The Hudson Highlands have quickly become my favorite region to hike. After hiking Butter Hill and Storm King Mountain for the two previous weeks, I didn't see anything wrong with dragging my finger a few inches along the map to pick my next trip.
I had discussed North Point with Christian Mena when we hiked Storm King Mountain the week prior. Although it wasn't really on my radar, I felt it would be a good follow-up to Storm King Mountain and the hikes in the Highlands rarely disappoint.
The sky was split as dark storm clouds buttressed a bright blue sky. I hoped any rain would hold off until I had completed my loop. Roadwork being done on Rt. 9W meant I would have to park at the alternative parking lot on Rt. 218 on the other side of the mountain.
Parking was along the side of the narrow, winding mountain road. When I stopped the car and stepped out, a large bee flew into my car and settled on the back windshield. Distracted by the bee, I was surprised to look up and find a mid-sized bear crashing through the brush and waddling across the road, eventually disappearing back into the forest. I looked into the trees, expecting to see another, larger bear plow through, but I never did.
The trail starts off with a rocky, steep ascension which quickly leads to the first of many Hudson River views. As I emerged from the trees and onto an outcrop, I startled a large turkey buzzard who sprung from its perch, tearing at leaves and shaking branches. The trail continues to follow a series of outcrops along the edge of the mountain.
The views continue to improve until you eventually arrive at a view overlooking Storm King Mountain and Breakneck Ridge and continuing up the Hudson River.
Yes, the views are familiar, but they are all unquestionably unique unto themselves. Each available perspective paints its own picture. The weather today, partially overcast, was also in stark contrast to the bluer, hazier conditions from the week before.
The trail eventually leads back into thicker forest, dark due to the heavy tree cover. I have enjoyed doing some running on the trails lately, so I found myself making very good time. It didn't feel like it took very long before I was approaching North Point.
Although I had already gotten a number of great angles, North Point managed to expand the perspective even further. This is another one of those locations that begs to be enjoyed. I climbed up on a large rock and relaxed for a while, taking in the scenes along the river.
Intermittent rain drops began to spill from the dark, transient cloud able. I returned to the trail, heading toward blue skies on the horizon, and stuffed a poncho in my shirt pocket in case it started to downpour.
The trail narrowed and descended into the woods, passing the original lot I attempted to park at on Rt. 9W. As I arrived at the white-blazed Stillman Spring Trail, bright rays of sun shone through the treetops and onto the ground.
One particular open area featured a large log in the center of field of grass being showered in sunlight. I took time to sit, think, breath, and stretch. The hike was over shortly thereafter, I was back at my car. The weather could have been better, but the sun and clouds competing kept things interesting. North Point is definitely worthy of another visit with its great views, good balance of exercise and relaxation, and payoff.