OverviewMount Beacon is the second highest point in the Hudson Highlands. Depending on the map, it may be called Mount Beacon or Beacon Mountain. The mountain consists of two peaks. The northern peak is 1531ft and has a series of radio antennas on its summit. The higher southern peak is 1610ft and has a lookout tower on its summit. The lookout tower is currently closed for public use due to disrepair.
On a clear day one can see the New York City skyline from the summit as well as views of the town of Beacon and the majority of the Highlands (including Storm King, Breakneck Ridge, and little Sugarloaf). As of this writing, the main trail up to the old casino is fairly heavily used, but the trail along Scofield ridge is nearly deserted.
Getting ThereThere are several trail heads to hike Mount Beacon. However, the easiest access is on highway 9D.
From New York City, take either 684 or 87 to I-84. From 87, take I-84 East. From 684, take I-84W. Get off on exit 11 and turn south on highway 9D. Follow 9D through the town of Beacon for approximately 1.5 miles. You will cross a bridge over a river, the road will take a right, and you will see "Bob's corner shop". The trail head is just after this turn on the left side of the road and across from Bob's. There is a large blue sign marking the lot, and it can hold approximately 30 cars.
From the parking lot, walk up the well marked road to the base of the old incline railway. The trail starts on the left side of this railway at the base of the stairs.
A second trail head is located off of highway 9 on Old Albany Post Rd. Parking is only available on the side of the road in a residential area. This trail head brings you up to fishkill ridge instead of straight to the casino.
A third option is off of sunnyside road that will start you off on overlook trail. This provides a few more views, but is a longer hike.
Full directions of the actual hike can be found here.
Maps of the area are USGS West Point, NY-NJTC East Hudson Trails #102. Of the two, the NY-NJTC map is the better.
Red TapeNo camping is allowed anywhere on Mount Beacon. Please pack out any trash.
There is a large problem with illegal ATV use throughout the mountain and the damage can be seen on several of the trails. No motorized vehicles are allowed on any of the trails. Despite this, there are several abandoned cars that can be seen throughout the hike.
HistoryMount Beacon was originally used as a signal point to warn if the British were coming during the revolutionary war. The town of Beacon, NY gets its name from this mountain.
In 1902 a Casino opened at the top of the mountain as well as an incline railway. The casino eventually burned down in the 20s, but the railway continued to operate until 1975. In 1983 a fire destroyed most of the railway, so only the shell of the former railway exists today. However, the Incline Railway Restoration Society is working to restore the railway to its former glory.
Before the casino burned down, the mountain was the scene of many silent movies in the 20s. Scofield ridge was commonly used in filming.
At one point the mountain was used for skiing and the bases of the old lifts can still be seen on the trails today.
CautionsRattlesnakes are prevelent throughout the mountain. Be very careful when walking on any of the rocks on a warm day as the snakes like to bask in the sun on the rocks.
Some of the overlooks are fairly popular party spots for the local teenagers so watch out for broken glass.
External LinksMount Beacon Wikipedia Page.
NYNJTC Hike of the week
Topo trail map of Mount Beacon