This hike traverses a remote and little-used section of Harriman State Park. It passes through beautiful thickets of mountain laurel (which blooms in early June) and traverses open rock ledges along the ridge of Breakneck Mountain (not to be confused with Breakneck Ridge, on the east side of the Hudson River). The hike involves a total elevation gain of over 1,000 feet, including an elevation...
This hike traverses a remote and little-used section of Harriman State Park. It passes through beautiful thickets of mountain laurel (which blooms in early June) and traverses open rock ledges along the ridge of Breakneck Mountain (not to be confused with Breakneck Ridge, on the east side of the Hudson River). The hike involves a total elevation gain of over 1,000 feet, including an elevation gain (near the start of the hike) of about 400 feet in 0.5 mile, but most of the hike has only moderate grades.
From the parking area, proceed uphill on a gravel road. At a gate across the road, you'll notice a triple red-dash-on-white blaze that marks the start of the Tuxedo–Mt. Ivy Trail. Follow this trail uphill on a wide, eroded road, then bear right at the power line clearing and continue along a dirt road parallel to the power lines for about 0.2 mile (there are no blazes along the power line service road), crossing a stream along the way. Just before the road curves to the left and goes under the power lines, you’ll notice a footpath going off to the left. Follow this footpath uphill.
As you enter the woods, the blazing resumes. The Tuxedo–Mt. Ivy Trail now ascends gradually on an old woods road, bordered with remnants of rock walls. After crossing a stream on rocks, the road becomes rockier. Watch carefully for a left turn and follow the red-dash-on-white blazes as the trail leaves the road it has been following and continues to climb on another old woods road. Towards the top of the climb, the trail bears left and continues on a footpath to bypass an eroded section of the road. After briefly rejoining the road, the trail bears right at a fork and continues uphill on a footpath.
Just below the crest of the rise, the trail reaches a limited viewpoint on the right, with Limekiln Mountain visible to the north and the Hudson River to the east. Beyond the viewpoint, the trail crosses a stream on rocks and continues to climb more gradually.
In another third of a mile, you'll reach a T-junction. The Red Arrow Trail, which will be your return route, begins on the right, but you should turn left to continue on the Tuxedo-Mt. Ivy Trail, which now descends gently. After climbing a little, the Tuxedo-Mt. Ivy Trail reaches a junction with the yellow-blazed Suffern-Bear Mountain Trail at the height of land, with a large rock outcrop on the right and an old stone fireplace on the left.
The Tuxedo–Mt. Ivy Trail now levels off and traverses a beautiful trail section, passing through dense mountain laurel thickets. In two-thirds of a mile, it reaches a T-junction with a woods road known as Woodtown Road. Here, the trail turns right, crosses a wooden footbridge over a stream, then turns sharply left. The trail now climbs on an old woods road, which soon levels off.
Soon after crossing another stream on rocks, you'll notice the Green Swamp below on the left, through the trees. Towards the end of the swamp, follow the Tuxedo–Mt. Ivy Trail as it turns right, leaving the woods road it has been following. In a short distance, after climbing gradually on a footpath, a triple white blaze on the right marks the start of the Breakneck Mountain Trail. Turn right and follow the Breakneck Mountain Trail along the ridge of Breakneck Mountain.
After climbing a little, the trail passes West Pointing Rock, a huge boulder with a sharp projection on its west side. The trail continues to climb gradually, soon emerging onto a series of open rock ledges. The trail now descends, proceeds through dense mountain laurel thickets, then climbs to another series of open rock ledges. At the end of the ledges, the trail goes through a narrow passage between two glacial erratics and then begins to descend. As you descend, you can catch glimpses of Breakneck Pond through the trees on the left.
The trail now makes a short, steep climb over rocks and continues to ascend more gradually. After descending slightly, the Breakneck Mountain Trail ends at a junction with the yellow-blazed Suffern–Bear Mountain Trail. Continue straight ahead, following the yellow blazes downhill to the right toward the Third Reservoir. At the base of the descent, the trail reaches the western end of the reservoir, with panoramic views over the reservoir. This is a good place to take a break.
The Suffern-Bear Mountain Trail now climbs over Ladentown Mountain and descends to Woodtown Road. It crosses the road and a stream and soon reaches a junction with the Red Arrow Trail. Turn left onto the Red Arrow Trail, which skirts the edge of a swamp, descends rather steeply, then levels off. After descending more gradually, the trail bears right at a fork, passes an interesting rock formation on the right, then turns right and heads uphill on a woods road.
The Red Arrow Trail ends at a junction with the Tuxedo-Mt. Ivy Trail at the crest of the rise. Turn left onto the Tuxedo–Mt. Ivy Trail and follow it downhill to your car, now retracing the route you followed at the start of the hike.Publication: Submitted by Daniel Chazin on 04/04/2013 updated/verified on 05/28/2023
This loop hike passes through dense mountain laurel thickets and crosses open rock slabs with interesting glacial erratics.
Whether you are going for a day hike or backpacking overnight, it is good practice to carry what we call The Hiking Essentials. These essentials will help you enjoy your outing more and will provide basic safety gear if needed. There may also be more essentials, depending on the season and your needs.
Hiking Shoes or Boots
Water - Two quarts per person is recommended in every season. Keep in mind that fluid loss is heightened in winter as well as summer. Don't put yourself in the position of having to end your hike early because you have run out of water.
Map - Know where you are and where you are going. Many of our hiking areas feature interconnecting network of trails. Use a waterproof/tear-resistant Tyvek Trail Conference map if available or enclose your map in a Ziplock plastic bag. If you have a mobile device, download Avenza’s free PDF Maps app and grab some GPS-enhanced Trail Conference maps (a backup Tyvek or paper version of the map is good to have just in case your batteries die or you don't have service). Check out some map-reading basics here.
Food - Snacks/lunch will keep you going as you burn energy walking or climbing. Nuts, seeds, and chocolate are favorites on the trail.
Sunscreen and insect repellent
Rain Gear and Extra Clothing - Rain happens. So does cold. Be prepared for changing weather. Avoid cotton--it traps water against your skin and is slow to dry. If you are wearing wet cotton and must return to your starting point, you risk getting chills that may lead to a dangerous hypothermia. Choose synthetic shirts, sweaters and/or vests and dress in layers for easy on and off.
Compass - A simple compass is all you need to orient you and your map to magnetic north.
Light - A flashlight or small, lightweight headlamp will be welcome gear if you find yourself still on the trail when darkness falls. Check the batteries before you start out and have extras in your pack.
First Aid Kit - Keep it simple, compact, and weatherproof. Know how to use the basic components.
Firestarter and Matches - In an emergency, you may need to keep yourself or someone else warm until help arrives. A firestarter (this could be as simple as leftover birthday candles that are kept inside a waterproof container) and matches (again, make sure to keep them in a waterproof container) could save a life.
Knife or Multi-tool - You may need to cut a piece of moleskin to put over a blister, repair a piece of broken equipment, or solve some other unexpected problem.
Emergency Numbers - Know the emergency numbers for the area you're going to and realize that in many locations--especially mountainous ones, your phone will not get reception.
Common Sense - Pay attention to your environment, your energy, and the condition of your companions. Has the weather turned rainy? Is daylight fading? Did you drink all your water? Did your companion fail to bring rain gear? Are you getting tired? Keep in mind that until you turn around you are (typically) only half-way to completing your hike--you must still get back to where you started from! (Exceptions are loop hikes.)
Check the weather forecast before you head out. Know the rules and regulations of the area.
The Leave No Trace Seven Principles
- Know the regulations and special concerns for the area you'll visit.
- Prepare for extreme weather, hazards, and emergencies.
- Schedule your trip to avoid times of high use.
- Visit in small groups when possible. Consider splitting larger groups into smaller groups.
- Repackage food to minimize waste.
- Use a map and compass to eliminate the use of marking paint, rock cairns or flagging.
- Durable surfaces include established trails and campsites, rock, gravel, dry grasses or snow.
- Protect riparian areas by camping at least 200 feet from lakes and streams.
- Good campsites are found, not made. Altering a site is not necessary.
- In popular areas:
- Concentrate use on existing trails and campsites.
- Walk single file in the middle of the trail, even when wet or muddy.
- Keep campsites small. Focus activity in areas where vegetation is absent.
- In pristine areas:
- Disperse use to prevent the creation of campsites and trails.
- Avoid places where impacts are just beginning.
- Pack it in, pack it out. Inspect your campsite and rest areas for trash or spilled foods. Pack out all trash, leftover food and litter.
- Deposit solid human waste in catholes dug 6 to 8 inches deep, at least 200 feet from water, camp and trails. Cover and disguise the cathole when finished.
- Pack out toilet paper and hygiene products.
- To wash yourself or your dishes, carry water 200 feet away from streams or lakes and use small amounts of biodegradable soap. Scatter strained dishwater.
- Preserve the past: examine, but do not touch cultural or historic structures and artifacts.
- Leave rocks, plants and other natural objects as you find them.
- Avoid introducing or transporting non-native species.
- Do not build structures, furniture, or dig trenches.
- Campfires can cause lasting impacts to the backcountry. Use a lightweight stove for cooking and enjoy a candle lantern for light.
- Where fires are permitted, use established fire rings, fire pans, or mound fires.
- Keep fires small. Only use sticks from the ground that can be broken by hand.
- Burn all wood and coals to ash, put out campfires completely, then scatter cool ashes.
- Observe wildlife from a distance. Do not follow or approach them.
- Never feed animals. Feeding wildlife damages their health, alters natural behaviors, and exposes them to predators and other dangers.
- Protect wildlife and your food by storing rations and trash securely.
- Control pets at all times, or leave them at home.
- Avoid wildlife during sensitive times: mating, nesting, raising young, or winter.
- Respect other visitors and protect the quality of their experience.
- Be courteous. Yield to other users on the trail.
- Step to the downhill side of the trail when encountering pack stock.
- Take breaks and camp away from trails and other visitors.
- Let nature's sounds prevail. Avoid loud voices and noises.
The Trail Conference is a 2015 Leave No Trace partner.
(c) Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics: www.LNT.org.