October 1, 2023
October 1, 2023

Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Hike Breakneck Mountain in Harriman State Park

This seven-mile moderate-to-strenuous “lollipop”-loop hike in Harriman State Park traverses a remote and little-used section of the park. It passes through beautiful thickets of mountain laurel (which blooms in early June) and traverses open rock ledges along the ridge of Breakneck Mountain (not to be confused with Breakneck Ridge, on the east side of the Hudson River). The hike involves a total elevation gain of over 1,000 feet, including an elevation gain (near the start of the hike) of about 400 feet in 0.5 mile, but most of the hike has only moderate grades. The hike should take about 4½ hours, and dogs are permitted on leash.

To get there, take the Palisades Interstate Parkway north to Exit 13 (US 202/Haverstraw/Suffern). Turn right at the bottom of the ramp, then turn right again onto US 202 West and continue for 1.7 miles to a junction with NY 306. Turn right onto Old Route 306, then right again at the next stop sign. In 0.2 mile, turn left onto Mountain Road; then, in another 0.2 mile, turn left again onto Diltzes Lane (also known as Diltz Road). Continue on Diltzes Lane for 0.2 mile and turn right into a gravel parking area (just before a fenced-in battery storage site for Orange & Rockland Utilities). The trailhead is about 30 miles from Teaneck, and it should take about 40 minutes to get there. GPS address: Diltz Road, Pomona, New York 10970.

From the parking area, proceed uphill on a gravel road. At a gate across the road, you’ll notice a triple red-dash-on-white blaze that marks the start of the Tuxedo-Mt. Ivy Trail. Follow this trail uphill on a wide, eroded road, then bear right at the power line clearing and continue along a dirt road parallel to the power lines for about 0.2 mile (there are no blazes along the power line service road), crossing a stream along the way. Just before the road curves to the left and goes under the power lines, you’ll notice a footpath going off to the left. Follow this footpath uphill.

As you enter the woods, the blazing resumes. The Tuxedo-Mt. Ivy Trail now ascends gradually on an old woods road, bordered with remnants of rock walls. After crossing a stream on rocks, the road becomes rockier. Watch carefully for a left turn and follow the red-dash-on-white blazes as the trail leaves the road it has been following and continues to climb on another old woods road. Toward the top of the climb, the trail bears left and continues on a footpath to bypass an eroded section of the road. After briefly rejoining the road, the trail bears right at a fork and continues uphill on a footpath.

Just below the crest of the rise, the trail reaches a limited viewpoint on the right, with Limekiln Mountain visible to the north and the Hudson River to the east. Beyond the viewpoint, the trail crosses a stream on rocks and continues to climb more gradually.

In another third of a mile, you’ll reach a T-junction. The Red Arrow Trail, which will be your return route, begins on the right, but you should turn left to continue on the Tuxedo-Mt. Ivy Trail, which now descends gently. After climbing a little, the Tuxedo-Mt. Ivy Trail reaches a junction with the yellow-blazed Suffern-Bear Mountain Trail at the height of land, with a large rock outcrop on the right and an old stone fireplace on the left.

The Tuxedo-Mt. Ivy Trail now levels off and traverses a beautiful trail section, passing through dense mountain laurel thickets. In two-thirds of a mile, it reaches a T-junction with a woods road known as Woodtown Road. Here, the trail turns right, crosses a wooden footbridge over a stream, then turns sharply left. The trail now climbs on an old woods road, which soon levels off.

Soon after crossing another stream on rocks, you’ll notice the Green Swamp below on the left, through the trees. Towards the end of the swamp, follow the Tuxedo-Mt. Ivy Trail as it turns right, leaving the woods road it has been following. In a short distance, after climbing gradually on a footpath, a triple white blaze on the right marks the start of the Breakneck Mountain Trail.

Turn right and follow the Breakneck Mountain Trail along the ridge of Breakneck Mountain. After climbing a little, the trail passes West Pointing Rock, a huge boulder with a sharp projection on its west side. The trail continues to climb gradually, soon emerging onto a series of open rock ledges. The trail now descends, proceeds through dense mountain laurel thickets, then climbs to another series of open rock ledges. At the end of the ledges, the trail goes through a narrow passage between two glacial erratics and then begins to descend. As you descend, you can catch glimpses of Breakneck Pond through the trees on the left.

The trail now makes a short, steep climb over rocks and continues to ascend more gradually. After descending slightly, the Breakneck Mountain Trail ends at a junction with the yellow-blazed Suffern-Bear Mountain Trail. Continue straight ahead, following the yellow blazes downhill to the right toward the Third Reservoir. At the base of the descent, the trail reaches the western end of the reservoir, with panoramic views over the reservoir. This is a good place to take a break.

The Suffern-Bear Mountain Trail now climbs over Ladentown Mountain and descends to Woodtown Road. It crosses the road and a stream and soon reaches a junction with the Red Arrow Trail. Turn left onto the Red Arrow Trail, which skirts the edge of a swamp, descends rather steeply, then levels off. After descending more gradually, the trail bears right at a fork, passes an interesting rock formation on the right, then turns right and heads uphill on a woods road.

The Red Arrow Trail ends at a junction with the Tuxedo-Mt. Ivy Trail at the crest of the rise. Turn left onto the Tuxedo-Mt. Ivy Trail and follow it downhill to your car, now retracing the route you followed at the start of the hike.

This hiking article is provided by Daniel Chazin of the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference. The Trail Conference is a volunteer organization that builds and maintains over 2,000 miles of hiking trails and publishes a library of hiking maps and books. The Trail Conference’s office is at 600 Ramapo Valley Road (Route 202), Mahwah; (201) 512-9348; www.nynjtc.org. Daniel Chazin can be reached at [email protected].

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