Breakneck Ridge is a classic hike in the Hudson Valley that is accessible by Metro North from NYC. It is extremely steep at first, but doesn't require much scrambling.
The ridge offers excellent views of the Hudson River. Less known than the ridge hike is that there is a mess of great trails in the Hudson Highlands once you get to the top. Crowds thin rapidly from the ridge to allow some lovely peace and quiet. This can be shortened or lengthened as you see fit.
You'll also get to ascend Sugarload Mountain before taking a less-steep route down than the Breakneck Ridge Trail
. You can then take the metro back into the city to treat yourself to a much-deserved beer :)
This trail can be accessed on weekends via the Metro North Hudson line. There is a special stop for Breakneck Ridge - be mindful as it is a single train door that will open onto a "station" that is no more than a set of wooden stairs. From the "station," hike south along the road to the trailhead. The trailhead is just before a tunnel on the right/south.
There will likely be a mass of people that just got off the train so I recommend just chilling for 15-30 minutes to let them get ahead if you don't want to be part of the parade going up the ridge (or race ahead if you're fast).
The ridge ascent is very steep, but you can see some old switchbacks to make it basically a steep hike-up. You won't need your hands for much more than balance, but I wouldn't bring kiddies on this trail. Once to the top, you get excellent views of the Hudson River and access to a large number of trails.
For this route stay on the Breakneck Ridge Trail
. You'll get some more nice views as the trail follows the ridge line, as well as a bit more elevation gain and loss. If you have had enough, you can take the Breakneck Bypass Trail
back down right away. Or continue on to the blue-blazed Notch Trail
The Notch Trail
will connect to the yellow-blazed Wilkinson Memorial Trail
after less than a half mile. Turn left onto Wilkinson Memorial Trail
to head back. You'll stay on this trail the whole way back down to the metro tracks, but not before ascending Sugarloaf Mountain for some lovely views north. There are a few steep points on the descent as well, but nothing as consistently steep as the ascent.
When you get to the road, you'll have to head north to get to an overpass over the train tracks. Remember the metro back is heading the opposite direction! When you pass over the train tracks, you'll see the yellow train platform for the return metro again.