of sights along the way: casino ruins, fire tower, scenic overviews, dense forests, a dozer, and a rusted SUV all packed into 7.5 miles. I hope to return and show some friends next time!
In the meantime, I will definitely be looking at more of your hiking guides to get some ideas for my next trip! Thanks again!
The full loop was a great hike. Even on a crowded day, we didn’t see any fellow hikers after the firetower area until we got closer to the other side. The directions were very helpful for landmarks and tricky spots. There was many places with views in every direction possible including the city on a clear day. We skipped the fire tower so the hike was about 7.2 miles. If you want your hike to just be a little longer or just want a different view not far from the firetower, walk the red trail past the tower trail until the yellow trail and follow it a 1/8 of a mile and there is a nice view on some rocks and you can see the city. Being fall time, it was cool to see the tops of the hills red and beginning to change. Will hike again.
I just did the mega loop today…damn it was tough. It was pretty much on point with your notes above. The one area that I got off the trail was at the Dozer Junction transitioning to the White Trail.
I was pretty exhausted at that point, and missed the section where you mention to not go down the middle, in between the white makers. After about 10 min, I noticed I hadn’t seen a white marker, and I actually went off on another unmarked trail off the main unmarked I was currently on. I figured something was off, so I double backed to the Dozer, turned my phone back on and read that section carefully. That helped me also understand the “positioning” of the markers when they use 2 together. It kind of “points” you to the left or right.
Overall, it was great. Thank you so much for the very accurately detailed information, it saved my butt today. Next time, especially on a long unknown hike like this, I’m gonna do it with a buddy. I wouldn’t really recommend doing this one alone.
Question……is there a lot of hikers during the week?
Hi Donna! You shouldn’t find a mob scene here during the week, but this likely won’t be a hike that you’ll have all to yourself, either (unless you continue past the tower). I burned a day of vacation to visit on a Friday, and while there weren’t a ton of other hikers, we passed several other people. Hope you have a great visit and find plenty of elbow room!
I have never hiked one of your trails but from after reading a few of your guides, I cannot wait to do so! Question, would this specific hike be doable with a baby on a carrier? My husband and I are in ok shape but I wanted to make sure it was ok to do it wearing our baby. I hope so… Thanks!!!
Hi Natalie! Nice to hear from some other baby-luggers. I have carried a baby on my back to the casino overlook (Step 12 above) with no problem, but that’s as far as I’ve gone while kid-lugging. There aren’t any rock scrambles or extremely difficult spots anywhere on this hike (though it is generally quite steep) to keep you from going as far as you’d like. If you want my two cents, I’d say the casino overlook would be a great final destination, the tower could be a nice stretch goal if you’re feeling up to it, and anything beyond that would be overkill (though still technically doable, it would probably be too much for you and for junior). And from a guy who once fell flat on his face while carrying a baby, hiking poles are really nice to have for extra stability when you’ve got a little person on your back and no margin for slips and/or tumbles. Hope you have a great time out there if you decide to give it a go!
Thanks so much for your very helpful reply, Mike! We can’t wait to check it out with our lil one 🙂
Hi Mike! We did the hike today with out little one and we absolutely loved it. You are right, totally doable. We actually ventured out and went up to the Fire Tower… it was Amazing! Thank you so much for your helpful advice.
Feel free to let me know what other hikes you recommend with the lil one in tow.
Fantastic – so glad to hear it! The list of hikes I wouldn’t recommend while carrying a kid is probably easier – Breakneck, Bonticou, Lemon Squeeze & Labyrinth, Indian Head & Twin Mountain, Surprise Lake I and II. Otherwise, depending on how much of an adventure you’re looking for (and how rested your shoulders are), the rest of them are manageable. If you busted out the tower, sounds like the Hudson Valley is pretty much your oyster 🙂 I hope you all have many more great trips with your little one!
Hi David. I was on the Yellow Trail yesterday and actually started my hike from where you ended up. You missed the turn off onto the blue trail, which takes you to the white trail. It happens!
I don’t know where we went wrong, but we attempted the “Beast” loop yesterday and wound up at the bottom of the yellow trail in Cold Spring near Route 9. Had to call someone to pick us up and drive us back to our car in Beacon, lol. We’re going to attempt the loop in reverse, one day, to see where we turned wrong. I’m thinking we must have missed a (possible?) earlier junction with the yellow trail from the white trail. Not sure! Beautiful hike though!!
Hi David. I was on the Yellow Trail yesterday and actually started my hike from where you ended up. You missed the turn off onto the blue trail, which takes you to the white trail. It happens!
Actually, we made it from yellow to blue to white; however, after re-reading this page over and over for where we went wrong, I think I found it! I think under step 31, we made the right on to the white trail and not the left. Oh well; like you said, it happens! 🙂
Man, that sounds like a frustrating day out there – glad you had someone who could come pick you up! Sorry to hear about the mishap, and glad you figured out what went wrong. If I could into improve the write-up to keep the same thing from happening to other hikers, please let me know! Good luck conquering the beast next time!
Thanks for a great guide! I always peruse your site before I go on any hike, even if it’s one I’ve done before! I went for a super early morning hike last Friday to Mount Beacon, had my breakfast on the casino site, and decided to finally try for the fire tower, as well! Great views!
Awesome, Krista! Thanks for making my day with this comment. That’s great to hear!
Thanks for the great guide. I’m planning to do the hike this weekend! One question: do you happen to know if there’s anywhere to lock up a bike near the trailhead? Or perhaps by Bob’s Store? I need to bring my bike in order to get from my home to Metro-North in the Bronx. Can I ride out to the trailhead, or am I better off locking up my bike somewhere in Beacon? Thanks!
Hi Lisa. While there isn’t an official bike stand, there are plenty of places to chain a bike to (like trees in the parking lot). I am not sure what kind of bike lock you have, but hopefully you have something that will work. Enjoy the hike! And if you are doing the full long loop, good luck!
Good answer, Ed! Agreed – I don’t recall seeing bike racks right there, and don’t see any in my pictures of the parking area (and don’t see any at Bob’s, either, though there could be some around the side), but there are plenty of other posts, fences, signs and trees that should be fine for locking a bike. I’d recommend bringing it to the trailhead and improvising from there – you shouldn’t have a problem finding a good spot for it.
Hope this helps, Lisa — have a great hike (and ride)!
I hiked Mt. Beacon today and saw that someone had chained their bike to the bottom of the stairs, which is just slightly passed the beginning of the hike. Seems like a good place to me!
I did the reverse long loop today, meaning I joined the yellow trail soon after climbing the stairs on the Casino (red) trail. The views from Lambs Hill and along the yellow Wilkerson Memorial trail were excellent. Sadly, the blue trail is just
oops. Just as poorly marked in this direction as it is in the direction you took. I’m going to use the NY-NJ Trail Conference website to report it.
Did this trail a week ago! Definitely worth it!
Wish I had more time/planned it better. Wanted to do the whole loop but sunset was about an hour after getting off the fire tower 🙁 Still enjoyed it thoroughly.
Sounds like you made the right call on that one. Glad you enjoyed it – good luck if you tackle the whole loop next time!
Your guides, not just this one, are awesome!
Thank you for sharing these!
Thank YOU, Wilson! That’s great to hear!
Thanks for these amazing guides! I have done a few of your hikes now, & your jovial tone and detailed instructions are Botha pleasure & a tremendous help.
One thing I will say about this hike- I am in ok shape (live in the city, have a job that jeeps me mostly on my feet), but my hiking companion we learned is not, and this hike was rather difficult for him. We had to stop several times to rest, & he thinks his legs will probably hurt tomorrow. He’s not a big lard, either, but lives a mostly sedentary lifestyle. We only went as far as the casino ruins, since more was basically out of the question.
I’m not saying I was bounding up the mountain, but just warning others that it is, in fact, a mountain- you climb straight up almost the entire way. If you’re not sure you’re ready for it, maybe pick something a little less strenuous & work your way up to this.
Unless you’re the guy we saw on the trail- passed us on the way up, & came back down before we had reached the top. Didn’t look like he was running, either- just an obnoxiously healthy human being who walked straight up in about half an hour. If you’re him, I applaud you & hope you make your living doing that, because if not seriously what gives?
Thanks for the awesome feedback, Bef! Very much appreciated. The way you described that obnoxiously healthy human (my new favorite phrase) at the end is giving me the mental image of Rob Lowe from Parks & Rec. I hope he did some yoga at the top.
Thanks again for the amazing trail guides! It was extremely helpful for research and helping me Be Prepared (Scout Motto). I hiked this on December 2013 and to my surprise, the entire trail was covered in 1-2 feet of snow. It was a very strenuous but rewarding hike of a life time! The views were breathtaking and super spectacular! Thank goodness I made it to the firetower and back on time. One of the best days of my life!
Thanks for all the awesome feedback you’ve given on this site, Jeremiah! Seeing your comment here reminded me of the photo you posted a little while back, perhaps my favorite Mt. Beacon shot yet.
I’m still hoping the whole mid-air jump photo thing takes off.
This trail guide was awesome! As all of the ones on this site are. We went to Mt. Beacon in October. Beautiful place but crowded on the weekends. If you do the whole 7.7 mile loop the crowds thin out a little past the tower. Thanks again love your guides!
Glad to hear these guides have been useful to you, Christopher – thanks for the kind words!