An unusual, quieter way to loop Storm King Mountain.
Storm King Mountain is one of the most popular destinations in the Hudson Highlands. The scenic views it offers up and down the Hudson River are unbeatable.
This is short and relatively easy hike, though it has a few steep-ish sections, and one minor rock scramble.
Allow 3 hours for this loop, which includes a quick side-trip to a beautiful scenic view at the top of Butter Hill.
Etsy & Hellie Stowell Trailhead
The trailhead for this hike is in Cornwall-on-Hudson, just off of Bayview Avenue.
Pass through the gate and then drive past the houses on the right. About 500 feet from the road you’ll arrive at the parking loop.
Etsy & Hellie are longtime supporters of Scenic Hudson, the organization that began the modern environmental movement by stopping an industrial project that would have turned Storm King into a ConEd hydroelectric plant.
Storm King Mountain Hiking Trail
Begin at the information kiosk. The trail winds around a pasture field — I saw two Orioles here — then enters a hardwood forest following aqua blazes uphill on an old woods road that parallels a small brook.
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After crossing the brook, a switchback leads to the first view from a rocky outcrop. The scene looks north toward Snake Hill and the Hudson upriver.
From there, connect with the yellow-blazed Stillman Trail.
There are lots of hairpin turns and switchbacks on this trail to ease your climb, and modest views north through the trees keep your eye entertained. It’s really lovely the whole way.
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Storm King Mountain: Scenic Views
Below the summit of Storm King, I found four great scenic spots.
The first is a patch of open rock on the left side of the trail, with views south down the Hudson, and east to Breakneck Ridge and Bull Hill.
A little higher up, is the main view south which is quite incredible…
After this view, the trail continues just 300-400 feet before it comes to a junction. Turn right and head uphill, continuing to follow the yellow blazes of Stillman Trail.
You’ll pass by this knob with a giant boulder on the right. I climbed up on the boulder and the view toward Bull Hill/Mount Taurus and Cold Spring was pretty good…
This is a really great spot, especially at sunset.
The mound on the left of the first photo is Snake Hill — another Scenic Hudson park with great views.
A fifth view a little further along the trail is not quite as good. The trail itself is beautiful. Lots of hobblebush, maple, mountain laurel, hemlock, pitch pine, and oak.
The summit of Storm King is just off trail and marked by a large flat boulder. It’s fully treed in and there are no views.
After that fifth and final view, the trail begins its descent.
A steep rock channel is a little tricky to climb down, so take your time and make sure you have good footing.
This large blowdown currently marks the junction, though there are blazes on trees too. Something that surprises me in the Hudson Highlands is the lack of trail signage at junction. In comparison, the Catskills have far clearer wayfinding. But at this junction, you’ll see the mixed red/blue blazes of the Bluebird Trail heading north. You’ll come back to this spot later and use that trail to get back to your car.
For now, however, if you have an extra 20 minutes, turn left and follow the yellow blazes southwest toward Butter Hill.
After just a few minutes you’ll arrive at this small open summit knob. The view from the top is stellar.
To the left you can see Route 9W snaking south and, about five miles to the southwest, Schunemunk Mountain.
To the west and northwest, at sunset, I caught a storm hovering over the Catskills…
A bell tolled somewhere below…
From here, head back to the junction and then take the Bluebird Trail to descend from Storm King Mountain.
Storm King Mountain Ruins
On my way out, I took a slight detour off trail — technically a bushwhack but, in reality, there’s a well-trod herd path that’s wide and flat and easy to follow. It makes a small loop past two ruins.
The first ruins are small, but with pretty intact stone walls. There’s a corrugated iron shack that’s a bit creepy looking, and it was getting dark, so I didn’t linger.
The second ruins are more extensive, and would be fun to explore in daylight hours. My phone’s camera is doing a lot of work with low light here, which is why this image looks so blurry…
In both ruins, watch out for lots of rusted metal. This is ground zero for tetanus infections.
Descend Storm King Mountain
Pass through these stone steps and then get back on the yellow-blazed trail to head north.
From here, the hike down to the trailhead took me only 30 minutes.
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The parent mountain for this hike is Storm King Mountain.
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Trailhead Info for this Hike
Large-is lot, generally quieter and less busy than the lots on 9W.
Google Maps Location: 41.439768, -74.006668
The map below shows the exact topographic location of the trailhead
Close to cities so coverage is mostly pretty good throughout this loop. My network is Verizon. YMMV.