Mineral Springs Falls and Jupiter’s Boulder – Black Rock Forest

September 6, 2021 – Highland Mills, NY

Difficulty: Moderate

Length: Approximately 3 miles

Max elevation: 1325 ft.– total elevation gain approximately 636 ft.

Route type: Out and back

Maps: West Hudson Trails Map #113Black Rock Forest trails

Trailhead parking: Old Mineral Springs Road – Highland Mills, NY 10930

No bathrooms on site – No entrance or parking fees

Roadside parking for approximately 8-10 vehicles.

Please note: There is no entry to Black Rock Forest during deer-rifle season.


Overview:

Black Rock Forest in Cornwall, N.Y., features dramatic topography, numerous lakes and streams, and a high diversity of species and habitat, making it a valuable place for research as well as hikes. Located just north of Harriman and west of Storm King state parks, it functions as a 3,914-acre “living laboratory” dedicated to advancing the scientific understanding of the natural world through programs in research, education, and conservation. As a scientific field station that is also open to the public for day use, Black Rock Forest is an incredible resource for exploring and learning about nature in the Hudson Valley.

Linked to Storm King State Park by the Stillman Trail, Black Rock Forest is the largest area in the Highlands with a sustained elevation over 1,200 feet. Here the mountains plunge for more than 1,000 feet to the west, north and south, providing the hiker with sweeping vistas and strongly contrasting habitats.


History:

Since at least the 1690’s, European settlers used Black Rock Forest lands for subsistence farming, livestock grazing, and production of wood products. Commercial farming and lumbering peaked between 1790 and 1880. Homesteaders cultivated wheat, created orchards, and dairy farmed on Forest lands, while continuing to cut timber for cordwood and charcoal. Some Forest lands were also mined for iron ore. Two of the abandoned mines are still visible today on Whitehorse Mountain and on Sackett Ridge.

During the American Revolution. The Continental Army used Continental Road, which bisects the forest, as a route across the mountains from West Point to New Windsor and Newburgh. From Spy Rock, sentinels from Washington’s camp at Newburgh monitored British vessels sailing up the Hudson from Haverstraw Bay.

In the late 1800’s, the Stillman family, drawn by the beauty of the Highlands, began to purchase tracts of mountain land in Cornwall, including homesteaders’ farms that had fallen into disuse. From these lands, Dr. Ernest G. Stillman created Black Rock Forest in 1929, designating it as a resource for forest research and demonstration. Stillman’s forest crew implemented plantings, fertilization trials, and selective logging, and weeded out “undesirable” species. The Forest, much of which had been logged and/or farmed for two centuries, steadily improved in health.

Dr. Ernest G. Stillman, who was dedicated to science, left the forest to Harvard University, his alma mater, by bequest in 1949 and it remained the property of Harvard University until 1989. Black Rock Forest Consortium (now known simply as Black Rock Forest) was formed in 1989 by William T. Golden, following his purchase of the Forest from Harvard, and by 15 founding institutional members.

The forest is now administered by a group of public and private educational and research institutions whose mission is to promote scientific research and excellence in education while carefully managing the ecosystem of the forest. Despite this primary educational emphasis, the Consortium is dedicated to keeping Black Rock Forest open to the public for recreational pursuits such as hiking.


Trails Overview:

There are 23 blazed trails within the forest along with a network of old logging and mining roads, including the Continental Road. Together with cut footpaths, they provide over 30 miles of trails in Black Rock Forest and can be used to form interesting loop hikes.

The white-blazed Scenic Trail, the longest in the forest at 5.9 miles, runs from its western trailhead on Old Mineral Springs Road near Mineral Spring Falls, atop the ridge past Spy Rock to end at a junction with the Stillman Trail near Mount Misery.


Hike Overview:

The Scenic Trail on the west side of the forest is a very rewarding out-and-back hike option for moderate effort. Co-aligned with the Highlands Trail, it’s a 1.35-mile (each way) trek that packs in a magnificent seasonal waterfall, diverse habitat, and views that stretch to the Catskills. It also features the work of the Trail Conference’s Hudson Nor’Westers Trail Crew, who have remediated several wet and/or eroded areas of the trail over the years.

Mineral Springs Falls and Jupiter’s Boulder – Black Rock Forest

Mineral Springs Falls and Jupiter’s Boulder – Black Rock Forest

elevation profile - Mineral Springs Falls and Jupiter’s Boulder

elevation profile – Mineral Springs Falls and Jupiter’s Boulder


The Hike:

You’ll find the trailhead on Old Mineral Springs Road, where there is pull-off parking for about 8-10 cars. This road is owned and maintained by the town and clearly marks where parking ends.

Old Mineral Springs Road

Old Mineral Springs Road

The coaligned Scenic Trail (white blazes) and Highlands Trail (teal diamond blazes) starts on an old woods road. Walk beyond the gate as it heads gradually uphill and past a wooden informational kiosk. Soon the trail heads downhill on the woods road and you should be able to hear the sound of rushing water (depending on the amount of water flow) as the trail parallels Mineral Springs Brook, which is down below on the right.

Old Mineral Springs Road Trailhead

Old Mineral Springs Road Trailhead

Old Mineral Springs Road Trailhead

Old Mineral Springs Road Trailhead

Scenic Trail - Black Rock Forest

Scenic Trail – Black Rock Forest

Scenic Trail - Black Rock Forest

Scenic Trail – Black Rock Forest

Scenic Trail - Black Rock Forest

Scenic Trail – Black Rock Forest

In just about a quarter mile, as the white blazes veer left and start to climb, bear right on an unmarked footpath to reach the base of Mineral Springs Falls, a lovely spot for both quiet meditation and a photo opp.

Scenic Trail - Black Rock Forest

Scenic Trail – Black Rock Forest

Mineral Springs Falls - Black Rock Forest

Mineral Springs Falls – Black Rock Forest

Turn back about 100 feet, and continue following the marked trail to your right, up alongside the waterfall. You may see tall, black mesh fencing as you climb this section, a reminder that Black Rock Forest is an active research center. The fencing is in place to keep deer out and to encourage recovery of native species that have been trampled from overuse.

Scenic Trail - Black Rock Forest

Scenic Trail – Black Rock Forest

Scenic Trail - Black Rock Forest

Scenic Trail – Black Rock Forest

Scenic Trail - Black Rock Forest

Scenic Trail – Black Rock Forest

Scenic Trail - Black Rock Forest

Scenic Trail – Black Rock Forest

The trail skirts walls of rock as it climbs along the waterfall. Hikers are asked to remain on the trail and not venture near the falls to avoid both injury and the impacts of erosion. In an effort to create a safe experience and sustainable trail that will last decades, the Hudson Nor’Westers Crew built a beautiful stone staircase along this section in 2019.

Upper Mineral Springs Falls - Black Rock Forest

Upper Mineral Springs Falls – Black Rock Forest

Scenic Trail - Black Rock Forest

Scenic Trail – Black Rock Forest

Scenic Trail - Black Rock Forest

Scenic Trail – Black Rock Forest

After enjoying the view of the upper falls and the splendidly built trail, continue your rolling ascent along the stream through hemlock groves, mountain laurel, and a young birch forest. Along the way you’ll encounter additional handiwork of the Nor’Westers Crew in the form of two stepping stone bridges that cross Mineral Springs Brook.

Scenic Trail - Black Rock Forest

Scenic Trail – Black Rock Forest

Scenic Trail - Black Rock Forest

Scenic Trail – Black Rock Forest

Scenic Trail - Black Rock Forest

Scenic Trail – Black Rock Forest

Scenic Trail - Black Rock Forest

Scenic Trail – Black Rock Forest

Scenic Trail - Black Rock Forest

Scenic Trail – Black Rock Forest

After crossing the brook a second time, the trail begins a steady ascent on a rocky footpath. In just under another 0.7 mile, Jupiter’s Boulder will appear to your left, marking the turnaround point for this hike. Pausing at this glacial erratic, enjoy the views of Schunnemunk Mountain to your right, the Shawangunk Ridge beyond it, and the Catskill Mountains rising in the distance. This makes for a good spot to take a break and connect with nature. When you are ready to turn back, retrace your steps, following the white and teal blazes back to the trailhead, where the hike began.

Scenic Trail - Black Rock Forest

Scenic Trail – Black Rock Forest

Scenic Trail - Black Rock Forest

Scenic Trail – Black Rock Forest

Scenic Trail - Black Rock Forest

Scenic Trail – Black Rock Forest

Scenic Trail - Black Rock Forest

Scenic Trail – Black Rock Forest

Scenic Trail - Black Rock Forest

Scenic Trail – Black Rock Forest

Jupiter’s Boulder - Black Rock Forest

Jupiter’s Boulder – Black Rock Forest

Jupiter’s Boulder - Black Rock Forest

Jupiter’s Boulder – Black Rock Forest

Jupiter’s Boulder - Black Rock Forest

Jupiter’s Boulder – Black Rock Forest

Jupiter’s Boulder - Black Rock Forest

Jupiter’s Boulder – Black Rock Forest


Review:

A splendid out and back hike through a lesser traveled area of Black Rock Forest. As with most waterfalls, it is better to visit after rainfall for a stronger flow. A good pair of hiking boots is strongly recommended as the trail is rocky and the rocks become quite slick when wet. This writer slipped and fell at Jupiter’s Boulder due to wet conditions. The views are not the best and are probably better during leaf-off season, but still a good hike. We got an early start and only ran in to a pair of hikers at Jupiter’s Boulder, but on the way back passed several small groups near the waterfall.

Pros:

Mineral Springs Falls, Jupiter’s Boulder, lightly trafficked, well marked trails.

Cons:

Rocky trails become very slick when wet.


Take a hike!

Mineral Springs Falls and Jupiter’s Boulder – Black Rock Forest

Mineral Springs Falls and Jupiter’s Boulder – Black Rock Forest


Sources:


Pine Hill Loop – Pootatuck State Forest

July 31, 2021 – New Fairfield, Connecticut

Difficulty: Moderate

Length: Approximately 3.6 miles

Max elevation: 1,224 ft.– total elevation gain approximately 719 ft.

Route type: Figure-8 Loop

Map: Pootatuck State Forest Trail Map – DEEP

Avenza App Map (Free): Pootatuck State Forest Trail Map for Avenza

Trailhead parking: 230 Pine Hill Road – New Fairfield, CT 06812

No bathrooms on site – No entrance or parking fees

Parking for approximately 15 vehicles in a gravel lot at the Pine Hill trailhead.


Overview:

Pootatuck State Forest is almost 1,200 acres. It is located primarily in New Fairfield, with a small portion in Sherman. The main block of the Forest rises steeply from the western shore of Squantz Pond. The trails can be accessed from Squantz Pond State Park trails as well as from the Pine Hill Trailhead, off of Pine Hill Road. Recreational activities include hiking, mountain biking, letterboxing, hunting, birdwatching, snowmobiling, and cross-country skiing.

Pine Hill Trailhead - Pootatuck State Forest

Pine Hill Trailhead – Pootatuck State Forest

There are two smaller Pootatuck State Forest property parcels in New Fairfield, near to but disconnected from the main property and Squantz Pond State Park.

  • The Western Pootatuck State Forest parcel is located north of Beaver Bog Road just west of the intersection of Beaver Bog Road and Short Woods Road.
  • The Southern Pootatuck State Forest parcel is located between Short Woods Road and CT Route 39 slightly south of the intersection of Beaver Bog Road and Short Woods Road.

Pootatuck State Forest is comprised of steep wooded slopes, interesting rock formations and seasonal mountain streams with a scenic view from a rock outcrop, overlooking Squantz Pond and Candlewood Lake.

Blue Trail - Pootatuck State Forest

Blue Trail – Pootatuck State Forest


History:

Pootatuck (also Pohtatuck, Potatuck) is an Algonquian term translating to “river of the falls,” “falls in river,” or “river with many falls,” depending on where you look.

Most of the Forest was acquired in the 1920’s for about $10 per acre. In the 1930’s, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) established a work camp (Camp Hook – May 24, 1933 to Oct. 30, 1935) at the adjacent Squantz Pond State Park. The CCC was very active in the Forest. They planted trees, built roads and fire ponds, salvaged dying chestnut trees for posts and poles, and did forest thinnings to produce firewood. The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) left a legacy of hiking trails and fire roads in Pootatuck State Forest that are still in use today.


Trails Overview:

Pootatuck State Forest offers five miles of trails “with various degrees of difficulty.” The official trails are a combination of marked footpaths/old charcoal-wagon roads and wider unmarked fire roads that were constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in the 1930’s. The scenic view of Squantz Pond and Candlewood Lake from a large rock outcrop, makes for a worthy destination. The trails in Pootatuck State Forest can be combined with those in Squantz Pond State Park. The trails that were hiked on this day were almost entirely shaded by dense tree cover.

Pootatuck State Forest Map

Pootatuck State Forest Map

The marked trails are well blazed and maintained. The fire roads, although not blazed are in great shape and easy to follow.


Hike Overview:

Still dealing with some knee issues, I was searching for a moderate short hike with decent views and no crowds. Having hiked Squantz Pond State Park in 2019, I decided to check out the upper trails that connect the State Park and Forest. I was not disappointed. This is a beautiful forest with slightly challenging uphills and a gorgeous view. Getting an early start and hitting the trail by 8:15am on a Saturday morning in July, we did not encounter any other hikers until we were on the last stretch of the Fire Road, less than 1/4 mile from the parking area.

This hike is a Figure 8 Loop, beginning at the Pine Hill Trailhead.

Pine Hill Loop - Pootatuck State Forest

Pine Hill Loop – Pootatuck State Forest

This hike descends from the top of the mountain at the start, leaving a lot of the elevation gain towards the back end. Although I have rated it as moderate, there are some short steep descents on the Blue Trail and a sustained ascent along the Yellow Trail from the Fire Road.

elevation profile - Pootatuck State Forest

elevation profile – Pootatuck State Forest


The Hike:

At the back end of the parking lot, walk past the metal barrier onto the fire road, labeled on the trail map as “Forest/CCC Road.” Proceed ahead on the Forest/CCC Road for about 300 feet until you reach the start of the Orange Trail which begins on the right.

Pine Hill Trailhead – Pootatuck State Forest

Pine Hill Trailhead – Pootatuck State Forest

Pine Hill Trailhead – Pootatuck State Forest

Pine Hill Trailhead – Pootatuck State Forest

This area was hit pretty hard by a tornado back in May 2018. Always stay alert for “widow-makers.”

Pine Hill Trailhead – Pootatuck State Forest

Pine Hill Trailhead – Pootatuck State Forest

Fire Road - Pootatuck State Forest

Fire Road – Pootatuck State Forest

The Forest/CCC Road continues ahead and will be your return route, but for now turn right on the Orange Trail as it heads in an easterly direction. In about 475 yards, the Orange Trail passes an unmarked woods road which begins on the right. Continue ahead following the orange blazes.

Turn right on Orange Trail

Turn right on Orange Trail

Orange Trail - Pootatuck State Forest

Orange Trail – Pootatuck State Forest

Orange Trail - Pootatuck State Forest

Orange Trail – Pootatuck State Forest

Continue straight on Orange Trail

Continue straight on Orange Trail

Orange Trail - Pootatuck State Forest

Orange Trail – Pootatuck State Forest

In just under a 1/2 mile (from the start of the Orange Trail), the Orange Trail ends at a T-intersection with the Yellow Trail. Turn right on the Yellow Trail and follow it for about 265 feet until you reach a junction with the Blue Trail, which begins on the left.

Turn right on Yellow Trail

Turn right on Yellow Trail

Yellow Trail - Pootatuck State Forest

Yellow Trail – Pootatuck State Forest

Turn left on the Blue Trail which dips down a little then climbs gradually on a wide rocky path. Follow the blue blazes for approximately 400 yards until you reach a rocky outcrop that overlooks Squantz Pond and Candlewood Lake.

Turn left on Blue Trail

Turn left on Blue Trail

Blue Trail - Pootatuck State Forest

Blue Trail – Pootatuck State Forest

Blue Trail - Pootatuck State Forest

Blue Trail – Pootatuck State Forest

Blue Trail - Pootatuck State Forest

Blue Trail – Pootatuck State Forest

Blue Trail - Pootatuck State Forest

Blue Trail – Pootatuck State Forest

Squantz Pond is down below on the left and Candlewood Lake in the distance.

Blue Trail - Pootatuck State Forest

Blue Trail – Pootatuck State Forest

This makes for a good spot to take a break and enjoy the view.

Blue Trail - Pootatuck State Forest

Blue Trail – Pootatuck State Forest

The beach at Squantz Pond State Park is visible down below.

Blue Trail - Pootatuck State Forest

Blue Trail – Pootatuck State Forest

A zoomed in view of the picnic area at Squantz Pond State Park with Candlewood Lake just beyond.

Blue Trail - Pootatuck State Forest

Blue Trail – Pootatuck State Forest

When you are ready to continue, proceed ahead on the Blue Trail which begins a steady descent, steeply at times.

Blue Trail - Pootatuck State Forest

Blue Trail – Pootatuck State Forest

Blue Trail - Pootatuck State Forest

Blue Trail – Pootatuck State Forest

Blue Trail - Pootatuck State Forest

Blue Trail – Pootatuck State Forest

At the base of the steep descent, the Blue Trail splits. The trail map shows a viewpoint if you continue straight. We followed the trail seeking out the viewpoint, but did not find one. We even ventured off trail a bit, but no luck. Perhaps it is a seasonal view or we missed it entirely.

Blue Trail - Pootatuck State Forest

Blue Trail – Pootatuck State Forest

Blue Trail - Pootatuck State Forest

Blue Trail – Pootatuck State Forest

Seasonal view?

Blue Trail - Pootatuck State Forest

Blue Trail – Pootatuck State Forest

If you skipped the seasonal view, turn left and continue downhill on the Blue Trail. If you decided to seek out the view, return to the junction and turn right. The Blue Trail continues its rather steep descent for another 510 yards until its terminus at the Forest/CCC Road.

Blue Trail - Pootatuck State Forest

Blue Trail – Pootatuck State Forest

Blue Trail - Pootatuck State Forest

Blue Trail – Pootatuck State Forest

Blue Trail - Pootatuck State Forest

Blue Trail – Pootatuck State Forest

Blue Trail - Pootatuck State Forest

Blue Trail – Pootatuck State Forest

The trail map shows that there are several mountain streams that flow down into Squantz Pond. I have seen images taken by others of lovely cascades flowing over large rocks. On this day the streams were dry, but after a heavy rain or during Spring thaw, you may have better luck. Nevertheless, we turned left and walked north a short distance to where the stream flows under the road. Finding the stream bone dry, we turned around and retraced our steps on the Forest/CCC Road.

End of Blue Trail - Pootatuck State Forest

End of Blue Trail – Pootatuck State Forest

Forest/CCC Road - Pootatuck State Forest

Forest/CCC Road – Pootatuck State Forest

Forest/CCC Road - Pootatuck State Forest

Forest/CCC Road – Pootatuck State Forest

Forest/CCC Road - Pootatuck State Forest

Forest/CCC Road – Pootatuck State Forest

From the junction of the Blue Trail proceed south on the Forest/CCC Road which descends gradually, passing interesting rock formations and massive boulders along the way.

Forest/CCC Road - Pootatuck State Forest

Forest/CCC Road – Pootatuck State Forest

Forest/CCC Road - Pootatuck State Forest

Forest/CCC Road – Pootatuck State Forest

Forest/CCC Road - Pootatuck State Forest

Forest/CCC Road – Pootatuck State Forest

Forest/CCC Road - Pootatuck State Forest

Forest/CCC Road – Pootatuck State Forest

Forest/CCC Road - Pootatuck State Forest

Forest/CCC Road – Pootatuck State Forest

Forest/CCC Road - Pootatuck State Forest

Forest/CCC Road – Pootatuck State Forest

Forest/CCC Road - Pootatuck State Forest

Forest/CCC Road – Pootatuck State Forest

Soon the Forest/CCC Road begins to climb gradually and passes over another dry stream. A short distance later, the road comes to a junction with the Yellow Trail which begins on the right, marked by a post.

Forest/CCC Road - Pootatuck State Forest

Forest/CCC Road – Pootatuck State Forest

Turn right on Yellow Trail

Turn right on Yellow Trail

Turn right on the Yellow Trail and follow it as it heads uphill, gaining all the elevation that you lost on the way down. For the next 1/2 mile, the trail consists of short steep ascents followed by relatively level stretches on switchbacks.

Yellow Trail - Pootatuck State Forest

Yellow Trail – Pootatuck State Forest

Keep your eyes on the yellow blazes as several unmarked woods roads converge with the trail.

Yellow Trail - Pootatuck State Forest

Yellow Trail – Pootatuck State Forest

Yellow Trail - Pootatuck State Forest

Yellow Trail – Pootatuck State Forest

Yellow Trail - Pootatuck State Forest

Yellow Trail – Pootatuck State Forest

In just over a 1/2 mile, the Yellow Trail passes the junction with the Blue Trail from earlier in the hike. Continue ahead on the Yellow Trail (the short section that you took early in the hike) for another 265 feet.

Yellow Trail - Pootatuck State Forest

Yellow Trail – Pootatuck State Forest

The blazes signaling a right turn are partially hidden by foliage. At the junction turn right to remain on the Yellow Trail. The Orange Trail which you began your hike on, is on the left.

Yellow Trail - Pootatuck State Forest

Yellow Trail – Pootatuck State Forest

Turn right to remain on Yellow Trail

Turn right to remain on Yellow Trail

The Yellow Trail descends gradually through the forest, heading north.

Yellow Trail - Pootatuck State Forest

Yellow Trail – Pootatuck State Forest

The Yellow Trail temporarily leaves the State Forest and enters property owned by the Candlewood Valley Regional Land Trust.

Yellow Trail - Pootatuck State Forest

Yellow Trail – Pootatuck State Forest

Yellow Trail - Pootatuck State Forest

Yellow Trail – Pootatuck State Forest

Yellow Trail - Pootatuck State Forest

Yellow Trail – Pootatuck State Forest

Yellow Trail - Pootatuck State Forest

Yellow Trail – Pootatuck State Forest

Yellow Trail - Pootatuck State Forest

Yellow Trail – Pootatuck State Forest

The Yellow Trail ends at the Forest/CCC Road. Turn left and follow the fire road uphill for about a 1/2 mile, passing the junction with the Orange Trail and back to the parking lot, where the hike began.

Turn left on Forest/CCC Road

Turn left on Forest/CCC Road

Forest/CCC Road - Pootatuck State Forest

Forest/CCC Road – Pootatuck State Forest

Forest/CCC Road - Pootatuck State Forest

Forest/CCC Road – Pootatuck State Forest

Pine Hill Trailhead – Pootatuck State Forest

Pine Hill Trailhead – Pootatuck State Forest


Review:

A really good hike that sees little foot traffic. The trails we took were entirely shaded which makes it a great hike for hot sunny days. The view is worth a visit on its own, but the geological makeup of the area keeps the hike interesting as well. The trails are well marked and the fire roads are easy to follow. The trails at Pootatuck State Forest can be combined with those at Squantz Pond State Park to form longer loop hikes. The area was free of trash, if you visit, please keep it that way.

Pros:

Very beautiful forest, rock formations, scenic view, quiet area.

Cons:

None.


Take a hike!

Pine Hill Loop – Pootatuck State Forest

Pine Hill Loop – Pootatuck State Forest


Sources:


Upper Hornbecks Creek Trail – Delaware Water Gap

July 20, 2021 – Delaware Township, Pennsylvania

Difficulty: Easy

Length: Approximately 2 miles

Max elevation: 835 ft.– total elevation gain approximately 275 ft.

Route type: Out and back

Buy Map: *New 2021* Delaware Water Gap & Kittatinny Trails Map

Avenza App Map: 2021 – Delaware Water Gap & Kittatinny North #122

Trailhead parking: Hornbecks Trail – Emery Road, Delaware Township, PA 18328

No bathrooms on site – limited roadside parking

Please note: Waterfall conditions are dynamic, changing with weather and seasons. Stay on the trail when possible and be cautious of your surroundings, like slippery or rocky terrain, fast moving water, or steep drops.


Overview:

The Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area (DWGNRA) straddles a stretch of the Delaware River on the New Jersey and Pennsylvania border. It encompasses forested mountains, grassy beaches and the Delaware Water Gap, which slices through the Kittatinny Ridge. The DWGNRA encompasses more than 70,000 acres and has over 150 miles of trails.

Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area

Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area

The DWGNRA is on the eastern edge of the Pocono Mountains in Northeastern Pennsylvania, where 40 miles of the Delaware River runs briskly between high bluffs and forested shores. There is almost nowhere with a higher concentration of great waterfalls than the Pocono Mountains. The region is home to some truly stunning waterfalls. Some of these waterfalls are located along well-established trails and are popular tourist attractions, while others are hidden away in relative obscurity. The waterfalls of Hornbecks Creek (which flows into the Delaware River) might be the best hidden gem in the Poconos, with its scenic cascades and deep gorge. While it might not have the height that the more well known waterfalls have, Indian Ladder Falls is one that shouldn’t be missed when hiking in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area.

Indian Ladder Falls – Delaware Water Gap

Indian Ladder Falls – Delaware Water Gap


History:

Hornbecks Creek had an early grist mill at the base of the mountain by 1775. In 1870, Jacob Hornbeck bought the property along the stream that eventually took on his name. The creek cascades over stair-step layers of shale between two larger drops. This gave the stream its 19th-century name of Indian Ladders Creek. The name also applied to a tourist boarding house in the valley.


Trails Overview:

At one time Upper & Lower Hornbecks Creek Trails were one continuous trail from US Route 209 to Emery Road. Due to severe storm damage over the years, the middle section along the steep gorge was closed by the National Park Service. That section of trail in the gorge area has sloughed off and has caused a hazardous condition. There are numerous downed trees blocking the trail along the steep hillside. The closed section should be avoided and instead the trail can be accessed from separate trailheads on US Route 209 and Emery Road.

Please Note: On some apps and trail maps, the Upper and Lower Hornbecks Creek Trail are shown as one continuous trail. The closed section of the trail does not appear to have any signs, but it is dangerous and should not be attempted. 


Hike Overview:

A week earlier we visited the Lower Hornbecks Creek Trail and afterwards came up to the upper section as well. We ended up walking on the wrong side of the creek on another unmarked trail, thinking we were on the Upper Hornbecks Creek Trail. Although we got a good view of one of the upper falls, it was not the trail that we were seeking. We returned the following week and got it right.

This short trail although relatively easy to follow, is unmarked and is intersected by several other trails. Staying close to the creek is the obvious course of action, because after all you are searching out a waterfall. Using the Avenza Maps app is a good choice for this hike because it will keep you on the right trail. With that being said, This short out and back hike starts out relatively level then descends steeply to the base of a magnificent waterfall where you may want to spend some time enjoying the cascading water. Keep in mind that the volume of water varies throughout the year and the best times for viewing most waterfalls are during the Spring thaw and after heavy or prolonged rainfall.


The Hike:

The hike begins on Emery Road, on the eastern side of Hornbecks Creek where there is pull-off parking for about 3-4 cars on the south side of the road. Walk west along the road, crossing the road bridge over Hornbecks Creek. There is more parking available on the other side of the bridge, closer to the actual trailhead. You may see a footpath on the left (south) after crossing the road bridge. That is a fisherman’s trail that runs close to the creek, but ends a short distance in. Continue a little farther up Emery Road until you see a wider opening with a kiosk to the left (south).

Emery Road - Delaware Water Gap

Emery Road – Delaware Water Gap

Upper Hornbecks Creek Trail – Emery Road

Upper Hornbecks Creek Trail – Emery Road

Upper Hornbecks Creek Trail - Emery Road

Upper Hornbecks Creek Trail – Emery Road

Upper Hornbecks Creek Trail - Emery Road

Upper Hornbecks Creek Trail – Emery Road

Continue past the sign and head south on the unmarked, but well worn trail, with Hornbecks Creek down below on the left. As you walk along the trail, there are some spots that allow you to view some attractive cascades. Care should be taken if you choose to do this as there are steep drop offs and some of the ground can be unstable and rocks slippery.

Upper Hornbecks Creek Trail – Delaware Water Gap

Upper Hornbecks Creek Trail – Delaware Water Gap

Upper Hornbecks Creek Trail – Delaware Water Gap

Upper Hornbecks Creek Trail – Delaware Water Gap

Upper Hornbecks Creek Trail – Delaware Water Gap

Upper Hornbecks Creek Trail – Delaware Water Gap

Along the way there are strategically placed benches if you choose to take a break.

Upper Hornbecks Creek Trail – Delaware Water Gap

Upper Hornbecks Creek Trail – Delaware Water Gap

When you reach a fork in the trail, go left to reach the waterfall. The trail is bordered by logs which helps to guide the way. The trail will lead to a set of steep stairs with metal handrails (always check any handrails for sturdiness before leaning on them). Follow the stairs down to the base of the waterfall and you will be rewarded for your effort.

Turn left at the fork

Turn left at the fork

Upper Hornbecks Creek Trail – Delaware Water Gap

Upper Hornbecks Creek Trail – Delaware Water Gap

Upper Hornbecks Creek Trail – Delaware Water Gap

Upper Hornbecks Creek Trail – Delaware Water Gap

Upper Hornbecks Creek Trail – Delaware Water Gap

Upper Hornbecks Creek Trail – Delaware Water Gap

Upper Hornbecks Creek Trail – Delaware Water Gap

Upper Hornbecks Creek Trail – Delaware Water Gap

Upper Hornbecks Creek Trail – Delaware Water Gap

Upper Hornbecks Creek Trail – Delaware Water Gap

Upper Hornbecks Creek Trail – Delaware Water Gap

Upper Hornbecks Creek Trail – Delaware Water Gap

Indian Ladder Falls, the unofficial name, is a 35-40 ft. tall waterfall and about 75 feet wide at its base and is described as a Veiling Horsetail waterfall. During the Spring thaw and after prolonged and/or heavy rain, the volume of water is much more impressive.

Indian Ladders Fall - Delaware Water Gap

Indian Ladder Falls – Delaware Water Gap

The Upper Hornbecks Creek Trail continues downstream, climbing the hillside and ends at a junction with the Green Connector Trail that leads into the Pocono Environmental Education Center (PEEC), another great place to visit.

Upper Hornbecks Creek Trail – Delaware Water Gap

Upper Hornbecks Creek Trail – Delaware Water Gap

Upper Hornbecks Creek Trail – Delaware Water Gap

Upper Hornbecks Creek Trail – Delaware Water Gap

This is the end of the Upper Hornbecks Creek Trail. Hikers should not go beyond this point. To reach the Lower Hornbecks Creek Trail, return to your vehicle and drive to the other trailhead on U.S. Route 209.

Upper Hornbecks Creek Trail – Delaware Water Gap

Upper Hornbecks Creek Trail – Delaware Water Gap

If you would like to extend the hike, you can enter Pocono Environmental Education Center (PEEC) utilizing this trail.

Connector Trail for PEEC

Connector Trail for PEEC

Retrace your steps back to Indian Ladders Falls, climb the wooden steps, turn right at the junction and head north back to Emery Road.

Indian Ladder Falls – Delaware Water Gap

Indian Ladder Falls – Delaware Water Gap

Upper Hornbecks Creek Trail – Delaware Water Gap

Upper Hornbecks Creek Trail – Delaware Water Gap

Upper Hornbecks Creek Trail – Delaware Water Gap

Upper Hornbecks Creek Trail – Delaware Water Gap

Upper Hornbecks Creek Trail – Delaware Water Gap

Upper Hornbecks Creek Trail – Delaware Water Gap

Upper Hornbecks Creek Trail – Delaware Water Gap

Upper Hornbecks Creek Trail – Delaware Water Gap

Upper Hornbecks Creek Trail – Delaware Water Gap

Upper Hornbecks Creek Trail – Delaware Water Gap

Upper Hornbecks Creek Trail – Emery Road

Upper Hornbecks Creek Trail – Emery Road

Turn right on Emery Road and return to your vehicle.

Emery Road – Delaware Water Gap

Emery Road – Delaware Water Gap

The unmarked trail begins on the eastern side of Hornbecks Creek. It is a short hike to an attractive waterfall that can’t be safely viewed from the Upper Hornbecks Creek Trail.

Unmarked trail – Upper Hornbecks Creek

Unmarked trail – Upper Hornbecks Creek

The trail begins at a narrow opening by the end of the guardrail in the small parking area. It can get overgrown in the summer and becomes hard to see. If you go through the narrow opening, it soon leads to a wide path which is easy to follow.

Unmarked trail - Upper Hornbecks Creek

Unmarked trail – Upper Hornbecks Creek

Unmarked trail - Upper Hornbecks Creek

Unmarked trail – Upper Hornbecks Creek

Unmarked trail - Upper Hornbecks Creek

Unmarked trail – Upper Hornbecks Creek

Although the trail is easy to follow, there are numerous blowdowns along the way that one has to navigate around. This area has been ravaged by storms in recent years and care should be taken where there are leaning trees or dangling branches (widowmakers).

Unmarked trail - Upper Hornbecks Creek

Unmarked trail – Upper Hornbecks Creek

Unmarked trail - Upper Hornbecks Creek

Unmarked trail – Upper Hornbecks Creek

Unmarked trail - Upper Hornbecks Creek

Unmarked trail – Upper Hornbecks Creek

There are some massive trees along the trail that appear to be hundreds of years old.

Unmarked trail - Upper Hornbecks Creek

Unmarked trail – Upper Hornbecks Creek

Unmarked trail - Upper Hornbecks Creek

Unmarked trail – Upper Hornbecks Creek

Soon the trail narrows, but in a short distance comes out into an open area with a large keyhole view of one of the Upper Indian Ladder Falls.

Unmarked trail - Upper Hornbecks Creek

Unmarked trail – Upper Hornbecks Creek

Unmarked trail - Upper Hornbecks Creek

Unmarked trail – Upper Hornbecks Creek

After about 0.4-mile from the road, this attractive 25 ft. waterfall comes into view. The unmarked trail continues downstream, but this is as far as we went. If you are done exploring, retrace your steps back to Emery Road.

Upper Indian Ladder Falls – Delaware Water Gap

Upper Indian Ladder Falls – Delaware Water Gap


Review:

A nice short hike on lesser traveled trails to beautiful waterfalls and cascades. Definitely worth a day trip to the Delaware Water Gap that can be combined with other trails in the area if so desired. If you like waterfalls, this is the hike for you. Combine this hike with Lower Hornbecks Creek Trail for 2 short hikes with great payoffs.

Pros:

A little off the beaten path, scenic cascades and attractive waterfalls, Delaware Water Gap.

Cons:

None.


Take a hike!

Upper Hornbecks Creek Trail – Delaware Water Gap

Upper Hornbecks Creek Trail – Delaware Water Gap


Sources:


West Point Foundry Preserve

July 17, 2020 – Cold Spring, NY

Difficulty: Easy

Trail miles: Approximately 2 miles (additional connecting trails)

Free Web Map: West Point Foundry Preserve Trail Map

Buy Map: East Hudson Trails Map

Brochure and Trail Guide: WPFP Brochure and Trail Guide

Trailhead parking: 80 Kemble Ave, Cold Spring, NY 10516

Amenities: Restrooms on site

Fees and hours: Entrance and parking is free.  The preserve is open year-round, dawn to dusk.


Overview:

Located on the Hudson River, in the heart of the majestic Hudson Highlands, West Point Foundry Preserve encompasses 90 acres of forested land and the abandoned site of a Civil War artillery foundry and ironworks on a tidal marsh in Cold Spring, New York. The Scenic Hudson Land Trust obtained the site in 1996 in order to prevent development. Now open to the public for recreational use as an interpretive park and preserve, the property has been transformed into an outdoor museum.

West Point Foundry Preserve

West Point Foundry Preserve

A detailed map at the Preserve’s trailhead kiosk guides visitors along the exhibit installations and along the major trails of the 90-acre Preserve. The map is adapted from an 1853 fire insurer’s map of the Foundry and Cold Spring Village. Throughout the preserve, content is illustrated with period photographs, stereoscopic images, and etchings from the Foundry’s own archives, now housed in the collection of the Putnam History Museum, located adjacent to the site.

West Point Foundry Preserve

West Point Foundry Preserve

Today nearly 2 miles of trails follow old rail beds and pass extensive foundry remains that led to the preserve’s inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places. Interpretive features, including a full-scale sculptural model of a 36-foot water wheel that tells the site’s intriguing story.

Water Wheel - West Point Foundry Preserve

Water Wheel – West Point Foundry Preserve

At the center of the preserve is the foundry’s 1865 Office Building. Today, it is the only building remaining on the Foundry grounds.

1865 Office Building - West Point Foundry Preserve

1865 Office Building – West Point Foundry Preserve

Two miles of additional trails pass more foundry ruins and take visitors to related sites in Cold Spring, including Scenic Hudson’s Foundry Dock Park. Visitors can explore the foundry’s history, its role in the Civil War and the land’s remarkable ecological renewal.

Scenic Hudson periodically offers free guided foundry tours, call 845-473-4440 for more information.

The preserve is free and there is plenty of parking in the large gravel lot.

West Point Foundry Preserve

West Point Foundry Preserve

Restrooms are available on site.

West Point Foundry Preserve

West Point Foundry Preserve


History:

Established in 1818 in Cold Spring, New York by Gouverneur Kemble and others, the West Point Foundry became one of the major industrial sites in the United States manufacturing iron products. Its most notable period was during the Civil War, when it produced the Parrott cannon designed by Robert Parker Parrott. The foundry closed in 1911.

The foundry was busiest during the American Civil War due to military orders. At that time it had a workforce of 1,400 people and produced 2,000 cannons and three million shells. Parrott also invented an incendiary shell which was used in an 8-inch Parrott rifle cannon (the “Swamp Angel”) to bombard Charleston. The importance of the foundry for the war effort can be measured by the fact that President Abraham Lincoln visited and inspected it in June of 1862.

With the advent of steel, iron quickly fell out of favor, and The West Point Foundry floundered and died in the early 20th century. Fallen to ruins and reclaimed by nature, it sat mostly unappreciated, except by day-trippers who often hiked among the pretty surroundings.

A plant making batteries close to the former ironworks contaminated the area by dumping toxic waste into nearby Foundry Cove. The cove was declared a Superfund site by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 1989, but the resulting cleanup succeeded in making what Scenic Hudson describes as a “remarkable ecological renewal.”

In 1996, Scenic Hudson, a Hudson Valley environmental-preservation group, purchased the property and in 2006, began a $3.6 million renovation. The effort included trying to preserve and stabilize the foundry ruins, wetland scientists, preservation architects, exhibit designers and engineers. Scenic Hudson also commissioned Michigan Technological University’s industrial archaeology program to conduct a seven-year study of the ruins to ascertain how the foundry operated.

In 2013, The West Point Foundry Preserve opened to the public. Many of the foundry’s ruins have been stabilized, interpretive signage was installed, and audiovisual tours are available. An easily accessible half-mile trail connects the preserve directly to the Metro-North train station at Cold Spring.

In 2010, The West Point Foundry Preserve was added to National Register of Historic Places.

West Point Foundry Preserve

West Point Foundry Preserve

In 2019, it was designated a Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark.

West Point Foundry Preserve

West Point Foundry Preserve


Trails Overview:

Trails follow old rail beds and pass the remains of foundry buildings and interpretive features that tell the story of the site’s contribution to the Industrial Revolution and the Civil War, as well as the land’s astonishing ecological renewal. The Blue Trail links the preserve to the Cold Spring Metro-North station and the Village of Cold Spring.

West Point Foundry Preserve Trail Map

West Point Foundry Preserve Trail Map

The trails are a combination of well groomed, wide walking paths and rougher footpaths that weave their way through the property. The three official trails are marked with Scenic Hudson round plastic discs of varying colors.

Scenic Hudson trail marker

Scenic Hudson trail marker

Yellow Foundry Trail~ This yellow-blazed trail is a loop that takes visitors to many of the preserve’s key sites. The trail is lightly graded. The trail begins at the southeast end of the parking lot, near the informational kiosk, makes its way past several points of interest and climbs stairs before making its way back to the parking area.

Yellow Foundry Trail - West Point Foundry Preserve

Yellow Foundry Trail – West Point Foundry Preserve

Yellow Foundry Trail - West Point Foundry Preserve

Yellow Foundry Trail – West Point Foundry Preserve

Yellow Foundry Trail - West Point Foundry Preserve

Yellow Foundry Trail – West Point Foundry Preserve

Yellow Foundry Trail - West Point Foundry Preserve

Yellow Foundry Trail – West Point Foundry Preserve

  • Red Trail~ is not one continuous trail, instead it has several legs all branching off of the Yellow Trail in different areas. It heads upstream from the boring mill and water wheel, leading to additional foundry ruins as well as related sites in Cold Spring. It follows a steeper elevation; special care should be taken around unstabilized archaeological ruins.
Red Trail - West Point Foundry Preserve

Red Trail – West Point Foundry Preserve

Red Trail - West Point Foundry Preserve

Red Trail – West Point Foundry Preserve

Red Trail - West Point Foundry Preserve

Red Trail – West Point Foundry Preserve

  • Blue Marsh Trail~ This trail begins at the southwest end of the preserve and heads in a westerly direction along Foundry Cove, passing benches and stairs that lead to the Kemble Bluff Overlook viewing platform. Past the stairs, it links the preserve to the Cold Spring Metro-North station. The path also connects with the nearby Foundry Dock Park and Cold Spring’s waterfront district.
Blue Marsh Trail - West Point Foundry Preserve

Blue Marsh Trail – West Point Foundry Preserve

Blue Marsh Trail - West Point Foundry Preserve

Blue Marsh Trail – West Point Foundry Preserve

Blue Marsh Trail - West Point Foundry Preserve

Blue Marsh Trail – West Point Foundry Preserve


Points of Interest:

Listed below are some of the sights that you will find throughout the preserve.

  • Gun Testing Platform ~

One of several unique interpretive elements is the gun platform, a 32-foot-high wood structure that sits on a raised promontory overlooking the marsh. During the foundry’s heyday, each Parrott gun was tested from the hanging gantry of the original three-story-high gun platform for velocity, accuracy, and impact. An interpretive panel on the hoist describes the platform’s history and the marsh’s more recent Superfund cleanup, and a decorative roof structure with wood-cut-like illustrations of the site’s flora and fauna.

Gun Testing Platform - West Point Foundry Preserve

Gun Testing Platform – West Point Foundry Preserve

The gun testing platform was a critical operational area of the West Point Foundry during the Civil War, providing the means to prove the largest models of Parrott guns (100 to 300 pounder models) on site, prior to delivery to the Army or Navy. President Abraham Lincoln himself observed the testing platform in June 1862 following an official visit to nearby West Point. The Foundry tested ordnance pieces by firing multiple rounds from it, aiming at targets set up on the nearly vertical southeast face of Crow’s Nest, a mountain approximately 1.25 miles to the west-northwest, opposite Cold Spring on the west side of the Hudson River.

Gun Testing Platform – West Point Foundry Preserve

Gun Testing Platform – West Point Foundry Preserve

A 12-ft.-long stainless steel silhouette of the 300-pound Parrott gun is inscribed with a Civil War-era article from The New York Times describing the foundry and its armaments.

Gun Testing Platform - West Point Foundry Preserve

Gun Testing Platform – West Point Foundry Preserve

Gun Testing Platform - West Point Foundry Preserve

Gun Testing Platform – West Point Foundry Preserve

  • 1865 Office Building ~

In 1865, Robert P. Parrott ordered a stately office building be built as a symbol of the West Point Foundry’s national prestige and success. Once constructed, the brick Italianate Office Building’s distinctive cupola was easily visible from various places in the landscape, including locations throughout the factory, the worker and management housing on Mount Rascal, and from West Point and ships passing on the Hudson River.

1865 Office Building - West Point Foundry Preserve

1865 Office Building – West Point Foundry Preserve

In 2015, Scenic Hudson reinstalled the 5,000-pound, 21-foot-tall cupola atop the historic Office Building. Southgate Steeplejacks of Barre, Vermont, restored the cupola, which was removed in 1998. Below: how the building looked in 2015 prior to the reinstallation of the cupola.

1865 Office Building - January 2, 2015

1865 Office Building – January 2, 2015

  • Foundry Brook ~

In the 19th century, Waterpower was power. Foundry Brook (originally named Margaret Brook), was channelized into an intricate network of flumes, raceways and storage ponds that powered operations and regulated water flow through the site. Water descended from Foundry Brook to Battery Pond, then by elevated flume into a giant water wheel that turned the foundry’s gears and cranes, feeding air to the hot furnace fires.

Foundry Brook Falls – West Point Foundry Preserve

Foundry Brook Falls – West Point Foundry Preserve

At its upper reach, below the Main Dam, Foundry Brook cascades over falls of boulders and cleaved bedrock, descending through a series of pools as it follows the toe of the adjoining slope to the east. In the late summer, the flow of Foundry Brook typically reduces to little more than a rivulet, whereas in the spring, the stream can overflow its banks with water from snow melt.

Foundry Brook Falls - West Point Foundry Preserve

Foundry Brook Falls – West Point Foundry Preserve

Foundry Brook – West Point Foundry Preserve

Foundry Brook – West Point Foundry Preserve

Foundry Brook – West Point Foundry Preserve

Foundry Brook – West Point Foundry Preserve

  • Water Wheel ~

The boring mill’s operations were driven by the powerful, 36-foot diameter water wheel housed adjacent to the main structure. The replica you see today depicts a section of the wheel at its original scale, located exactly where it stood during the foundry’s heyday. Here the 36-foot-diameter water wheel powered machinery for drilling out the guns’ interior. Parrott guns featured a rifled bore, spiraling grooves that caused projectiles to spin when fired, enhancing their accuracy.

Water Wheel - West Point Foundry Preserve

Water Wheel – West Point Foundry Preserve

A hive of activity, the boring mill was filled with geared cranes, whirring lathes and other heavy machinery driven by a massive water wheel and leather belting system. The water that powered them came from an intricate series of headraces fed by Foundry Brook. Cannons, steam boilers, church bells and industrial hardware for cotton and sugar plantations in the U.S. and Caribbean were produced here in great numbers – setting the stage for America’s emergence as a major industrial power.

Water Wheel - West Point Foundry Preserve

Water Wheel – West Point Foundry Preserve

  • Tuyere Arch ~

The Tuyere Arch is all that remains of the blast furnace. To achieve temperatures upwards of 2200°F, a blast furnace required a steady volume of air blown in through the tuyeres at the base of the furnace stack. The blast maintained a high combustion rate of fuel near the tuyeres, creating the greatest heat within the furnace.

Tuyere Arch - West Point Foundry Preserve

Tuyere Arch – West Point Foundry Preserve

  • Building Ruins ~

Skilled laborers in the foundry’s pattern shop crafted exacting wooden replicas (or patterns) of the Parrott guns, which ranged in size from 10 to 300 pounds, according to the weight of projectile they shot. Patterns helped form molds that were then filled with molten iron.

Pattern Shop - West Point Foundry Preserve

Pattern Shop – West Point Foundry Preserve

There are numerous foundation ruins and partial brick and stone walls throughout the site.

Carpentry Shop - West Point Foundry Preserve

Carpentry Shop – West Point Foundry Preserve

  • The Staircase ~

The staircase bridges two elevations, the exhibits lining the forest and Foundry Road, a well-worn path along the ravine that workers traveled on their way home from the foundry. Text and historical images mounted onto cast-aluminum panels were attached to the stair risers so that, as pedestrians ascend the stairs, they can learn how water was pumped from Foundry Brook to drive the Boring Mill waterwheel and other factory machinery.

The Staircase - West Point Foundry Preserve

The Staircase – West Point Foundry Preserve

The Staircase also doubles as the Boring Mill Overlook with an informational sign that details the use and history of the Boring Mill and Water Wheel.

Boring Mill Overlook - West Point Foundry Preserve

Boring Mill Overlook – West Point Foundry Preserve

  • Kemble Overlook ~

A steel staircase ascends the bluff from the blue-blazed Marsh Trail. Five oversized landings on the staircase accommodate benches for resting and taking in the views. Small interpretive panels on the landings will explain the history of the Kemble property and its connections to the West Point Foundry.

Kemble Overlook - West Point Foundry Preserve

Kemble Overlook – West Point Foundry Preserve

Kemble Overlook - West Point Foundry Preserve

Kemble Overlook – West Point Foundry Preserve

There are views from the staircase of Foundry Cove and the Hudson Highlands.

Kemble Overlook - West Point Foundry Preserve

Kemble Overlook – West Point Foundry Preserve

Kemble Overlook - West Point Foundry Preserve

Kemble Overlook – West Point Foundry Preserve

A stone dust path at the top of the staircase leads to a 15-by-32-foot wooden deck. The stairs, path and deck were added in 2017.

Kemble Overlook - West Point Foundry Preserve

Kemble Overlook – West Point Foundry Preserve

Kemble Overlook - West Point Foundry Preserve

Kemble Overlook – West Point Foundry Preserve

The overlook offers views of Foundry Cove, Constitution Island, West Point and parts of the Hudson Highlands. The view is much better during leaf-off season.

Kemble Overlook - July 17, 2021

Kemble Overlook – July 17, 2021

Same view in winter.

Kemble Overlook - January 2, 2021

Kemble Overlook – January 2, 2021

Kemble Overlook - January 2, 2021

Kemble Overlook – January 2, 2021


Review:

A well kept preserve that is steeped in Hudson River Valley history. There is plenty to see and learn here. A great place to visit for a leisurely walk near the Hudson River and a history lesson to boot.

Pros:

Historical features, Foundary Brook, ruins, well maintained preserve.

Cons:

None.


Take a hike!

West Point Foundry Preserve

West Point Foundry Preserve


Sources:


Lower Hornbecks Creek Trail – Delaware Water Gap

July 10, 2021 – Dingmans Ferry, Pennsylvania

Difficulty: Easy

Length: Approximately 2 miles

Max elevation: 596 ft.– total elevation gain approximately 60 ft.

Route type: Out and back

Buy Map: *New 2021* Delaware Water Gap & Kittatinny Trails Map

Avenza App Map: 2021 – Delaware Water Gap & Kittatinny North #122

Trailhead parking: Hornbecks Trail – Federal Rd (U.S. Route 209), Dingmans Ferry, PA 18328

No bathrooms on site

Please note: Waterfall conditions are dynamic, changing with weather and seasons. Stay on the trail when possible and be cautious of your surroundings, like slippery or rocky terrain, fast moving water, or steep drops.


Overview:

The Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area (DWGNRA) straddles a stretch of the Delaware River on the New Jersey and Pennsylvania border. It encompasses forested mountains, grassy beaches and the Delaware Water Gap, which slices through the Kittatinny Ridge. The DWGNRA encompasses more than 70,000 acres and has over 150 miles of trails.

Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area

Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area

The DWGNRA is on the eastern edge of the Pocono Mountains in Northeastern Pennsylvania, where 40 miles of the Delaware River runs briskly between high bluffs and forested shores. There is almost nowhere with a higher concentration of great waterfalls than the Pocono Mountains. The region is home to some truly stunning waterfalls. Some of these waterfalls are located along well-established trails and are popular tourist attractions, while others are hidden away in relative obscurity. The waterfalls of Hornbecks Creek (which flows into the Delaware River) might be the best hidden gem in the Poconos, with its scenic cascades and deep gorge. While it might not have the height that the more well known waterfalls have, Hornbecks Creek Falls is one that shouldn’t be missed when hiking in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area.

Hornbecks Creek Falls

Hornbecks Creek Falls


History:

Hornbecks Creek had an early grist mill at the base of the mountain by 1775. In 1870, Jacob Hornbeck bought the property along the stream that eventually took on his name. The creek cascades over stair-step layers of shale between two larger drops. This gave the stream its 19th-century name of Indian Ladders Creek. The name also applied to a tourist boarding house in the valley.

The original trail, which had been there for over a century, was located in the creek’s floodplain and flooded frequently. The trail reopened in September 2019 after the winter storms of March 2018 struck the area and caused substantial and widespread damage across the region. Massive trees were toppled by high winds, the stream bank along Hornbecks Creek partially collapsed and footbridges were washed away. Trail crews re-routed the trail to higher ground to make it more sustainable in the face of more frequent and more intense storms.

Approximately 900 feet of trail was re-routed to higher ground and another 500 feet of trail was resurfaced. A 15-step staircase was built from native stone, some weighing as much as 600 pounds, in an area where the stream had eroded a steep bank. New drainage systems were installed to divert water and protect the trail from erosion. Two new bridges were built from locally sourced lumber and were installed higher above the water level to better protect them from flood damage. Other features of the new trail include the addition of turnpikes, areas where the trail is elevated above the floodplain or wet areas; bog bridges, which allow hikers to pass over short muddy spots; and water bars, diagonal channels across the trail that divert surface water away from the trail.


Trails Overview:

The mile-long Lower Hornbecks Creek Trail also known as the Indian Ladders Trail, can be accessed off of US Route 209 between mile markers 10 and 11. A small parking area with room for about 10-12 vehicles is at the end of a gravel road. More parking is available in a gravel lot directly across the road from the trailhead.

Lower Hornbecks Creek Trailhead

Lower Hornbecks Creek Trailhead

Lower Hornbecks Creek Trailhead

Lower Hornbecks Creek Trailhead

The Lower Hornbecks Creek Trail partially follows the old Glenside Rod & Gun Club road along Hornbecks Creek. The shaded trail meanders through the lush forest, crossing back and forth over Hornbecks Creek on a series of footbridges before ending at the base of the 25-ft. tall Hornbecks Creek Falls. The trail is unmarked, but easy to follow. The area is owned and managed by the National Park Service.

Lower Hornbecks Creek Trail

Lower Hornbecks Creek Trail


Hike Overview:

Continuous heavy rain that fell over the Northeast from Hurricane Elsa, and all the waterfall posts on social media, made this hike an easy choice. Trying to steer clear of the masses that tend to flock towards the more “touristy” waterfalls in the region, this relatively unknown waterfall makes for an idyllic destination.

This mostly level hike is a short out and back that crosses Hornbecks Creek several times. A pleasant walk through the woods with a scenic waterfall as the payoff.

Lower Hornbecks Creek Trail

Lower Hornbecks Creek Trail

Although it is not as well known as other waterfalls in the area, Hornbecks Creek Falls does see some foot traffic. We arrived at approximately 8am on a Saturday morning and were the first ones at the trailhead. On our return from viewing the falls, we passed several groups of people along the trail. As with anything else these days, it pays to get out early.


The Hike:

The hike begins at the northern end of the parking area on an old gravel road that parallels Hornbecks Creek. Following the banks of Hornbeck’s Creek, the trail meanders upstream through a mature forest composed of a great variety of large, old trees.

Lower Hornbecks Creek Trail

Lower Hornbecks Creek Trail

Lower Hornbecks Creek Trail

Lower Hornbecks Creek Trail

Lower Hornbecks Creek Trail

Lower Hornbecks Creek Trail

Lower Hornbecks Creek Trail

Lower Hornbecks Creek Trail

In a short distance, the trail crosses a wooden footbridge to the other side of the creek and begins to gradually, climb above the creek, passing stone steps that once led to an old home. The trail levels off high above the creek which has cut a steep-sided ravine through the terrain.

Lower Hornbecks Creek Trail

Lower Hornbecks Creek Trail

Lower Hornbecks Creek Trail

Lower Hornbecks Creek Trail

Lower Hornbecks Creek Trail

Lower Hornbecks Creek Trail

Lower Hornbecks Creek Trail

Lower Hornbecks Creek Trail

Lower Hornbecks Creek Trail

Lower Hornbecks Creek Trail

Lower Hornbecks Creek Trail

Lower Hornbecks Creek Trail

Lower Hornbecks Creek Trail

Lower Hornbecks Creek Trail

The trail then crosses Hornbecks Creek again on a fiber-reinforced polymer trail bridge that was installed January-March 2016 to replace the bridge that was washed out by a storm several years earlier.

Lower Hornbecks Creek Trail

Lower Hornbecks Creek Trail

Lower Hornbecks Creek Trail

Lower Hornbecks Creek Trail

Lower Hornbecks Creek Trail

Lower Hornbecks Creek Trail

Lower Hornbecks Creek Trail

Lower Hornbecks Creek Trail

Lower Hornbecks Creek Trail

Lower Hornbecks Creek Trail

The trail descends a 15-step stone staircase in an area where the stream had eroded the steep bank.

Lower Hornbecks Creek Trail

Lower Hornbecks Creek Trail

A look back at the stone staircase.

Lower Hornbecks Creek Trail

Lower Hornbecks Creek Trail

The trail then crosses the creek again, this time on a single log bridge. It turns left and continues upstream over several bog bridges before crossing Hornbecks Creek on another single log bridge.

Lower Hornbecks Creek Trail

Lower Hornbecks Creek Trail

Lower Hornbecks Creek Trail

Lower Hornbecks Creek Trail

Lower Hornbecks Creek Trail

Lower Hornbecks Creek Trail

Lower Hornbecks Creek Trail

Lower Hornbecks Creek Trail

Lower Hornbecks Creek Trail

Lower Hornbecks Creek Trail

Lower Hornbecks Creek Trail

Lower Hornbecks Creek Trail

Lower Hornbecks Creek Trail

Lower Hornbecks Creek Trail

The trail turns right and follows the creek upstream a short distance to Hornbecks Creek Falls.

Lower Hornbecks Creek Trail

Lower Hornbecks Creek Trail

Lower Hornbecks Creek Trail

Lower Hornbecks Creek Trail

The 25-foot tall Hornbecks Creek Falls, also known as Lower Indian Ladders, is a slide waterfall which is surrounded by cliffs and plummets into a large circular pool. Please note: that swimming here is prohibited by the National Park Service.

Hornbecks Creek Falls

Hornbecks Creek Falls

Hornbecks Creek Falls

Hornbecks Creek Falls

When you are done enjoying this picturesque waterfall, retrace your steps back the way you came, to the parking area, where the hike began.

Lower Hornbecks Creek Trailhead

Lower Hornbecks Creek Trailhead

When you are done, you can get in your vehicle and drive a short distance to the Upper Hornbecks Creek Trail to view some more waterfalls.


Review:

A very pleasant walk through the woods to a very scenic waterfall. This short hike is perfect for a hot and humid day after some rainfall. The trail is well shaded and although it is not marked, it’s well defined and easy to follow. This simple out and back is great for families and those that want to enjoy nature without working up a sweat.

Pros:

Hornbecks Creek Falls, enjoyable trail, well maintained area, litter free.

Cons:

None.


Take a hike!

Lower Hornbecks Creek Trail – Delaware Water Gap

Lower Hornbecks Creek Trail – Delaware Water Gap


Sources:


Breakneck Ridge via Nimham Trail

July 5, 2021 – Cold Spring, NY

Difficulty: Moderate

Length: Approximately 1.9 miles

Max elevation: 592 ft.– total elevation gain approximately 625 ft.

Route type: Out and back

Buy Map: East Hudson Trails Map #102

Free Web Map: Hudson Highlands Trail Map North 2021

Trailhead parking: Wilkinson Memorial Trailhead – Beacon, NY 12508


Overview:

Breakneck Ridge is a mountain along the Hudson River between Beacon and Cold Spring, straddling the boundary between Dutchess and Putnam counties. Breakneck Ridge is located within the confines of Hudson Highlands State Park Preserve and is administered by the New York Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. Until the early 20th century, the mountain was also known as St. Anthony’s Face or Turk’s Face, after a face-like stone formation on the southern cliffs that was destroyed by quarrymen in 1846. It has several summits, the highest, some distance inland, reaching approximately 1,260 feet above sea level. The southern face of the peak is remarkable for its striking cliffs, the result of quarrying in past years.

Breakneck Ridge as viewed from Storm King Mountain

Breakneck Ridge as viewed from Storm King Mountain

Breakneck Ridge is considered one of the best and toughest day hikes in the country. The steep ascent up its western face involves climbing over rock ledges, using both hands and feet. This rock scramble attracts hikers from all over and is one of the most popular hikes in the region.

The beautifully constructed Nimham Trail provides an easier alternative to the summit for hikers who seek Breakneck’s stunning views of the Hudson River Valley while avoiding the steep rock scramble. The trail follows the natural “bench,” or shelf, along the ridge, connecting the flagpole area to the Wilkinson Memorial Trail.


History:

Professional Trail Builders, Tahawus Trails LLC, with assistance from the Jolly Rovers, constructed the new Nimham Trail between October 2020 and July 2021. The half-mile trail has over 500 expertly engineered stone stairs carefully harvested from the slopes of Breakneck. The Nimham Trail opened to the public on July 1, 2021. Once open, foot traffic on the Breakneck Ridge Trail ascent will become one-way (up only); the new trail will be two-directional.

This is the first construction project managed by the Hudson Highlands Fjord Trail, a new non-profit working with State Parks and the 19 other project partners to advance the Hudson Highlands Fjord Trail linear park between Beacon and Cold Spring.

The impetus to the Nimham Trail was the increasing popularity of hiking at Breakneck Ridge, visited by over 100,000 hikers annually. The new trail will help both reduce lost and injured hiker calls and preserve the mountain habitat. Data gathered by the NY-NJ Trail Conference shows most people who hike Breakneck are either novice hikers or, in fact, attempting Breakneck Ridge as their first hike. Novice hikers often reach the first summit and decide they don’t think they can finish the hike. They try to find a way down from the flagpole area and that’s when problems arise. The Nimham Trail adds the option of a shorter loop hike centered on the flagpole area of the Breakneck Ridge Trail. The Nimham Trail will allow hikers to get a taste of Breakneck while providing a safer way to bail out.

The trail is named in honor of Wappinger Chief Daniel Nimham (1726–1778) a respected leader of the Wappinger people, whose ancestral lands, along with those of the Lenape and Munsee, include the idyllic landscape now known as the Hudson Highlands.

Daniel Nimham and his son Abraham (born in 1745) fought for the American cause during the Revolution and were some of America’s first Veterans. They served with Washington at Valley Forge and later with General Marquis de Lafayette’s troops. On August 31, 1778, the Nimhams and fifty of their fellow Wappinger were surrounded then killed in the Battle of Kingsbridge, in what is now Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx.

Daniel Nimham statue - Putnam County Veterans Memorial Park

Daniel Nimham statue – Putnam County Veterans Memorial Park


Trails Overview:

This hike follows the yellow-blazed Wilkinson Memorial Trail for the first 250 yards.

Wilkinson Memorial Trail - East Hudson Highlands

Wilkinson Memorial Trail – East Hudson Highlands

The half-mile Ninham Trail marked with green blazes, connects the Wilkinson Memorial Trail to the lower lookout on Breakneck Ridge. A series of more than 500 stone steps climbs steeply to Hudson River views from an area of staggered rock outcrops, marked with an American Flag.

Nimham Trail - Breakneck Ridge

Nimham Trail – Breakneck Ridge

The Nimham Trail now allows access to the famous Breakneck Ridge flagpole area to those that would like to avoid the steep rock scramble that was necessary before this trail was constructed. The trail also provides a shorter loop option for those that want to do the rock scramble utilizing the white-blazed Breakneck Ridge Trail.

flagpole area – Breakneck Ridge

flagpole area – Breakneck Ridge

It’s a short walk uphill on the Wilkinson Memorial Trail before turning right on the Nimham Trail. This green-blazed trail is where you gain a lot of elevation quickly. The Nimham Trail gains over 500 feet of elevation in about a 1/2 mile. Although this is the easiest route to Breakneck Ridge, it’s still no walk in the park. The expertly engineered stone steps helps hikers gain a lot of elevation in a short distance, eliminating any rock scrambles that are usually associated with Breakneck Ridge.


Hike Overview:

Having seen the press release for the opening of the new trail, I wanted to check it out. I have to say that I was quite impressed with the craftsmanship of the stone steps. They went to great lengths to make the steps as even as possible. The risers and treads of the steps are consistent with a normal staircase that one would encounter in an indoor setting. The trail is well laid out and blends into the landscape, making for an enjoyable and scenic hike.

This out and back hike begins and ends at the trailhead for the Wilkinson Memorial Trail on Route 9D.

Breakneck Ridge via Nimham Trail

Breakneck Ridge via Nimham Trail

Although the steps are quite helpful, the trail is still steep as it climbs Breakneck Ridge and proper footwear should be worn.

elevation profile - Nimham Trail

elevation profile – Nimham Trail

An early start on a weekday is recommended for this hike as it gets really crowded on the weekends.


The Hike:

On the east side of the road, you’ll see a triple-yellow blaze that marks the start of the Wilkinson Memorial Trail, which you will follow for the first 250 yards. The trail climbs gradually on a wide footpath, climbing several sets of stone steps along the way. The trail soon comes to a junction with the green-blazed Nimham Trail, which begins on the right.

Wilkinson Memorial Trail - East Hudson Highlands

Wilkinson Memorial Trail – East Hudson Highlands

Wilkinson Memorial Trail - East Hudson Highlands

Wilkinson Memorial Trail – East Hudson Highlands

Wilkinson Memorial Trail - East Hudson Highlands

Wilkinson Memorial Trail – East Hudson Highlands

Wilkinson Memorial Trail - East Hudson Highlands

Wilkinson Memorial Trail – East Hudson Highlands

Wilkinson Memorial Trail - East Hudson Highlands

Wilkinson Memorial Trail – East Hudson Highlands

Wilkinson Memorial Trail - East Hudson Highlands

Wilkinson Memorial Trail – East Hudson Highlands

Wilkinson Memorial Trail - East Hudson Highlands

Wilkinson Memorial Trail – East Hudson Highlands

Wilkinson Memorial Trail – East Hudson Highlands

Wilkinson Memorial Trail – East Hudson Highlands

Wilkinson Memorial Trail – East Hudson Highlands

Wilkinson Memorial Trail – East Hudson Highlands

Turn right on Nimham Trail

Turn right on Nimham Trail

Turn right on the Nimham Trail and follow the green blazes as they ascend Breakneck Ridge on another wide footpath. A short distance later, the trail crosses a wooden footbridge and ascends steeply on stone steps.

Turn right on Nimham Trail

Turn right on Nimham Trail

Nimham Trail - Breakneck Ridge

Nimham Trail – Breakneck Ridge

Nimham Trail - Breakneck Ridge

Nimham Trail – Breakneck Ridge

Nimham Trail - Breakneck Ridge

Nimham Trail – Breakneck Ridge

Nimham Trail - Breakneck Ridge

Nimham Trail – Breakneck Ridge

Nimham Trail - Breakneck Ridge

Nimham Trail – Breakneck Ridge

The trail turns right and climbs more stone steps, then levels off briefly, and again climbs more steps. As the trail gains elevation, the Hudson River is visible through the trees down below.

Nimham Trail - Breakneck Ridge

Nimham Trail – Breakneck Ridge

Nimham Trail - Breakneck Ridge

Nimham Trail – Breakneck Ridge

Nimham Trail - Breakneck Ridge

Nimham Trail – Breakneck Ridge

Nimham Trail - Breakneck Ridge

Nimham Trail – Breakneck Ridge

Nimham Trail - Breakneck Ridge

Nimham Trail – Breakneck Ridge

Nimham Trail - Breakneck Ridge

Nimham Trail – Breakneck Ridge

Nimham Trail – Breakneck Ridge

Nimham Trail – Breakneck Ridge

In about 0.3 mile from the start of the Nimham Trail, there is a large rock outcrop on the right with views over the Hudson River with Storm King Mountain directly across and Pollepel Island and Bannerman Castle to the north. This makes a good spot for a short break.

Nimham Trail – Breakneck Ridge

Nimham Trail – Breakneck Ridge

Nimham Trail – Breakneck Ridge

Nimham Trail – Breakneck Ridge

Nimham Trail – Breakneck Ridge

Nimham Trail – Breakneck Ridge

Nimham Trail – Breakneck Ridge

Nimham Trail – Breakneck Ridge

When you are ready to continue, proceed ahead on the Nimham Trail as it continues to climb stone steps, now even more steeply. After climbing some steps bounded by a wooden railing, the trail moderates as it nears its terminus at a rock outcrop just above the flagpole area.

Nimham Trail – Breakneck Ridge

Nimham Trail – Breakneck Ridge

Nimham Trail – Breakneck Ridge

Nimham Trail – Breakneck Ridge

Nimham Trail – Breakneck Ridge

Nimham Trail – Breakneck Ridge

Nimham Trail – Breakneck Ridge

Nimham Trail – Breakneck Ridge

Nimham Trail – Breakneck Ridge

Nimham Trail – Breakneck Ridge

Nimham Trail – Breakneck Ridge

Nimham Trail – Breakneck Ridge

Nimham Trail – Breakneck Ridge

Nimham Trail – Breakneck Ridge

Nimham Trail – Breakneck Ridge

Nimham Trail – Breakneck Ridge

Nimham Trail – Breakneck Ridge

Nimham Trail – Breakneck Ridge

Nimham Trail – Breakneck Ridge

Nimham Trail – Breakneck Ridge

Nimham Trail – Breakneck Ridge

Nimham Trail – Breakneck Ridge

Nimham Trail – Breakneck Ridge

Nimham Trail – Breakneck Ridge

The views up and down the Hudson River from this point are spectacular, and you will want to take a rest to enjoy the panoramic views.

flagpole area – Breakneck Ridge

flagpole area – Breakneck Ridge

flagpole area – Breakneck Ridge

flagpole area – Breakneck Ridge

flagpole area – Breakneck Ridge

flagpole area – Breakneck Ridge

flagpole area – Breakneck Ridge

flagpole area – Breakneck Ridge

flagpole area – Breakneck Ridge

flagpole area – Breakneck Ridge

When you are ready to continue, retrace your steps back to the Nimham Trail, marked by a sign, and turn left.

Breakneck Ridge Trail

Breakneck Ridge Trail

Looking up to the top of the ridge from the junction with the Nimham Trail, you’ll notice a steep, near-vertical rock outcrop that the Breakneck Ridge Trail climbs to gain the crest of the ridge.

Breakneck Ridge Trail

Breakneck Ridge Trail

Nimham Trail – Breakneck Ridge

Nimham Trail – Breakneck Ridge

Retrace your steps along the Nimham Trail, back to the junction with the Wilkinson Memorial Trail and bear left. Then follow the yellow blazes back to Route 9D, where the hike began.

Nimham Trail – Breakneck Ridge

Nimham Trail – Breakneck Ridge

Nimham Trail – Breakneck Ridge

Nimham Trail – Breakneck Ridge

Veer left at the junction

Veer left at the junction

Wilkinson Memorial Trail

Wilkinson Memorial Trail

Wilkinson Memorial Trail

Wilkinson Memorial Trail


Review:

A great hike on a well constructed trail to panoramic views of the Hudson River Valley. Although it was rather foggy on our visit, it was still a good day out on the trails. We were on the trail by 7:30am and back to the trailhead by 9:30am. By getting an early start, we didn’t encounter any other hikers on the way up. By the time we left the flagpole area, a steady stream of people started to pass through. Worth doing at least once to marvel at the hard work that was done to create this wonderful trail.

Pros:

Nimham Trail, Breakneck Ridge, American Flag, Hudson River Valley views, well constructed trails.

Cons:

Breakneck Ridge gets extremely crowded on weekends.


Take a hike!

Breakneck Ridge via Nimham Trail

Breakneck Ridge via Nimham Trail


Sources:


Candlewood Hill Loop – Fahnestock State Park

June 12, 2021 – Putnam Valley, NY

Difficulty: Moderate

Length: Approximately 3.3 miles

Max elevation: 986 ft.– total elevation gain approximately 779 ft.

Route type: Lollipop Loop

Buy Maps (Paper & Avenza): East Hudson Trails Map #103

Free Web Map: Fahnestock State Park Trail Map 2020

Free Avenza App Map: Fahnestock State Park Trail Map

Trailhead parking: 11 Sunken Mine Road, Putnam Valley, NY 10579

Roadside parking for approximately 6 cars – No bathrooms on site


Overview:

Clarence Fahnestock Memorial State Park, also known as Fahnestock State Park, is a 16,171-acre state park located in north central Putnam County with portions in the towns of Carmel, Kent, Philipstown and Putnam Valley. The park is traversed by the Taconic State Parkway, US Route 9, NYS Route 301 and several local roads. Rail stations operated by Metro North Railroad are within ten miles of the park at Garrison, Cold Spring and Beacon. The park does not have a single, formal entrance. The park is managed and maintained by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.

Clarence Fahnestock Memorial State Park

Clarence Fahnestock Memorial State Park

Fahnestock is characterized by parallel ridges and hills that trend in a southwest to northeast direction. Steep slopes are often found on the southeast and northwest aspects of some of these ridges. Elevations range from approximately 400 feet in the lowest area of the park along Clove Creek in the vicinity of U.S. Route 9, to a maximum of over 1300 feet on a ridge west of Canopus Lake. The majority of the park is at elevations greater than 600 feet.

As the peaks of Clarence Fahnestock Memorial State Park are more hills than mountains, the hiking is generally less strenuous than others in the region. This makes the park a popular destination for casual hikers.

Candlewood Hill is a long ridge with its summit at an approximate elevation of 986 feet above sea level. It is located at the southeast end of Fahnestock State Park and is one of the park’s most prominent peaks. The northern end of the of the ridge is just west of the Durland Scout Reservation (formerly Clear Lake Scout Reservation), divided by Sunken Mine Road. The southern portion of Candlewood Hill rises out of the western banks of Oscawana Lake. Existing roadside parking along Sunken Mine Road provides access to the Candlewood Hill Trail in the northern part of this area. The southern portion of the Candlewood Hill Trail descends sharply to Bell Hollow Road. Recent acquisitions have extended the park southward. A couple of undesignated trails extend from the Candlewood Hill Trail south along the ridge. There is no parking area designated for access from roads to the south.

This scenic area includes views of the hills and ridgelines of Fahnestock State Park and most of the East Hudson Highlands from the summit of Candlewood Hill. The panorama includes the surrounding hemlock forests, hills and valleys, and even a slice of the Hudson River and Indian Point viewable to the southwest.

Candlewood Hill – Fahnestock State Park

Candlewood Hill – Fahnestock State Park


History:

In 2004, NY state purchased a 261-acre tract at Candlewood Hill in Putnam Valley and added it to Fahnestock State Park, saving it from residential development. The property includes woodlands and 2,000 feet of undeveloped frontage on Oscawana Lake, which is otherwise ringed with bungalows and houses. Two land conservation groups, the Open Space Institute and the Trust for Public Land, negotiated the contracts for the state, which in the early summer quietly bought the land for $1.5 million.

For his farewell hike as Governor, George E. Pataki led a small entourage of aides, administration members, environmentalists and a couple of state troopers up the granite-flecked trail to the summit of Candlewood Hill.

Through a series of acquisitions since 1995, Fahnestock State Park has more than doubled in size, from 6,670 acres to 16,171, an increase of more than 9,000 acres. The Trust For Public Land collaborated with its partner, the Open Space Institute on a number of the deals making up this expansion. The Trust for Public Land worked with Governor Pataki, the staff of the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, and the Department of Environmental Conservation to protect more than 100,000 acres in NY state during his administration.


Trails Overview:

This hike incorporates a section of the unmaintained and unpaved Sunken Mine Road that is closed to vehicular traffic from December to April. This road divides Fahnestock State Park from the Durland Scout Reservation (private property). Sunken Mine Road is located within Fahnestock State Park and is a gravel road that traverses the area, running north from Oscawana Lake to Dennytown Road. The road climbs gradually from the south before reaching the trailhead for the Candlewood Hill Trail.

Sunken Mine Road - Fahnestock State Park

Sunken Mine Road – Fahnestock State Park

The Candlewood Hill Trail is marked with New York State Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation “Taconic Region” red plastic discs. This trail ascends, sometimes steeply to the 986-foot summit of Candlewood Hill to long views in all directions. It traverses a short section of the ridge before descending steeply to its terminus on Bell Hollow Road. The Candlewood Hill Trail is well marked and easy to follow.

Candlewood Hill Trail - Fahnestock State Park

Candlewood Hill Trail – Fahnestock State Park

An abandoned section of Bell Hollow Road is used to connect the Candlewood Hill Trail to Sunken Mine Road. This road climbs along the western flank of Candlewood Hill and although unmarked, is well defined and easy to follow.

Bell Hollow Road – Fahnestock State Park

Bell Hollow Road – Fahnestock State Park

You may encounter some diamond shaped light blue blazes with an “HT” on them throughout this hike. You can disregard them. These blazes represent the Hudson Trail, a long distance hiking trail from High Bridge in Manhattan eventually reaching Mt. Marcy in the Adirondacks, overlaying existing trails and making use of public roads. It is a work in progress. In Fahnestock State Park it makes use of the Candlewood Hill Trail as well as several others.

Hudson Trail in Fahnestock State Park

Hudson Trail in Fahnestock State Park

With the exception of the summit, the trails are mostly well shaded and offer some protection from the hot sun.


Hike Overview:

I was looking for a short hike to do before the rains came on a Saturday morning, but unfortunately the rain came as we were beginning the hike. With the rain came the fog and obscured views, which was disappointing. We completed the hike nevertheless, but not being able to enjoy the views stuck with me. The following week we decided to head back up to the summit just for the views and it was well worth it. Our second trip was a short out and back to the summit to enjoy the views before it got too hot. This post incorporates images that I captured from both visits up until the summit.

This moderate loop hike is perfect for those looking to do a short hike with some great views and some shaded trails. On both visits, we didn’t encounter any other hikers. The hike begins near the southern end of Sunken Mine Road where there is pull-off parking for about 6-8 vehicles just before the gate.

Candlewood Hill Loop – Fahnestock State Park

Candlewood Hill Loop – Fahnestock State Park

Although there are some steep sections on this hike, they are short lived.

elevation profile - Candlewood Hill Loop

elevation profile – Candlewood Hill Loop


The Hike:

Proceed past the gate on Sunken Mine Road (sometimes referred to as Sunk Mine Road) as it heads gradually uphill. Sunken Mine Road is located within Fahnestock State Park and is a rough, unmaintained road that is closed to vehicular traffic from December to April. On the left side of the road (west), you may notice NYS Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation signs. To the right (east) of the road there are signs to “Keep Out” of the Durland Scout Reservation. Continue uphill on this scenic road for about a half mile.

Sunken Mine Road

Sunken Mine Road

Sunken Mine Road

Sunken Mine Road

Sunken Mine Road

Sunken Mine Road

Sunken Mine Road

Sunken Mine Road

In about 0.5 mile, The trailhead for the Candlewood Hill Trail will be on the left, marked by a wooden post and red markers. Turn left here and follow the red blazes as they lead uphill, gradually at first then more steeply. You will be following the red blazes for the next 1.2 miles.

Candlewood Hill Trail - Fahnestock State Park

Candlewood Hill Trail – Fahnestock State Park

Candlewood Hill Trail - Fahnestock State Park

Candlewood Hill Trail – Fahnestock State Park

Candlewood Hill Trail - Fahnestock State Park

Candlewood Hill Trail – Fahnestock State Park

Candlewood Hill Trail – Fahnestock State Park

Candlewood Hill Trail – Fahnestock State Park

Candlewood Hill Trail – Fahnestock State Park

Candlewood Hill Trail – Fahnestock State Park

In late spring and early summer, the Mountain Laurel is in bloom along the trail.

Candlewood Hill Trail – Fahnestock State Park

Candlewood Hill Trail – Fahnestock State Park

Candlewood Hill Trail – Fahnestock State Park

Candlewood Hill Trail – Fahnestock State Park

Candlewood Hill Trail – Fahnestock State Park

Candlewood Hill Trail – Fahnestock State Park

The trail steepens some more as it nears the summit of Candlewood Hill, climbing over bare rock. To the right of the trail there are limited views as you near the top.

Candlewood Hill Trail – Fahnestock State Park

Candlewood Hill Trail – Fahnestock State Park

Candlewood Hill Trail – Fahnestock State Park

Candlewood Hill Trail – Fahnestock State Park

Candlewood Hill Trail – Fahnestock State Park

Candlewood Hill Trail – Fahnestock State Park

Candlewood Hill Trail – Fahnestock State Park

Candlewood Hill Trail – Fahnestock State Park

Candlewood Hill Trail – Fahnestock State Park

Candlewood Hill Trail – Fahnestock State Park

Just before reaching the summit where the trail turns left, leave the trail and turn right on a faint footpath to wide ranging views from northwest to southwest. The hills of Fahnestock State Park can be seen to the west as well as most of the East Hudson Highlands.

Candlewood Hill Trail – Fahnestock State Park

Candlewood Hill Trail – Fahnestock State Park

Candlewood Hill summit – Fahnestock State Park

Candlewood Hill summit – Fahnestock State Park

Candlewood Hill summit – Fahnestock State Park

Candlewood Hill summit – Fahnestock State Park

Candlewood Hill summit – Fahnestock State Park

Candlewood Hill summit – Fahnestock State Park

Candlewood Hill summit – Fahnestock State Park

Candlewood Hill summit – Fahnestock State Park

A zoomed in view to the southwest reveals a sliver of the Hudson River and the Indian Point Nuclear Facility in the Village of Buchanan, near Peekskill, NY.

Candlewood Hill summit – Fahnestock State Park

Candlewood Hill summit – Fahnestock State Park

When you are ready to continue, return to the Candlewood Hill Trail and proceed ahead along the summit to another rock out crop with more views.

Candlewood Hill Trail – Fahnestock State Park

Candlewood Hill Trail – Fahnestock State Park

Candlewood Hill Trail – Fahnestock State Park

Candlewood Hill Trail – Fahnestock State Park

This is the view on a foggy morning with light rain falling.

Candlewood Hill Trail – Fahnestock State Park

Candlewood Hill Trail – Fahnestock State Park

This is the view on our return visit the following week.

Candlewood Hill Trail – Fahnestock State Park

Candlewood Hill Trail – Fahnestock State Park

The trail turns left at the rock outcrop and descends a little, ducking just below the ridgeline then leveling off, with some interesting rock formations on either side of the trail.

Candlewood Hill Trail – Fahnestock State Park

Candlewood Hill Trail – Fahnestock State Park

Candlewood Hill Trail – Fahnestock State Park

Candlewood Hill Trail – Fahnestock State Park

Candlewood Hill Trail – Fahnestock State Park

Candlewood Hill Trail – Fahnestock State Park

Soon the Candlewood Hill Trail descends steeply, turns right on a woods road and descends on a more moderate grade. A short distance later, the Candlewood Hill Trail ends at Bell Hollow Road.

Candlewood Hill Trail – Fahnestock State Park

Candlewood Hill Trail – Fahnestock State Park

Candlewood Hill Trail – Fahnestock State Park

Candlewood Hill Trail – Fahnestock State Park

Candlewood Hill Trail – Fahnestock State Park

Candlewood Hill Trail – Fahnestock State Park

Candlewood Hill Trail – Fahnestock State Park

Candlewood Hill Trail – Fahnestock State Park

Candlewood Hill Trail – Fahnestock State Park

Candlewood Hill Trail – Fahnestock State Park

Turn right on the abandoned section of Bell Hollow Road and follow it uphill for the next 1/2 mile. You may be able to see and hear Canopus Creek down below on the left as you walk along the road.

Bell Hollow Road – Fahnestock State Park

Bell Hollow Road – Fahnestock State Park

Bell Hollow Road – Fahnestock State Park

Bell Hollow Road – Fahnestock State Park

Bell Hollow Road – Fahnestock State Park

Bell Hollow Road – Fahnestock State Park

Bell Hollow Road ends at a junction with Sunken Mine Road. Turn right here and follow this scenic road uphill for about 420 yards. Look for a woods road on the right, marked by boulders, that leads uphill a short distance to another viewpoint.

turn right on Sunken Mine Road

turn right on Sunken Mine Road

Sunken Mine Road - Fahnestock State Park

Sunken Mine Road – Fahnestock State Park

Sunken Mine Road - Fahnestock State Park

Sunken Mine Road – Fahnestock State Park

Sunken Mine Road - Fahnestock State Park

Sunken Mine Road – Fahnestock State Park

Turn right on this unmarked woods road and follow it uphill for about 350 feet, to views of Candlewood Hill and the surrounding area. This makes a good spot to take a break.

Sunken Mine Road - Fahnestock State Park

Sunken Mine Road – Fahnestock State Park

Viewpoint off of Sunken Mine Road

Viewpoint off of Sunken Mine Road

Viewpoint off of Sunken Mine Road

Viewpoint off of Sunken Mine Road

Viewpoint off of Sunken Mine Road

Viewpoint off of Sunken Mine Road

Viewpoint off of Sunken Mine Road

Viewpoint off of Sunken Mine Road

When you are ready to continue, return to Sunken Mine Road, turn right and continue in a southerly direction. A short distance later you will pass the trailhead for the Candlewood Hill Trail. Stay on Sunken Mine Road as it heads downhill, now retracing your steps, back to the parking area, where the hike began.

Turn right on Sunken Mine Road

Turn right on Sunken Mine Road

Sunken Mine Road - Fahnestock State Park

Sunken Mine Road – Fahnestock State Park

Sunken Mine Road - Fahnestock State Park

Sunken Mine Road – Fahnestock State Park

Sunken Mine Road - Fahnestock State Park

Sunken Mine Road – Fahnestock State Park

Sunken Mine Road - Fahnestock State Park

Sunken Mine Road – Fahnestock State Park


Review:

A truly great hike with impressive views. The trails/woods roads are easy to follow in a seemingly unfrequented section of the park. The area is free of any litter and if you decide to visit, please keep it that way. An enjoyable and scenic moderate hike that most would enjoy.

Pros:

Outstanding views, well maintained trail, easy to follow woods roads, quiet area, litter free.

Cons:

None.


Take a hike!

Candlewood Hill Loop – Fahnestock State Park

Candlewood Hill Loop – Fahnestock State Park


Sources:


Granite Mountain Preserve

June 5, 2021 – Putnam Valley, NY

Difficulty: Moderate – strenuous

Length: Approximately 4 miles

Max elevation: 935 ft.– total elevation gain approximately 922 ft.

Route type: Double Lollipop Loop

Free Web Map: Granite Mountain Preserve Trail Map 2020

Free Avenza App Map: Granite Mountain Preserve Trail Map – 2020

Trailhead parking: Peekskill Hollow Rd, Putnam Valley, NY 10579

No bathrooms on site


Preserve Overview:

Granite Mountain Preserve is a 400-acre preserve that lies within the boundaries of the East Hudson Highlands in Putnam Valley, NY. Nestled between Oscawana Lake Road and Peekskill Hollow Road, it is just north of the Westchester County border in Putnam County and west of the Taconic State Parkway. Granite Mountain Preserve is owned and managed by Hudson Highlands Land Trust.

Granite Mountain Preserve

Granite Mountain Preserve

Granite Mountain is located within the Peekskill Hollow Brook watershed, part of both the City of Peekskill and Town of Cortlandt drinking water systems. Granite Mountain Preserve contains two peaks that rise more than 900 feet and is dominated by a northern hardwood forest that includes red and chestnut oak, hickory, tulip and sugar maple along with marshy wetlands and streams. The property also provides an excellent bird habitat and is known for its species-rich collection of flora.

The preserve includes a network of well marked woodland hiking trails, a new parking area and kiosk, making it a publicly accessible open space offering numerous non-motorized recreational opportunities. Granite Mountain Preserve is open from dawn to dusk, seven days a week.

Granite Mountain Preserve

Granite Mountain Preserve


History:

The earliest inhabitants of the area were members of the Canopus group of the Nochpeem band of the “Wappinger Indian Confederacy.” As part of the Mohican nation, they spoke the Algonkian language.

The footpaths made by the Native Americans usually followed the stream valleys. The first settlers followed these footpaths and in the course of time, they became the roads we know today as Peekskill Hollow, Canopus Hollow and Oscawana Lake roads.

Dutch and English farmers moved into the area toward the end of the 17th Century. In 1697, the Highland Patent was granted to Adolph Philipse. The first settlers arrived around 1740. Under the Philipse Patent, the earliest European settlers in the area were the tenant farmers who leased tracts of land from the Philipse family during the first half of the eighteenth century and set about the business of clearing the rugged land for farming.

Despite such physical conditions as rocky soil and steep slopes which made farming a difficult occupation in Putnam Valley, its settlers were an industrious lot who cleared much of the land which has now been reforested. They raised corn, buckwheat, rye, oats, potatoes and turnips, along with a number of lesser crops.

The whole Preserve, like the entire region, was harvested for lumber, firewood and charcoal at various times throughout the 18th and 19th centuries. Most of the Preserve, presumably, was deforested throughout the 1800’s for agriculture and timber harvesting, and stonewalls were built in large part in association with farming. The largest trees growing in the Preserve now are approximately 100 feet tall. The majority are likely no older than 100 years though some “wolf trees” may date to over a century.

In 2017, the Hudson Highlands Land Trust (HHLT) acquired three land parcels on Granite Mountain to create the Granite Mountain Preserve and permanently conserve 358 acres. In late 2018, they announced the expansion of the Preserve to 400 acres with the addition of an adjacent parcel.

The property included a network of informal trails, which have since been improved to better protect the property’s natural resources and enhance the visitor experience. Improvements include: the construction of new sustainable trails, including stone steps and rerouting some preexisting trails. Some of the work was performed by Tahawus Trails LLC, a full-service trail design, construction, and consulting company based in New York State.

A new welcome sign near the main gate on Peekskill Hollow Road was installed and a new parking/access area just past the main gate was completed at the end of 2018. Joshua Uchetel, a scout from Putnam Valley Boy Scouts of America Troop 41, designed and constructed a new informational kiosk beside the parking lot, which will offer helpful information to help guests plan their visit.

HHLT is also working with Putnam County on a management agreement for adjoining land, which will bring the Preserve to more than 500 acres in total.


Trails Overview:

There are approximately five miles of maintained, marked trails through rich, rocky woodlands, leading to rugged hilltops with limited views. The trail system consists of a network of woods roads and footpaths that are divided into three different color closed loops for hiking: a southern green trail loop, a yellow trail loop to Lookout Point, and a northern red trail loop. Connector trails link the three loops.

Granite Mountain Preserve Trail Map 2020

Granite Mountain Preserve Trail Map 2020

The trails are well maintained and clearly marked with Hudson Highlands Land Trust plastic discs of various colors with wooden signs at trail junctions.

Trail markers - Hudson Highlands Land Trust

Trail markers – Hudson Highlands Land Trust

Trail signs - Granite Mountain Preserve

Trail signs – Granite Mountain Preserve


Hike Overview:

The main entrance to the Preserve, marked with a “Welcome to Granite Mountain Preserve” sign, is located opposite Jeanne Drive and across the street from 500 Peekskill Hollow Road in Putnam Valley. Be sure to input “Granite Mountain Preserve” into Google Maps as just “Granite Mountain” will lead you to the wrong location. The new access area and parking lot is located inside the main gate.

Granite Mountain Preserve

Granite Mountain Preserve

There is room for approximately 8 vehicles in the small lot. When we arrived at 8 am on a June Saturday morning, there was one car already there. When we were done, just before 11 am, ours was the only vehicle in the lot.

Parking lot – Granite Mountain Preserve

Parking lot – Granite Mountain Preserve

It’s always a good idea to print out a map beforehand as there were none at the kiosk on the day of our visit.

Granite Mountain Preserve

Granite Mountain Preserve

This hike covers the Yellow and Red Trail loops, both done counterclockwise. The Yellow Trail was completed first, then the Red Trail. Both trails have moderate elevation gains, but it does add up.

Granite Mountain Preserve

Granite Mountain Preserve

The Red-Yellow Trail, which begins at the parking area, is the most strenuous part of the hike. It gains approximately 400 feet of elevation in about 1/2 a mile.

elevation profile - Granite Mountain Preserve

elevation profile – Granite Mountain Preserve

It was a hot and humid day with temps reaching 90°, we started the hike early and were done by 11 am. Although we worked up a sweat, the shaded trails throughout this hike provided protection from the sun. The parking lot is also shaded so we didn’t come back to a blazing hot vehicle.


The Hike:

From the parking area, head towards the kiosk and turn left onto a footpath where you will see triple red and yellow blazes on a tree. This is the start of the Red-Yellow Trail which connects the parking area to the interior of the preserve. You will be following the Red-Yellow Trail for the first 1/2-mile of the hike. The trail climbs stone steps and soon turns left. As the trail approaches private property, it turns right on a switchback. The trail continues to climb, sidehilling the steep slope.

Trailhead - Granite Mountain Preserve

Trailhead – Granite Mountain Preserve

Trailhead – Granite Mountain Preserve

Trailhead – Granite Mountain Preserve

Red-Yellow Trail - Granite Mountain Preserve

Red-Yellow Trail – Granite Mountain Preserve

Red-Yellow Trail - Granite Mountain Preserve

Red-Yellow Trail – Granite Mountain Preserve

Red-Yellow Trail - Granite Mountain Preserve

Red-Yellow Trail – Granite Mountain Preserve

Red-Yellow Trail - Granite Mountain Preserve

Red-Yellow Trail – Granite Mountain Preserve

Red-Yellow Trail - Granite Mountain Preserve

Red-Yellow Trail – Granite Mountain Preserve

As the trail steepens, there are stone steps built into the trail that gain elevation quickly. Soon the trail switchbacks again and continues its steep climb on a woods road that parallels an intermittent mountain stream. In about a 1/2-mile from the start, the Red-Yellow Trail comes to a junction with the lower leg of the Yellow Trail.

Red-Yellow Trail - Granite Mountain Preserve

Red-Yellow Trail – Granite Mountain Preserve

Red-Yellow Trail - Granite Mountain Preserve

Red-Yellow Trail – Granite Mountain Preserve

Red-Yellow Trail - Granite Mountain Preserve

Red-Yellow Trail – Granite Mountain Preserve

Red-Yellow Trail - Granite Mountain Preserve

Red-Yellow Trail – Granite Mountain Preserve

Red-Yellow Trail - Granite Mountain Preserve

Red-Yellow Trail – Granite Mountain Preserve

Red-Yellow Trail - Granite Mountain Preserve

Red-Yellow Trail – Granite Mountain Preserve

Continue straight past the junction with the lower leg of the Yellow Trail for another 500 feet. You will arrive at a T-intersection, where the Red-Yellow Trail turns right. You will come back to this junction later, but for now, turn left on the upper leg of the Yellow Trail, heading towards Lookout Rock. After crossing an intermittent stream on rocks, you’ll see triple yellow blazes on a tree.

Continue straight past the junction with the lower leg of the Yellow Trail

Continue straight past the junction with the lower leg of the Yellow Trail

Turn left on the Yellow Trail towards Lookout Rock

Turn left on the Yellow Trail towards Lookout Rock

Yellow Trail - Granite Mountain Preserve

Yellow Trail – Granite Mountain Preserve

Yellow Trail - Granite Mountain Preserve

Yellow Trail – Granite Mountain Preserve

Follow the yellow blazes as they weave their way through the woods. The trail continues to climb, but on a more moderate grade. As the trail begins to head north, it passes over a an old stone wall. At the top of the rise, the trail reaches the northernmost section of the preserve and turns left, bordering another stone wall.

Yellow Trail - Granite Mountain Preserve

Yellow Trail – Granite Mountain Preserve

Yellow Trail - Granite Mountain Preserve

Yellow Trail – Granite Mountain Preserve

Yellow Trail - Granite Mountain Preserve

Yellow Trail – Granite Mountain Preserve

Yellow Trail - Granite Mountain Preserve

Yellow Trail – Granite Mountain Preserve

Yellow Trail - Granite Mountain Preserve

Yellow Trail – Granite Mountain Preserve

Soon the trail begins to head in a southerly direction. The trail loops around, avoiding the true summit of Granite Mountain and soon parallels another stone wall. A short distance later, the trail reaches Lookout Rock.

Yellow Trail - Granite Mountain Preserve

Yellow Trail – Granite Mountain Preserve

Yellow Trail - Granite Mountain Preserve

Yellow Trail – Granite Mountain Preserve

Yellow Trail - Granite Mountain Preserve

Yellow Trail – Granite Mountain Preserve

Lookout Rock - Granite Mountain Preserve

Lookout Rock – Granite Mountain Preserve

Lookout Rock - Granite Mountain Preserve

Lookout Rock – Granite Mountain Preserve

This keyhole viewpoint from Lookout Rock provides southeast-facing limited views. During leaf off season the view should be much better. This makes a good spot to take a break and rest from the climb. You have now hiked about 1.3 miles.

Lookout Rock - Granite Mountain Preserve

Lookout Rock – Granite Mountain Preserve

When you are ready to continue, follow the Yellow Trail as it begins to descend, passing Mountain Laurel along the side of the trail.

Yellow Trail - Granite Mountain Preserve

Yellow Trail – Granite Mountain Preserve

Yellow Trail - Granite Mountain Preserve

Yellow Trail – Granite Mountain Preserve

Yellow Trail - Granite Mountain Preserve

Yellow Trail – Granite Mountain Preserve

Yellow Trail - Granite Mountain Preserve

Yellow Trail – Granite Mountain Preserve

Yellow Trail - Granite Mountain Preserve

Yellow Trail – Granite Mountain Preserve

In about 250 yards from Lookout Rock, the Yellow Trail comes to a junction with the start of the Green-Yellow Trail, marked with blazes and wooden signs. Turn left at this junction to remain on the Yellow Trail.

Turn left to remain on Yellow Trail

Turn left to remain on Yellow Trail

Turn left to remain on Yellow Trail

Turn left to remain on Yellow Trail

Yellow Trail - Granite Mountain Preserve

Yellow Trail – Granite Mountain Preserve

Yellow Trail - Granite Mountain Preserve

Yellow Trail – Granite Mountain Preserve

As the trail descends along the eastern slope of Granite Mountain, the forest becomes more dense. After several slight ups and downs, the trail descends to recross the intermittent stream on rocks and the Yellow Trail ends at the junction with the Red-Yellow Trail, closing the loop.

Yellow Trail - Granite Mountain Preserve

Yellow Trail – Granite Mountain Preserve

Yellow Trail - Granite Mountain Preserve

Yellow Trail – Granite Mountain Preserve

Yellow Trail - Granite Mountain Preserve

Yellow Trail – Granite Mountain Preserve