November 12, 2017 – Newburgh, NY
Length: Approximately 2 miles
Max elevation: 755 ft.– total elevation gain approximately 357 ft.
Route type: Circuit
Trailhead parking: 209 North Plank Road – Newburgh, NY 12550
Cronomer Hill Park opens in the beginning of April and closes mid November
The most prominent elevation in the town of Newburgh, due to its central location, is Cronomer Hill. The summit of Cronomer Hill, the name of which derives from an Indian chief who allegedly lived atop the hill during Revolutionary War times, is 725 feet above sea level. Most of Cronomer Hill is now a park owned and maintained by Orange County and remains heavily forested. The summit, accessible by auto via a road intersecting with Route 32, features an observation tower which provides views of major portions of the mid Hudson Valley, including the Newburgh-Beacon Bridge, much of Dutchess County across the Hudson, and major portions of Stewart Airport to the southwest, as well as much of the city of Newburgh and town of New Windsor. A cell phone tower is at the summit of Cronomer Hill.
After an easy walk through Algonquin Park, I decided to check out the observation tower at the summit of Cronomer Hill. From what I read, there is a network of unmarked trails that criss-cross the park. With no map at hand, I decided to just wander my way to the summit and check out the view.
Upon arriving at the entrance on Route 32, the gate was down with a sign that reads “Park Closed.” Another sign reads “Park Closes At Dusk.” I was a bit confused and surmised that the park was closed to vehicles, but open to foot traffic. I did see a jogger and his dog, so I decided to enter. I later learned (while writing this post) that the park is closed from mid November to April. Now I know why it was so secluded in there.
The paved park road, just past the entrance, goes left and right. I turned right and began walking on the paved road as it heads uphill.
The road turns and comes to a fork, where I veered right and passed some large boulders.
The paved road switchbacks as it continues to climb and then I saw a footpath and I left the road.
This footpath has several junctions, but since I was heading towards the summit, I stayed on the path that leads uphill. In a short distance, the trail ends at the main paved park road. I checked my GPS to verify that I was on the right track, then continued northeast on the paved road. The road switchbacks up the hill and comes out to a clearing on the summit, where the observation tower is located.
The tower is built strong and sturdy. There was no shake at all as I climbed the steps. The view from the top of the 30 ft. tower is quite nice. Unfortunately, the sun was directly in my face as I tried to capture a few images. Looking southeast from the tower, the Hudson River and the Hudson Highlands are visible.
The Newburgh-Beacon Bridge sits just east of the park.
The view is much nicer than represented in the images above. Well worth the walk up the hill. When the park is open, one can drive right up to the tower, but I prefer to earn the view. There is a cell tower at the summit as well, but it is off limits. I then took a footpath down the hill to the main road as I descended Cronomer Hill. Along the way there are some old stone walls and giant boulders that border the trail.
I passed several footpaths and woods roads on my way down the hill, but I just stayed on the paved park road. In a few minutes, I was back at the front gate, where I began my hike.
I could have spent hours wandering the many trails in this park. It was nice and quiet and with the exception of the dog runner at the start, there wasn’t another soul to be seen. I would come back if only for the view from the tower.
Take the virtual hike below, with additional images added.
Pros: Observation tower, nice views, secluded trails, myriad of trails available.
Cons: Trails are not marked, no trail map available.