Region: Hudson Valley
UPDATED - 1st hike - July 2017; 2nd hike on 4/14/18
Breakneck Ridge is one of the more popular hikes for NYC residents, so much so that it has it's own stop on the Metro-North. While the trail can be extremely busy with hikers, it is a fun, memorable hike that will challenge you right away. Breakneck starts off with probably the most difficult section of the hike, where you'll be climbing on all fours for a decent amount of time up a steep rock scramble. I'd say it might take 30-40 minutes or so to finish the steep section, but its a very tough 30-40 minutes nevertheless.
However, the views following the scramble are well worth the effort. Breakneck has several beautiful cliff overlooks.
I categorized this hike as Difficult because although it is very steep in the beginning and throughout other sections of the hike and no doubt a challenge. However, once you get by the first serious scramble and ascent, and with the exception of a few other challenging sections and a few close-to-cliffside climbs where caution is required, the hike tends to get more moderate as you get closer to the summit, and frankly both trips down that I've taken (read below) are pretty easy for the most part.
From the summit, there are a few routes to get back down. See here for an interactive trail map. As for me and the friend I hiked with, our trip ended up bringing us down a different trail, I believe the Washburn trail though we definitely went off trail for at least 45 minutes, eventually passing by an old abandoned building/estate, and ended up putting us out on a road that lead us to the very quaint, nice town of Cold Spring. Every house we passed along one riverside road towards main street displayed proudly an American flag, which made the end of the hike that much more enjoyable. UPDATE 4/14/18: My 2nd up and down Breakneck took me down the shorter route from the summit. I went from Breakneck Ridge trail to the RED Breakneck Bypass trail, which leads you to hit the end of Wilkinson Memorial and puts you out right onto 9D. From here, walk 1000 feet north on 9D to come to the bridge which brings you across the railroad to wait for the Southbound Metro-North trail at the Breakneck Ridge station. Make sure to check times, I ended up missing one train by 15 mins and waited another almost 2 hours for the next train. Luckily (see below) the banks of the Hudson at this station aren't so bad to sit back and rest your legs at.
Overall a strenuous but short hike, and a must-try for any New Yorker who wants to challenge themselves for the day, capture some beautiful views before heading back to NYC.