I have evaded Mount Beacon for one reason and one reason only: THE CLIMB. If I rated my local New York hikes by difficulty thus far, this would be the hardest. Keep in mind I have not done any of the Catskills or any of the 46 Adirondack peaks. That could very easily move this hike down on the list. For now just understand it’s a very steep hike.
I hiked to the tower in 2017 and swore I would never do it again. And then against my better judgement I tried again in the winter. The snow and ice prevented me from going past the casino remains. And for anyone attempting to hike in the winter: I strongly recommend you bring crampons and hiking poles. It makes a huge difference.
This time around, my husband wanted to go hiking and wanted a challenge. Mount Beacon immediately popped into my mind. Don’t ask me why I would volunteer to try it again, but alas here we are.
We arrived at 7:55am and there were already about 50 cars in the lot. That’s not an exaggeration by the way. The parking lot has a board with a map and some information about the area. You can also collect a map for reference.
At the base of the hike there are remains of the once working train that went up to the hotel and casino. This area also has benches and a picnic table. There used to be port-a-potties by the entrance as well. They weren’t there this time and it’s unclear if they were removed for Covid-19 reasons.
If you’d like to read more about the area and see
pictures postcards of what the hotel and casino used to look like, click HERE. TSFGE has collected postcards and information about the train/funicular that used to take patrons up to the resort before it burned down in the early 1900s.
TIME: 3H 20M
LENGTH: 4.6 MILES RT
ELEVATION CHANGE: 1500 ft
From the parking lot we walked past this gate. The three red trail markers indicate the beginning of the trail. We were going to be on the red trail for over an hour.
Soon after the gate we arrived at the stairs. We climbed about 150 stairs/200 feet and knew it was going to be an intense leg day. There were already other people on the trail this early in the morning (keep the crowding in mind for when you plan your trip).
After the stairs we hiked up a long set of steep switch backs. There are several even steeper “shortcuts” along the way. I saw a couple of people fall and recommend following the red trail markers instead. It doesn’t really add that much more time to the hike anyways.
I don’t have many pictures of the ascension because I was putting in maximum effort. I did however record videos. You can find that on my YouTube channel here. All I will say is when you feel like quitting just take a break. There are plenty of large boulders to rest on while you climb the almost 1,000ft. I stopped my small group plenty of times for breaks. We saw larger groups too and they all did the same.
When you reach the top you’ll see a red brick building. These are the remains of the old railway powerhouse. To the left of the building there are some stairs and a short trail to the overlook. We could see the Newburgh Beacon Bridge and the Hudson River from there. The two cities on either side of the river are Newburgh and Beacon.
We snapped some pictures, drank some water, and then kept going. It was a good thing we did because we were able to leave a large crowd behind. We climbed up the stairs of the hotel and casino remains to get back on the red trail.
Every time I’ve been up here there’s always been a large puddle at this intersection. We made a right onto the red trail from here.
From this point the red trail is a lot easier. We climbed an additional 500 ft. but at a much lower gradient. I saw people going up and down an old trail I’ve used before to get to the tower. However, there’s a white blazed trail that we followed up this time.
We were on the white trail for 10 minutes before reaching the tower. From the tower we could see manhattan, the Hudson River, and the Beacon Reservoir.
Side note: I could feel the tower swaying in the wind. And it was windy! Even in June the morning air was cold up there. I definitely wouldn’t recommend climbing this tower if you’re afraid of heights.
After exploring the tower and the surrounding area we found a flat surface to rest. We ate our PB&Js and watched more and more people show up. The tower went from 4 people to approximately 20 people in ten minutes. It was about 10:00am at this point.
To head back down we retraced our steps. That means following the white trail back down and making a left at the red trail. Finishing off with 150 steps.
We tried to be extra careful going down on the loose rocks. But we still had someone fall multiple times. So here’s a reminder to be extra careful!
I always dread this hike. But if I’m being honest, there’s a very satisfying sense of achievement every time I’ve completed it. I leave there telling myself I just hiked up a mountain that once had the steepest train in the nation…
So if you ever find yourself completing this hike, send me a comment! I would love to hear about your time at Mount Beacon. Happy Hiking!
There are no shortcuts to any place worth goingBeverly Sills