Incredible hiking trails only 90 minutes from Manhattan...
If you are staying in New York City and are looking to escape the mayhem of Manhattan for a day, the Hudson Highlands State Park is a perfect day-adventure.
From Grand Central, you will get the train to Cold Spring which will take about 90-minutes.
*TIP - sit on the left hand side of the train to get the best views of the Hudson as you travel north.
The price of a return ticket is $30. Arriving into Cold Spring, you'll walk towards the centre of this quaint little town, there is an excellent coffee shop called Rincon Argentino on the left before you walk underneath the railway onto the main street. The owner has good knowledge of the hiking trails and has great conversation before you embark on your hiking adventure.
From Cold Spring you will walk up the town's main street for two blocks before turning left on Fair Street. You will follow this road along until you eventually reach the Park Office which is the start point for many trails in the area.
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For the Breakneck Ridge hike, you'll need to walk along the Cornish trail and follow signs to the Breakneck Ridge trailhead. The last stretch of this little warm up walk is walking through the tunnel on a main road. It's a little disconcerting but you'll be through it within a couple of minutes.
When you exit you will be greeted by the park officer's who are situated at the beginning of the Breakneck Ridge trail and can talk you through it all. Don't forget to pick up a map, so you can keep checking the route you are taking.
From the start, it is a steep 3-hour climb upwards. It's a scramble 90% of the way until you get to the USA flag, which is an incredible viewing point and a great spot for a packed lunch. Don't forget to take at least 3-litres of water! You'll need plenty.
After the USA flag point, you'll climb again, although from here there are a couple of alternative paths which bypass the steepest of scrambles - but get you to the same point. Along this stretch the views open up all over again, giving you even better views than you got at the flag.
You're heading for the junction onto the Yellow trail, which marks the point when the climbing is done and you are now heading back downhill towards the Park Office and Cold Spring.
The decline begins with rocky steps before turning into a proper path through the woods.
Eventually you will join back onto the Cornish trail, the same trail you began on.
*TIP - When you arrive back at Cold Spring, get some food and drinks at the wonderful Cold Spring Depot bar. It has a great outdoor terrace and is full of other hikers sharing their stories of the day.
Things to remember: - You must take more water than you need. Whilst this hike is doable for non-professional hikers (like me) it will take its toll. I drank a good 3-litres and still wanted more. - I hiked this trail in late June on a hot and humid day. Take a hat, plenty of sunscreen, food and first aid kits and don't forget insect repellent. Ticks are in the area and there are warnings about them. It is good practice to regularly reapply.
When you get home, take a shower and have thorough check to see if any ticks have attached themselves to you. I was fine, but better to be safe than sorry. - If you are unfamiliar with the area, go at the weekend when other people will be climbing with you. It's comforting knowing other people are around.
This hike is incredible, one of the best I've done and well worth the effort it takes. The views, landscapes, and the wonderful town of Cold Spring all make it a must-do adventure for a day from NYC.