The parking area for Fishkill Ridge is closed at Pocket Road and hiker parking is now only allowed on Main Street. To begin your hike, park on East Main Street and walk to the trailhead located at end of Pocket Road....
The parking area for Fishkill Ridge is closed at Pocket Road and hiker parking is now only allowed on Main Street. To begin your hike, park on East Main Street and walk to the trailhead located at end of Pocket Road.
Three white discs mark the beginning of the white-blazed Fishkill Ridge Trail just before the barrier with the conflicting NO TRESPASSING sign. According to the City of Beacon website, hikers are allowed to enter so go ahead and proceed beyond the barrier to start the hike. The water tower will be on your left. Continue on the paved road as it turns to gravel, crosses a power cut then skirts by a small reservoir on the left. Entering the woods, the trail becomes rockier and follows to the right of Dry Creek. This area is called Hemlock Gorge but there is an obvious absence of hemlocks. Some remnants litter the forest floor and there are a few very sickly upright specimens at the higher end of Dry Creek, probably in the last stages of succumbing to woolly adelgid infestation, a tragic killer of the once majestic hemlocks. As the trail ascends more steeply, you just might find yourself focusing your attention on the beautiful creek and waterfalls rather than the uphill climb.
As you will be following the white-blazed (round white disc) trail for its entire 4.5 miles, keep straight when a yellow-blazed trail comes in from the right at .45 mile. You won’t see the yellow discs at the intersection but you might spot one if you look up that trail.
At .65 mile the double white discs indicate a left turn sending you on a rock hop over the creek. Once on the other side, continue along the trail a short distance towards the now louder sounds of crashing water to find a beautiful multi-tiered waterfall. From the waterfall, continue uphill on the white-blazed trail then climb up and over a short, steep dirt mound at .85 mile to arrive at an intersection with a dirt road. Turn left on the dirt road, cross the bridge, then reenter the woods to the right to continue on the white-blazed trail. The trail switchbacks up to multiple views of the City of Beacon, the Hudson River, the Newburgh-Beacon Bridge, and the Shawangunks in front of the Catskills on the horizon. Pay close attention keeping with the white discs when other unmarked trails, as well as the red-blazed Overlook Trail, come and go along the way
A rock scramble at 1.5 miles brings you to the summit of Lambs Hill with a nice flat area for taking a break high up above the Hudson Valley. Descending on the other side of Lambs Hill, the white-blazed trail arrives at a woods road junction with the blue-blazed trail at what is affectionately known as “Dozer Junction” for the old, rusty bulldozer that sits off to the side. Continue on the white-blazed trail but remember this junction for your return route, which will be approaching this intersection from the blue-blazed trail to the right.
The trail now ascends to follow along the crest of Fishkill Ridge to Bald Hill, identified by benchmarks on the stone walking surface. Views along this route shift to the tree-covered hills to the east. At the end of the ridge, the trail makes a sharp right turn descending along an old woods road carved into the eastern side of Fishkill Ridge below the crest. This road offers a pleasant, easy stroll after working for the views of the first part of the hike. The white-blazed Fishkill Ridge Trail ends at 4.5 miles when it runs into the Wilkinson Memorial Trail. Turn right on this trail, which is blazed with yellow discs.
In about a quarter of a mile, after the yellow-blazed trail is interrupted by a brief rock scramble at Hell Hollow with a view of the sheer vertical cliff on the other side of the notch, pass an unmarked junction, then at the next intersection turn right and follow the blue discs back to the bulldozer at Dozer Junction. Turn left on the white-blazed Fishkill Ridge Trail to retrace back to where you parked. When you reach the dirt road, you may turn left on the dirt road, cross the bridge, then turn right into the woods to continue on the white-blazed trail descending sometimes steeply along Dry Creek, or turn right and stay on the dirt road to follow a smoother, more gradual descent back to the trailhead on Pocket Road.
Click here for more pictures and a longer 9.4-mile version of this hike.
Turn By Turn Description:
[ 0.00] Cross metal barrier, a power cut, pass a small reservoir on the left then enter the woods meeting up with Dry Creek on the left
[ 0.45] Keep straight when the yellow-blazed trail comes in from the right (no yellow blazes at intersection)
[ 0.65] Veer left towards creek at fork and rock hop over creek to waterfalls short distance ahead
[ 0.85] Go over small steep rise, turn left on dirt road, cross bridge, turn right into woods on white-blazed trail
[ 0.90] Keep straight at intersection with unmarked woods road
[ 1.00] Trail switchbacks up to views
[ 1.15] Keep right on white when red comes in from left
[ 1.40] Keep left on white at fork when unmarked goes right
[ 1.50] Lambs Hill
[ 1.80] Dozer Junction with bulldozer on right at intersection with blue trail
[ 4.50] White trail ends; keep straight on the yellow trail that comes in from the left
[ 4.65] Keep straight on yellow trail when unmarked trail goes right
[ 4.70] Turn right on blue-blazed trail
[ 5.00] Turn left on white-blazed trail at Dozer Junction
[ 5.30] Lambs Hill
[ 5.65] Keep left on white when red comes in from left
[ 5.95] Left on dirt road, cross bridge, right on white-blazed trail (OR right on dirt road back to car)
[ 6.15] Waterfalls, trail turns left to rock hop over Dry Creek
[ 6.80] Arrive back at water tower and car.
A pleasant, yet sometimes steep trail along a pretty creek to multi-tiered waterfalls, leads to Fishkill Ridge as it offers multiple dramatic views of the Hudson Valley and beyond.
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.