Mount Beacon Fire Tower is the hike you must do if visiting Beacon, New York. There are great panoramic views of the Hudson Valley and town of Beacon. It is a popular hike, but because the views are just that good.
We hiked to the top of Mount Beacon in late summer and thought that it was a nice hike with great views. Read further to find all the information you need to know before hiking to the top of Mount Beacon.
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*****Everything in this article is my personal opinion and experiences. Check your own resources and choose to do anything I discuss at your own risk. Some of the things in this post may be dangerous and not recommended for every body.
About Mount Beacon Fire Tower
Beacon Mountain is the tallest point in the Hudson Highlands of New York. At the top of the mountain is the Beacon Fire Tower that was built in the 1930’s and was used until the 1970’s as a fire observation tower. From 1902 to 1978, there was an incline railway that took visitors up the mountain for panoramic views.
How to Get to Mount Beacon Fire Tower
The hike to the top of Mount Beacon starts from the town of Beacon. There is a parking lot at the start of the hike called “Mount Beacon Scenic Hudson Parking Lot.”
The best way to get to the Mount Beacon Fire Tower hike is by car. If you can drive to Beacon, it will be easier getting to the trailhead and later to explore the town. There are many parking spaces in the trailhead parking lot, but it fills up quickly on most weekends. There is street parking in the area around if the parking a lot is full when you arrive. You should definitely arrive early if planning to park in the parking lot.
Some people arrive to Beacon by the MetroNorth Train. The train station is 1.8 miles away from the trailhead. Luckily, there is a free bus in Beacon that goes from the MetroNorth station in Beacon to the trailhead of Mount Beacon. It runs every 30 minutes throughout most of the day. For more information on the bus, check out the Dutchess County website.
Hiking Routes for Mount Beacon Fire Tower
There are several different variation of trails to the Mount Beacon Fire Tower. Multiple trails overlap and intersect in the Hudson Highlands, so there is an endless variation of trail combinations that you can take.
South Beacon Mountain via Casino Trail
This is the most straightforward way to get to the summit of Mount Beacon. The trail starts from the Mount Beacon parking lot and starts of the hillside. It is 3.7 miles roundtrip. The path partially follows the route of the incline railway that used to take people up the mountain for over 70 years.
Early in the trail you will go up a large set of stairs before continuing on a dirt path up the hill. The trail is pretty clear and easy to follow since it is very popular. You will eventually reach a viewpoint with ruins of the end of the incline railway. There is a flat area where you can see views of Beacon and the Hudson Valley.
Continue on the trail and you will eventually reach the Mount Beacon Fire Tower. Most of the year, the fire tower is open for you to climb to the top to get even better views of the surrounding area. However, follow the signage and rules and do not ascend if it is closed.
When you’re finished seeing the views, you continue down the same way you ascended.
Beacon Fire Tower vis Casino, Wilkinson Memorial, and Breakneck Ridge Trail
Another popular option to reach Beacon Fire Tower is this trail, which mostly follows the Casino Trail, but is a loop at the end, offering different views and less crowds. This is the trail that we took to the top of Mount Beacon and were glad that we decided to take this route.
This route is a little longer at around 5 miles. You will follow the Casino Trail (the trail described above), but before reaching the fire tower, you will take a left turn instead of a right and loop around through the forest. You will scramble up the rockier side of the mountain and will eventually reach the fire tower.
With this route, there are more views to the south of the Hudson Highlands State Park. This route is harder to hike with the scrambling compared to the Casino Trail. If you are looking for more of a challenge, then this route may be for you.
Some other routes to the top of Mount Beacon
Mount Beacon via Casino, Wilkinson Memorial, and Fishkill Ridge Trails
This route is similar to the above routes mentioned, but it includes the Fishkill Ridge area. It is around 6 miles in total.
Casino, Fire Tower, Scofield Ridge, Lambs Hill, and Rainbow Falls
This route is a longer version of the Casino trail, except that after you reach the fire tower, you will keep going through Hudson Highlands State Park and will see various different parts of the park. Also, there is a waterfall on this trail! The loop is 7.1 miles and described as challenging.
Mount Beacon via Notch Trail to Wilkinson Memorial Trail
This route starts from a different trailhead and is almost 7 miles. This trail weaves more through the Hudson Highlands State Park and would likely have less crowds on the trail.
More trail variations can be found on AllTrails
Tips for Hiking to Mount Beacon Fire Tower
Mount Beacon and the Hudson Highlands are super popular places to hike. Many people come from the city and surrounding area to hike here, especially since it is so accessible even if you don’t have a car. The parking areas fill up really early in the morning, so I suggest arriving early to be able to park at the trailhead and to avoid some of the crowds.
Be prepared for the crowds
Going along with my first tip, it is so super crowded. If you’re trying to avoid the crowds, go early in the morning. We went early and were still so surprised at how many people there were. It felt like we were on a ginormous group hike, even though we showed up alone. We like quiet forest hikes and this was definitely not it. If you want to hike this trail, but would like something a little less crowded, try hiking one of the other routes mentioned above that are not the Casino Trail. You will eventually have to hike on the Casino Trail to make it to the fire tower, but the less you are on the Casino Trail, the less people you will encounter.
Go to the top of the fire tower for the best views
The top of the fire tower has awesome views! Make sure you hike to the top of the fire tower to see the panoramic views of the area. When we visited, there were many people that didn’t go up the fire tower because they thought the views would be the same, but you’d be surprised how going to the top changes the view.
Use a trail app to make sure you take the right trail
If you plan on taking one of the trails that are more than just the Casino Trail, I recommend using a trail-tracking app like “AllTrails” to make sure that you are on the right trail at all times. The Hudson Highlands has a ton of different trails, so you could easily get mixed up and be on the wrong trail if you’re not paying close attention. We have used AllTrails for years and think it’s so worth it (plus the app is free!).
After your hike, explore the town of Beacon
Beacon, New York is a super cute town along the Hudson River with a long main street full of cute shops and cafes. Some of my favorite places to stop in Beacon are Hakan Chocolates, Big Mouth Coffee Roasters, and Flora Good Times. For more information about Beacon, check out my Beacon, New York Blog Post.
Recommended Gear for Hiking Mt. Beacon Fire Tower
Gear you already have
It is a common saying is “the best gear is the gear you already have” and I generally believe this to be true. You don’t need any specialized gear for this hike and you likely have everything you need: comfortable shoes and water bottle being the most important. Some people will tell you that you need the best gear out there, but really you can get by on stuff you already have most of the time, especially on this hike.
If hiking in the winter: microspikes
One thing that you likely do not have if you are a new hiker is microspikes. You should have microspikes with you if you are hiking to the Mt. Beacon Fire Tower in the winter. There will likely be ice on the trail which can be dangerous if you do not have microspikes with you. Here are a pair of microspikes on Amazon similar to the type I have.
Water and a snack
Even though the hike may not seem so long from the bottom, it could be harder than you expect. Always be prepared to be out on the trail longer than you think you will be. Have plenty of water with you. Also, you’ll be glad you brought a snack when you reach the top and want to sit and look at the pretty views for a while.
Planning a trip to the Hudson Valley? Check out some of my other posts about the area
I hope that this post helps you to plan an awesome hike to Mount Beacon. Please let me know any comments or questions you may have!
Thanks for reading!