This is a very steep hike at the beginning to ascend Taurus Mountain. There are several false summits but great views across the Hudson River. The descent off of Taurus Mountain does not have any views but it is an easy hike along a fire road most of the way until you have to ascend part of Taurus Mountain again to complete the loop.
This is also called Bull Hill Short Loop. This is a very popular hike and crowded on weekends. Arrive early!
This is a difficult loop that has several different starting points. I chose to start at the Washburn Trailhead, which is the lowest starting point you can select. Starting from nearly on the Hudson River, the trail ascends immediately along a well-maintained road designated by white disc markers.
After a short way, you'll reach a quarry. The trail turns right here and ascends a shoulder as several trails weave through the trees. They all lead up the shoulder with several views south toward West Point and the Hudson River. This trail tops out on Bull Hill, which is also known as Taurus Mountain, a little less than two miles later. Continue down the east side of the mountain along an old fire road. The trail ends at an intersection with Nelsonville Trail
and Undercliff Trail
The Nelsonville Trail
passes through here. Proceed straight onto the Nelsonville Trail
, which is marked with green discs. The trail turns sharply right and is a wide dirt/gravel fire road. After a few miles, you'll reach a small parking area. Pass through this parking lot and pick up the Nelsonville Trail
again. After less than a half mile, you'll see the Undercliff Trail
on the right marked with yellow discs.
The Undercliff Trail
ascends the side of Taurus Mountain and is steep at times. There is a tricky section at the only viewpoint on the Undercliff Trail
. There are several social paths that lead away from the trail. Many people get confused here. After the trail climbs up to this viewpoint, it makes an abrupt turn back and descends again before climbing back up the side of the mountain. The trail is not well-marked here so take your time to find the right way.
The Undercliff Trail
ends back on the section of the Washburn Trail
that you had ascended earlier. Turn left and descend back to the quarry and eventually your car.