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Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Hiking the Peaks Surrounding Putnam County, New York

Ain't No Mountain High Enough

For years I have taken the Metro North for day trips up the Hudson River and marveled at the mountains that cover the landscape of New York State.  I would watch people get on at Grand Central in hiking shorts and back packs and think to myself these people are freaks. I mean, you work hard all week to then work harder on the weekends with exercise? I would even see mountain bikes and protective gear.  People are going out for day trips two hours out of the city for this? I can't believe this also is a weekend getaway thing but alas there are people who travel with just a backpack, water, wallet and a change of underwear for these types of trips. No thank you sir, that's a little hardcore for me but a day trip, yes ma'am!

Storm King Mountain was named after by a proposal for the name by 19th century writer Nathaniel Parker Willis.  Willis was quoted saying -
"The tallest mountain is...looked upon as the most sure fore teller of a storm.  When the white cloud-beard descends upon his breast in the morning...there is sure to be a rain-storm before night. Standing aloft before other mountains in the chain, this sign is peculiar to him.  He seems the monarch, and this seems his stately ordering of a change in the weather.  Should not STORM-KING, then, be his proper name?"
That's right on target with those clouds, seeing how I was once trapped on another mountain as its beard swallowed up the the mountains' tah-tahs.  Ah, poison ivy on the eye. There is nothing like it.

  • Note: When you are caught in a storm and take cover under a rock, there is a great possibility the run-off from the mountain will drizzle off the rock into your eye! Viola! Maybe check the weather on your phone app before trying to be a hero.  It might save a trip to the doctors office.

Having said that, Storm King is a great place to start if you are not an avid climber. There are basic trails but you do need to pay attention when having to climb on a slight incline now and again. This loop around the mountaintop is very rewarding by means of not being a long hike at all.  The bonus is in the view, of course.  This is an easy day trip by train or car.  I recently drove south along Storm King Mountain and wrote an article about it. I must say at 200 meters above sea level, the views are amazing.

  • Note: When taking a train to the City of Beacon you will have to take a cab across Beacon-Newburgh Bridge to Storm King Mountain.  A car might be the better bet after all.  Being on the opposite side of the river where Metro North tracks are prove driving oneself to this adventure is easier and cheaper in the long run. What Uber driver wants to pick you up 410 meters above sea level?


My first indoctrination into becoming one of these weirdo hikers was Mt. Taurus. The stop is Cold Springs Train Station where you arrive in a beautiful quaint town from another era.  A recent article of mine covered my love affair with this town. One can stop and have a light lunch at any of the cafe's that line Main Street next to antique shops but don't let that distract you for long. There is a mission and that mission is to climb a mild but long trek up Mt. Taurus.  This has been a staple for myself for years. I spend more time midway on a rock that appears to look more like a couch then ever climbing to the top.  I sit on my couch rock and take in the view like a couch potato would be glued to a TV screen.  You cannot get better than this.  Just make sure that you are with trusting, faithful friends. Your feet literally dangle off the ridge that goes several hundred feet down to an abandoned quarry.  

Go on, stretch your legs and take in all that nature goodness!

Flatironbetty at Mt Taurus 2012

My last consideration and one that I have not taken yet is actually a quite popular hike for the Tri-state area.  It's even open on the evening of July 4th.  Many hikers may enjoy the fireworks above the river from neighboring towns.  You can see almost 5 towns away all the star spangled display.

Break Neck Ridge is a great place but as you can see from the video below, is a little more on an incline and a very narrow path.  I have friends in the 70's who make their way up in about two hours and then climb down to the neighboring town of Cold Springs for lunch. So this is doable by anyone not minding a little concentration with footsteps and pacing.  The views are amazing any season from photos I have seen.  I must confess that fall is my jam but again don't let the winter barren trees persuade you to stay away. It's a fantastic morning hike from what I have been told.  This is another great view of seeing the winding Hudson River as it makes its way up to the Canada and down to New York City.  

  • Fun Fact: The Hudson is considered an estuary because the currents run both north and south.

Get out and hike today in New York State.  Who knows? We might meet one day while I'm twirling and singing The Sound Of Music somewhere on a mountaintop near the Hudson River.

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