FKT: Angela Legg - Three Big Peaks in Hudson Highlands (NY) - 2021-08-28

Route variation
Standard Loop
Gender category
Start date
Finish date
Total time
6h 27m 24s
GPS track(s)

Who would enjoy running this FKT route? You will love this route if you want big vert in not a lot of miles (and without having to go up to the Catskills or ADKs to get it), want varied and technical terrain, and want to experience three (actually about 6) very distinct climbing experiences. The climb up Mt. Beacon is a combination of steep switchbacks, rock slabs, and rocky but runnable terrain. You'll then descend Mt. Beacon on some nice double and single track - don't miss the turn onto the single track like I did (facepalm). The original route has you summitting Sugarloaf, however, that trail has now been closed off for rehabilitation of the mountain. You have to take a detour trail that skirts Sugarloaf and intersects with the deliciously runnable descent down to Rt. 9. A brief stint on the road awaits you before you begin the next big climb - the classic Breakneck scramble. The views are beautiful and the scramble never gets old - I loved getting to ascend Breakneck in the middle of this run. You'll then descend the Undercliff trail which is a fun downhill with boulder stairs and beautiful scenery. Crossing over to the Cornish trail is where you can really open up your legs as the trail becomes carriage road and even pavement. But don't burn yourself out just yet - the Bull awaits. The ascent up Bull Hill is deceptive - there aren't any scrambles and it's not even that steep, but it WILL make you burn as the vert adds up fast in the first mile. The viewpoints are amazing if you catch them on a clear day. After you reach the summit, you get to enjoy one of my favorite downhills in all of the Hudson Highlands - it's rocky, it's rooty, it's also FAST and you can have a ton of fun barreling down this stretch of the route. Then up you'll go on the Notch trail climb which will humble you, every single time. The trail then passes along the ridge for awhile before your final vert challenge - the Devil's ladder leading back up to Mt. Beacon - approx. 500 ft of gain in about a half a mile. Have fun as your legs should be WELL TRASHED by now. The last 2ish miles are such a victory lap after surviving the previous 16 miles - the downhill from Mt. Beacon can be so exhilarating, especially if you're dodging the big crowds that will be trudging up the mountain if you do this route on a nice weekend.

Trail conditions: The trail was GLORIOUS the day I did this route. It had rained a few days before so the streams were filled with flowing water but the trails themselves weren't muddy. The rocks were dry and there was a nice breeze in the air. As mentioned above, it's really important to note that Sugarloaf is closed off for now, so the route has to be detoured a bit - it does not substantially change the mileage or vert by that much and the first man to establish this FKT time also made the same detour I did.

Run report: This FKT attempt was my third solo FKT attempt and it was big mileage AND big vert for me (the most vert I've ever done in a single run, in fact). Despite my experience on these trails, stitching all 3 mountains together had me second guessing a lot of the route and I unfortunately wasted some time making silly wrong turns in places where I knew better. Suffice it to say that it became a big mental barrier once the first wrong turn was made so I increasingly second guessed every turn from there on out. Lesson learned. Because of the recent rain, I was able to refill my water at the stream between Breakneck and Bull. I definitely overcarried supplies which also slowed me down. Mentally this was a really challenging run for me but I think it's mainly because of the longer mileage and bigger vert than I'm used to. I would definitely re-run this route, hopefully with some friends, in cooler weather. I'm ready to see some people really tackle this route with the speed and intensity it deserves.