July 17, 2022 – Nyack, NY
Difficulty: Moderate to Strenuous
Length: Approximately 3.7 miles
Max elevation: 722 ft.– total elevation gain approximately 910 ft.
Route type: Out and back
Buy Map (Paper & Avenza): Hudson Palisades Trails Map #110 (2018)
Trailhead parking: 698 North Broadway, Nyack, NY 10960
Fee: $10.00 per vehicle Day Use (in season) – Empire Pass Accepted
Ample parking is available – Restrooms on site
The park is open year-round, from 8am to dusk.
This hike covers the recently relocated Upper Nyack Trail, which begins at river level in Nyack Beach State Park and ends at a junction with the Long Path on the way to the summit of Hook Mountain. I did the Upper Nyack Trail as part of a longer loop in 2016. At that time, the trail included a road walk. I wanted to update the 2016 hike, so I hiked the Upper Nyack Trail, and continued on to the summit on the Long Path. I then retraced my steps back to Nyack Beach State Park.
The old Upper Nyack trail, while useful, ran through some wet dark areas and also included a road walk. Thanks to the work of Trail Conference volunteers, the experience is now even more enjoyable. The Long Distance Trails Crew installed 351 stone steps, built 2,537 square feet of crib wall, and constructed 3,775 feet of sidehilled trail. Construction began in 2019. Though less than a mile in length, the technical work required to build a safe, sustainable route through such challenging conditions took almost 2 years to complete.
The new and improved Upper Nyack Trail, opened to the public in June 2021 and was several years in the making. Its creation was made possible by the purchase of 30 acres of undeveloped land from the Marydell Faith and Life Center, adjacent to Nyack Beach and Hook Mountain state parks. The sloping property, which the religious order acquired in 1924, includes dense woodland and meadow stretching down to the Hudson River. The Trust for Public Land acquired the property, that was coveted for residential development, in 2017 for $3.1 million. The Trust for Public Land, a nonprofit conservation group, conveyed the land to the State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.
Soon after the sale, work on the new trail began: A route for the trail was scouted, mapped, and proposed for approval to the Palisades Interstate Park Commission, who assumed management of the land once it was incorporated into Hook Mountain State Park. The trail was constructed along and through a steep slope of boulders that rolled down Hook Mountain.
The white-blazed Upper Nyack Trail, although just slightly longer than a mile, gains about 555 feet of elevation from the Hudson River to its terminus at a junction with the Long Path. It is well blazed and easy to follow. The trail begins at Nyack Beach State Park. The first section follows what was called the Zig Zag Trail, that leads uphill via switchbacks to the plateau. The Zig Zag Trail was probably once built to take people, horses, and equipment to the plateau, which was the working face of a major quarry that operated at the turn of the 19th century. The trail beginning, only steps from the bathhouse and parking lot of Nyack Beach State park, is marked with a sign and triple white blazes.
The trail crosses an asphalt road that leads to the plateau and then enters the woods on the new section of trail along the mountain base. The hiker is soon absorbed in the unique talus slope ecosystem formed by large boulders that have fallen from the exposed vertical face of the Hook. The path is shady in summer under relatively mature hardwoods. The trail winds up, down, and around the base and one quickly learns to appreciate the trail crew’s work. Without their steps, stairs, bridges, and packed earth, the way would be nearly impassable.
This hike follows the white-blazed Upper Nyack Trail to its terminus at a junction with the aqua-blazed Long Path. From there, the hike continues on the Long Path to the summit of Hook Mountain that provides panoramic views over the Lower Hudson River Valley and the Tappan Zee Bridge.
To continue on to complete the 6-mile loop, you can follow this guide to the summit of Hook Mountain and follow this GUIDE the rest of the way.
This is a straightforward out-and-back hike, beginning and ending at Nyack Beach State Park. The trail map is from 2018 and does not have the relocated section of the Upper Nyack Trail.
As you can see from the elevation graph, it’s a steep climb to the summit, gaining more than 900 feet of elevation.
Proceed to a kiosk at the northern end of the parking area and continue north for 250 feet on the Hook Mountain Bike Path (also known as the River Trail). Here, a sign in a grassy area and three white blazes on the left mark the start of the Upper Nyack Trail. This white-blazed trail ascends on a dirt road, passing concrete foundations on the left that afford a view of the Hudson River, and continues uphill on switchbacks. After a level section, it joins a paved road for 175 feet, then turns right, climbs rock steps and continues along the side of Hook Mountain. This magnificent trail section, which weaves through huge rocks at the base of a talus slope, was constructed by the all-volunteer Long Distance Trails Crew of the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference.
After about a mile, the trail crosses a stream on huge boulders, then begins a steady climb. The last section of the climb is mostly on rock steps. After climbing a long stone staircase, the Upper Nyack Trail ends at a junction with the aqua-blazed Long Path.
Turn right onto the Long Path, which follows an old road. Built in the 1870’s, this road was planned to continue to the top of Hook Mountain, but it never was completed. Route 9W, which the old road briefly parallels, may be seen and heard through the trees above on the left. Soon, the old road curves away from Route 9W, and the trail narrows to a footpath, with views of the river through the trees. The trail then bears left and begins to climb rather steeply, then more moderately. As you get a little higher, views open up over Upper Nyack, the Hudson River and the Tappan Zee Bridge.
Just beyond, after curving to the left, the trail turns sharply right (avoid the unmarked path leading straight ahead) and climbs a steep, rocky slope, soon reaching the summit of Hook Mountain, with outstanding views over the Hudson River and the Tappan Zee Bridge. Rockland Lake may be seen to the north (through the trees), with the hills of Harriman State Park beyond. On a clear day, the New York City skyline is visible to the south. You’ll also notice several clumps of prickly pear cactus – the only native American cactus that grows east of the Rocky Mountains. You’ve climbed over 700 feet to reach this point, and you’ll want to take a break, while enjoying the views.
As you near the summit, if you turn around you’ll be greeted with this west-facing view.
Hook Mountain summit.
View southeast from Hook Mountain summit.
The Tappan Zee Bridge.
In the foreground, through the trees is Rockland Lake. In the background is the Hudson River. The ridge that runs from left to right between the lake and the river is the long ridge of Hook Mountain.
Looking southwest towards New Jersey.
Nyack end of the Tappan Zee Bridge, Piermont Pier, Piermont Marsh, Tallman Mountain and beyond.
Tappan Zee Bridge with Tarrytown in the background.
Sleepy Hollow Lighthouse across the river.
When you are done enjoying the views, you can continue north on the Long Path or as we did, you can retrace your steps back down the mountain on the Long Path, turning left on the Upper Nyack Trail to the River Trail and to the parking lot at Nyack Beach State Park, where the hike began.
A great hike via a well constructed and interesting trail. The majestic views over the Hudson River are a nice reward for the rigorous climb. The trails are well marked and maintained. There is a lot of tree cover along the way, which helps on a hot day. A thoroughly enjoyable hike.
Hudson River Valley views, newly constructed trail is well done.
Some road noise from 9W.
Take a hike!
- Hook Mountain State Park
- Nyack Beach State Park
- Upper Nyack Trail Project
- New Trail To Hook Mountain From Nyack Beach Park
- New York to Gain 30 Acres of Parkland From Catholic Nuns
- Hook Mountain Summit Trail Opening