Monday, May 9, 2011

Fishkill Ridge Conservation Area, Beacon, NY

ABOUT THE PARK:  Fishkill Ridge Conservation Area - Scenic Hudson

GPS Coordinates to Pocket Road Parking 41.496824, -73.948988

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There is room for about 6 cars, 3 on either side of the dead end road.  There was only one other car parked here in the afternoon when I returned after the hike.

East Hudson Highlands Trails, Trail Map 102 - NY/NJ Trail Conference

HIKE DISTANCE:  9.4 miles with shorter 6.7 mile option

The hike starts by walking beyond the gate with the "NO TRESPASSING" sign.  Per the City of Beacon's website (scroll down to "The Hemlock Gorge" hike):
"Walk through the gate, and pass the City of Beacon water tank on your left. (Don’t worry about the no trespassing signs, hikers are allowed to pass through these gates)."
You'll be following the white-blazed Fishkill Ridge Trail (round white discs) all the way for 4.5 miles.  The trail starts out along Dry Creek and ascends to a beautiful multi-level waterfall.

The trail turns left over a bridge on a dirt road briefly then enters the woods to the right.  The return route of this hike comes in from the right on the dirt road so remember this intersection for later.
The Fishkill Ridge Trail continues up to views of the Hudson Valley and City of Beacon with the Shawangunks and Catskills in the distance.
A little farther along, the summit of Lambs Hill makes a nice break spot:
The intersection with the blue-blazed trail is affectionately named "Dozer Junction" for the old abandoned bulldozer that sits off to the side.  Remember this intersection for later if you decide to do the shortened version of this hike.
The Fishkill Ridge Trail now continues up to follow along the ridge with an assortment of views in all directions.
At the end of the white-blazed Fishkill Ridge Trail, continue on the yellow-blazed Wilkinson Memorial Trail along the Scofield Ridge. (Shortly along the yellow-blazed trail, the blue-blazed trail will come in from the right.  Turn right here back to the bulldozer, then left on the white-blazed trail to backtrack to the parking lot for the shorter 6.7 mile version of this hike.)
The yellow-blazed trail leads to multiple views along the way.  One of the last views, shortly before leaving the yellow-blazed trail, will include the fire tower and City of Beacon mountaintop water reservoir where this hike leads to next.
I did not climb the fire tower because of that little fear of heights thing, but another hiker who did go up told me the views from the top of the fire tower are the same as at the base, so nothing lost by not going up.  Word of caution for hikers with dogs:  There is a lot of broken glass around the base of the fire tower.
New York City skyline views from the base of the fire tower. (Click picture to enlarge)
At the City of Beacon water reservoir, skirt along rocky roads and paths to the right of the water. 

Beyond the dam turn right on the dirt road that leads back to where the white-blazed Fishkill Ridge Trail crossed over at the beginning of the hike.  Watch for the stone bridge beyond which the dirt road makes a sharp left turn.  Turn left on the trail before the bridge - you have to turn around to see the trail markers on the tree as they face the other way.  Alternately, if you don't feel like going steeply downhill along the creek you can stay on the dirt road which offers a gentler descent back to the parking area.

[  0.00]  Cross metal barrier, a power cut, pass a small reservoir on the left then enter the woods meeting up with Dry Creek on the left
[  0.45]  Keep straight when the yellow-blazed trail comes in from the right (no yellow blazes at intersection)
[  0.65]  Veer left towards creek at fork and rock hop over creek to waterfalls short distance ahead
[  0.85]  Go over small steep rise, turn left on dirt road, cross bridge, turn right into woods on white-blazed trail
[  0.90]  Keep straight at intersection with unmarked woods road
[  1.00]  Trail swithbacks up to views
[  1.15]  Keep right on white when red comes in from left
[  1.40]  Keep left on white at fork when unmarked goes right
[  1.50]  Lambs Hill
[  1.80]  Dozer Junction with bulldozer on right at intersection with blue trail
[  4.50]  White trail ends; keep straight on the yellow trail that comes in from the left
[  4.65]  Keep straight on yellow trail when unmarked trail goes right
[  4.70]  Left on yellow when blue goes right (OR right on blue to left on white for shorter version)
[  5.05]  Yellow trail turns left at intersection but first turn right on unmarked trail up the hill a short distance to views; retrace
[  5.25]  Back at intersection, keep straight on yellow
[  5.55]  Enter Hudson Highlands State Park at boundary marker
[  5.65]  Rock scramble up to view and scramble down other side
[  6.00]  Proceed across smooth rock surface following cairns and blazes painted on rock surface
[  6.15]  Rock hop across wet area
[  6.25]  360 degree views at top of rock scramble; views of fire tower and reservoir
[  6.30]  Cross unmarked trail
[  6.40]  View
[  6.65]  At intersection turn right on red trail; disregard various colors/shapes of old blazes painted on trees - follow the red discs
[  6.80]  Keep left on red but note grassy trail to right which will be route to reservoir after visiting fire tower; after short distance turn left on white trail to fire tower
[  7.00]  Fire tower; retrace steps on white trail
[  7.35]  White trail ends, turn right on red trail briefly then left on grassy road with various colors and shapes of old blazes on trees
[  7.60]  Follow rocky trail/road along right side of reservoir
[  7.90]  Continue on rocky road passing the back of the dam on the left
[  8.00]  Turn right on wide, well-defined dirt/gravel road
[  8.40]  Left on white-blazed Fishkill Ridge Trail before bridge where dirt road makes sharp left turn (or continue on dirt road for smoother descent back to parking area)
[  8.90]  Keep right on white when yellow trail goes left (no yellow blazes at intersection)
[  9.40]  Water tower and parking area


  1. Great job on this blog. I have done just about all the hikes in the east highlands and BM and Harriman. If you run into a midlle aged gent with 2 beagles on the trail, that's me.


  2. Did this hike with a friend on Saturday Dec 17,2011. Your explanation is very accurate but there is a red trail but not noted on our maps from 92.
    We met on Minnewaska and wondering if you would like to hike together. I have the look alike GSD Bella with Cocker Spaniel Bentley and a friend with a very large GSD

  3. Well hi there! I have the picture of the dogs on the Minnewaska hike page ( I just love how Bella was peeking over the precipitous drop like "YIKES!" Sure, would love to get together to hike. Send me an email. dvw13 AT cs DOT com


  4. Thanks for all the work you put into this site. I like to hike with my kids, but I use your guide for longer hikes that I do on my own. I'm planning on tackling Fishkill Ridge next week while they're away.

    1. You are very welcome. Glad it is of use to you. Have fun hiking without the kids!


  5. I appreciate all the details of this hike. It looks lovely. I am very confused, though, about where to start. I'm from PA and will be traveling to Wallkill in a few weeks to check out my son's wedding venue. We are also looking for trails to hike the day after with some of the wedding guests. I have clicked on some links but can't pinpoint where your start is and I don't have a GPS. One of the links gives these directions:
    From intersection of Route 9 and Route 52, take Route 52 west through Town of Fishkill. Left onto Old Glenham Rd and then left onto Maple Street. After crossing bridge and at "Y" in the road, turn left onto Old Town Road. Right on Sunnyside Road. At end, bear left, then right. Continue up unpaved hill to parking area.
    If you have time and would be so kind, can you possibly tell me if this is where your hike starts and if not, then is it possible to give me directions other than GPS coordinates? I really appreciate all of this ! Thanks, (email is

  6. Here is the beginning of the trail.

  7. Saw a hunter with atv and hunting tent actively hunting on white trail at the dip where the trees fell. just before you get to the views prior to yellow trail. be careful.