This difficult hike is a variation of the Beacon Fire Tower hike for those looking to make a loop rather than an out-and-back. The 5.9-mile loop follows the Scofield Ridge and climbs Lambs Hill to add about 2 extra miles compared to out-and-back hike. It also takes you through slightly less busy trails, although you will still find lots of company.
Hike Length: 5.9 miles
Elevation gain: 2,120 feet
Location: Mount Beacon Park & Hudson Highlands State Park Preserve, Beacon, NY
Park in the lot at Mount Beacon Park, 788 Wolcott Ave, Beacon, NY (Google maps). If the lot is full – and chances are good that it will be unless you get there early – you might be able to find on-street parking nearby.
- East Hudson Trails combined (Avenza)
- East Hudson Trails Map #102 – NY-NJ Trail Conference (print)
- Mount Beacon Park Trail Map – Scenic Hudson
- Hudson Highlands State Park Preserve map (north) – NY Parks (pdf)
- Hudson Highlands State Park Preserve map (north) – NY Parks (Avenza)
From the parking lot, look for the kiosk at the trailhead.
The red-blazed Casino trail begins ahead on a relatively level gravel road. For most of the way to the Beacon Fire Tower, the route will follow a woods road. A short distance ahead, you’ll pass the remnants of the Mount Beacon Incline Railway – a funicular, or inclined railroad – that once took passengers up the (yup – steep) mountain which you’re about to climb. While in operation, it was the steepest funicular in the world.
Just ahead is the base of a metal staircase helpfully placed here to make the walk up a little easier.
Turn around at the top of the stairs for your first glimpse of the views of Beacon.
The trail continues to climb the steep mountainside on switchbacks. It’ll get your heart pumping.
After a total of about 1.2 miles, the trail levels as you reach the abandoned powerhouse at what was once the top of the funicular on North Beacon Mountain. This area once had an old hotel and attracted tourists. All you’ll find today are what remains of the foundations. From here, you’ll be able to enjoy the same panoramic views of Beacon and the surrounding mountains.
Continue to follow the red blazes uphill, still along a woods road, for about 0.75 miles. Look to your right for an unblazed trail that goes steeply uphill.
The trail begins in dense woods, then onto more and more exposed rock, at which point you’ll get a glimpse of the fire tower.
After a total of about a quarter mile, you’ll reach the summit of the 1,610 foot South Beacon Mountain and the Mount Beacon Fire Tower. The fire tower was built in 1931 and restored in 2013.
This exposed ridge is a great spot for a snack break and offers nice views, but climb the 60 feet to the top of the tower for even better panoramic views including the Manhattan skyline, the Hudson Highlands, the Shawangunks and Catskills.
Continue southwest just beyond the fire tower and look for the white blazes of the Breakneck Ridge Trail (if you followed the blazes to the right – west – you would eventually reach Breakneck Ridge). We will turn left (east) to follow the white blazes down back to the red-blazed Casino Trail.
Once you reach the red-blazed Casino Trail, we will turn right (For a shorter hike, turn left and retrace your steps back to the parking area). Proceed for a quarter mile until the trail ends at the yellow-blazed Wilkinson Memorial Trail. Turn left to follow the yellow blazes.
Follow the trail for nearly 2 miles as it proceeds along Scofield Ridge. Along the way, there are multiple viewpoints to the east and west. From the first south-facing viewpoint, the Cold Spring Reservoir is visible ahead with the New York City in the distance.
After another east-facing viewpoint, the trail makes a sharp turn to the west. A short distance later is a clearing with a view to the northwest of the Beacon Reservoir with Beacon partially visible.
The trail dips, climbs, then dips and climbs again to a partially exposed ridge top.
About a quarter mile later is an east-facing viewpoint with the Fishkill rock quarry and asphalt plant visible.
The trail make a sharp 180 degree bend to the southwest and then begins to descend. As the trail reaches a saddle, the blue trail appears on the left. Turn left to follow the blue blazes for 0.3 miles at which point this short trail ends when you reach an abandoned bulldozer near the appropriately-named Dozer Junction.
At Dozer Junction, make a left onto the white-blazed Fishkill Ridge Trail. The trail now climbs up the south side of Lambs Hill. The summit offers a few viewpoints.
The trail descends steeply and then levels out before passing through a partially exposed ridge with views to the west.
From here, the trail begins a steep, extended decline for about a mile.
The trail reaches and crosses a gravel road called Mount Beacon Monument Road and continues to descend. About a quarter mile later you’ll pass Dry Brook Falls on your left.
The trail now parallels the Dry Brook on your right through a ravine.
Keep an eye out on your left for the junction with a yellow-blazed trail and turn left to follow the yellow blazes uphill. The trail soon joins a woods road and shortly begins to descend again. You’ll pass an abandoned truck on your left along the way.
The trail passes near private property. Pay attention to plentiful signage to stay on the yellow trail and off of private property.
After a total of 0.8 miles, the yellow trail terminates at the red-blazed Casino Trail. Turn right and follow the red blazes downhill for 0.45 miles back to the parking lot.