November 28, 2019 – Stony Point, NY
Difficulty: Easy – Moderate
Length: approximately 3.7 miles
Max elevation: 431 ft.– total elevation gain approximately 593 ft.
Route type: Circuit
Trailhead parking: Doodletown Trailhead – Route 9W – Tomkins Cove, NY 10986
Bear Mountain State Park is situated in rugged mountains rising from the west bank of the Hudson River. The park features a large play field, shaded picnic groves, lake and river fishing access, a swimming pool, Trailside Museums and Zoo, hiking, biking and cross-country ski trails.
Although they adjoin each other and both are part of the Palisades Interstate Park system, Bear Mountain and Harriman State Parks are technically separate entities. For historical reasons, Bear Mountain State Park extends south from Brooks Lake in Fort Montgomery, and includes Popolopen Torne, Bear Mountain, West Mountain, Iona Island and Dunderberg Mountain. It contains 5,205 acres. In November 1923, the Palisades Interstate Park Commission decided that “all of the Park lying west of Bear Mountain [later, west of West Mountain] shall be designated Harriman State Park.” That park now contains 47,106 acres.
Harriman State Park is contiguous to Bear Mountain State Park. The boundary between the two parks is not marked on the ground; the two parks are managed as one unit and are generally thought of by the public as a single park. Together, they constitute 52,000 acres of parkland, with over 235 miles of marked trails.
Doodletown, the name is said to derive from the Dutch “Dood Tal,” for “dead valley,” with the “town” suffix added later by English-speaking settlers. It is part of Bear Mountain State Park.
Doodletown, once a small hamlet tucked in a valley between the Hudson River and the summits of five mountains of the Hudson Highlands (Bald, Bear, Dunderberg, The Timp, and West mountains), less than fifty miles from New York City, today has the atmosphere of a ghost town. The scattered remains of two main, now crumbling roads, walkways leading to front yards returning to their natural state, stone foundations without buildings and interpretive signage about the people and landscape make it a popular destination for hikers.
Doodletown survived as a small, isolated community for about 200 years and would have been part of the Town of Stony Point in Rockland County today. The area was settled in the 1760’s by loggers and miners, and at one time included a church, a school, several small businesses and two cemeteries in addition to 70 houses and 300 residents (at its peak in 1945). The seven square mile hamlet was ultimately abandoned in the mid-1960’s after a long period of land acquisition by the Palisades Interstate Parks Commission. The Commission had planned to create a cross-country ski network in Doodletown but was never able to start the project. However, at least one community practice dating back to the colonial period survives; burial plots in the cemeteries are still available for former residents and their relatives. It is an “active” ghost town.
Worth finding and reading: “Doodletown: Hiking Through History in a Vanished Hamlet on the Hudson,” by Elizabeth “Perk” Stalter, a former resident of the village. The book is still available inexpensively at the bookstore along the Palisades Parkway going to Bear Mountain. Expensive used copies appear sporadically for sale by popular on-line booksellers.
I was looking for a relatively short hike to do on Thanksgiving morning before getting in the kitchen to cook. This hike took about 2-1/4 hours of moving time, going at a casual pace. The hike can be extended or shortened using any one of the trails or woods roads that intersect this route.
This hike only includes a small section of Doodletown and there is more to see there if one wants to extend the hike. Our time was limited and this hike was perfect for what we had in mind.
This hike was done clockwise from the pull-off parking area on Route 9W.
From the parking area, cross the road and head towards Doodletown Brook, which flows under the road. A short footpath leads to the brook and affords a nice view of an attractive cascade. You may want to stop here to capture an image or two.
Return to the road, turn right (south) and cross the concrete bridge that spans the brook. Look for the blue blazes painted on the bridge and the back of the sign. Immediately after crossing the bridge, turn right onto a footpath that parallels Doodletown Brook. The blue-blazed Cornell Mine Trail heads uphill on a footpath, climbing rather steeply, then levels off. It soon begins to climb again, with cascades visible through the trees in the brook below, to the right.
After about 540 yards from the start of the hike, The Cornell Mine Trail comes to a Y-intersection with an unmarked footpath. Take the unmarked footpath as it leads towards the brook. Doodletown Brook Falls can be seen a short distance upstream as you get close to the brook. As the trail heads upstream along the brook, it becomes harder to follow. Fallen trees in recent years has obscured a small section of it. You may have to head uphill slightly to get around the blow downs, but soon the path becomes discernible again.
Follow the footpath upstream until you reach Doodletown Brook Falls. A short steep descent will bring you to the base of the falls. You may want to take a moment here and enjoy the beauty of your surroundings.
When you are ready to continue, climb the hill and turn right on the unmarked footpath. In a short distance, the footpath ends at the Doodletown Bridle Path (shown on the NY-NJ Trail Conference map as a ski trail). Turn left onto the Bridle Path which travels gradually uphill.
The Bridle Path was built during 1934-35 by workmen from New York City supplied by the Temporary Emergency Relief Administration (TERA). It was opened to the public on Sunday, May 5, 1935. It was intended for use as a ski trail as well as for horses.
In a short distance, with the dam of the Doodletown Reservoir immediately to the right, the Bridle Path reaches a junction with the abandoned Old Caldwell Turnpike (a dirt road), which goes off to the left. Continue southwest along the Bridle Path for another 750 feet, and scan the hillside to your left, looking for the telltale sign of the mine, a pile of mine tailings located about 100 feet up the hillside to the east of the Bridle Path.
The Edison Mine consists of a downward-sloping shaft that extends thirty-six feet in a northeasterly direction. The shaft opening at the surface measures eighteen feet by eleven feet and the maximum vertical depth is ten feet. Piles of mine rock are present on the north and west sides of the shaft.
Several drill holes are visible on the rock walls inside the mine shaft. The physical evidence at the site indicates that this mine was an exploratory venture and was not operated commercially.
After viewing the Edison Mine, return to the Doodletown Bridle Path and turn left (south). The road soon begins to curve to the right (west) and passes near the foot of Bald Mountain and the northern slope of West Mountain. The Doodletown Bridle Path soon descends to cross Timp Brook.
The Bridle Path then climbs again and soon reaches a junction with Pleasant Valley Road, also the route of the 1777 Trail. The 1777 Trail marks the route taken by British troops under Sir Henry Clinton on October 6, 1777 from Stony Point to attack the American forces at Fort Clinton and Fort Montgomery. Turn right on Pleasant Valley Road as it heads north. The 1777 Trail is marked with white circular blazes with a red “1777.”
Soon you’ll see the remains of the structures along the road. Some have informational sign posts.
This 200 plus year-old Oak Tree could have witnessed the town’s entire history.
Soon the trail reaches the point where the British forces divided into two columns. The east column turned to the right to attack Fort Clinton (where the Trailside Museum is located now). The west column went northwest, up an old road which brought them to Queensboro and the road there to Fort Montgomery.
Turn right at this junction.
Continue on Pleasant Valley Road as it leads gently downhill past the ruins of numerous homes, with not much left but overgrown lots, foundations and stone steps.
Soon you’ll reach a T-intersection, where Pleasant Valley Road ends. Turn right, now following Doodletown Road.
At the next intersection bear right and follow another woods road east, as it leads to June Cemetery. It sits on a wooded bluff, overlooking the South side of Doodletown Reservoir. Please be respectful if you do enter the cemetery.
Retrace your steps back to the junction and turn right, passing alongside the Doodletown Reservoir. Built in 1975, it was designed to supply drinking water to Iona Island and to serve as a backup to the Bear Mountain supply. You may want to take a moment here to relax and take a break.
Continue following Doodletown Road past the Doodletown Waterworks. Situated just below the dam is a filtration plant, the source of water to the installations on Iona Island.
A short distance beyond, after passing the stone walls of a former garage on the left, you’ll notice a marker to the right. Here, a woods road (part of the Doodletown Bridle Path) leads down to Doodletown Brook Falls. Just ahead, the 1777E Trail leaves to the left, but you should continue along the road (now unmarked), which begins a steady descent.
Soon, the blue-blazed Cornell Mine Trail joins from the left. Continue to follow the road downhill as it makes a sharp right turn and narrows to a footpath. After descending wooden steps, the trail ends at Route 9W, just north of the parking area where the hike began.
From Route 9W Anthony’s Nose is visible across the Hudson River.
A nice quiet hike on mostly woods roads through a relatively lesser used area of the park. There isn’t much left of Doodletown, but it is part of the history of the area and worth a visit. With all the intersecting woods roads and trails, one can form a longer or shorter hike if so desired. Definitely worth a visit.
Quiet area to hike, Edison Mine, Doodletown Brook Falls, historical features.
Take a hike!
- Myles, William J.. Harriman Trails: A Guide and History . New York – New Jersey Trail Conference. Kindle Edition.
- Lenik, Edward J.. Iron Mine Trails . New York – New Jersey Trail Conference. Kindle Edition.