Better Days on Butter Hill


My previous week's visit to Butter Hill turned out to be unsuccessful. This was one of the few times that I broke a loop that I had fully intended on completing. This was also the first time that the fog was so bad that it completely curtained the many views that should have been enjoyed.

So, I came back the following week: the weather was much improved (although a bit hazy sometimes), Christian Mena joined me, and we completed a double-car hike which allowed us to enjoy more of the trail.

Christian parked near the trailhead of the yellow-blazed Stillman Trail. I picked him up and together we drove to the parking pull-off on 9W, at the foot of Butter Hill. Last week, from here, thick mist rested like a crown at the peak of Bull Hill. Today, a slight haze tweaked the view but the blue sky promised improving conditions.

The two of us booked it up the steep, rocky face of Butter Hill on the orange-blazed Butter Hill Trail and stopped at each of the outcrops for photographs. Bull Hill, 9W, and North Point (among others) all became more and more prominent as we continued to climb.

We arrived at the top of Butter Hill and relaxed to take in the near panoramic view of Black Rock Forest, Cornwall-on-Hudson, and the ranges across the Hudson River to east. A local woman with a dog arrived at the peak while we were getting ready to continue on the path and chatted with us for a brief period. She told us she lived close by

and was blessed with a visit to this location every day. She praised and pointed over our heads at Beacon Mountain in the distance, its fire tower rising high into the sky atop the rock.

After our conversation we continued onto the yellow & teal-diamond blazed Stillman-HIghlands Trail. The greenery glistened in the sunlight breaking through the trees as we hurriedly moved among the rocks. At times, we burst into short trail runs. Eventually, we arrived on Storm King Mountain.

The views from Storm King are majestic and plentiful. As the Hudson River stretched out ahead, I asked out loud for a large vessel to come around the corner and shortly thereafter one did. However, an accompanying train didn't roll across the tracks at that moment as I had hoped, although the sound of trains' whistles had been intermittently echoing through the mountainside.

Above the many views, on the eastern ridge of Storm King, Breakneck Ridge stood as a staggering backdrop across the water. It dawned at me at this moment that, although I had been to Butter Hill and Storm King Mountain State Park, I had never hiked Storm King proper. It certainly did not disappoint.

After enjoying the sights, we followed the Stillman-HIghlands Trail until the teal diamond indicating the Highlands Trail disappeared. We were now on the yellow-blazed Stillman trail that led us back to where Christian had parked his car. Despite hiking for nearly 6 miles, the entire trek went by very quickly and suddenly we were back in the parking lot.

Especially compared to last week, this hike was excellent. I would say that this region has never let me down as I have thoroughly enjoyed hikes from Breakneck to Fishkill; the disappointing conditions last week were no more than an anomaly.

[ Check out Christian Mena's work - @dahill_road ]

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