May 30, 2016 – Beacon, NY
Length: approximately 3.5 miles
Route type: out and back
Many hikers across the Fishkill Ridge mountain range that includes Mt. Beacon and nearby peaks, are treated to a rare sight, an American Flag flying on a makeshift pole high above the trees.
Many have speculated or wondered what the origin of this monument might be.
Let me solve the mystery for you.
Somewhere around Memorial Day of 1988, the City of Beacon fathers were considering canceling the Memorial Day parade due to “insurance” concerns. This was unacceptable to members of the Darcy family who had served in the military and felt strongly about the continued recognition of American Veterans. Bob, Dean, Pete and Pete’s son Matt decided to camp out on the mountain and erect a Flag in memory of those who had given their all.
What was originally intended to be a solitary tribute has become a permanent gesture. Every year and sometimes twice a year depending on condition, this flag is replaced by John Darcy or a friend of the Darcy family. Many in the family and extended family, have taken on the responsibility of helping John to insure that a flag flies on this ridge like it has since 1988.
The tribute holds another special meaning to the Darcy family. At Bob’s passing, his request to have his cremated remains placed near the flag was honored. Dean, Pete, Matt, John and Bob’s wife Judy, along with other family members and friends again climbed the mountain in August of 1994. Bob continues to enjoy the serenity of this awesome location atop Fishkill Ridge and the Darcy family continues it’s tradition.
Dean, Pete and Matt all reside in Georgia with their families but a hike ‘up-the-mountain’ is always part of their visits back to Beacon. If you happen upon the flag during a hike, stop, enjoy the view and say a prayer for those who can’t. If you find the flag a little worn or tattered, contact any Darcy and it will be replaced. Mystery solved.
Pete, Dean and Matt Darcy
This is a photograph of Bob Darcy the day they placed the flag up on Darcy’s Ridge. May 31, 1988. Photo is courtesy of Dean Darcy.
I had heard of a flag somewhere on Fishkill Ridge, but didn’t know the story behind it. I wanted to visit and photograph it. Upon researching it and then learning of the history behind this flag, I was going to hike up there to honor and pay my respects to all those that have paid the ultimate price for the freedoms that we all enjoy. I have to say that this was easier said than done. I could not find much info on where exactly the flag was. I pieced together the little info I had and gave it a shot. The Fishkill Ridge mountain range is very rugged terrain and I had never hiked that region before. On two occasions in 2015 I hiked up there and wandered all around to no avail. It was frustrating to have not found that flag, but I was going to try again. A few weeks ago I saw a Meetup titled: Veterans Flag Hike – Memorial Day. I knew that was the flag. I was the first one to sign up and I was raring to go. The Meetup was arranged through the Mid-Hudson Adirondack Mountain Club.
This hike started at Pocket Road in Beacon, NY. The Fishkill Ridge Trail begins there.
After some info from the hike leader Christopher, we were off. I was the first one up the trail and I stayed in front for the entire hike. The white blazed Fishkill Ridge Trail immediately headed uphill along a gravel road.
We walked along a brook which had some pretty cascades.
After a steep climb of about .8 miles and an elevation gain of about 700 feet, we reached the access road. We were now ready to bear right just off the Fishkill Ridge Trail and proceed on an unmarked woods road, which seemed more like a gully than a road.
From there we went to the Blue Connector Trail then steadily up the yellow Wilkinson Memorial Trail.
A short while later I made the final push up another unmarked trail.
I was finally at the flag! After reaching an elevation of approximately 1500 feet I was out of breath and had to take a minute before I could break out my camera and take a few shots.
They held a small ceremony at the ridge with a couple of musicians that played the National Anthem, Taps and also the anthems for each branch of the service. The fog rolled by as the musicians played.
Members of the Darcy family, John and Richard.
Those that hiked “Darcy’s Ridge” to honor the fallen.
Upon speaking for quite some time to John Darcy, I asked him what this area was called. He likes to refer to it as Darcy’s Ridge. It is not the official name, although it should be. I will always refer to it as Darcy’s Ridge and maybe the powers that be could make it official.
After the ceremony was over I wanted to stay back and take in this place in all it’s glory. So as everyone was now gone I just soaked up the sun and some history as I sat there admiring the view. The sky cleared up and I could see way up the Hudson.
After spending some time enjoying the view, it was time to depart. Since it was an out and back hike, I retraced my steps back to Pocket Road. Along the way I saw a couple of snakes and a small Chihuahua that hung out and led me down the Fishkill Ridge Trail. Click on the ensuing images to enlarge.
This was one of the more enjoyable hikes that I have done. Third time was the charm. I thank the Darcy family for maintaining that flag all these years and for their patriotism. After all, we are the “Land of the Free Because of the Brave.”
Until next time, happy trails.