Breakneck Ridge, The Cornish Estate & Bull Mountain 

A classic ascent up Breakneck Ridge (said to be one of the Top-10 Dayhikes in the US) followed by plenty of time in the woods and another climb up most of Bull Mountain. You'll also pass by the ruins of the Cornish Estate - a mansion and several out-buildings which were built some time around 1917.

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Author: Dodster77
Date: 7 Nov 2010 10:58:52 PM
Source: Trimble Outdoors on my Verizon phone
Activity: Hiking
State: New York (NY)
Distance: 6.75 mi  (Change units)
Survey Elevation: Total Gain: 2473 ft
Total Loss: 2421 ft
Net Change: 52 ft
Difficulty: 8 / 10
Tags: Beacon, Cold Spring, Dutchess County, NY, New York, Putnam County, Westchester, Westchester, NY
Rating: Unrated   Rate it

I had intended to do quite a bit more on this hike than what we actually ended up completing. We got a late start on the trail due to some difficulties finding the route to the trailhead, the weather was much colder and windier than we had expected, and we had plans for later in the evening. Truth be told though, we were grateful for the excuses since this hike turned out to be much more challenging than it’s 6.75 miles might hint at. As we realized that we were running out of daylight and that we would never make it back to the parking lot before dark, we turned down a shorter path home (almost) with a sigh of relief.
The day started with a long and very steep climb up the Hudson Valley’s classic Breakneck Ridge Trail. The trail reaches an angle of almost 75 degrees at some points, and you will gain over 900 feet before you’ve even completed your first mile.  We had a lot of company, as this is a very popular and well known spot. There are overlooks galore which will give you splendid views of Storm King Mountain on the west side of the Hudson River, and Pollpel Island & Bannerman Castle on the river itself. The trail is fairly easy to follow, with white blazes painted on the rocks and white discs nailed to the trees. In spite of the fact that the trail is very steep, I did not get much of a feeling of exposure due to the fact that you are surrounded by plenty of trees and that the trail keeps you, mostly, facing the mountain. About half way up is a flagpole – I read that it was placed there to commemorate something, but I forget exactly what it was.
After the peak of the mountain, we descended south-east into the valley between Breakneck Ridge and Bull Mountain. Soon we came to the ruins of the Cornish Estate and we spent a good amount of time there marveling at what the mansion and it’s out buildings must have looked like in their heyday. Later, we began another steep climb up Bull Mountain, took a turn around an old rock quarry, and then we began to realize we were running out of time. 
My original plan had been to summit Bull Mountain, cross over to some more ruins along the Notch Trail, re-climb to another section of Breakneck Ridge and then take an easier route back down to the parking lot. That would have made our trek into a 10+ miler. Instead we turned back downhill and followed the Undercliff and Brook trails back to the road and to our cars.
More information on some of what we saw can be found at the following:

TO TRAILHEAD: From the Newburgh-Beacon Bridge: Follow Rt 9D South 6.2 Miles. Park in the lot on your right just before the tunnel.

From NYC: I-87N to I-287E. Follow signs to Saw Mill Pkwy N, and then to the Taconic N. Exit onto US 9A North and follow it to US 9D. Park in the lot after the tunnel.

Position Format: Datum:

Hike - 11/07/10

Distance: 6.75 mi Points: 896
Total Time: none Speed: 0.0 mph Pace: 0:00 / mi
Active Time: none Speed: 0.0 mph Pace: 0:00 / mi

Points of Interest

Parking Lot

Location: 41.446008, -73.979573
If it's full, many people will park along the sides of Rt. 9D.

Breakneck Ridge Trailhead

Location: 41.443313, -73.977964
Maps (albeit poor ones) are available for free at a post marking the trailhead. Begin following the White Blazes & Discs.

Undercliff Trail

Location: 41.445843, -73.971736
Turn right, downhill and follow the Yellow Blazes & Discs of Undercliff Trail.

Brook Trail

Location: 41.444685, -73.965272
Cross over a small wooden bridge spanning a stream, turn right, and follow the Red Blazes & Discs of Brook Trail.

Cornish Trail

Location: 41.443217, -73.966291
Bear left and begin following the Blue Blazes & Discs of Cornish Trail.

Cornish Estate Ruins

Location: 41.438090, -73.970089
The buildings of the former Cornish Estate are great for exploring and for photography.

Washburn Trail

Location: 41.427162, -73.965647
Turn left as you come to a parking lot along 9D and begin to climb Bull Mountain. Follow the White Blazes & Discs.

Abandoned Quarry

Location: 41.428880, -73.961710

Washburn Trail

Location: 41.427862, -73.962922
The trail takes a poorly marked, sharp, right turn as you come into view of the abandoned quarry.

Undercliff Trail

Location: 41.433123, -73.959296
Near the summit of Bull Mountain, take a left turn onto Undercliff Trail and follow the Yellow Blazes & Discs.

Brook Trail

Location: 41.444287, -73.964982
You'll meet up with Brook Trail again. Follow it downhill (as you did before) but this time bear right at the intersection with Cornish Trail and keep following Brook's Red Blazes & Discs all the way back down to Route 9D.

Route 9D

Location: 41.438625, -73.973114
As you exit the woods, turn right and head back north to your parking area.

Looking down the trail at the trailhead.

Location: 41.443169, -73.978125

Pollpel Island & Bannerman Castle

Location: 41.442887, -73.975325
Looking north, up the river.

Storm King Mountain in the background.

Location: 41.442509, -73.975013

Looking up Breakneck Ridge Trail

Location: 41.442911, -73.974509

Near the summit of Breakneck Ridge.

Location: 41.444230, -73.972610

The ruins of the Cornish Estate.

Location: 41.438118, -73.970239

The ruins of the Cornish Estate.

Location: 41.437917, -73.970186

The ruins of the Cornish Estate.

Location: 41.437804, -73.970218

The Hudson, Cold Spring, & West Point.

Location: 41.433211, -73.960873
The villiage of Cold Spring is in the mid-ground. West Point is in the top center of the frame.

Looking back at the initial climb up Breakneck Ridge.

Location: 41.433887, -73.965164

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