Hudson Highlands: Bull Hill

I was using Alltrails last night trying to figure out what hike we could do this morning. I was looking for something that would be in the 3-5 mile range, and wasn’t too far away as we had to be home by a certain time. Stumbling across the Cornish Estate Loop, I looked through the pictures, and there were some nice ruins. I’m a sucker for ruins. It was only 5.3 miles, so it seemed perfect. We got way more than we expected.

The Hudson Highlands State Park is known for Breakneck Ridge, by far the most popular hiking destination in the Hudson Valley. We haven’t hiked it yet, but know that it gets pretty busy. We arrived at the trailhead for the Washburn Trail around 8:45AM on Route 9D in Cold Spring, noticing there were already a few cars there. There are signs for the Bull Hill Loop, Cornish Trail, and the Washburn Trail. We went right for the white blazed Washburn Trail. The trail starts out well manicured, with a gradual ascent. We bumped into a deer 3 minutes in, a foot off the trail. The trail starts to get a bit rockier, still moving up. You enter a clearing then continue right. This is where it starts to get tough, but rewarding. You walk along the ridge, and through the trees you get glimpses of the Hudson River. It becomes a steep, rocky climb, while challenging, but not overly difficult. The first viewpoint looks out over Cold Spring and the Hudson, with West Point in the background. Continuing upward, you reach the summit of Bull Hill. The views are absolutely gorgeous.

Leaving the summit, you start working your way down which is very easy. You meet up with the blue blazed Notch Trail, continuing north then west. Another junction is less than a mile away, so we headed south on the red blazed Brook Trail. You are on this trail very briefly, when you meet up with the blue blazed Cornish Trail. The 1.4 mile Cornish Trail is very easy. You are still descending but very gradually. Walking through the woods you start to notice some old foundations and stone structures. There is a garage that has just the skeletal remains of the roof, and right past that is the old Cornish estate. Like I said above, I’m a sucker for ruins. These did not disappoint. Jackie and I were able to imagine what a beautiful home it once was. Stone walls still stand, three-story chimneys rise up all over. It was fantastic, and we enjoyed spending some time exploring through them. Finally, we continued to the end, which was by far the easiest, you walk down the paved driveway of the estate.

Picking this hike, I didn’t know we were in for some amazing views. I would have been happy with just the ruins, so the views blew me away. This so far might have been our favorite hike. We loved almost everything about it. The one downside is the amount of people who go through here. We ran into a bunch of large groups of people, more than we have seen on probably all of our hikes through Fahnestock. When we got back to the car, there had to be hundreds of cars along Route 9D. In the future, I would probably try to stay away from these trails on the weekend, but if I had to, I would still go early like we did today. Maybe earlier.

Click here for pictures of what the Cornish Estate used to look like.

Visit Alltrails to see the recording of our hike

An Evening in Fahnestock

It was Sunday. I got a text from my friend Josh. He wanted to know if I wanted to take a hike Tuesday evening. Sure, I usually don’t do anything Tuesday evenings, and I haven’t done an evening hike yet. Josh was fresh off a trip to the Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, Zion National, basically a bunch of places that made me jealous. With limited time, I figured we could do part of the hike that Jackie and I had done not too long ago. The view is out to the west, and maybe we can get a nice sunset in.

Parking at the Hubbard Lodge, we walked around the lodge past the butterfly garden for a quick walk through the woods to meet up with the white/blue blazed School Mountain Road/ Fahnestock Trail. Passing over a couple of steel plate bridges, you come up to the junction with the Hubbard Loop. Jackie and I didn’t do this part the last time, so Josh and I took it.

Passing through the stone pillars, you follow the yellow blazed Hubbard Loop. The trail is easy to travel over. It’s fairly wide and level, passing through stone walls. Remnants of the Hubbard estate are evident all around, from the stone walls, a root cellar, miscellaneous pots and pans strewn around.

Getting back onto School Mountain Road, you come up to another newish trail, the Round Hill Bypass trail. There is a Round Hill bypass trailhead on Route 301, but they extended it to meet up with School Mountain Road. Being pressed for time, we took the bypass. It’s a gradual ascent up to the bottom of Round Hill.

Finally, you come up to Round Hill, taking the blue blazed Fahnestock Trail up to the summit. At the top, you get wonderful views of the West, across the Hudson to West Point. The sun was just beginning to set, so we hung out for about 10 minutes, then began our descent. The lower we got, the darker it got. It was getting tough to see, but we managed to find our way back.

I never really thought about taking an evening hike before, but I have a feeling there will be some more of these in our future.

See the recording of our hike here

Fahnestock: Catfish Loop to Moneyhole Mountain to Chimney Top Trail

Today felt like a fall day. About 60 degrees, overcast. Not typical July weather. But it was a good day for a hike. It was cool, albeit a little muggy. The chance of rain didn’t stop us either. Looking for trails Jackie and I have not yet done in Fahnestock, we decided on the southwest corner that contains the Moneyhole Mountain Trail and Chimney Top Trail. Driving down Dennytown Road, just past Sunken Mine Road, on the left you come to a clearing where you can park. The Appalachian Trail runs through here, and that is where we started.

Crossing the street, you see the trailhead for the Catfish Loop. The first few steps of the trail are technically the Appalachian Trail, but then you come to a junction where you have a few options. Going straight keeps you on the AT, to the left starts the Catfish Loop, and to the right is also the Catfish Loop. We went right this time. We’ve done the whole Catfish Loop previously, and since we wanted to do the Moneyhole Mountain trail, we went right which eventually leads up to the Moneyhole trail. Crossing over a rock wall, you follow the red blazed Catfish Loop west. It’s a slight incline, with narrow, rocky paths, and continues that way until you reach the top where it opens to a clearing and comes to the yellow blazed Moneyhole Mountain Trail.

When you arrive at the junction, head south on the yellow trail. Walking along here was fairly level, and wider paths. This part was a nice leisurely stroll, which is surrounded on both sides by what to us looked like blueberry bushes. See the picture below and let us know if you think it’s safe to eat. We did come across some bear scat, and what appeared to be a paw print, so we remained on high alert. Fortunately and unfortunately we didn’t come across anything. Looks like a bear horn might be in order soon.

You then come to another junction that crosses with the Catfish Loop. Stay with the yellow trail. Walking along, we noticed something pretty cool. It is heavily wooded, and then comes to a rock wall. Once at the wall it turns almost into a pine forest. It felt like a totally different trail.

Finally, you reach the white blazed Chimney Top Trail. From here, it’s a half mile hike to top. Arriving at the top, you walk into a clearing with a chimney just standing by itself. The chimney is a supposedly the remnants of an old estate that burned down in the 1960’s. Looking out to the west, you can see Storm King Mountain across the Hudson. We spent a few minutes here just relaxing, enjoying the view. afterwards, we headed back down the way we came to head home. We joined back up with the yellow trail until we came back to the Catfish Loop junction.

When we got to the Catfish Loop junction, we went right to take us back to the car. The trail returns to being narrow and rocky, going mostly downhill. In about a mile and a half, you reach the junction with the AT and the Catfish Loop that we started on, so we headed back out to the road. Another fun hike was in the books.

See our recording of the hike here

Fahnestock: Pelton Pond

Hiking with a four-year old. That has haunted us for the past year. We haven’t done it yet, but have always wanted to. We want Robby to get outdoors and appreciate where we live just like us. Too many kids are glued to tablets and TV’s, no one plays outside anymore. Today, we took the plunge and brought him on a hike. We found the easiest hike we can in the area, Pelton Pond in Fahnestock State Park. It’s just under a mile, and relatively easy terrain. We invited a few friends along, because why not throw a 3-year-old and an 18 month old into the mix.

Arriving at Pelton Pond, there is a spacious parking lot which can fill up fast, as there are lots of picnic sites to enjoy. We began going southwest on the yellow blazed trail. Walking past some picnic tables, you are always within site of the pond. There are lots of trees down along the path, some from the handiwork of beavers.

The second half of the loop has more “climbing”, but nothing too crazy. The kids were able to do most parts on their own. There is a little more up and down, but still nothing a person who has the ability to walk can’t handle. You get a nice view across the pond to the pavilion. Coming up and around a bend you arrive at the bathrooms, then a quick one minute walk to the parking lot.

I would have liked to write more, but there isn’t that much else to say. It’s a nice scenic view of the pond, easy to traverse, not much else you can ask for. I will say that in the .9 miles, we saw more people than we have on any other trail in Fahnestock. Lots of fishing, grilling, and picnicking going on. As for the kids, they surprised us. They were able to keep up, in fact they led most of the way. It’s also nice because they see stuff we miss. We had to stop a lot, but it allowed us to take in our surroundings while they looked at bugs and trees. After today, we won’t hesitate to take Robby along with us, in fact, we are looking forward to it.

Fahnestock: School Mountain Road to East Mountain Loop Trail to Fahnestock Trail

Despite the looming threat of rain and thunderstorms, we ventured out today to explore the northwestern part of Fahnestock State Park. Worst case scenario, we would have to throw on our rain gear. Luckily, it turned out to be a nice, albeit, humid and buggy day. Items that saved us today, lots of water, and Badger Anti-Bug Spray. That stuff is amazing. After a few  applications of the spray, the mosquitoes left us alone.

We parked the car at the Hubbard Lodge, and proceeded to look for the start of the trail. We walked around the lodge and didn’t see anything, so we ended up walking down the road and finding the trail markers. The trail starts off with the white blazed School Mountain Trail and blue blazed Fahnestock Trail. The trail is fairly straight, wide and level in the beginning. You walk over a few metal bridges that go over some creeks. We then approached two stone columns that lead to the yellow blazed Hubbard Loop. Jackie and I opted not to do that today, so we continued on the white blazed School Mountain trail. Walking over two metal I-beams across a stream, you continue along for a bit and come to a junction with the red blazed East Mountain Loop. That is the trail we decided to go with.

The 1.5 mile East Mountain Loop Trail starts out easy enough, then goes into an ascent up the mountain. While not steep, it’s a constant gradual climb. It was kicking our asses, and burning my calves. Stopping every few minutes for water, and to catch our breath, we eventually made it to the top. Sadly, the views were obstructed by foliage. I think the best time for this hike would be in the early spring or late fall. Continuing along, we passed by several snakes within a two-minute time span. Little known fact about me, snakes freak the shit out of me. If you are ever hiking and hear someone cursing and running in the opposite direction, it’s probably me coming across a snake. The descent down East Mountain is really nice though, the landscape strewn with rock walls everywhere you look. Abandoned farm equipment is scattered as well. At the end of the trail, where it meets up with the School Mountain Trail and Fahnestock Trail, there is a lovely abandoned house. It was fun taking a few minutes to explore the outside. As tempting as it was for me to go inside, something told me that the house wasn’t in the best of shape.

At the junction you can go north on the white School Mountain trail, or east on the yellow blazed Perkins trail, which we followed until it meets up with the blue blazed Fahnestock Trail. The Fahnestock trail going south takes you to Round Hill, so named for its rectangular shape. You begin an ascent up a hill and come up to the first viewpoint. Again, like East Mountain, the view is largely disrupted by the foliage. Descending down, you then come up to Round Hill. You ascend back up a hill to reach the top. Once there, you are rewarded with spectacular views. Again, slightly obstructed from the trees, but we were able to see West Point across the Hudson River . We sat on a nice rock clearing and relaxed for about 10 minutes, taking in the scenery and tranquility of the day. We then started the rather steep descent. Getting to the bottom you walk parallel to a stream, where there happened to be a duck that seemed pretty freaked out about us walking by, and feverishly worked his way upstream. Finally, we came back to the junction with School Mountain Road, crossed back over the I-beam bridge, and back to the car.

What a great hike. At 7.4 miles, while not the longest we’ve done, it was definitely tougher on us. I would definitely try this one again, either late fall or early spring, and try to take full advantage of the views.

See our recording of the hike here

Peaked Mountain

After a few weeks hiatus from hiking, we’re back. We managed to get in a quick one today before the all important task of getting beer. Our friends Josh and Kathy were planning a trip to Tree House Brewing and do a hike before, so they invited us, and we tagged along. After working 8 straight days, I needed the break.

As is the norm with Jackie and I, food is very important to us, so we always try to get in a good breakfast. We need something to burn off on the hike. We stopped at Boyds Corner Deli for some delicious breakfast sandwiches. We picked Josh and Kathy up, and hit the road for Monson, MA.

Fast forward 2 hours, after a boring drive through Connecticut on I-84, we stopped for an all important bathroom break, coffee break, and because why not, some pastries for a snack at the Sturbridge Publick House. 25 minutes later we pulled up to Peaked Mountain.


We chose to hike the red trail, which is 2 miles long and is a loop that brings you to the summit. It begins with a gradual ascent on a very wide trail, where the only hard parts are getting over the goddamned “speedbumps” ( basically gutters that they dug out to prevent erosion). There were lots of ferns, and a tiny little pond that I felt was a good spot to stop and admire (mostly because my calves were killing me).


Continuing to follow the red trail, it opened up to an easy, level, wide path. So far this hike had been pretty easy. Following the trails were fairly easy, there was obvious paths, but the markers were very difficult to see. It was just painted red on trees for the most part, and being partially colorblind, I couldn’t see them for shit. Clearer markers would have helped.

After the easy part, it starts to get little harder. Nothing crazy, just climbing over more rocks and narrower paths. After a little hiking, you come up to the first viewpoint. Really beautiful views of the valley, and you think to yourself, this is really beautiful, but you aren’t done. Oh no, you’re just getting started. You still have to get to the summit.

Walking up to the summit you traverse up a rocky slope. The last ascent is worth it, you get beautiful views of the surrounding area, which is pretty much forest. It’s a good area to sit, relax, enjoy the beautiful scenery, and crack open a couple of beers.

Overall, a nice quick hike. I’d rate it easy to moderate. It’s a 45 minute hike, but took us longer for stopping and enjoying everything. Only ran in to a few people, but never felt crowded. If you’re in the area to pick up beer from Tree House, or antiquing through Sturbridge, Brimfield, or Monson, stop here, and enjoy the view. And then go get some BBQ at B.T.’s Smokehouse.


See our hike on Alltrails

Gear Review: Men’s Hiking Boots

When Jackie and I took our first hike, we had no gear. Just regular sneakers, a crappy backpack that I’ve had since high school, lugging bottled water around. After that hike, I told her I was buying us hiking boots. “Why spend the money if we’re not even sure if we are going to keep doing this?” she asked. I told her my thought process was buying some boots will give us incentive to go out and keep doing it. I was correct.

We both are looking to give honest reviews of our gear. We only want to review something if we have used it multiple times. This isn’t meant to be a guide on how to pick which gear is right for you, there are tons of resources out there already that can help you out with that. I recommend doing your own research first, if the boots I have pique your interest, than hopefully this review helps.

After conducting my own research, I decided on the Columbia Newton Ridge Plus II. What I was looking for was essentially just comfortable, waterproof, and fairly inexpensive. On paper these seemed to be the best bang for my buck.

I have worn them over a dozen times on hikes, and multiple times during the winter and at work. Here are a few things I have learned about them:

  • They are damn comfortable
  • They are lightweight
  • The soles grip very well when climbing on rocks
  • They certainly are waterproof
  • Good ankle support

My only complaint so far, and it might not necessarily be the boots fault, but my own, is that I sometimes get blisters on my heels. This is probably due to the fact that my boots are size 10.5, and with sneakers I usually run between 10-10.5, so there might be a little too much room for my feet and they keep sliding around. I also noticed on the last hike a slipped into a puddle, and it felt like my feet got a little wet. These boots do need to be waterproofed periodically, and I haven’t done it yet, so I bought some spray and will reapply. I will update later if that works.

Overall, I would definitely recommend these boots for most beginners. Like I said earlier, I was looking for fairly inexpensive, and these fit the bill. So far I’m very happy with them, would even buy them again if I ever need a new pair, and Jackie also has the same pair for women (because she’s a woman). She seems to like them a lot too, but I’ll let her write her own review.

UPDATE 7/27/17: I seem to have solved the blister issue by tying the laces really tight, and periodically tightening them while hiking. I really haven’t gotten a blister yet. I also applied the waterproofing spray, but haven’t gotten them wet to tell if it works.

A Sunday Morning Stroll Through Fahnestock

We started our adventure the way we usually do, with a hearty breakfast. This morning we decided on Hudson Hil’s Cafe in Cold Spring. A perfect start at 8AM on a Sunday morning. After consuming shirred eggs, a breakfast burrito, and a few cups of coffee we were off. We chose to do Clarence Fahnestock State Park, which has been our go to for hiking, since it is literally our backyard. We have already done many of the trails in the park, and what I find fun is connecting various trails to make loops, out-and-backs, and lollipops. The possibilities are endless!

We began the hike starting on Route 301 on the northern side. There you will find the trailhead for the Charcoal Burners Trail. Following the red trailmarkers for Charcoal Burners, we came up to the junction with the white blazed Cabot Trail. We headed west down the Cabot Trail. About halfway down the trail you come to Jordan Pond. It appeared to have a trail that had good views of the pond, but we did not go that way unfortunately. We continued along and were able to get close to the pond, but I had to stand on some rocks and lean out to get some decent shots of the pond with Glynwood in the background.

Finishing up the Cabot Trail, you join up with the yellow blazed Perkins Trail. While the beginning if this trail was not difficult at all, it was definitely one of the most beautiful parts of the hike. You essentially walk through Topfield Equestrian Center and Glynwood. Walking through this area you have beautiful horses on one side, and farmers hard at work right on the other side. Things like this amaze me, after walking through the woods you come out into these beautiful meadows that you would never know were there.

Continuing through the Perkins Trail you make your way back to a wooded area. Walking along it is mostly downhill, still nothing too hard. Eventually you come up to Clove Creek, which runs along the driveway to Glynwood. We have been getting our vegetables from the farm for about 4 years now, and we never knew that a trail was right there. What a different perspective than driving through!

You cross the Glynwood Driveway and start an ascent up a hill where you come to the Fahnestock Trail junction. Continuing west keeps you on the Perkins Trail which overlaps with the Fahnestock Trail. We ventured north on the blue blazed Fahnestock  Trail, which runs along I’m guessing the Clove Creek Pond. You get to see some work from the beavers along the way. Eventually, you meet up again with the red blazed Charcoal Burners trail, the two trails joining up at Beaver Pond. Here we sat for a few minutes at the waters edge and just enjoyed the beauty and tranquility of the afternoon.

After our brief rest, we continued south to the Charcoal Burners trail, heading east on the Fahnestock Trail would connect you to the Appalachian Trail. So south it was, heading back the way we came to our car.

Overall, this hike was lots of fun. While fairly long at 7.5 miles, it offered lots of different scenery. It was pretty easy as well, no extreme ascents or descents, and well marked trails. The only people we saw was literally towards the end. Other than that, it was us and nature.

Click here to view our hike from start to finish!