Panoramic views of the Hudson River, a babbling brook, and some ruins to create a sense of mystery… the Cornish Estate Trail Loop is a really fun day hike! This path is a mile south of the popular Breakneck Ridge Trail that’s known for its steep ascent, rock scrambling and amazing views.
The Cornish Estate Trail is a 5 mile loop that’s more relaxed than Breakneck, and I think it’s better if you’re looking for a fun day where you can get your heart pumping but still hang out. The views are still amazing! But that also means ya gotta work for it a little bit...It’s a decent climb with a 1437 foot elevation gain. But (thankfully) what goes up must come down.
Situated just outside the heart of Cold Spring, NY, this hike is in the Hudson Highlands State Park and the trailhead is just a little over 1 hour north of Manhattan (well, that's with no traffic).
For the trailhead, here are coordinates for your GPS: 41.426810, -73.965680
(Or try this address: 3206 Bear Mountain-Beacon Hwy, Cold Spring, NY 10516; Source: alltrails.com)
The ruins you’ll see on this hike are the remains of what was once the Cornish Estate. It was destroyed by a fire in the 1950s, and the surrounding acres of land are believed to have been a dairy farm back in the day. When I see remnants of an old abandoned building I can't help but wonder who lived here? What was their life like? (Sometimes I like to make up my own stories...)
Rumor has it the man who owned the Cornish Estate (Edward Joel Cornish, president of the National Lead Company) and his wife died within 2 weeks of each other in 1938.
The mansion's remaining stone wall structures are along the river, but the stunning Hudson River views are at the opposite (eastern) side of the loop. Since it’s a loop hike, you can explore the trails in either direction and I think there are pros and cons to both. We chose to go left and did the loop clockwise (Blue blaze Cornish trail/Red blaze Brook trail/Blue blaze Notch trail/White Blaze Washburn trail), which meant the ruins were at the beginning of the hike and followed by a pretty steady incline for about 3 miles. I was definitely wondering along the way… when’s the downhill part?!
But the payoff was the at the top! The panoramic views of the Hudson allow you to see the entire valley, and the cleared ledges make for a couple great places to stop and hang out. If you look across the river and south, you can even see the West Point Military Academy. After a little break at the top, the last 2 miles are a moderate descent- not crazy steep like Breakneck but you have to pay attention to where you’re stepping, so you can’t zone out and daydream. BUT the bonus is that all the beautiful river views are right there in front of you.
If you go right at the beginning onto the white blazed Washburn trail, that steeper ascent comes first and lasts about 2 miles. Don’t forget to turn around and check out the Hudson views behind you! The payoff for this option is after you reach the top, you get about 3 miles of a pretty steady downhill for the rest of the hike. But if you go on cruise control, don’t miss the ruins which are an added bonus just before you finish up.
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Hope you have fun! Tell us in the comments and let me know if you have suggestions for fun hikes in the NYC area or anywhere else.
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