September 11, 2019 – Garrison, NY
Difficulty: Moderate – strenuous
Length: Approximately 2 miles
Max elevation: 910 ft. – total elevation gain: approximately 722 ft.
Route type: Circuit
Trailhead parking: Anthony’s Nose Trailhead – 171-143 Bear Mountain-Beacon Hwy, Garrison, NY 10524
Please Note: Although this is a short hike, it should not be taken lightly and should not be done alone. The first part of this hike involves some rock scrambling and steep climbs with loose rock and dirt along an unofficial trail which doesn’t see much foot traffic.
Anthony’s Nose is a peak along the Hudson River at the north end of Westchester County, New York. Together with Dunderberg Mountain, it comprises the South Gate of the Hudson Highlands. The 910 ft. peak has been known as Anthony’s Nose since at least 1697, when the name appears on a grant patent. Pierre Van Cortlandt, who owned this mountain, said it was named for a pre-Revolutionary War sea captain, Anthony Hogan. This captain was reputed to have a Cyrano de Bergerac type nose.
Anthony’s Nose is one of the more popular hikes in the Hudson Valley and on weekends the cars are lined up along Route 9D as a testament to its popularity. The short, but steep hike to the summit offers some spectacular views up and down the Hudson River. There are several approaches to the summit with varying degrees of difficulty, but none are easy due to the sometimes rough terrain and/or sudden elevation gain. Due to the crowds, this is a hike better done on weekdays.
Anthony’s Nose was strategically important during the American Revolution. The road at its base along the Hudson River (present day US 202) was a choke-point in the Hudson Highlands north of Peekskill. The only wagon road on the east side of the Hudson River, the Albany Post Road, ran from NYC to Albany, and passed along the river here. It could be easily defended from atop the steep rock face.
During 1777, George Washington ordered the construction of a large chain across the Hudson from the shore near Anthony’s Nose to the opposite shore below Fort Montgomery. Although meant to keep the British ships from passing, it didn’t work. The chain was sunk after several well placed British cannon shots. It was blown to bits and on October 6, 1777, the British sailed through the opening, destroyed Fort Constitution, attacked Forts Montgomery and Clinton and sailed up to Kingston and burned most of the city to the ground. During April 1780, the chain was again stretched across the river and taken out of the water on October 16 (after the defection of Benedict Arnold). On April 10, 1781 the chain was once more reinstalled across the river.
The Bear Mountain Bridge was constructed in 1924 along approximately the same alignment where the chain was laid out. An airway beacon was once located on the summit.
On the east side of the Bear Mountain Bridge, the Appalachian Trail used to go straight up the face of Anthony’s Nose, one of the best viewpoints along the Hudson Gorge. During World War II, the U.S. Military closed the trail from Bear Mountain to Manitou Springs, for fear that saboteurs would use it to destroy the Navy Arsenal at Iona Island, the New York Central Railroad, the Bear Mountain Bridge and the roadway leading to it. After the war, the Appalachian Trail on Anthony’s Nose reopened for a few years. It was subsequently rerouted along the side of Anthony’s Nose because the top came under the possession of Camp Smith Army National Guard base in the 1950’s.
Although the seemingly abandoned trail is not listed on the NY-NJ Trail Conference maps, it is blazed and well trodden. Upon contacting someone from the Trail Conference in regards to the trail, I was told: “It was very steep and dangerous.” and “I definitely do not recommend that you hike this trail.” In actuality, the trail is similar in length and degree of difficulty (possibly a little less difficult) to the first section of the Breakneck Ridge Trail that leads to the flagpole. The first 1/2 mile gains about 700 feet of elevation and you’ll need to use both your hands and your feet in many places along the way.
This hike incorporates the rock scramble along the no longer used portion of the AT, up the western face of Anthony’s Nose to its summit. The return route is the Camp Smith Trail (north) to a junction of the current route of the AT, turning left and descending steeply to Route 9D, with a short road walk back to the vehicle.
Please Note: This hike involves steep climbs over rock ledges that can be very slippery when wet. You’ll need to use both your hands and your feet in many places along the way. Proper footgear is essential for this hike, which is best done on weekdays, to avoid the weekend crowds.
Pull off parking is available along Route 9D and care should be taken when walking along the road to the trailhead and back to the vehicle.
The hike begins alongside the chain link fence. Follow the footpath along the fence, and once past the anchorages that hold the two main steel cables, the blue blazes appear. Follow the blue blazes as the trail steeply climbs the rocky ridge. Depending on the time of year, there may be views through the trees of the river as you climb.
As the trail climbs, there are sections where there is some loose rock and dirt, making one’s footing unstable.
The trail reaches a tall rock formation that you will have to climb. There are plenty of hand and footholds, which makes it easier than it appears.
The trail reaches a large rock outcrop that overlooks the Hudson River, Bear Mountain Bridge, and the nearby hills of Bear Mountain State Park. This is a good place to take a break.
The blue blazes continue to steeply climb the face of Anthony’s Nose, with some more rock scrambling along the way.
At the top, the blue blazes end at a stealth campsite near the cliff’s edge. Turn right and walk over open rock slabs a short distance to panoramic views of the Hudson River, the Bear Mountain Bridge, and Bear Mountain-Harriman State Park. This makes a perfect spot to relax and take in the views.
To complete the loop, walk east (away from the river), turn left and follow the blue blazes of the Camp Smith Trail, which travels on a woods road. In a short distance there is an unmarked footpath to the left that leads to the concrete footings of an airway beacon that once stood guard on Anthony’s Nose.
Continue past the concrete footings a short distance to a large slanted rock slab with views to the north of the Hudson River.
When you are ready to proceed, retrace your steps along the unmarked footpath, back to the blue-blazed Camp Smith Trail and turn left.
The Camp Smith Trail ends at a junction with the white-blazed Appalachian Trail. Turn left and follow the white blazes of the AT as they lead steeply downhill.
At the base of the descent, The AT comes out on Route 9D and turns left. Follow the AT towards the Bear Mountain Bridge and back to the parking area, where the hike began.
This is a fun and challenging hike to do, with outstanding views of the Hudson River Valley as the payoff. The flagpole area at the summit is a popular spot for hikers, so if you’re looking for solitude, this may not be the hike for you. This hike is best done on a weekday when there are less people on the trails. Nevertheless it’s worth the time and effort. For a slightly longer hike, you can park near Hessian Lake in Bear Mountain and follow the Appalachian Trail as it winds it’s way through the Trailside Museums & Zoo, across the Bear Mountain Bridge, to Anthony’s Nose.
Pros: Anthony’s Nose, American Flag, Hudson Valley views, Hudson River, rock scramble.
Cons: Popular spot that does get crowded.
Take a hike!