The Storm King: Darkening skies and raging seas. Perhaps you’re envisioning Zeus with a thunderbolt or Poseidon with a tsunami, or maybe some other deity who is having a bad day and fiercely brooding. This particular king takes shape in a mountain, and invites you to come and conquer, stomping your feet at the summit! Hiking Storm King Mountain [Before the intersection of Mountain Road and Rt 9W in Cornwall, NY, coming from the South (NYC) on 9W you will see a large parking lot on the right, this is your stop!] really isn’t as brutal as your imagination might suggest.
It is actually a very friendly and manageable hike. At 2.5 miles to complete this loop trail, I would say this hike is the perfect length for some great fun exercise without tuckering you out for the day. I would highly recommend this trail for those who are looking to get into mountain hiking. Easy to get to from NYC just over an hour north and south from Albany just over an hour and a half. The trail gains almost 900 feet of elevation, but most of that is the initial ascent, the hike is pretty mild from there on. You begin on the orange trail, walk parallel the same side as the road runs and you will find it. You start your climb almost immediately, and once you rise over the tree line you will be dazzled with your first of many views into the Hudson Valley.
Keep heading up and spot the summit in the not too far distance, you’ll be there soon enough.
When you see the rock pillar ruins continue past them on the orange trail you’ve been following.
A bit of a climb on and you will find yourself at the summit of Butter Hill.
More incredible views to see,
but this is not where your story ends today. You have another summit to get to, carry on. When the orange trail ends make a right on the yellow (often yellow and blue) trail. The left trail heads downhill, and you want to go UP the mountain! So onto yellow (and sometimes blue) winding up through the woods and around the mountain, where the views are waiting for you. Once you level out there are an assortment of overlooks reaching out over the Hudson River. Each will seem better than the last, until you get to the clearing with a dead on view. Magnificent raw winter beauty, this was the scene on new years day.
Binoculars, camera zoom, or a serious squint will help you view Bannerman’s Castle, that freckle of an island off shore in the river.
When you have gotten your fill continue your way following the yellow around the side of the mountain, making a u-turn. You’ll find yourself enjoy the views on the other side, and then the white trail will appear (sometimes with blue).
The white trail will bring you home, follow it and descend, passing different beautiful details in the forest as you go.
Just before you get to the lot, a final push back up the hill will remind you that Storm is King here, and he can make you sweat! This was a breathtaking hike, in more ways than one, and a fantastic way to start the new year!