October 7, 2018 – Rosendale, NY
Difficulty: Easy – Moderate
Length: approximately 1.8 miles
Max elevation: 461 ft. – total elevation gain: 450 ft.
Route type: Circuit
Trailhead parking: Willow Kiln Park – 5 Hardenburgh Lane, Rosendale, NY 12472
Joppenbergh Mountain, located in the heart of the Town of Rosendale, has a rich history. It has also been called Jacob’s Nose, Jacob’s Mount, and in an early 18th-century deed, Jobsenbright. Mined in the late 19th century of limestone as a part of then-booming Rosendale cement industry, it also was the site of several long-distance ski-jumping competitions in the mid-20th century. At over 500 feet, and supporting the northern end of the Rosendale Trestle, it dominates the natural landscape of the Town of Rosendale.
A section of the base of the 118-acre parcel contains a very important parking area for the Town of Rosendale, which is leased to the Town. This area includes a small park, known as Willow Kiln Park, which is maintained by the Town.
Joppenbergh Mountain’s underlying bedrock is composed of limestone and dolostone, quite different from the white conglomerate of the Shawangunk Ridge, just to the south. It was named after Rosendale’s founder, Jacob Rutsen, and mined throughout the late 19th century for use in the manufacture of natural cement. Extensive mining caused a large cave-in on December 19, 1899, that destroyed equipment and collapsed shafts within Joppenbergh. The mine shafts visible on the mountain in the image below were destroyed in the 1899 cave-in.
The Wallkill Valley Land Trust (WVLT) purchased the property from the Open Space Institute (OSI) in late December 2011. This opened up the opportunity for the land to become public space for the recreation of the Town’s 6,000+ residents and visitors from near and far. Today, trails lead to the top of the mountain from Willow Kiln park behind Rosendale’s Main Street, and the views from the summit are splendid.
It was a misty and overcast Sunday morning in October, but blue skies were coming, or so we hoped. We arrived at the Rosendale Municipal Parking Lot, which is adjacent to Willow Kiln Park at approximately 9:30am. The Rosendale Farmer’s Market was setting up at that time and we made our way towards the park to have a look at the kilns.
Over one hundred years ago, Willow Kiln Park was a very busy spot. The kilns that form the parks backdrop burned all the rock mined under Joppenberg Mountain. It is this cement company’s claim that its product built the Brooklyn Bridge, in fact calling its cement “Brooklyn Bridge Brand.” America’s first railroad steam engine, the Sturbridge Lion, passed through today’s park on a canal boat on the Delaware & Hudson canal located on the south side of the park.
The kiln wall which runs 100 feet along the park, is 35-foot-high wall (at its tallest section) and is constructed of stone rubble and grout core, with a stone and mortar face.
The trails are not blazed on Joppenberg Mountain, but they are relatively easy to follow and there are directional signs at the start of the hike. The easiest way to do this hike is in a clockwise direction.
A small sign staked into the ground, directs hikers to the trail entrance, which is located to the far right of the kilns.
We followed the arrows up a short hill as the trail bends to the left and crosses the hillside above the kilns.
In a short distance, the trail passes a kiosk that displays a map of the mountain.
The trail then curves to the right and comes to a fork. Initially, we continued on ahead, but there is a confusing junction up ahead and we ended up on the trail that turns left at the “Overlook Trail” sign. It is the easiest way to go and a much shorter distance to the viewpoint.
Just ahead, to the right of the trail is an old brick building.
The trail now climbs steadily along the southern slope of Joppenbergh Mountain.
As the trail nears the edge of the mountain, the Town of Rosendale is visible through the trees below.
The trail then curves to the right as it passes through the woods.
The trail once again approaches the edge of the mountain as it nears the summit.
After about 0.7 mile from the start, the trail reaches a rock outcrop with views to the southwest.
Directly below is the 940 ft. long Rosendale Trestle. Construction on the trestle began in late 1870, and continued until early 1872. When it opened to rail traffic on April 6, 1872, the Rosendale Trestle was the highest span bridge in the United States. The bridge rises 150 ft. above Rondout Creek, spanning both Route 213 and the former Delaware and Hudson Canal.
After taking in the spectacular view, we continued on our way. The trail continues to climb, steeply in spots.
The trail then levels off and passes by debris, which includes a locker.
The trail then curves north as it begins to descend on a woods road, gradually at first, then the descent steepens.
The trail passes underneath some power lines twice then narrows to a footpath. A short distance later, the trail reaches the “Overlook Trail” sign from earlier in the hike. From there, we retraced our steps back to Willow Kiln Park, where the hike began.
This was a really good short hike with an outstanding view. We didn’t encounter any other hikers on our visit and it turned out to be a beautiful day. Since we drove almost 1-1/2 hours to do this hike, we also did another hike close by, Giant’s Ledges Pocket Park.
Pros: Outstanding views, historical features, lesser traveled area.
Cons: Unmarked trails.
Take a hike!