There will be six trailhead access points to the HHFT which will include restrooms, orientation kiosks, nearby parking, shuttle access and other amenities when completed. A few of these, along with additional immersive meanders on the trail route, can be visited and enjoyed now.
LEARN MORE ABOUT EACH ENTRANCE LOCATION:
Long Dock Park
THE NORTHERNMOST ENTRY POINT OF THE FJORD TRAIL
This Scenic Hudson park should be a destination on any visit to the City of Beacon: home to galleries, restaurants, and the renowned contemporary art museum Dia: Beacon. Long Dock Park offers year-round recreational opportunities from biking to cross-country skiing and kayaking.
A restored nineteenth-century barn is a Scenic Hudson headquarters for educational and artistic programming. And to think: this community open space on the river was once an industrial hub, from railroad depot to salt stockpile to automotive junkyard.
A HUDSON RIVER PENINSULA
It may look an awful lot like a mirror image of Florida on Google Maps, but Dennings Point, up close, is pure forest. Right in the City of Beacon, Dennings Point is a short loop hike with opportunities for river access. It is home to the Beacon Institute for Rivers and Estuaries of Clarkson University—leaders in research and education focusing on healthy water.
Pair Dennings Point with a hike at Scenic Hudson’s Madam Brett Park for a day of ecological diversity combining forest, marsh, and the Fishkill Creek—and some history at the 1879 Tioronda Hat Works ruins. Or connect Dennings Point to Scenic Hudson’s Long Dock Park via the Klara Sauer Trail, also known as the Riverfront Trail, for a longer excursion.
The connections you can make between different parks and trails in this area, along with creating a safe thoroughfare for non-motorized travel between Cold Spring and Beacon, laid the groundwork for the Fjord Trail.
Madam Brett Park
BIRDWATCHING RIGHT IN THE CITY OF BEACON
Scenic Hudson’s Madam Brett Park combines a magical mix of natural beauty and Hudson Valley industrial history.
A boardwalk takes visitors along Fishkill Creek, passing a sometimes-raging waterfall and built opportunities for observing wildlife. History buffs will enjoy the nearby homestead of Catheryna Brett, who established a successful grist mill in the early eighteenth century and went on to be a formidable real estate tycoon.
The now-defunct Tioranda Hatworks, just adjacent to the boardwalk at Madam Brett Park, is a colorful relic of a time when Beacon was the hat-making capital of America.
The Fishkill Marsh, between Madam Brett Park and Dennings Point, is home to a diverse array of amphibians, waterfowl, and other aquatic species—make sure to bring binocularsand your favorite wildlife identification app!
Notch, Wilkinson Memorial, and Nimham Trails
SOLITUDE AND BIRDSONG ALONG A CONNECTOR TRAIL
The Notch Trail is in the Hudson Highlands State Park Preserve, an approximately 12-mile out-and-back hike with its trailhead on Route 9D. Most of today’s Notch Trail will not be part of the HHFT; as with Breakneck Ridge, the Notch Trail is managed by OPRHP—but the improved trailhead will be part of the Fjord Trail and the hub of HHFT’s planned Forest area.
The Notch Trail can be reached four ways: from South Beacon Mountain, Breakneck Ridge, the Notch trailhead on Route 9D, or the Wilkinson Memorial trailhead, also on Route 9D. The Wilkinson Memorial trailhead will also take you to the Nimham Trail, which HHFT constructed in 2021 in partnership with NYS Parks.
THE LEGENDARY HIKE BEHIND THE FJORD TRAIL'S GENESIS
This is the hike you’ve heard about: the one that sees nearly 200,000 visitors a year, many of whom learn quickly that you need to be prepared for this one.
Located in Fishkill and part of the 8,000-acre Hudson Highlands State Park Preserve, the hike up Breakneck Ridge is neither for the faint of heart nor the inexperienced day-tripper. Steep friction slabs, boulder piles, and 1,400 feet of elevation gain in a little over a mile mean you’ll want to have your lungs on good for Breakneck Ridge. Best to leave the young kids, dogs, and flip-flops at home. There are both impressive views and precipitous drop-offs to be encountered along the way so hike with care on this challenging route.
Those not set on going all the way up the mountain will be thrilled to find the new Upper Overlook area, a project of HHFT and NY State Parks, which was completed in June, 2023. The Upper Overlook is accessed by a series of approximately 80 stone steps ascending from the newly restored Breakneck Ridge Trailhead. It features spectacular views of the river without the rigorous scrambles, as well as a new Trail Steward Station for NYNJTC trail stewards who are there to answer your questions if you are considering continuing your climb up Breakneck. Many folks will choose to enjoy the scramble that follows, and then complete a short loop by coming back down the mountain on the Ninham and Wilkinson trails.
Everywhere you go and every step of the way, minimize your impact by abiding by the principles of Leave No Trace. Breakneck Ridge is a cherished natural landmark that has seen a lot of crowds over the years, leaving behind serious erosion and other evidence of heavy use, which was a key focus of the restoration work completed here in June 2023. The new Nimham Trail and relocated Breakneck Trailhead and improvements will greatly reduce the environmental impact the area has experienced in recent years, and the Fjord Trail's future main trail will give another alternative for folks wishing to experience the area; but everyone must do their part by sticking to established trails and treating this remarkable site with care.
Of note: while the improved trailhead and overlooks at Breakneck will be part of the future Fjord Trail, the remainder of the hike is in Hudson Highlands State Park Preserve, and thus managed by OPRHP.
Please consider visiting other destinations in the project area—given the crowds here, you might be glad you did.
Little Stony Point
EXACTLY AS IT SOUNDS!
A small peninsula in Philipstown with a lot of rock (gneiss, to be precise), Little Stony Point is the perfect place for a short hike with beautiful river views.
It’s also a very agreeable cool-down after the strenuous hike across the street, Mount Taurus (a.k.a. Bull Hill, but “hill” is understated, in a really big way, considering the degree of exertion this hike demands).
Little Stony Point has a cool cave and a pretty sand beach with a head-on view of Breakneck Ridge, the much bigger piece of rock up the road.
The one-mile loop at Little Stony Point is also just right for kids who might not be ready for a full day’s hiking.
PART OF THE CULTURAL FABRIC OF COLD SPRING, AN ARCHETYPAL RIVERFRONT VILLAGE
Dockside Park features open river views and shoreline access, just north of the Cold Spring riverfront dock.
This park marks the western bank of a historic village that delights visitors with its eclectic nineteenth-century architectural styles, artisanal shops, and restaurants for diners of all persuasions.
Village concerns in Cold Spring about the impacts of over-visitation to Breakneck Ridge gave rise to the Fjord Trail as a community project.
Dockside Park will be the southernmost entry point of the Fjord Trail.
When visiting Dockside Park and Cold Spring, make sure to also check out the nearby West Point Foundry Preserve.
Photography: Ruben Martinez Barricarte
Illustration: Donna Calcavecchio
Photography (Dockside Park panel): Jaroslav Bendl
Photography (Dockside Park panel): Russell Cusick
Photography (Little Stony Point panel): Ty Cole
Photography (Notch, Wilkinson Memorial and Nimham Trails panel): Meredith Heuer
Photography (Madam Brett Park panel): Meredith Heuer
Photography (Dennings Point panel): Pierce Johnston
Photography (Long Dock Park panel): Meredith Heuer