Is Breakneck Ridge Dangerous to Hike? I Completed it.

If you’re thinking about hiking Breakneck Ridge and are wondering if it is dangerous and worth the climb, I’ll tell you the following things I took from it after I completed it recently:

is breakneck ridge dangerous to hike

The 5 most important things I learned about Breakneck Ridge:

1) There are parts of this hike that are very dangerous.

2) The main trail (white) which you take has difficulty levels. Some are pretty simple and others are pretty dangerous. You can choose which ones to take depending on your hiking level and comfort. We stuck to easy and medium level branches of the white trail.

3) It is an overall pretty strenuous climb and if you fear heights, you may want to rethink checking out Breakneck Ridge and consider these other alternatives nature sports near NYC.

4) There are 4 “peaks” to Breakneck Ridge where as you progressively make your way up, you’ll hit one after another. Some of them have flag poles and are great scenic areas to take photos on. 

5) Overall, I liked hiking Breakneck Ridge and for a day hike outside the city, it’s very enjoyable, so I would recommend it to people who enjoy a challenging climb, but not for those who aren’t in shape or used to hiking strenuous places.

So with those main points said, let me tell you about my recent hike that I did here and what I took from it. Let me start by saying that I am a resident of NYC and have been for a long time, but I never really took the time to check this place out until recently. 

I’d explore places even further from Breakneck Ridge, like:

But I was missing out, because Breakneck Ridge turned out to be a really fun hike you could complete within a day.

Before hiking Breakneck Ridge, here’s what you need to know:

  • You’re going to be climbing up over 1,200 feet to reach the top.
  • There’s multiple trails you’ll be able to take after if you choose to (I’ll show you the details).
  • It can get VERY windy in this area, as was the case when we went.
  • If you’re traveling from NYC to this spot, start early as it’s about an hour drive to reach this spot and getting there earlier helps make sure you find a parking spot.

Here is where Breakneck Ridge is located:

Before you start the hike:

There is a parking area about 200 feet away from the start of the hike. You’ll park your car there, and make your way towards the white trail.

The white trail is the main attraction and hike of Breakneck Ridge you probably heard about and it started right before you enter a tunnel. You’ll make your way to the right, and basically hike over the tunnel, and when you return, you’ll go around the mountain and walk back to the parking lot underneath the tunnel:

start of breakneck ridge hike tunnel

Don’t worry about missing the start of the trail. Just remember, it’s right before the tunnel area you see above. And as you get to the start of it, you’ll be greeted by the official sign letting you know about the 3 different trails you can do in Breakneck Ridge.

Depending on which one suites your time, will determine which one you do:

breakneck ridge trail sign

In our case, we did the 2 hour “short loop” trail (the sign on the left). Keep in mind that no matter which trail/hike you choose to do, it will always begin with you starting out on the white trail first (the most difficult and popular).

It’s just that once you reach the peak of the mountain, you’ll be offered the opportunity to head back down the mountain and back to the parking lot via the tunnel I told you about (which is what we did). This will involve you traveling up the white trail, crossing into the yellow trail, then the green and finishing it off with the red which is easy and has you make your way back to the road.

If you have more time and wish to explore more areas, you can elect to do the other trails and some locals told us the 4 hour, Cold Sping trail is highly recommended as it gives you a great view of Manhattan. 

Making your way up Breakneck Ridge (it gets difficult, fast).

breakneck ridge strenuous hike

There is no working your way into this hike. It becomes difficult from the moment you step foot onto the trail and it will involve you having to climb through areas like this:

I would recommend you take your time especially on these slopes.

The faster you try to complete this hike = the faster you’ll get tired from it.

I also recommend using the trees for leverage as they helped my buddy and me get to the next steps of this hike on numerous occasions.

Also notice the white marker on the tree.

This indicates you are on the white trail and on the right path. It’s actually very hard to stray from this trail so it’s not something I’d worry about.

These markers appear very frequently as you make your way up and in some cases, you’ll be shown white arrows indicating where to go next.

In some cases, these white arrows will guide you through easier versions of the hike and you will also have the chance to choose whether you want to do an easier or harder version. 

Since there are 4 “checkpoints” to Breakneck Ridge, the first one is fairly simple to reach and once you do, you’ll be able to take a nice shot of the flagpole and scenic view around it:

breakneck ridge first flagpole

Now if you are very tired by the time you reach this first area, take a break. From here, you can elect to go back down, or continue up (and it gets harder if you do).

Areas of Breakneck Ridge where it gets dangerous:

There are a couple of areas we climbed and saw the opportunity to climb where we looked astounded at each other wondering how this was even part of the white trail. Here is an example:

breakneck ridge very dangerous area

If you’re wondering, yes there is a full drop behind those arrows and unless you are an experienced hiker, I would not go into this area. We didn’t and stuck to the easier parts of the trail. Remember, you’ll have choices.

Reaching the top of Breakneck Ridge:

The last, 4th peak of this mountain has you going through some very shady looking climb. The rocks are very smooth and I was surprised at how well my hiking shoes stood against this, especially with some ice on the trail.

But I would recommend you bring good hiking shoes when you go:

final climb up breakneck ridge

Once you reach the top of Breakneck Ridge, I recommend you take a break, enjoy the view and then decide on what you want to do next. Thrill seekers may wish to backtrack down the mountain the same way they came up, but for most people, you’ll have 3 choices (as the trail sign indicated).

Like I said before, my buddy and had enough of the hike at that point and just wanted to make our way down, so when we reached the top, the white trail turned into a yellow one and we followed that down the mountain (behind Breakneck Ridge), saw some beautiful sights and eventually the yellow trail had a fork where we could cross over into the green trail. 

The green trail takes you close to the road and parallel to a river that runs near Breakneck Ridge:

breakneck ridge green trail down

And again, all along the trail, regardless of which one you’re on, it’s easy to navigate. The last trail (red) will take you back onto the road, which you’ll then follow like I said before, go under the tunnel, and back to the parking lot to finish off your hike. 

While we did this hike in a pretty “barren” environment, it would be interesting to see this place during the spring and summer months. The only thing I’d suggest is doing this hike on weekdays since it is popular and gets packed quickly.

And that is pretty much all I can say so far about Breakneck Ridge. If I explore more of the trails in this area, I will let you know but if these tips help you successfully complete the hike, I’d love to know!

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