June 24, 2017 – Haverstraw, NY
Difficulty: easy – moderate
Length: approximately 3 miles
Max elevation: 925 ft.– total elevation gain 500 ft.
Route type: circuit
Map: Harriman-Bear Mountain Trails Map #119
Trailhead parking: 9 Cheesecote Lane, Pomona, NY 10970
Cheesecote Mountain Town Park, in the unincorporated area of the Town of Haverstraw, has 217 acres of parkland with picnic areas, hiking trails, camping grounds and a 6 acre lake for fishing. A permit is needed for over-night camping. Their website states that the town is in the process of getting grants to install trailheads and make hiking and paving improvements. I called and was informed that those improvements should be done within the next five years. After scouring the internet for any information that I could find, I read that there are numerous unmarked trails and woods roads throughout the park. The Long Path skirts the western side of the park and is the only official trail.
With rain in the forecast for a second straight weekend, I chose a a short hike to avoid getting caught in the rain for an extended period of time. It was raining early on this Saturday morning so we got a late start and were glad to see the skies clear up. It was humid, but it did not rain during our hike so it worked out as planned. We pulled into the parking area shortly before 11 am and parked where the Long Path goes into the woods. We hiked the loop counter clockwise through the undeveloped section of the park and towards the summit of Cheesecote Mountain.
There is another woods road just to the right of the Long Path which is where we began our hike. We would be returning via the Long Path.
We walked uphill along the woods road and almost immediately came to the ruins of an old fireplace.
This is all that remains from a building that once stood here. The foundation of the building which once graced this site, is barely visible.
It was an easy walk on this woods road that gradually climbs Cheesecote Mountain.
In about a half of a mile, as we neared the summit, we passed a lone boulder sitting just off the road.
Veering left, off the woods road, we took a footpath searching for any views. In Winter, with the leaves off the trees, the views are probably decent, but on this day, all that was visible was the top of the higher hills of Harriman State Park to the northwest. The communications tower visible on the left atop Jackie Jones Mountain. Irish Mountain is left of center and Pound Swamp Mountain is visible to the right.
We found our way back to the woods road when no real views were apparent and continued heading northeast.
As we descended, the woods road faded or we lost sight of it, and we passed a stone wall. We crossed over the stone wall as we headed down.
We began heading too far east and changed our course and began heading west, towards where the Long Path is. We headed closer to where the stone walls are because I thought there may be a road that led to that property at one time. We headed downhill paralleling one of the stone walls that run east to west. We ended up at a telephone line cut and headed downhill.
I wanted to continue heading west, but the heavily forested woods did not comply. We were now behind some homes on Willow Grove Road which is the entrance road to the park from CR 106. We came out between two houses and walked across someone’s lawn and turned left on Willow Grove Rd.
I’m not a big fan of road walks and try to avoid them whenever possible, but the woods were quite dense behind those homes so we took the easier alternative. Just before reaching the intersection with CR 106, there is a small stone house almost hidden from view. I found it somewhat odd that this small house has two front doors.
At the intersection there is a historic marker and here is where we turned left onto CR 106.
Walking west on CR 106 with the Minisceongo Creek on the left, only provides a small sloping grassy shoulder to walk on.
We walked up to Call Hollow Road and turned left. The road crosses the creek and we had our eyes open for the aqua blazes of the Long Path, which crosses the road. In a short distance we passed under some power lines.
Then after a 3/4 mile road walk, we arrived at the Long Path which runs right through the Old Letchworth Village Cemetery.
This cemetery is about 1/2 mile from Letchworth Village, “a state institution for the segregation of the epileptic and feeble-minded.” We walked the woods road (also the Long Path) into the cemetery.
After about 500 feet, we reached the cemetery and very visible is a large memorial which reads: “THOSE WHO SHALL NOT BE FORGOTTEN” along with hundreds of names of those that are interred there. Etched into the bench is: “GIVING NAMES TO SOULS FORGOTTEN NO LONGER.”
More than 900 persons are buried here that died at Letchworth. T-shaped markers are numbered and have no names on them because families refused to allow their names to be known. Such was the stigma back then to have any form of mental illness in the family.
We paid our respects to the departed and walked a short distance into the woods. We found someone’s living room, I think. Although I’m sure that the leather ottoman is mighty comfy, we sat on the log and took a break.
We then resumed our hike by jumping back on the Long Path which continues as a woods road. It remained a woods road for the duration of our hike.
The Long Path then crosses the power line cut….
and re-enters the woods.
The mostly shaded woods road made for a relatively easy walk the rest of the way. Although the road climbs, it is a gentle ascent that gains about 350 feet of elevation in about a mile. When we arrived at a fork in the road, we stayed to the right as the blazes on the tree indicate.
Before we knew it, we were back at the parking area where our hike began.
We walked over to Cheesecote Pond, which is directly opposite of where we parked. We sat in the shade by the vehicle for a while just relaxing and enjoying the day. Then we made our way to our favorite grilling spot to cook some chow.
A pretty good day considering the forecast called for rain for most of the day. We didn’t encounter anyone on the hike with the exception of the road walk. I hope that you enjoyed the hike and please do not forget to follow my blog. Now get out there and take a hike!
Pros: Secluded trails, the Long Path, woods roads, fireplace ruins, historic cemetery, pond.
Cons: No formal trails with the exception of the Long Path, no views, road walk.