Even though I have spent the better part of the last twenty five years hiking the Hudson Valley, I have never hiked Mt. Beacon. I don’t know whether just looking at it the many times that I drove by it or seeing its massive form from a distance scared me away, but I never did get the courage to do it-until the other day.
At this point I have to give a huge shout out to Sonia and Vanessa, friends of mine who have hiked Mt. Beacon many times. I don’t whether it was them actually shaming me into finally making the hike, but after saying that I would, I certainly couldn’t back out. It just wouldn’t be worth the abuse.
I pulled into the parking lot right off of Route 9D at about 6:15 am and was surprised at the amount of cars already in the lot. As I got my pack ready for the climb, two hikers came out of the woods and after a short conversation I learned that they had hiked all the way to the fire tower (4.4 miles up and back with a total ascent of 1561 feet). My goal for the day was a little more modest. I would just being hiking to the overlook, a hike that would be 2.4 miles up and back with a total ascent of 1004 feet.
Starting in the parking lot on the red trail, the first thing that I noticed was that although not that steep, you immediately start going uphill.
As I rounded the curve in the picture above, I saw in the distance a set of steel stairs that looked pretty intimidating.
I will admit that at first I thought, “this is absolutely friggin crazy, why am I doing this?” Once I started climbing the stairs, however, I quickly noticed that the distance between each stair was not like being in a building. On this staircase each step is closer to the next than a traditional set of stairs, making the climb much easier on the legs!
After reaching the top of the stairs, the trail quickly turn left and moves steadily and steeply uphill.
That’s right folks, no camera tricks here. This is literally what the entire climb to the overlook is like. Even though switchbacks can sometimes give you a little relief from a climb, that is not the case here. You just keep climbing and climbing and….you get the point. Not only is the climb constant, it is steep.
In my case it took me 45-50 minutes to get to the top. Having not done the hike before, I didn’t want to kill myself just getting to the viewpoint so even though I didn’t stop, I did proceed at a slower pace than normal. As I approached the top, I saw a brick building to my right and realized that I had finally made it!
About 100 feet from this spot you get some of the best views in the entire region. Here are pictures of the Newburgh Beacon Bridge, the Hudson River and north and south on the Hudson.
After spending almost an hour exploring the area, I decided that it was time to head back down to the parking lot and unfortunately civilization. I know that the next time I hike Mt. Beacon, I will make the trek to the fire tower.
If you haven’t done this hike, I strongly encourage that you do so. Don’t let a fear of its steepness or difficulty frighten you away from some incredible views. You would only be robbing yourself of a great hike.