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Hiking Up Mount Beacon

In May of 2014 I went hiking at Mt. Beacon, in Dutchess County, NY with my family. Mount Beacon got its name after the beacon fires used at the summit by the Continental Army as warning signals during the Revolutionary War. Then in the 1920s there was a popular casino and hotel at the top of the mountain, which burned down in a fire.

Trail head with information for the hike.

Mt Beacon trail head information station.

The hike is a moderately hard hike, in my opinion, going through an area of tree line and then ventures up the mountain to the fire tower at the top of the mountain. If you are doing this hike in the summer I strongly recommend to go into the convenience store across the street and buy some ice cream after your hike! When you start off there will be many smaller nature trails branching off of the main trail. But remember you came to hike up a mountain! Do not let those intriguing trails pull you in.

Here is a YouTube video I made about my hike.

Music Credit to me playing the Magic Flute by Mozart on my flute.

The small store across the trail head.

The convenience store across the trail head has yummy sandwiches and ice cream.

Hike Where the (Steep) Incline Railroad Used to Be

As you keep walking you will come across the old remains of the former incline railroad that went up Mt. Beacon. It is new listed in the National Register of Historic Places. You will come to a staircase that goes up part of the incline railroad’s path. The staircase has over 200 steps so make sure you have enough water! Once you get off of the stairs turn around to see how far you have come; you might be surprised.

Newburgh-Beacon bridge from the trail.

The view of the bridge after the stairs.

Red or Yellow Tail?

As you continue along the trail will soon start to incline. As much as the short cuts are calling you, please don’t take them. We want to preserve the nature for future generations too. You will soon get to a fork in the trail. The one on the right is the Red trail and that trail will take you up to the old transfer station and the fire tower. The trail on the left will take a longer route, it is almost an 8 mile loop, through the mountains and it also eventually arrives at the fire tower. If you want to go to the overlook and fire tower,first, then you go right on to the Red trail and then at the top you can continue on the White trail that will connect to the Yellow trail, which will lead you back to this point. This is the time to make your big decision. No pressure. I went right onto the red trail but don’t worry, I won’t be offended if you go left. No matter what trail you take make sure you look for the markers to guide you.

Red trail markers will lead you up the trail.

Follow the, follow the, follow the Red trail markers.

Mt Beacon trail splits in some places but comes right back together.

There are spots where the train splits but don’t worry, it will come back together very shortly.

Off to the Mt. Beacon Lookout

The trail continues to climb up the mountain and as you near the old transfer station you will start climbing up big slabs of rocks.  The trail becomes narrower and splits. If you go to the right it will take you to the Mt. Beacon Lookout. If you turn right you will continue to the fire tower and bypass the lookout.

A switchback at the steep trail.

A switchback at the steep incline of the Mt Beacon trail.

The Ruins

Take the right turn and the trail soon comes into a clearing where you can see where the incline railroad ends and there are the runis of the transfer station behind. It still has some of the old machine parts in it. I strongly encourage that you keep off of the machinery so that it can be preserved and so you don’t get hurt. If you go to the back of the transfer station and look in, the big rusty part of a machine right in front of you is from Chicago! You will have a nice view over the Hudson River through the ruins.

Mt Beacon incline railroad transfer station ruins.

The ruins of the transfer station where the casino and hotel stood once.

Hudson River and Beacon view from the transfer station.

The view over the Hudson River and village of Beacon from the incline railroad’s transfer station.

The Lookout

If you continue around the back of the transfer station on the trail, you will soon come out to a nice and big outlook with a gorgeous, wide view of the Hudson River, the Newburgh-Beacon Bridge and both towns on either side of the Hudson River. This is a good time for a snack break or to eat lunch.

Standing on the ledge overlooking Beacon and the river.

The Mt Beacon Lookout over the Hudson River and the Newburgh-Beacon Bridge. I am standing on the edge.

Don’t Give Up NOW

If you still want to go to the fire tower then go around the mound and continue on the shorter, and easier, part of your hike. The beginning of the trail is easy and as you go on it slowly starts to climb and then there are two big climbs. Don’t give up at this point. So many people make it up to the Outlook and don’t continue to the fire tower thinking that they had enough and it will be too hard. It really is much easier and shorter from here on.

Before you arrive at the fire tower there is a big climb.

The big climb before you arrive at the fire towel at the summit.

At the Fire Tower

Mt Beacon fire tower.

The Mt Beacon fire tower.

Once you see the fire tower in the distance you will soon be there! IF you are not afraid of heights make sure to climb to the top. You will have an amazing, 360 degree view of the Hudson River, the Catskill Mountains, Hudson Highlands, surrounding towns, and lakes.

Snack time with an awesome view over the river.

Snack time with a million dollar view before climbing the fire tower.

Steps with sponsors names climbing up the fire tower.

Climbing up the fire tower at the summit of Mt Beacon. People’s names who sponsored the rebuild of the tower were are listed on the steps. I like “Yep-a-Doodle”.

If you are there on a clear day you can even see the NYC skyline! That was a real treat and it was worth the climb. If you still have energy you can continue the big heck of a loop that goes to Fishkill Ridge. We did not have time so we retraced our steps and went back home. Next time we will go early in the morning and then we can do the whole loop. I hope you enjoyed this blog post and that if you go to hike Mt Beacon this will help you find you way.