October 1, 2017 – Hancock, NY
Length: Approximately 3.2 miles
Max elevation: 1,388 ft.– total elevation gain approximately 649 ft.
Route type: Out and back
Trailhead parking: Bouchoux Brook Rd, Hancock, NY 13783
The Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River stretches along approximately 73.4 miles of the Delaware River from Hancock, New York, to Sparrowbush, New York. Most of the land in this unit of the National Park System is privately owned, the federal government owns only approximately 30 acres. Within the park are the remains of the Delaware and Hudson Canal. More than 14,000 acres within the watershed of the Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River are protected by conservation easements enacted by willing private property owners and held by the Delaware Highlands Conservancy land trust.
Known officially as “Bouchoux Trail” or “Jensen’s Ledges,” The Ledges, as the locals call it, is a short but steep hike on a rocky woods road, leading to panoramic views of the Upper Delaware River Valley. The National Park Service rates this hike as difficult, but it’s just a steep walk up a rocky woods road.
Having received a patch for completing the Tupper Lake Triad challenge, I decided to check to see if any hikes near me were offering patches. I stumbled onto the Upper Delaware’s Take a Hike! campaign. Although not exactly close by, I decided I would complete the six hikes on the list to earn my free patch. Since they are short hikes, we did three on each day and they were completed in two consecutive weekends. We did this hike first because it was the furthest north. We figured that we work from north to south, which would make the ride home a little shorter.
We got a late start on this Sunday morning and didn’t arrive at the trailhead until about 10:45 am after a two hour drive from Westchester County. We geared up and began our hike on the Bouchoux Trail.
A short distance up the road is the trail register and we signed in.
In a partnership with private landowners, this trail has been made available for public use. There are numerous “No Trespassing” and “Private Property” signs throughout the hike. Failure to adhere to these warnings may result in the trails being closed to the public and/or criminal prosecution.
The trail is marked with red blazes, almost all of which are faded and barely visible. The trail is easy to follow and although there are a few side trails along the way, they are posted with ‘Private Property” signs to let you know that you are in the wrong place.
The Bouchoux Trail ascends steeply on a very rocky woods road. It’s, what is referred to as an “ankle breaker trail.” This road leads to a now-abandoned Bluestone quarry.
The woods road climbs steeply to the shoulder of Bouchoux Hill, passing some interesting rock formations along the way.
Just before a stream crossing, there is a short spur trail on the right that leads to a ledge. From there, Bouchoux Hill Falls can be viewed as it tumbles down over the cliff into the Delaware River. It was nothing more than a trickle on the day we visited. Back out to the main trail, we crossed the stream that feeds Bouchoux Hill Falls.
Upon crossing the stream, one can see where it drops off the cliff to create the waterfall.
Right after the stream crossing, the Bouchoux Trail continues ahead. We took a side trail that leads to a large pile of Bluestone. Quarrying of Bluestone was once a large industry in the area.
Creative hikers have built some stone furniture here, so we took a break here to enjoy the fruits of their labor.
I’m in the front row!
The view from the Bluestone chair wasn’t too shabby. There are steep drop-offs here with loose stones underfoot, extra care should be taken here not to lose your footing.
Large decorative cairns lead the way over the Bluestone.
Just past the cairns there is a nice chaise lounge that looks out towards the Delaware River.
We walked back onto the main trail and in a short distance, we arrived at Jensen’s Ledges.
The view from here makes it worth the trek up that ankle breaker trail.
We stayed at this spot for quite some time enjoying the view. This is a popular spot and we were not alone up there, but still a great spot.
We made our way back down the woods road to the parking area, where our hike began.
While sitting on a rock, relaxing and having a snack, I saw what looked like a trailhead at the southern end of the parking area.
Getting a closer look at the sign, I read that it is the Bouchoux Brook Trail Extension. I don’t know where the Bouchoux Brook Trail is, but since we were already there, I figured we would walk this trail to the Delaware River.
Almost immediately upon entering the trail, there are remnants of a large multi-room structure.
The ruins of an old wooden bridge that used to span Bouchoux Brook is visible from the trail.
The trail passes by a picnic table and a grill…….
and plenty of signs on either side of the trail to keep you on your toes.
These signs are intended to keep hikers from straying off the trail.
The wide woods road heads south through private lands.
The Bouchoux Brook Trail Extension leads to the railroad tracks, which is active. I was able to capture this image of Bouchoux Hill from the tracks.
There wasn’t much to see unless you walk up or down the tracks. We had two other hikes to do, so I returned to the trail and we retraced our steps on the Bouchoux Brook Trail Extension back to the parking area.
What a great hike in such a picturesque area. I had never heard of this place before, but I am glad that we found our way here. Hike one of six now in the books towards a free patch. Now we were off to hike the Damascus Forest Trail, so stay tuned.
Pros: Great views, beautiful area, waterfall (when active), stone furniture, Delaware River.
Cons: Ankle breaker trail, sign, signs, everywhere there’s signs.