Mount Beacon Fire Tower via Casino Trail

The short and very scenic route to Mount Beacon’s Fire Tower.

Hike Length: 3.9 miles (6.28 km)

Total Ascent: 1,400ft (427m)

Intensity: Difficult Hike

Route Type: Out-and-Back

Includes: Blazed Trail, Unmarked Trail, Rock Scrambles

Parent South Beacon

Similar Entries In: Hudson Highlands, The Best Hikes, The Moderate Hikes, The Most Popular Hikes, , , , .

View north from Mount Beacon Fire Tower

View from Mount Beacon Fire Tower

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 A steep first mile on this out-and-back.

This route to Mount Beacon Fire Tower is one of the most popular and beloved trails in the Hudson Highlands.

Known locally (and on the Internet) as “Mount Beacon,” this mountain is more properly known as South Beacon Mountain and, technically, this is the “South Beacon Mountain via Casino Trail” hike — that’s what you’ll see on maps, though hardly anyone ever refers to it as such.

Whatever you call it, prepare for a super fun hike that’s a little steep and strenuous but also so rewarding.

There are several fantastic views along the way and, of course, an amazing 360° view from Mount Beacon’s fire tower itself.

This destination is free and open year-round, dawn to dusk.

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Mount Beacon Fire Tower Hiking Trail

The Mount Beacon Casino Trail includes…

  • A immediate work-out thanks to a lengthy metal staircase
  • A fairly relentless climb for the first mile
  • Fun ruins
  • Fantastic views
  • Some rugged trail
  • Epic views of the Hudson Valley

Allow 2-3 hours for this hike.

Getting There

The City of Beacon offers a free loop bus that takes hikers — every 30 minutes, Monday through Saturday — from the Metro North Train Station to the trailhead. To view the latest schedule, click here.

If you’re driving, a large parking lot is maintained by Scenic Hudson at this location with two free electric vehicle charging stations for park users. However, this is a very popular destination so have a Plan B destination in mind in case the lot is full. (Bull Hill is relatively nearby.)

Casino Trail Notes & Gallery

Take your time on this hike. The Casino Trail up Mount Beacon is one of the steeper hikes in the Hudson Valley, though switchbacks keep the workout manageable. The hike actually begins on a staircase following the course of the Beacon Incline Railway, once the world’s steepest funicular line — a mountainside cable railroad on which ascending and descending cars are counterbalanced.

metal staircase
Mount Beacon staircase

After the staircase, the trail ascends via switchbacks  ascends to an observation deck offering the first long-distance views and remnants of the railway’s original powerhouse machinery.

railway equipment on Mount Beacon
Incline railway powerhouse ruins

Reaching the foundations of the Beaconcrest Hotel and Casino (in reality a dance hall), spectacular vistas overlook the City of Beacon, the Hudson Valley and the Hudson Highlands.

Hudson River view from Mount Beacon
View from the ruins

Hudson River view from Mount Beacon
Newburg-Beacon Bridge

Hudson River view from Mount Beacon
View north from the ruins

From here, the trail continues up…

Mount Beacon Casino Trail
Rough trail heading up to the summit

…and it’s a little rugged, but at least it’s not as steep as the first mile was.

Junction for Mount Beacon Fire Tower

At the junction, which is unmarked, a herd path leads uphill to the right in about 0.2 miles.

Mount Beacon fire tower comes into view very soon and you will likely meet other hikers, ascending and descending, on the trail.

You will need traction — proper hiking boots and, in winter, microspikes —  to hike safely on the exposed slab rock.

mount beacon fire tower
Final approach to Mount Beacon Fire Tower

Beacon Mountain Fire Tower
Mount Beacon Fire Tower

Fantastic Views

Looking south from Mount Beacon Fire Tower…

mount beacon fire tower view south
Looking south

On a clear day, from this fire tower, you can see both Manhattan and Albany. Here’s Manhattan in the distance…

New York City
Manhattan in the distance

Looking north toward Beacon Reservoir and the Hudson River (left)…

View north from Mount Beacon Fire Tower
View from Mount Beacon Fire Tower

Beacon Reservoir seen from Mount Beacon Fire Tower
Beacon Reservoir


There are several ways to return to the parking area. The easiest is to retrace your route and head back down the way you came.

You can also follow a fun loop around the reservoir via Schofield Ridge — trail guide coming soon.

Similar Hikes

There’s so much good hiking in the Hudson Highlands, so much to explore, and all within a short distance from New York City and The Catskills.

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The parent mountain for this hike is South Beacon.

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Trailhead Info for this Hike

Large but very popular lot.

Google Maps Location: 41.493614, -73.959983

The map below shows the exact topographic location of the trailhead

Cell Service

Good throughout. My network is Verizon. YMMV.