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I would not call myself an environmentalist by any stretch of the imagination, however I think that everyone enjoys the adventure of hiking and the outdoors. From growing up in the Hudson Valley as a Boy Scout to hiking with my family I was exposed to one of the number one things this region is known for, the outdoors. I love the city I live in because the area is a densely packed area that is growing faster and faster every day. With three cities within 15 minutes of each other and being just over an hour north of NYC, the area of about 100,000 people has all kinds of things to do. Sounds like a lot of metropolitan areas, however this area has some of our nation’s most renown hiking and outdoor activities. In specific is the backdrop of my city, the Hudson Highlands/ Fishkill Ridge Mountains and Parks. An area so majestic and with such breathtaking views that it was included on the New York State Seal. Something I always thought was funny that the mountains behind my city was on the state seal, however NYC was no where to be found on it and is probably the number one thing that the state is known for, lol…
The Hudson Highlands and Fishkill Ridge parks have over 2,000 – acres with numerous hiking trails that are featured in a lot of the popular hiking adventure books. Just about every trail has incredible views of the valley and are always a fun time. The Fishkill Ridge Park is owned by Scenic Hudson, the most powerful environmental group in the valley and one of the most in the nation. The park serves as the northern entrance to the Hudson Highlands State Park. The Hudson Highlands is most notably known for the Breakneck Ridge hike, one of the most step hikes and one that has one of the best views.
My favorite hike, and the one I do the most is pretty much one that most Beaconites have done for years. I just did it again the other day with the wifey since it was our first date and is always a great time. The hike is lined out in red on my Hudson Highlands/ Fishkill Ridge Hiking Trail Map and starts at #1 on the map in the City of Beacon at the dead-end of Pocket Road. There are 5 or 6 areas off the side of the road were you can park. The dead-end has a gate to keep motorized vehicles off the motorized trail utilized by the city’s water department to access its water works and reservoir as well as heavy equipment to access the towers on top of the mountain. The trail starts off to the right of the green water tank aka “The Dome” as Scenic Hudson’s “White Trail”. This area is known locally as “The Dome” and is a popular high school partying spot for the kids too lazy or too scared to make the trek to “Pines” (More about that later). The trail is named the Fishkill Ridge Trail and runs parallel to dry brook which carries the city’s water supply from the reservoir on top of the mountain to the water tank. It is a great hike that is not too step and features a lot of foliage. It continues up with a lot of small water falls until you get to point number 2 on the map.
At number 2 you are almost at the merge with the motorized trail and are at the base of the largest waterfall. At this point you cross over the stream and get a great view of the falls which are about 75 feet tail (pictured above to the right), a great picture point. After this landmark you travel up a steeper incline to where the trail crosses the motorized trail in an area that is densely populated with Pine Trees (known locally as “Pines” and is the premiere party spot for the high schoolers). At this point the “White Trail” continue towards Route 9, however I make a right on the motorized trail and take it further up the mountain which eventually leads you to point #3.
Point #3 is at the city’s primary reservoir and features a damed lake with 250 million gallons of water. The large lake is a great place to take a break and enjoy the view of the rest of the way up. You can also see the Mt Beacon Fire Tower in the distance which there is a movement to preserve it. After you have rested at the reservoir it is time for the final stretch of the hike to get one of the best views of Beacon at point #4. It is a short distance until you get to a fenced off area around one of the tower farms. After walking by the fence and getting your 10 years worth of radiation you reach a small field. In that field you will see a large monument known as the Daughters of the American Revolution – Melzingah Chapter Signal Beacon Fire Monument. This monument commemorates the signal fire that once burned at that location during the revolutionary war to signal the people of the Hudson Valley that “the British where Coming.” Something so important to the area that the city even named it’s self after it. From that point you get an incredible view of the cities of Beacon and Newburgh as well as the bridge between them (pictured in my Mt Beacon Hikes Photo Gallery). At nearly 1,500-feet high, you can see way up and down the Hudson River and is a great time for a picnic. All and all the hike takes about 4 hours to take your time going up and down as well as getting some lunch.