Anthony’s Nose from Route 202

April 10, 2021 – Cortlandt, NY

Difficulty: Moderate – strenuous

Length: Approximately 3 miles

Max elevation: 910 ft. – total elevation gain: approximately 749 ft.

Route type: Out and back

Map: East Hudson Trails Map #101

Trailhead parking: Anthony’s Nose U-Bend Parking Lot – Bear Mountain Bridge Rd, Cortlandt, NY 10567 (room for about 6 cars)


Details on hikes to Anthony’s Nose via different routes:


Overview:

Anthony’s Nose is a peak along the Hudson River at the north end of Westchester County, New York. Together with Dunderberg Mountain, it comprises the South Gate of the Hudson Highlands. The 910 ft. peak has been known as Anthony’s Nose since at least 1697, when the name appears on a grant patent. Pierre Van Cortlandt, who owned this mountain, said it was named for a pre-Revolutionary War sea captain, Anthony Hogan. This captain was reputed to have a Cyrano de Bergerac type nose.

Anthony’s Nose as viewed from Bear Mountain

Anthony’s Nose as viewed from Bear Mountain

Anthony’s Nose is one of the more popular hikes in the Hudson Valley and on weekends the cars are lined up along Route 9D as a testament to its popularity. The short, but steep hike to the summit offers some spectacular views up and down the Hudson River. There are several approaches to the summit with varying degrees of difficulty, but none are easy due to the sometimes rough terrain and/or sudden elevation gain. Due to the crowds, this is a hike better done on weekdays.


History:

Anthony’s Nose was strategically important during the American Revolution. The road at its base along the Hudson River (present day US 202) was a choke-point in the Hudson Highlands north of Peekskill. The only wagon road on the east side of the Hudson River, the Albany Post Road, ran from NYC to Albany, and passed along the river here. It could be easily defended from atop the steep rock face.

During 1777, George Washington ordered the construction of a large chain across the Hudson from the shore near Anthony’s Nose to the opposite shore below Fort Montgomery. Although meant to keep the British ships from passing, it didn’t work. The chain was sunk after several well placed British cannon shots. It was blown to bits and on October 6, 1777, the British sailed through the opening, destroyed Fort Constitution, attacked Forts Montgomery and Clinton and sailed up to Kingston and burned most of the city to the ground. During April 1780, the chain was again stretched across the river and taken out of the water on October 16 (after the defection of Benedict Arnold). On April 10, 1781 the chain was once more reinstalled across the river.

The Bear Mountain Bridge was constructed in 1924 along approximately the same alignment where the chain was laid out. An airway beacon was once located on the summit.


Hike Overview:

Please Note: Camp Smith (military reservation) is about 50 feet to the right of the trail in most places on the way to the Nose. It is heavily used by the military and may include live gunfire. For your safety, you must stay on the marked trail. Many places to the left of the trail there are steep cliffs that drop down to the Bear Mountain Road. For your safety and the motorists below, please stay on the trail lest you dislodge rocks onto the cars.

Camp Smith Trail - Anthony’s Nose

Camp Smith Trail – Anthony’s Nose

This hike climbs Anthony’s Nose from the south and begins at a smaller parking area on Route 6/202 at a large bend in the road, 2.2 miles north of the entrance to Camp Smith, also known as the U-Bend Parking Lot. Since the trailhead parking is smaller, there is a lot less foot traffic than from the trailhead on Route 9D.

Route 202 trailhead - Anthony’s Nose

Route 202 trailhead – Anthony’s Nose

You still wind up at the same great viewpoint, which more times than not, is crowded on a nice day. There are also several viewpoints along this route that give hikers a different look. 

Camp Smith Trail - Anthony’s Nose

Camp Smith Trail – Anthony’s Nose

The climb is steep, gaining over 250 feet in elevation in the first 1/2 mile and almost 500 feet by the first mile. There are several sections that are somewhat level along the way that give a reprieve from the steep climb. The trail travels through very rocky sections and over open rock slabs. Probably not a good hike under wet conditions.

The trail is well marked, but one should keep their eyes on the blazes so as not to wander onto Camp Smith property on one of the unmarked trails. There are numerous signs along the boundary to let you know. 

Camp Smith Trail - Anthony’s Nose

Camp Smith Trail – Anthony’s Nose

This hike is a basic out and back, which means that you will be returning the way you came. Since the mountain borders a busy road on one side and Camp Smith on the other, a loop is not possible here. 

Anthony’s Nose from Route 202

Anthony’s Nose from Route 202

You can see by the elevation profile the steepness of the climb and the descent on the way back.

Anthony’s Nose from Route 202

Anthony’s Nose from Route 202


The Hike:

From the parking area, head into the woods past the kiosk and turn left on the blue-blazed Camp Smith Trail. 

Route 202 trailhead - Anthony’s Nose

Route 202 trailhead – Anthony’s Nose

Camp Smith Trail - Anthony’s Nose

Camp Smith Trail – Anthony’s Nose

Camp Smith Trail - Anthony’s Nose

Camp Smith Trail – Anthony’s Nose

Camp Smith Trail - Anthony’s Nose

Camp Smith Trail – Anthony’s Nose

Camp Smith Trail - Anthony’s Nose

Camp Smith Trail – Anthony’s Nose

Heading north towards Anthony’s Nose, the trail crosses Broccy Creek and leads gradually uphill, parallel to the road.

Camp Smith Trail - Anthony’s Nose

Camp Smith Trail – Anthony’s Nose

Camp Smith Trail - Anthony’s Nose

Camp Smith Trail – Anthony’s Nose

Camp Smith Trail - Anthony’s Nose

Camp Smith Trail – Anthony’s Nose

Camp Smith Trail - Anthony’s Nose

Camp Smith Trail – Anthony’s Nose

After turning away from the road, it joins and leaves woods roads and crosses streams.

Camp Smith Trail - Anthony’s Nose

Camp Smith Trail – Anthony’s Nose

Camp Smith Trail - Anthony’s Nose

Camp Smith Trail – Anthony’s Nose

Camp Smith Trail - Anthony’s Nose

Camp Smith Trail – Anthony’s Nose

Camp Smith Trail - Anthony’s Nose

Camp Smith Trail – Anthony’s Nose

Camp Smith Trail - Anthony’s Nose

Camp Smith Trail – Anthony’s Nose

Rising out of a ravine, in about a 1/2 mile, the trail turns right onto a rock outcropping with views of the Hudson River, Iona Island, and Bear Mountain-Harriman State Park.

Camp Smith Trail - Anthony’s Nose

Camp Smith Trail – Anthony’s Nose

Camp Smith Trail - Anthony’s Nose

Camp Smith Trail – Anthony’s Nose

Camp Smith Trail - Anthony’s Nose

Camp Smith Trail – Anthony’s Nose

Camp Smith Trail - Anthony’s Nose

Camp Smith Trail – Anthony’s Nose

The view was somewhat obscured by the early morning fog.

Camp Smith Trail - Anthony’s Nose

Camp Smith Trail – Anthony’s Nose

The same viewpoint on our way back around noon.

Camp Smith Trail - Anthony’s Nose

Camp Smith Trail – Anthony’s Nose

Camp Smith Trail - Anthony’s Nose

Camp Smith Trail – Anthony’s Nose

Paralleling the river high over the road, the trail first drops slightly then begins to climb steeply. In another 0.3 mile, another rock outcropping with a view offers an excuse to stop before tackling the remaining unrelenting assault up Anthony’s Nose. Along the next 0.4 mile, there are both seasonal and year-round views from open rock slabs.

Camp Smith Trail - Anthony’s Nose

Camp Smith Trail – Anthony’s Nose

Camp Smith Trail - Anthony’s Nose

Camp Smith Trail – Anthony’s Nose

Camp Smith Trail - Anthony’s Nose

Camp Smith Trail – Anthony’s Nose

Camp Smith Trail - Anthony’s Nose

Camp Smith Trail – Anthony’s Nose

Camp Smith Trail - Anthony’s Nose

Camp Smith Trail – Anthony’s Nose

Camp Smith Trail - Anthony’s Nose

Camp Smith Trail – Anthony’s Nose

Camp Smith Trail - Anthony’s Nose

Camp Smith Trail – Anthony’s Nose

Camp Smith Trail - Anthony’s Nose

Camp Smith Trail – Anthony’s Nose

Anthony’s Nose summit

Anthony’s Nose summit

Anthony’s Nose summit marker

Anthony’s Nose summit marker

The trail drops down off the summit and turns right to join a woods road, but you should continue straight ahead to panoramic views of the Hudson River, the Bear Mountain Bridge, and Bear Mountain-Harriman State Park.

Continue straight ahead to Anthony’s Nose Overlook

Continue straight ahead to Anthony’s Nose Overlook

Anthony’s Nose Overlook

Anthony’s Nose Overlook

Anthony’s Nose Overlook

Anthony’s Nose Overlook

Anthony’s Nose Overlook

Anthony’s Nose Overlook

Anthony’s Nose Overlook

Anthony’s Nose Overlook

When you are ready to continue, retrace your steps back to the woods road that you crossed to get to the overlook. Turn left on the woods road (the continuation of the Camp Smith Trail) and head north, following the sign for the Appalachian Trail. Continue on the woods road for about 400 feet. Look for a faint footpath to the left of the trail. Follow this unmarked trail a short distance uphill towards some concrete footings. This was the site of an airway beacon that once stood guard on Anthony’s Nose. There are two survey markers, one on the footing and one on a rock slab nearby.

turn left on Camp Smith Trail

turn left on Camp Smith Trail

turn left on Camp Smith Trail

turn left on Camp Smith Trail

Camp Smith Trail - Anthony’s Nose

Camp Smith Trail – Anthony’s Nose

turn left on unmarked trail

turn left on unmarked trail

site of airway beacon - Anthony’s Nose

site of airway beacon – Anthony’s Nose

site of airway beacon - Anthony’s Nose

site of airway beacon – Anthony’s Nose

site of airway beacon - Anthony’s Nose

site of airway beacon – Anthony’s Nose

Continue past the concrete footings a short distance to a large slanted rock slab with views to the north of the Hudson River.

view north of the Hudson River from Anthony’s Nose

view north of the Hudson River from Anthony’s Nose

There are at least three more survey markers in close proximity at this viewpoint.

survey marker - Anthony’s Nose

survey marker – Anthony’s Nose

survey marker - Anthony’s Nose

survey marker – Anthony’s Nose

survey marker - Anthony’s Nose

survey marker – Anthony’s Nose

view north of the Hudson River from Anthony’s Nose

view north of the Hudson River from Anthony’s Nose

When you are ready to continue, retrace your steps back to the Camp Smith Trail and turn right (south). When you arrive back at the junction with the Overlook, turn left and follow the blue blazes of the Camp Smith Trail south, now retracing your steps, for another 1.4 miles back to the U-Bend Parking Lot, where the hike began.

Camp Smith Trail - Anthony’s Nose

Camp Smith Trail – Anthony’s Nose

Camp Smith Trail - Anthony’s Nose

Camp Smith Trail – Anthony’s Nose

Camp Smith Trail - Anthony’s Nose

Camp Smith Trail – Anthony’s Nose


Review:

Another great Hudson Valley hike. Although the viewpoint can get crowded, depending on which day and what time you get there, the views are totally worth it. This approach, from the U-Bend Parking Lot offers more views and sees less foot traffic. On the way back, I don’t remember passing any other hikers. This hike is best done on a weekday when there are less people on the trails. The small parking lot fills up early. We got there just before 8am on a Saturday and got the last spot. 

Pros:

Anthony’s Nose, American Flag, Hudson Valley views, Hudson River, well marked trail, survey markers.

Cons:

Popular spot that does get crowded.


Take a hike!

Anthony’s Nose from Route 202

Anthony’s Nose from Route 202


Sources:


 

Governor Mountain – Ringwood State Park

April 4, 2021 – Ringwood, New Jersey

Difficulty: Easy to Moderate

Length: Approximately 2.5 miles

Max elevation: 627 ft.– total elevation gain approximately 383 ft.

Route type: Lollilop Loop

Free Map: Ringwood State Park Trail Map – 2021

Free Map: Ringwood State Park Map NYNJTC

Buy Map: North Jersey Trails Map

Trailhead parking: Cooper Union Trailhead (2-3 cars) – Carletondale Rd, Ringwood, NJ 07456

Alternate parking: Community Presbyterian Church 145 Carletondale Rd, Ringwood, NJ 07456


Overview:

Ringwood State Park is a 4,444 acres state park in Passaic County in northeastern New Jersey. The Park is located in the heart of the Ramapo Mountains in Ringwood. Its forests are part of the Northeastern coastal forests ecoregion.

Ringwood State Park features both wild lands and landscaped gardens. It consists of four distinct areas: Ringwood Manor, Skylands Manor/NJ State Botanical Garden, Shepherd Lake, and Bear Swamp Lake. The park is operated and maintained by the New Jersey Division of Parks and Forestry.

Ringwood State Park

Ringwood State Park

Governor Mountain is a rocky promontory in the southwestern section of Ringwood Manor State Park. It has an elevation of about 627 feet above sea level and is bordered by Sloatsburg Road to the west, Skylands Road to the east and the Wanaque Reservoir to the south. The Cooper Union Trail forms a Lollilop Loop through the mountain, with views of the Wanaque Reservoir from a rock outcrop at its southern end.

Governor Mountain – Ringwood State Park

Governor Mountain – Ringwood State Park


History:

The present day Ringwood State Park consists of some of the original land and buildings of the once flourishing iron industry developed in 1740 by the Ringwood Company. By placing a dam on the Ringwood River, the company harnessed water power to operate a blast furnace and forges. Home for a succession of well known ironmasters for nearly 200 years, the estate passed from Peter Cooper to Abram S. Hewitt in the mid 19th century, America’s foremost iron master. In 1936, Erskine Hewitt deeded the Ringwood Manor House and grounds to the State of New Jersey in order to preserve this historic property for posterity.


Trails Overview:

There are 20 official trails within the park, totaling nearly 50 miles. Many trails begin near Ringwood Manor, Skylands Manor, or Shepherd Lake, and extend into the park.

Each area has short trails that allow for exploration of these attractions, and longer trails that explore the surrounding area. Individual trails range from 0.2 to 7 miles. Trails are marked with colored blazes.

Trail used on this hike:

  • Cooper Union Trail – Yellow • 4.7 miles total length; 2.5 miles this hike • Multiuse

The yellow-blazed trail runs from north to south beginning at a trailhead on Sloatsburg Road at the northern end of the park. Along its route, the trail crosses Morris and Carletondale Roads. The trail heads south through forested hillsides. Near its southern end, the trail splits to form a loop. At the southern end of the loop, there is a scenic view of Wanaque Reservoir.

Wanaque Reservoir and the Ramapo Mountains as viewed from Governor Mountain

Wanaque Reservoir and the Ramapo Mountains as viewed from Governor Mountain

The original trail was laid out by members of the Cooper Union Hiking club from the prestigious Manhattan college founded by one of New Jersey’s largest landowners, Peter Cooper. The hiking trails are maintained by volunteers coordinated by the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference.

Cooper Union Trail – Ringwood State Park

Cooper Union Trail – Ringwood State Park


Hike Overview:

Being Easter Sunday, I was looking to do a hike on the short side that consisted of more than just a walk in the woods. This hike was a perfect pick. It has a really nice viewpoint over the Wanaque Reservoir and the Ramapo Mountains on the other side. We didn’t encounter anyone else on the trails which made for a quiet morning in the woods.

This Lollipop Loop begins at the Carletondale Road trailhead which can accommodate about 2-3 cars. Please note: You will have to cross the road and head south if starting from here.

Cooper Union Trail - Carletondale Road

Cooper Union Trail – Carletondale Road

There is additional parking at the Community Presbyterian Church, just down the road, but permission is needed on weekdays, according to a sign at the entrance to the trail.

Community Presbyterian Church

Community Presbyterian Church

This counterclockwise lollipop loop follows the yellow-blazed Cooper Union Trail for its entirety. The trail is well blazed and easy to follow. If starting out from the small trailhead on Carletondale Road, you must cross the road, which the trail also crosses, and begin the hike there, heading south.

Governor Mountain – Ringwood State Park

Governor Mountain – Ringwood State Park

Although there are a few steep sections, the elevation gain is mostly gradual and during the first mile of the hike. The mountain itself is barely over 600 feet in elevation, so most hikers shouldn’t have any issues.

Governor Mountain – Ringwood State Park

Governor Mountain – Ringwood State Park


The Hike:

From the trailhead parking area, cross Carletondale Road and pick up the yellow-blazed Cooper Union Trail on the opposite side of the street, heading south.

Cooper Union Trail - Carletondale Road

Cooper Union Trail – Carletondale Road

Cooper Union Trail - Carletondale Road

Cooper Union Trail – Carletondale Road

Cooper Union Trail – Ringwood State Park

Cooper Union Trail – Ringwood State Park

In about 950 feet, the trail passes a junction with the connector trail from the Community Presbyterian Church. If you parked in the church parking lot, you would pick up the Cooper Union Trail here and turn left.

Cooper Union Trail – Ringwood State Park

Cooper Union Trail – Ringwood State Park

Church Connector - Cooper Union Trail

Church Connector – Cooper Union Trail

The trail crosses a small footbridge over a stream and begins to climb on an old woods road.

Cooper Union Trail – Ringwood State Park

Cooper Union Trail – Ringwood State Park

Cooper Union Trail – Ringwood State Park

Cooper Union Trail – Ringwood State Park

Cooper Union Trail – Ringwood State Park

Cooper Union Trail – Ringwood State Park

In about 540 feet, the yellow-blazed Cooper Union Trail comes to the loop section of the trail. Going in either direction will bring you back to this spot. We opted to go counterclockwise and veered right.

Bear right at the junction - Cooper Union Trail

Bear right at the junction – Cooper Union Trail

The trail continues its gradual ascent on the woods road, passing a large boulder to the left of the trail. Soon the trail veers right and goes through a wet area then begins to climb again, now a little more steeply.

Cooper Union Trail – Ringwood State Park

Cooper Union Trail – Ringwood State Park

Cooper Union Trail – Ringwood State Park

Cooper Union Trail – Ringwood State Park

Cooper Union Trail – Ringwood State Park

Cooper Union Trail – Ringwood State Park

Cooper Union Trail – Ringwood State Park

Cooper Union Trail – Ringwood State Park

Cooper Union Trail – Ringwood State Park

Cooper Union Trail – Ringwood State Park

Cooper Union Trail – Ringwood State Park

Cooper Union Trail – Ringwood State Park

As the trail nears the summit, it levels off and passes more large boulders alongside the trail.

Cooper Union Trail – Ringwood State Park

Cooper Union Trail – Ringwood State Park

Cooper Union Trail – Ringwood State Park

Cooper Union Trail – Ringwood State Park

Cooper Union Trail – Ringwood State Park

Cooper Union Trail – Ringwood State Park

Cooper Union Trail – Ringwood State Park

Cooper Union Trail – Ringwood State Park

Cooper Union Trail – Ringwood State Park

Cooper Union Trail – Ringwood State Park

Cooper Union Trail – Ringwood State Park

Cooper Union Trail – Ringwood State Park

As the trail nears the southernmost section of Governor Mountain, the Wanaque Reservoir is visible through the leafless trees down below on the right.

Cooper Union Trail – Ringwood State Park

Cooper Union Trail – Ringwood State Park

After the trail passes a campsite, it descends to a rock outcrop and turns left.

Cooper Union Trail – Ringwood State Park

Cooper Union Trail – Ringwood State Park

As the trail turns left, the rock outcrop just ahead provides a nice view over the Wanaque Reservoir and the surrounding hills.

Cooper Union Trail – Ringwood State Park

Cooper Union Trail – Ringwood State Park

viewpoint - Cooper Union Trail – Ringwood State Park

viewpoint – Cooper Union Trail – Ringwood State Park

leaving the trail, you can continue down below a short distance, to another rock outcrop that affords a better and less obstructed view.

viewpoint - Cooper Union Trail – Ringwood State Park

viewpoint – Cooper Union Trail – Ringwood State Park

From the lower rock outcrop, there is a more expansive view of the Wanaque Reservoir with Greenwood Lake Turnpike bisecting it.

Wanaque Reservoir and the Ramapo Mountains as viewed from Governor Mountain

Wanaque Reservoir and the Ramapo Mountains as viewed from Governor Mountain

Wanaque Reservoir & Greenwood Lake Turnpike

Wanaque Reservoir & Greenwood Lake Turnpike

Slightly southwest, the tall hills on the other side of the reservoir are from right to left: Board Mountain, Bear Mountain and Windbeam Mountain.

Wanaque Reservoir and the Ramapo Mountains as viewed from Governor Mountain

Wanaque Reservoir and the Ramapo Mountains as viewed from Governor Mountain

A zoomed in view looking south.

lower viewpoint - Governor Mountain – Ringwood State Park

lower viewpoint – Governor Mountain – Ringwood State Park

When you are done enjoying this scenic spot, make your way back to the main trail and continue ahead on the yellow-blazed Cooper Union Trail which ascends slightly, then descends steeply into a hollow.

Cooper Union Trail – Ringwood State Park

Cooper Union Trail – Ringwood State Park

Cooper Union Trail – Ringwood State Park

Cooper Union Trail – Ringwood State Park

Looking back from where the trail descended.

Cooper Union Trail – Ringwood State Park

Cooper Union Trail – Ringwood State Park

At the base of the descent, the trail passes through a wet area.

Cooper Union Trail – Ringwood State Park

Cooper Union Trail – Ringwood State Park

Cooper Union Trail – Ringwood State Park

Cooper Union Trail – Ringwood State Park

Cooper Union Trail – Ringwood State Park

Cooper Union Trail – Ringwood State Park

The trail soon climbs out of the hollow, leaving the wet area behind.

Cooper Union Trail – Ringwood State Park

Cooper Union Trail – Ringwood State Park

The trail passes an unmarked footpath on the right. This is the second star (viewpoint) marked on the North Jersey Trails Map, indicating a view. Unfortunately, the trees have grown up around this rock outcrop and only a partial view exists during leaf-off season.

partial viewpoint just off the Cooper Union Trail – Ringwood State Park

partial viewpoint just off the Cooper Union Trail – Ringwood State Park

Continue ahead, following the yellow blazes as they head north. After some minor ups and downs, the trail begins a steady descent.

Cooper Union Trail – Ringwood State Park

Cooper Union Trail – Ringwood State Park

Cooper Union Trail – Ringwood State Park

Cooper Union Trail – Ringwood State Park

Cooper Union Trail – Ringwood State Park

Cooper Union Trail – Ringwood State Park

Cooper Union Trail – Ringwood State Park

Cooper Union Trail – Ringwood State Park

Cooper Union Trail – Ringwood State Park

Cooper Union Trail – Ringwood State Park

In about 0.9 mile from the scenic viewpoint, the yellow-blazed Cooper Union Trail comes to a junction with itself, closing the loop. Turn right and continue following the yellow blazes north, as they continue to descend. You are now retracing your steps from the beginning of the hike.

Cooper Union Trail – Ringwood State Park

Cooper Union Trail – Ringwood State Park

Cooper Union Trail – Ringwood State Park

Cooper Union Trail – Ringwood State Park

In about another 500 feet, the trail crosses the small footbridge over the stream. If you parked in the church parking lot, make the next right and return to your vehicle.

Cooper Union Trail – Ringwood State Park

Cooper Union Trail – Ringwood State Park

If you parked at the trailhead on Carletondale Road, continue ahead for about 950 feet, crossing Carletondale Road and back to the parking area, where the hike began.

Cooper Union Trail – Ringwood State Park

Cooper Union Trail – Ringwood State Park


Review:

A really nice hike through some quiet and scenic woods that leads to a great viewpoint over the Wanaque Reservoir and surrounding hills. Since this hike follows one trail for its entirety, it is a good hike for beginners and those who are unsure of their navigational skills. Also if short on time, the length makes for a quick hike with an exceptional view. Not a bit of trash was seen on the trail, let’s keep it that way.

Pros:

Well marked trail, beautiful viewpoint, quiet area with little foot traffic.

Cons:

None.


Take a hike!

Governor Mountain – Ringwood State Park

Governor Mountain – Ringwood State Park


Sources:


Red Mountain Trails – Sharon Land Trust

March 27, 2021 – Sharon, Connecticut

Difficulty: Moderate

Length: Approximately 4 miles

Max elevation: 1,302 ft.– total elevation gain approximately 768 ft.

Route type: Double Stem Lollipop Loop

Maps: Red Mountain Trail System

Trailhead parking: Mary Moore Preserve Trailhead – 24 Williams Rd, Sharon, CT 06069


Overview:

Nestled in the southern foothills of the Berkshires, the topography of Sharon, Connecticut in Litchfield County, is one of its most memorable and recognizable features. Ranging from hilltops to hollows; its high fields and steep hillsides create a diversity of special character. Varying slopes and terrain increase the apparent extent of the landscapes. Intricate, inward-oriented hollows lie in contrast to expansive, outward-viewing hilltops and ridgelines.

Mary Moore Preserve - Sharon Land Trust

Mary Moore Preserve – Sharon Land Trust

Red Mountain is one of four principal ridgelines in Sharon which run northeast to southwest. The trail system travels over three Sharon Land Trust parcels over the Red Mountain Range.

  • Mary Moore Preserve ~ 181 acres donated to the Sharon Land Trust in 2013 is on the southwestern reach of the Red Mountain Range adjacent to Beardsley Pond. The parcel includes upland shrub land, advanced meadow, farm pasture, and stream/marsh wetland. The upper meadows and the summit area in the northeastern corner provide exceptional views that encompass three states and rank among the best viewing positions in the Berkshires. In 2020, the cliff trail loop was built. It is a wonderful hike through the upper field and into the forest, through boulder fields, ravines, past beautiful cliffs and a seasonal stream.
  • Wike Brothers Farm ~ 268 acre easement purchased by the Sharon Land Trust & the CT Farmland Trust in 2010 & 2014. Funding for the purchase provided by CT DEEP Open Space Grants, Federal Grants, CT Dept. of Agriculture and private donations. Wike Farm is one of Sharon’s oldest family farms supporting grass-fed beef, chickens and pigs. This trail system follows the ridge line to connect all parcels.
  • Hamlin Farm Preserve ~ 259 acres purchased with an Open Space Grant in 2002 consists of two farm fields but primarily forest that ranges from the edge of the farm fields east to the upper reaches of Red Mountain.

Please note: There are no signs within the interior of the preserves indicating when you are leaving or entering any of the properties.

There are two access points to the trail system. The main entry point is at the Mary Moore Preserve on Williams Road where there is space for approximately 4 vehicles. The other access point is at the end of Stone House Road, the trailhead for the Hamlin Preserve that has a slightly larger parking area.


Trails Overview:

There are currently over 4 miles of trails throughout the three preserves, with more trails currently being constructed as of March 2021. Starting at the Mary Moore Preserve, the trail climbs the southwestern reach of Red Mountain, through sloping meadows and second growth forest. The trail then traverses the ridgeline to the upper reaches of Red Mountain in the Hamlin Preserve. Along the way, the trail passes what is known as the upper meadow affording hikers with stunning views of farm fields, hills and mountains on the western horizon. The upper meadows and the summit area in the Mary Moore Preserve provide exceptional views of the South Taconic Mountains of Massachusetts, Connecticut and New York.

Mary Moore Lookout

Mary Moore Lookout

A point to point hike from one trailhead to the other is approximately 3 miles. An out and back from one trailhead to the other is approximately 6.6 miles. A shorter lollipop loop from the Mary Moore Preserve trailhead, using the new Cliff Loop Extension is approximately 2.5 miles. A simple out and back to the Mary Moore Lookout is about 1.5 miles. The latter two, seem to be the more preferred routes of visitors seeking a shorter hike with a view.

Red Mountain Trails – Sharon Land Trust

Red Mountain Trails – Sharon Land Trust

Although the map shows the trails in different colors and names to distinguish them from one another, they are all blazed white, with the exception of the newly added Cliff Loop Extension (shown as green on the map). If hiking the entire trail system it’s basically an out and back if starting at either trailhead or a point to point if you have a vehicle at each trailhead. The new section of trail (completed in the summer of 2020) is marked with round white discs that have directional arrows in the center and can be used to complete a semi loop.

Cliff Loop Extension - Red Mountain Trails

Cliff Loop Extension – Red Mountain Trails

The Red Mountain Trail System is managed and maintained by the Sharon Land Trust.


Hike Overview:

Always scouring the internet for new places to hike, I ran across this one on another hiking blog. The images of the views was enough to convince me to give it a try. Although the last viewpoint, is about a 3/4-mile into the hike, the rest of the hike was worth doing as well.

Mary Moore Lookout

Mary Moore Lookout

The viewpoint aside, the scenic landscape, the absence of crowds and the well marked trails, make for a very enjoyable hike through the woods.

Cliff Loop Extension - Sharon Land Trust

Cliff Loop Extension – Sharon Land Trust

This hike begins and ends at the Mary Moore Preserve Trailhead where there is room for about 4 vehicles.

Mary Moore Preserve – Sharon Land Trust

Mary Moore Preserve – Sharon Land Trust

Red Mountain Trails – Sharon Land Trust

Red Mountain Trails – Sharon Land Trust

Red Mountain Trails – Sharon Land Trust

Red Mountain Trails – Sharon Land Trust


The Hike:

Please Note: The beginning of the hike follows the fence line along the pasture. The fence is electrified, keep pets and children away from it. The field on the other side of the fence is part of the Mary Moore Preserve, but it is actively used for cattle farming. You may see cows grazing in the pasture and the electric fence will keep hikers on the right side of the trail.

Mary Moore Lookout Trail - Sharon Land Trust

Mary Moore Lookout Trail – Sharon Land Trust

To the right of the kiosk follow the white blazes up the hill alongside the fence. You will be following the white blazes for the entire hike. As the trail approaches a house, turn left following along the electric fence, continuing uphill towards the woods. Looking to your left, views towards Beardsley Pond and beyond start to open up.

Mary Moore Lookout Trail - Sharon Land Trust

Mary Moore Lookout Trail – Sharon Land Trust

Mary Moore Lookout Trail - Sharon Land Trust

Mary Moore Lookout Trail – Sharon Land Trust

Mary Moore Lookout Trail - Sharon Land Trust

Mary Moore Lookout Trail – Sharon Land Trust

Beardsley Pond as viewed from the Mary Moore Lookout Trail

Beardsley Pond as viewed from the Mary Moore Lookout Trail

As the trail nears the woods, it turns left, following the fence line. You may want to take a minute and look across the hilly meadow to take in the view once again. As you walk along the fence, the view gets better.

Mary Moore Lookout Trail - Sharon Land Trust

Mary Moore Lookout Trail – Sharon Land Trust

Mary Moore Lookout Trail - Sharon Land Trust

Mary Moore Lookout Trail – Sharon Land Trust

Mary Moore Lookout Trail - Sharon Land Trust

Mary Moore Lookout Trail – Sharon Land Trust

Mary Moore Lookout Trail - Sharon Land Trust

Mary Moore Lookout Trail – Sharon Land Trust

Mary Moore Lookout Trail - Sharon Land Trust

Mary Moore Lookout Trail – Sharon Land Trust

Mary Moore Lookout Trail - Sharon Land Trust

Mary Moore Lookout Trail – Sharon Land Trust

At the end of the fence, the trail leaves what is known as the upper meadow and ducks into the woods. Follow the white blazes as they pass through a collapsed stone wall and head northeast. In about 630 feet, the trail comes to a junction marked by a sign. To the left is your return route, for now, continue ahead towards Lookout/Stone House Road.

Mary Moore Lookout Trail - Sharon Land Trust

Mary Moore Lookout Trail – Sharon Land Trust

Mary Moore Lookout Trail - Sharon Land Trust

Mary Moore Lookout Trail – Sharon Land Trust

The trail begins a steady ascent of Red Mountain, sometimes on switchbacks. In about 1,000 feet from the junction, the trail reaches the Mary Moore Lookout. 

DSC04709_HDR_marked

Mary Moore Lookout Trail – Sharon Land Trust

You have now hiked about 3/4 of a mile and gained about 275 feet in elevation. This is a good spot to take a break and enjoy the view. From this spot, you can see the South Taconic Mountains of Massachusetts, Connecticut and New York. One can see farmland, spread out along the flatlands, their red barns and silos with cows grazing in the nearby fields.

Mary Moore Lookout

Mary Moore Lookout

Mary Moore Lookout

Mary Moore Lookout

Mary Moore Lookout

Mary Moore Lookout

When you are ready to continue, follow the white blazes along the edge of the woods. The trail leaves the meadow, reenters the woods and continues a steady ascent of Red Mountain.

Mary Moore Lookout Trail - Sharon Land Trust

Mary Moore Lookout Trail – Sharon Land Trust

Mary Moore Lookout Trail - Sharon Land Trust

Mary Moore Lookout Trail – Sharon Land Trust

Mary Moore Lookout Trail - Sharon Land Trust

Mary Moore Lookout Trail – Sharon Land Trust

Mary Moore Lookout Trail - Sharon Land Trust

Mary Moore Lookout Trail – Sharon Land Trust

Mary Moore Lookout Trail - Sharon Land Trust

Mary Moore Lookout Trail – Sharon Land Trust

The trail levels off briefly, skirting the steep slopes.

Mary Moore Lookout Trail - Sharon Land Trust

Mary Moore Lookout Trail – Sharon Land Trust

Mary Moore Lookout Trail - Sharon Land Trust

Mary Moore Lookout Trail – Sharon Land Trust

Mary Moore Lookout Trail - Sharon Land Trust

Mary Moore Lookout Trail – Sharon Land Trust

In another 1/2 a mile (from the lookout) the trail reaches another junction, the other end of the Cliff Loop. If you only want to do a 2.5 mile loop, turn left. If you wish to extend the hike, continue ahead. The continuation of the hike described here, is an out and back which will return you to this spot. 

Mary Moore Lookout Trail - Sharon Land Trust

Mary Moore Lookout Trail – Sharon Land Trust

The trail continues to climb, but on a more moderate grade. At the top of the rise, you will reach an elevation of about 1302 feet above sea level, the highest point reached during this hike. The trail levels off briefly, then begins a steady descent into White Hollow, passing through the Wikes Preserve and entering the Hamlin Preserve. There are no signs indicating when you are entering or leaving any of the three preserves.

Mary Moore Lookout Trail - Sharon Land Trust

Mary Moore Lookout Trail – Sharon Land Trust

Mary Moore Lookout Trail - Sharon Land Trust

Mary Moore Lookout Trail – Sharon Land Trust

Mary Moore Lookout Trail - Sharon Land Trust

Mary Moore Lookout Trail – Sharon Land Trust

Mary Moore Lookout Trail - Sharon Land Trust

Mary Moore Lookout Trail – Sharon Land Trust

Wike Connector Trail - Sharon Land Trust

Wike Connector Trail – Sharon Land Trust

Wike Connector Trail - Sharon Land Trust

Wike Connector Trail – Sharon Land Trust

At the base of the descent, the trail turns left on an old woods road and climbs gradually. In about another 400 feet, the trail reaches a junction, marked by a sign. 

Wike Connector Trail - Sharon Land Trust

Wike Connector Trail – Sharon Land Trust

Hamlin Bear Trail - Sharon Land Trust

Hamlin Bear Trail – Sharon Land Trust

This was our turn around spot. If you would like to extend the hike, you can continue on. If not, retrace your steps along the woods road for about 400 feet, turn right on the footpath which ascends steeply.

Hamlin Bear Trail - Sharon Land Trust

Hamlin Bear Trail – Sharon Land Trust

From this junction that leaves the woods road (Wike Connector Trail on map), it is about 1.6 miles back to your vehicle at the Mary Moore Preserve trailhead.

Hamlin Bear Trail - Sharon Land Trust

Hamlin Bear Trail – Sharon Land Trust

Wike Connector Trail - Sharon Land Trust

Wike Connector Trail – Sharon Land Trust

After retracing your steps, you will arrive at the Cliff Loop junction. Turn right here and follow the white blazes marked with directional arrows. This section of trail, also know as the Cliff Loop Extension, was completed in the summer of 2020. 

Cliff Loop Extension - Sharon Land Trust

Cliff Loop Extension – Sharon Land Trust

Cliff Loop Extension - Sharon Land Trust

Cliff Loop Extension – Sharon Land Trust

The trail descends the mountain gradually, passing large rocks along the trail and cliffs to the right that are strewn with boulders. 

Cliff Loop Extension - Sharon Land Trust

Cliff Loop Extension – Sharon Land Trust

Cliff Loop Extension - Sharon Land Trust

Cliff Loop Extension – Sharon Land Trust

Cliff Loop Extension - Sharon Land Trust

Cliff Loop Extension – Sharon Land Trust

Soon the trail turns left, heading southwest  and passes through a lovely section of trail that was carefully laid out by volunteers of the Sharon Land Trust in 2020. 

Cliff Loop Extension - Sharon Land Trust

Cliff Loop Extension – Sharon Land Trust

Cliff Loop Extension - Sharon Land Trust

Cliff Loop Extension – Sharon Land Trust

About 1/2 mile from the junction, the trail leaves the woods and enters the lower end of the meadow, beneath the Mary Moore Lookout. 

Cliff Loop Extension - Sharon Land Trust

Cliff Loop Extension – Sharon Land Trust

continue along through the field, staying close to the trees. You will soon see wooden posts with white blazes. To the right, Beardsley Pond is visible through the trees.

Cliff Loop Extension - Sharon Land Trust

Cliff Loop Extension – Sharon Land Trust

Cliff Loop Extension - Sharon Land Trust

Cliff Loop Extension – Sharon Land Trust

Cliff Loop Extension - Sharon Land Trust

Cliff Loop Extension – Sharon Land Trust

At the end of the field, the trail turns left on a footpath, but continue ahead just a few feet and check out the  Chinkapin Oak. This Chinkapin Oak is listed as a Connecticut State Champion Tree. It is around 150 years old, 151 inches in circumference, and 92 feet high with a spread of 101 feet.

Chinkapin Oak - Sharon Land Trust

Chinkapin Oak – Sharon Land Trust

Chinkapin Oak - Sharon Land Trust

Chinkapin Oak – Sharon Land Trust

When you are done follow the white blazes uphill for about 500 feet. DO NOT continue on the woods road past the tree. 

Cliff Loop - Sharon Land Trust

Cliff Loop – Sharon Land Trust

Cliff Loop - Sharon Land Trust

Cliff Loop – Sharon Land Trust

Cliff Loop - Sharon Land Trust

Cliff Loop – Sharon Land Trust

When the Cliff Loop comes to a T-Intersection, turn right, now retracing your steps from the beginning of the hike. In about 630 feet, the trail reaches the upper meadow. Turn left and follow the fence line as it wraps around the pasture, stopping every so often to get one last look at the lovely views.

Mary Moore Lookout Trail - Sharon Land Trust

Mary Moore Lookout Trail – Sharon Land Trust

Mary Moore Lookout Trail - Sharon Land Trust

Mary Moore Lookout Trail – Sharon Land Trust

Mary Moore Lookout Trail - Sharon Land Trust

Mary Moore Lookout Trail – Sharon Land Trust

Mary Moore Lookout Trail - Sharon Land Trust

Mary Moore Lookout Trail – Sharon Land Trust

Mary Moore Lookout Trail - Sharon Land Trust

Mary Moore Lookout Trail – Sharon Land Trust

Follow the fence line down the hill, back to the parking area where the hike began.

Mary Moore Lookout Trail - Sharon Land Trust

Mary Moore Lookout Trail – Sharon Land Trust


Review:

This is a really nice hike with great views and scenic landscape. The trails and preserves are very well kept and maintained. Not one bit of trash was observed anywhere on the day of our visit. The trails are well blazed with signs at all the junctions. Very quiet woods with minimal foot traffic. This hidden gem is well worth the visit and is suitable for most hikers. Whether you just want to do a short out and back of 1.5 miles to the Mary Moore Lookout, Cliff Loop (2.5 miles from Mary Moore parking area) or a much longer hike to Stone House Road and back, you will not be disappointed.

Pros:

Panoramic views of three states, well marked trails, litter free and well maintained preserves, minimal foot traffic.

Cons:

Small parking area, but that is probably for the best.


Take a hike!

Red Mountain Trails – Sharon Land Trust

Red Mountain Trails – Sharon Land Trust


Sources:

 

Mount Nimham Fire Tower Loop

March 21, 2021 – Carmel Hamlet, NY

Difficulty: Moderate

Length: Approximately 2.3 miles

Max elevation: 1356 ft.– total elevation gain approximately 440 ft.

Route type: Circuit

Maps: Ninham Mountain MUA DEC Trail MapNinham Mountain MUA Trail Map

Trailhead parking: Ninham Mountain Multiple Use Area
Mt. Ninham Court, Carmel Hamlet, NY 10512


Overview:

The 1,054-acre Nimham Mountain Multiple Use Area is very popular with bikers, hikers and horseback riders and has an extensive network of trails and old roads. Forest cover is mainly mixed hardwoods with some conifer plantations. Please be aware that forest management activities, such as timber thinning or harvesting, may disrupt trail use at times. The forests here are managed to produce forest crops, maintain diverse wildlife habitats, protect water quality and provide recreational opportunities.

Mount Nimham is a sprawling promenade located in the middle of the Town of Kent. The ridge consists of three separate summits with the center summit being the tallest. It forms the southwestern wall of the valley known as Whang Hollow. It is the highest point in the Town of Kent and is well known for its steep slopes and high ridge lines. The mountain boasts rocky outcrops, deep gorges and high ridges. It is dotted with glacial erratics and boulder fields.  
Please note: This Multiple Use Area is also heavily used by hunters in season.

The name was recently changed from “Ninham” to “Nimham” to correct a long standing spelling error.

Nimham Mountain Multiple Use Area - outdated sign

Nimham Mountain Multiple Use Area – outdated sign

Located at the 1273 ft. summit of Nimham Mountain is an 82-ft. 6-inch steel tower that is open to the public. With 360° views of the Hudson Valley and the Catskills visible in the distance, makes the Mount Nimham Fire Tower the primary point of interest when visiting. From the top of the fire tower there are outstanding views of the surrounding countryside. To the east lies Whang Hollow, including Pine Pond, Townsend Ridge, Barrett Hill, Beaver Hill, and Hemlock Ledge; to the north, Stockholm Hill and Little and Big Buck Mountains; to the west, Clear Pool and the Boyd Reservoir and Dam; and to the south, Coles Mills and the West Branch Reservoir.

Mount Nimham Fire Tower

Mount Nimham Fire Tower


History:

Originally known locally as Smalley’s Hill, the mountain is named after Chief Daniel Nimham, the greatest Wappinger Sachem and a true American hero. A patriot, Chief Nimham fought and gave his life for American independence, despite having lost his ancestral homeland to the Philipse family and the very settlers he was fighting for. It is reported that Chief Nimham came to this mountain on every birthday he celebrated, climbing to the top to proclaim all that could be seen as the ancestral homeland of the Wappinger.

Chief Daniel Nimham

Chief Daniel Nimham

The original old growth forest was cleared to create planting and grazing fields, with the wood used to build shelters, fuel fireplaces, and provide a source of revenue for the farmers. In addition, mining operations were conducted to remove serpentine and mineral deposits, particularly arsenic. When farming declined in the early 1900’s, New York State purchased the old farmland and eventually designated the majority of the mountain as a Multiple Use Area.

Mount Nimham Fire Tower:

A road to the top of the mountain was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in 1940. The CCC from camp P-135 in Peekskill, NY (Tompkins Corners from 1-5-38 to 1-15-42), received the 82 ½ foot tower and by the end of the 1940 work season, the tower, an observer’s cabin, and a phone line were all constructed. The station went into service in 1941 and in its first year reported 73 fires. 

Mount Ninham’s tower soon became a popular destination for the public as it offered great views in all directions. The tower remained in service into the 1970’s when the observer’s position became more of an assistant Forest Ranger (much like many in the State), and the tower was staffed on those higher fire danger days. Officially paid as an observer, the tower’s staffing reportedly ended after the 1988 fire season and the tower was officially closed in early 1989 when the Department of Environmental Conservation determined that fire towers were no longer effective and decided to phase them out of service.

Roster of Nimham Fire Tower by Bill Starr

Roster of Nimham Fire Tower by Bill Starr

Shortly after its official closure, vandals moved in and destruction took its course, first damaging the tower & windows. The observer’s cabin was broken into and burned in 1994. The tower sat derelict for a number of years with rumors of its removal being held up by NYS Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation. The Kent Conservation Advisory Committee restored the tower in 2005 and the official re-dedication was held on July 24, 2005. Mount Nimham Fire Tower is currently open to the public and is on the the National Historic Lookout Register.

Mount Nimham Fire Tower

Mount Nimham Fire Tower

The Kent Conservation Foundation owns the formal stewardship agreement to maintain the Nimham fire lookout tower and coordinates volunteer activities to keep this old fire lookout tower open and accessible to the public. Today, the Kent Conservation Foundation, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization, maintains this historic fire lookout tower through donations. Their main goal is the raise enough funds to repaint the entire structure to continue to protect the steel from aging and weathering. It was last fully painted in 2004 and it is due for a repaint. They do regular maintenance painting to cover graffiti and keep the fire tower looking neat as well as maintain the stone chamber near the parking lot.


Trails Overview:

The Ninham Multiple Use Area is bisected by Gipsy Trail Road and has approximately 10 miles of trails and unpaved forest access roads that allow for multiple kinds of recreation. To the west, from the Mount Nimham Court parking area, two north-south main dirt fire roads begin from the parking area. The fire roads pass through old fields, deciduous woods, and by a small pond. There is an extensive network of single track trails that branch off from the main fire roads that are used by hikers, bikers and horseback riders. To the east, from the Gipsy Trail Rd parking area, there are more trails to explore.

Please note: There are so many trails that snake through the mountain, some insufficiently blazed or not at all, that if venturing off the main fire roads, it is strongly advised to carry a trail map and a compass to avoid getting lost.

Nimham Mountain Multiple Use Area Trails

Nimham Mountain Multiple Use Area Trails

There are four access points that allow parking at the Ninham Multiple Use Area. They are as follows:


Hike Overview:

Having visited the Catfish Fire Tower in the Delaware Water Gap the previous weekend, I was in the mood to enjoy some more 360° views from another tower. This also made for a wonderful alternative to some of the more popular and crowded hiking spots in the Hudson Valley. When we arrived at the trailhead at approximately 8am, there were several cars already there and saw a runner leaving his vehicle at that time. At the summit, we saw a lone hiker that stopped briefly and upon our return to the trailhead, at the completion of our hike, we saw several people just embarking on their hike. 

This is a short loop hike utilizing Tower Road and an old DEC trail that is primarily used by mountain bikers. This trail is marked with sporadic blue DEC blazes, but the single track trail is well worn and relatively easy to follow. We did not encounter any bikers, but there were fresh tire tracks visible.

Mount Nimham Fire Tower Loop

Mount Nimham Fire Tower Loop

elevation profile - Mount Nimham Fire Tower Loop

elevation profile – Mount Nimham Fire Tower Loop

Helpful Hint: I used Gaia GPS (free app) to help navigate this trail as their map layers show most if not all of the trails on this property.

Blue DEC trail marker - Nimham Mountain Multiple Use Area

Blue DEC trail marker – Nimham Mountain Multiple Use Area

If you are unsure of your navigational skills, you can simply return on the fire road, retracing your steps after visiting the tower.  


The Hike:

There is a stone chamber right at the parking area. This one is different than others that I have seen. This steel roofed chamber was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) as a storage locker for equipment when they were working on building the fire tower and other functions on Nimham Mountain. Unlike the mysterious stone chambers that are found throughout the area, this stone structure has mortared stones, steel beams across the interior ceiling and a corrugated steel roof.

Stone Chamber - Nimham Mountain Multiple Use Area

Stone Chamber – Nimham Mountain Multiple Use Area

From the parking area, proceed past the gate to the right of the kiosk. This is shown on the map as “Tower Road.” The road, built in 1940 by the Civilian Conservation Corps, snakes its way up Ninham Mountain. 

Kiosk - Nimham Mountain Multiple Use Area

Kiosk – Nimham Mountain Multiple Use Area

Tower Road - Nimham Mountain Multiple Use Area

Tower Road – Nimham Mountain Multiple Use Area

Tower Road - Nimham Mountain Multiple Use Area

Tower Road – Nimham Mountain Multiple Use Area

In about 200 yards or so, just off the trail on the right, is another stone chamber. In the warmer months, this chamber may be obscured by foliage and difficult to see. You may want to stop and check out this interesting historical feature.

Stone Chamber - Tower Road

Stone Chamber – Tower Road

Stone Chamber - Tower Road

Stone Chamber – Tower Road

Tower Road continues climbing and after about 0.7 mile and nearly 350-ft. of elevation gain, the road reaches the fire tower.

Tower Road – Nimham Mountain Multiple Use Area

Tower Road – Nimham Mountain Multiple Use Area

Mount Nimham Fire Tower

Mount Nimham Fire Tower

Mount Nimham Fire Tower is an International Derrick Model 1937, made of Carnegie Steel. The design of the 1937 model is entirely a U.S. Forest Service design making minor changes from the model 1933 design.

Mount Nimham Fire Tower

Mount Nimham Fire Tower

The stairway configuration on the International Derricks rises up from the ground running from corner to corner inside the fire tower’s superstructure between small triangular landings. The stairway design created safety concerns and became unpopular with state officials. As a result of these concerns, when the state purchased ten new fire towers between 1948 and 1950, the Aermotor LS-40 fire tower was chosen.

Mount Nimham Fire Tower

Mount Nimham Fire Tower

Mount Nimham Fire Tower

Mount Nimham Fire Tower

After climbing more than 100 steps to the cab of the roofless fire tower, one is greeted with 360° views, that makes the climb worthwhile.

Mount Nimham Fire Tower

Mount Nimham Fire Tower

Looking south towards the West Branch Reservoir from Mount Nimham Fire Tower.

West Branch Reservoir from Mount Nimham Fire Tower

West Branch Reservoir from Mount Nimham Fire Tower

The Catskill Mountains to the northwest.

Catskill Mountains from Mount Nimham Fire Tower

Catskill Mountains from Mount Nimham Fire Tower

Looking southwest.

View west towards Clear Pool and the surrounding hills

View west towards Clear Pool and the surrounding hills

Looking north.

View north towards Big Buck Mountain

View north towards Big Buck Mountain

Not far from the fire tower is the survey marker.

Nimham Mountain survey marker

Nimham Mountain survey marker

We didn’t spot any raptors, but did see several Eastern Bluebirds while relaxing near the base of the tower.

Eastern Bluebird - Nimham Mountain summit

Eastern Bluebird – Nimham Mountain summit

Eastern Bluebird - Nimham Mountain summit

Eastern Bluebird – Nimham Mountain summit

When you are ready to continue, retrace your steps along Tower Road. In about 500 feet from the tower, look for a footpath that goes off to the right. Follow the footpath as it leads away from the fire road then begins to parallel it. You may begin to see some blue DEC markers. Soon the trail begins to run along an old stone wall, bordering private property as it descends. 

turn right on a footpath, leaving Tower Road

turn right on a footpath, leaving Tower Road

Blue DEC trail marker - Nimham Mountain Multiple Use Area

Blue DEC trail marker – Nimham Mountain Multiple Use Area

along the Blue Trail

along the Blue Trail

Blue Trail - Nimham Mountain Multiple Use Area

Blue Trail – Nimham Mountain Multiple Use Area

There are some minor ups and downs along the trail as it zig-zags through the woods. Keep an eye out for mountain bikers.

Blue Trail – Nimham Mountain Multiple Use Area

Blue Trail – Nimham Mountain Multiple Use Area

The trail becomes better blazed as it descends, but it is well worn and relatively easy to follow for most of the way. 

Blue Trail – Nimham Mountain Multiple Use Area

Blue Trail – Nimham Mountain Multiple Use Area

Blue Trail – Nimham Mountain Multiple Use Area

Blue Trail – Nimham Mountain Multiple Use Area

In about 0.8 mile from the start of the Blue Trail, it comes to a T-intersection. Turn left and a short distance later, the trail widens to a woods road bordered by stone walls.  

Blue Trail – Nimham Mountain Multiple Use Area

Blue Trail – Nimham Mountain Multiple Use Area

In about another 750 feet, the trail reaches Tower Road, directly opposite of the stone chamber that you passed on the way up. Turn right and follow Tower Road back to the parking area, where the hike began.

turn right on Tower Road

turn right on Tower Road

Tower Road – Nimham Mountain Multiple Use Area

Tower Road – Nimham Mountain Multiple Use Area


Review:

A nice walk up the fire road to outstanding views from the fire tower. The return on the Blue Trail was more of a true hike through the woods. If you enjoy fire towers and the views that they provide, this place is definitely worth a visit. I plan on a return visit to explore more of the trails. 

Pros:

Mount Nimham Fire Tower, 360° views, stone chambers, not as crowded as other fire towers in the region.

Cons:

Side trails could be better blazed.


Take a hike!

Mount Nimham Fire Tower Loop

Mount Nimham Fire Tower Loop


Sources:


Catfish Fire Tower – Delaware Water Gap

March 14, 2021 – Hardwick Township, NJ

Difficulty: Moderate

Length: Approximately 4.5 miles

Max elevation: 1,560 ft.– total elevation gain approximately 528 ft.

Route type: Out and back

Map: Delaware Water Gap & Kittatinny Trails Map – 2021

Trailhead parking: Appalachian Trail, Millbrook Road, Hardwick Township, NJ 07825


Overview:

The Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, spanning Pennsylvania and New Jersey, is a unique unit of the national park system. It takes its name from the iconic geological feature at its southern end, Delaware Water Gap. The Delaware Water Gap encompasses nearly 70,000 acres of breathtaking scenery along 40 miles of the Delaware River, which winds through the Appalachian Mountains. The park features waterfalls and many outdoor activities, including canoeing, hiking, camping, swimming, biking, cross-country skiing, fishing and more.

The most prominent geographical features of Northern New Jersey are the Kittatinny Mountains, and its foothills in the NJ Highlands. Known to the Lenni Lenape as Kittatinny, or “endless mountain,” the Ridge provides a bounty of recreational opportunities. Catfish Mountain is a peak of the Kittatinny Mountains in Warren County, NJ. The mountain stands at an elevation 1,560 feet. It lies along the Appalachian Trail in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. The Kittatinny Valley (also called the Limestone Valley) lies almost directly to the east of the trail, while the Delaware Water Gap lies to its west.

At the summit of Catfish Mountain is the Catfish Fire Tower. The Appalachian Trail runs right alongside it and makes for a great point of interest for hikers passing through. On a clear day, you can see the Catskill Mountains to the north and the Poconos to the west. The Tower, also known as Catfish Station was constructed in 1922, replacing a wooden tower. In 1993 the 7×7-foot cab was rebuilt on this 60’ Aermotor LS-40 tower. 

Catfish Fire Tower

Catfish Fire Tower


History:

Though set aside as an area for outdoor recreation, the land of this park is rich in history.

The park encompasses significant Native American archeological sites, several of which have been investigated.

A number of structures also remain from early Dutch settlement and the colonial contact period. The entire region was a frontier of the French & Indian War. Historic rural villages from the 18th and 19th centuries remain intact on the New Jersey side, and landscapes of past settlements are scattered throughout the park.

In the 19th century, the village of Delaware Water Gap was a focus of the early resort industry fostered by the railroads. Even today the region is known for its vacation appeal.

In 1960 the Army Corps of Engineers set upon a mission to build a dam at Tocks Island, just north of the Water Gap. This dam would control water levels for hydroelectric power generation and create a 37 mile lake for use as a reservoir. A smaller surrounding recreation area, to make a more “cost effective” dam, would be administered by the National Park Service.

Tens of millions of dollars were appropriated and work began to prepare the area for flooding. Three to five thousand dwellings were demolished. Some fifteen thousand people were displaced, many of whom represented 300 years and 13 generations of history and culture in the Upper Delaware Valley. A serene region of farms, hamlets and villages along a free flowing river was systematically dismantled as part of a plan that was eventually shelved. There was passionate opposition from many corners to the government’s agenda. Some of the more visible historical homes were temporarily spared only to be destroyed by squatters and arsonists. For 18 years the valley was the site of a bizarre free-for-all with an unpredictable outcome.

Finally, in 1978 the project was deemed economically & environmentally unsound, and the government, instead of selling back the remaining 83 homes to original owners, transferred the properties to the National Park Service. The Delaware River was placed under the protection of the Scenic Rivers Act.


Trails Overview:

The Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area has more than 100 miles of hiking trails along streams, ridges, and mountaintops. The trails are of varying difficulty and any number of loop hikes can be achieved using connecting trails.

The Appalachian National Scenic Trail (AT) extends along the spine of the Appalachian Mountains from Springer Mountain, Georgia to Mt. Katahdin in Baxter State Park, Maine. Of the 2,174 miles of trail, 28 miles are within the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. Whether hiking for a couple of hours, for the day, or for the entire length of the trail, the AT provides opportunities for majestic views, wildlife sightings, and hiking challenges.

Appalachian Trail - Delaware Water Gap

Appalachian Trail – Delaware Water Gap


Hike Overview:

This hike begins where the white-blazed Appalachian Trail (AT) crosses Millbrook Road and heads south. Here, a gravel road, blocked by a gate (marked “Fire Road – Do Not Block”), goes off to the left (if coming from the south). Limited parking is available at the trailhead, but if no spaces are available, continue north for another 500 feet to a second parking area on the right side of the road where the AT leaves the road.

Appalachian Trail - Millbrook Road

Appalachian Trail – Millbrook Road

This hike is a straightforward out and back, entirely on the Appalachian Trail (AT). The trail is well marked and easy to follow. The hike begins at Millbrook Road, travels south along the AT, past the Catfish Fire Tower and along the Kittatinny Ridge with several good view points along the way. The turn around spot is just past the junction with the Rattlesnake Swamp Trail.

Catfish Fire Tower – Delaware Water Gap

Catfish Fire Tower – Delaware Water Gap

The climb to reach the Kittatinny Ridge will be the most strenuous part of the hike, and it’s not that difficult and short lived. Once on the ridge, you’ll be rewarded with several scenic viewpoints including the Catfish Fire Tower which is a popular spot to stop and enjoy a picnic. From the fire tower, the rest of the way along the ridge consists of some minor ups and downs, so one can enjoy the scenic ridge walk without working too hard.

elevation profile - Catfish Fire Tower – Delaware Water Gap

elevation profile – Catfish Fire Tower – Delaware Water Gap

Please note: This hike can be done as a loop by returning on the Rattlesnake Swamp Trail. Keep in mind that the Rattlesnake Swamp Trail has numerous small stream crossings and the Rattlesnake Swamp can make this trail very wet. After the recent thaw and runoff, and speaking to several hikers that described the trail as extremely wet and mucky, we decided to skip this trail and retrace our steps along the AT.

This section of the AT is extremely rocky throughout. A good pair of hiking boots is thoroughly recommended.


The Hike:

Upon arriving at the trailhead, all the parking spots were taken. We drove about another 500 feet where the AT leaves the road and reenters the woods heading northbound. There is a small parking area there and that is where we began the hike. Leaving the parking area, we turned left and followed the white blazes along the road. In about 500 feet, the AT crosses the road at the other parking area by the fire road.

Millbrook Road, westbound parking area

Millbrook Road, westbound parking area

Appalachian Trail - Millbrook Road

Appalachian Trail – Millbrook Road

From the gate, proceed ahead on the gravel road, marked with the white blazes of the Appalachian Trail (A.T.). In about a quarter of a mile, the road curves sharply right and enters a rhododendron grove. A short distance beyond, the white blazes of the A.T. leave to the left

Appalachian Trail - Millbrook Road

Appalachian Trail – Millbrook Road

Appalachian Trail - southbound

Appalachian Trail – southbound

Appalachian Trail - southbound

Appalachian Trail – southbound

Appalachian Trail - southbound

Appalachian Trail – southbound

In about 0.4 mile from the gate, the AT turns left, leaving the fire road and begins climbing on a footpath. The fire road continues ahead and connects to the Rattlesnake Swamp Trail. The fire road can also be used as an alternative to the AT to reach the fire tower.

turn left on Appalachian Trail, leaving the fire road

turn left on Appalachian Trail, leaving the fire road

The AT now begins a steady ascent of Catfish Mountain on a rocky footpath bordered by Rhododendrons.

Appalachian Trail - Catfish Mountain

Appalachian Trail – Catfish Mountain

Appalachian Trail - Catfish Mountain

Appalachian Trail – Catfish Mountain

Appalachian Trail - Catfish Mountain

Appalachian Trail – Catfish Mountain

At approximately 0.6 mile, the AT turns left to rejoin the gravel fire road and then turns right 300 ft. later to reenter the woods on a footpath. 

Appalachian Trail - Catfish Mountain

Appalachian Trail – Catfish Mountain

Appalachian Trail turns right, leaving the fire road

Appalachian Trail turns right, leaving the fire road

We opted to remain on the fire road (left fork) which is a slightly longer route, but was more free of snow than was the AT. 

fire road - Catfish Mountain

fire road – Catfish Mountain

Soon the fire road rejoins the AT, which comes in from the right and climbs a little more to reach the site of the Catfish Fire Tower.

the fire road rejoins the Appalachian Trail

the fire road rejoins the Appalachian Trail

Approximately 1 mile from the gate and about 300 feet of elevation gain, the Appalachian Trail reaches Catfish Fire Tower. A picnic table near the base of the tower makes for a good spot to take a break before climbing the tower.

Catfish Fire Tower

Catfish Fire Tower

Built in 1922 to replace a wooden tower, the Catfish Fire Tower also known as Catfish Station, is one of the oldest in the state. At 60 feet tall, it is not the tallest fire tower in New Jersey. However, at an elevation of 1,560 feet above sea level, it is the highest.

Catfish Fire Tower

Catfish Fire Tower

In 1993, the Catfish Fire Tower’s 7×7-foot cab was rebuilt and the tower rededicated. Catfish Station continues to be an active fire tower today. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on December 15, 1997.

Catfish Fire Tower

Catfish Fire Tower

Fire Towers are considered to be the “Sentinels of the Ridge tops” as they are raised well above the ground so that the “lookout” in the tower can relay coordinates to firefighters as to where they are seeing smoke. Trained fire observers staff these towers and use an instrument called a Osborne Fire Finder, also known as an alidade, and topographical maps to triangulate the location of possible wildfires. After pin pointing a location ground crews go in and investigate to plan the appropriate action to be taken. At least one tower in each division is staffed when fire danger is moderate or higher and all towers are staffed during the months of March, April, May, October and November.

Catfish Fire Tower

Catfish Fire Tower

Catfish Fire Tower

Catfish Fire Tower

The cabin was locked on our visit, but the 360° views from just below it are wonderful. Below is an image looking at the Appalachian Trail traveling south.

view southwest from Catfish Fire Tower

view southwest from Catfish Fire Tower

A zoomed in view of Upper Yards Creek Reservoir and Mount Tammany.

view southwest from Catfish Fire Tower

view southwest from Catfish Fire Tower

A zoomed in view of Upper Yards Creek Reservoir

zoomed in view of Upper Yards Creek Reservoir from Catfish Fire Tower

zoomed in view of Upper Yards Creek Reservoir from Catfish Fire Tower

A southwestern view of the Kittatinny Ridge towards Pennsylvania. 

southwest view of the Kittatinny Ridge from Catfish Fire Tower

southwest view of the Kittatinny Ridge from Catfish Fire Tower

The Kittatinny Ridge looking northeast where the Appalachian Trail travels north.

northeast view of the Kittatinny Ridge from Catfish Fire Tower

northeast view of the Kittatinny Ridge from Catfish Fire Tower

A glider floating by in the early morning

A glider floating by in the early morning

If you had enough views and want to just do a short 2 mile hike, you can retrace your steps and return to your vehicle. If you wish to proceed, continue south on the AT along the ridge which is well marked and etched onto the surface of the ridge. From the fire tower, the AT embarks on a rocky footpath that at times can be real ankle breaker. The different size jagged rocks, ranging in size, makes you have to concentrate on where you place your feet. 

Appalachian Trail - Kittatinny Ridge

Appalachian Trail – Kittatinny Ridge

In about a 1/2 mile, there is a east-facing view of the Great Valley. This viewpoint is denoted on the NY/NJ Trail Conference map with a star ★. This makes for another great spot to take a break if you are so inclined.

1st viewpoint – Kittatinny Ridge

1st viewpoint – Kittatinny Ridge

1st viewpoint – Kittatinny Ridge

1st viewpoint – Kittatinny Ridge

1st viewpoint – Kittatinny Ridge

1st viewpoint – Kittatinny Ridge

Continuing south on the AT, it runs close enough to the edge of the ridge that there are plenty of limited and some more expansive views over the Great Valley to the east along this stretch of the trail, especially during leaf-off seasons.

Appalachian Trail – Kittatinny Ridge

Appalachian Trail – Kittatinny Ridge

Appalachian Trail – Kittatinny Ridge

Appalachian Trail – Kittatinny Ridge

Appalachian Trail – Kittatinny Ridge

Appalachian Trail – Kittatinny Ridge

Appalachian Trail – Kittatinny Ridge

Appalachian Trail – Kittatinny Ridge

Appalachian Trail – Kittatinny Ridge

Appalachian Trail – Kittatinny Ridge

Appalachian Trail – Kittatinny Ridge

Appalachian Trail – Kittatinny Ridge

In about 2 miles from the gate on Millbrook Road, the Appalachian Trail reaches the junction with the orange-blazed Rattlesnake Swamp Trail, marked with wooden posts.

AT/Rattlesnake Swamp Trail junction – Kittatinny Ridge

AT/Rattlesnake Swamp Trail junction – Kittatinny Ridge

There is a nice wide view over farms and forest in the valley below and along the ridge.

Appalachian Trail – Kittatinny Ridge

Appalachian Trail – Kittatinny Ridge

Upper Yards Creek Reservoir in the distance.

zoomed in view of Upper Yards Creek Reservoir from Appalachian Trail on the Kittatinny Ridge

zoomed in view of Upper Yards Creek Reservoir from Appalachian Trail on the Kittatinny Ridge

This marked our turn around spot, but if you prefer to continue a bit farther there are more views to be had. The AT eventually descends to Camp Road then climbs back up to the ridge.

Appalachian Trail – Kittatinny Ridge

Appalachian Trail – Kittatinny Ridge

Caution should be exercised along this section, especially in wet conditions, as the trail comes extremely close to the edge with a steep drop-off to one side. 

Appalachian Trail – Kittatinny Ridge

Appalachian Trail – Kittatinny Ridge

We relaxed here for a bit and chatted with several hikers that passed by. 

Appalachian Trail – Kittatinny Ridge

Appalachian Trail – Kittatinny Ridge

We then retraced our steps along the Appalachian Trail, stopping at every viewpoint again, as well as the Catfish Fire Tower. From the fire tower we descended the same way we came up and returned to the trailhead on Millbrook Road, where the hike began.

Catfish Fire Tower

Catfish Fire Tower

Review:

A great hike along the AT on the Kittatinny Ridge in the Delaware Water Gap. The 360° fire tower views are outstanding and the walk along the ridge offers many more. Relatively little foot traffic compared to the more popular hikes in the area. Worth the 1-1/2 hour drive from the Hudson Valley. The only downside was that the cab of the fire tower was locked and is only open when there is a ranger on duty.

Pros:

Catfish Fire Tower, 360° views from fire tower, historic Appalachian Trail, scenic ridgetop with numerous views, well marked trail.

Cons:

Cabin in fire tower is locked and not accessible unless there is a ranger on duty.


Take a hike!

Catfish Fire Tower – Delaware Water Gap

Catfish Fire Tower – Delaware Water Gap


Sources:

Stony Point Battlefield State Historic Site

December 24 & 27, 2020 – Stony Point, NY

Difficulty: Easy

Length: Approximately 2 miles

Max elevation: 151 ft.– total elevation gain approximately 180 ft.

Route type: Lollipop Loop

Free Web Map: Stony Point Battlefield State Historic Site MapStony Point Battlefield Interpretive Map

Trailhead parking: 44 Battlefield Rd, Stony Point, NY 10980


Stony Point Battlefield State Historic Site is located on a knobby promontory projecting into the Hudson River in the town of Stony Point, NY. It is the only preserved Revolutionary War battlefield in Rockland County. The site of a successful midnight assault led by Brigadier General “Mad” Anthony Wayne against a British Garrison on July 15-16, 1779. The site also hosts the oldest lighthouse (1826) in the Hudson Valley. The lighthouse is not presently open for tours, as repairs must be made.

Stony Point Battlefield State Historic Site

Stony Point Battlefield State Historic Site

Today, a portion of the original battlefield, where Sir Henry Clinton placed his earthworks and batteries, has been preserved as a New York State Park. In addition to an historic lighthouse from the early 19th century and memorial arch, the park also includes a museum dedicated to the battle located in the visitors center, and also hosts several educational programs like guided tours and historical reenactments, that can teach visitors about military and civilian life in Revolutionary America.

Admission to the site is free. Special events may have a separate charge. Please call ahead for information and seating reservations for special events as needed. The grounds are open daily from mid-April to the end of October. From November to mid-April, the site grounds are open Monday to Friday and closed on weekends, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Days. Call 845-786-2521 for information and hours of operation.

Please note: As an historic site, and a cemetery of Revolutionary War soldiers, they do not permit dogs or bicycles beyond the Memorial Arch, and no recreational games, or cooking fires are allowed.

Stony Point Battlefield State Historic Site

Stony Point Battlefield State Historic Site

There is good birding throughout the site year-round. Park in the parking lot when the site is open and enjoy birding throughout the grounds. You may park outside the grounds on the town’s Park Road, and walk into the site in the early morning, before dusk, or on weekends in the winter. Do not park on the sites drive, Battlefield Road, at any time as it is a marked tow-away zone. There are diverse habitats for birds including a freshwater swamp area at the entrance, woodlands, meadows, lawns and a small beach on the Hudson River on the south side of the peninsula. During winter, Bald Eagles roost in the trees near the river’s edge.

Bald Eagle - Stony Point Battlefield State Historic Site

Bald Eagle – Stony Point Battlefield State Historic Site


History:

Stony Point is a rocky prominence that extends about a 1/4-mile into the Hudson River. At high tide, Stony Point, surrounded by marshes, became an island connected to the mainland only by a narrow causeway. At its highest, the point is about 150 feet above sea level, and steep.

When the British captured this rocky peninsula in May 1779, they began to construct an earthen fortress intended to disrupt Washington’s Continental Army in the Hudson Highlands and block the King’s Ferry crossing below. Naturally defensible, Stony Point was further improved by the addition of two rows of abatis (trees laid branch-side towards the enemy), felled from the site. The first abatis formed the “outer” works, and extended into the water south of the point. The second abatis was half way on the promontory and enclosed the “upper” works, or the “table of the hill”. 

Two months later, on July 16, George Washington and Brigadier General “Mad” Anthony Wayne launched a daring nighttime assault that surprised the garrison and allowed American forces to gain control of the fort in under an hour. 

George Washington gave Wayne orders to take Stony Point in a midnight bayonet charge. Wayne would command a force of about 1,300 Light Infantrymen. The Light Infantry were hand-picked men from various Continental regiments that formed an elite corps of some of the best American soldiers. Washington gave Wayne instructions to send the Light Infantry in through three different points “with fixed Bayonets and Muskets unloaded.”

Shortly after midnight on July 16, 1779, the three columns moved out. One column proceeded around the island and approached from the south across the marsh at low tide, the second and third columns crossed the causeway. The larger second column advanced along the northern shore of the island while the third column positioned themselves in the center of the British defenses. Once in position, the third column fired shots to divert the attention of British defenders as the north and south columns advanced towards the heart of the garrison.

As Wayne’s column began to cross the marsh, they slugged through water that came up to their chests. The men pushed forward into the darkness. As soon as they came to the other side, they began to dash up the steep slopes towards the first line of British defenses. Within about a half-hour, the heaviest fighting had ended.

Lt. Colonel Francois de Fleury was the first man into the inner works and pulled down the British flag flying there and exclaimed, “The fort’s our own!” After more bloody hand to hand combat, it was clear that further resistance by the British was futile, and Lt. Colonel Henry Johnson and the British troops surrendered. By 1:00am, Stony Point was in American hands.

The battle resulted in 15 Americans killed and 83 wounded. The British had lost 20 killed, 74 wounded and 472 captured.

For more history of the Battle of Stony Point, see links at bottom of page.

Battle of Stony Point

Battle of Stony Point

In 1826, the first lighthouse on the Hudson River was constructed at historic Stony Point to mark the southern entrance to the Hudson Highlands. The completion of the Erie Canal the previous year, which linked New York City to America’s heartland, increased traffic on the Hudson River dramatically, and the need for navigational aids was paramount. The thirty-foot-tall octagonal Stony Point Lighthouse, built of blue split stone, was constructed by Thomas Phillips of New York City, at a cost of $3,350. There have been three keeper’s dwellings at Stony Point. The original six-room stone dwelling was torn down in 1879 and replaced by a dwelling on the flat land just west of the lighthouse. The second house was razed and replaced by another structure, built closer to the river in 1938.

The second lighthouse keeper’s home stood a few steps below the octagonal lighthouse. The house was enclosed by a picket fence. At the base of the light are a few guests or tourists.

Stony Point lighthouse circa 1910

Stony Point lighthouse circa 1910

The Lighthouse guided mariners through the narrow pass between Stony and Verplanck Points until 1925. In its 99 years, only one vessel ran aground, with no reported fatalities, a testament to the vigilance of the lightkeepers, notably Nancy Rose, who tended the light for 47 years.

Stony Point Lighthouse

Stony Point Lighthouse

Through the efforts of the Stony Point Battlefield State Historic Site, the Palisades Park Interstate Commission, and New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation, restoration of the lighthouse began in 1986. The exterior was repaired and painted, and the lantern was reglazed. On October 7, 1995, restoration was complete, and the light was activated for the first time in seventy years. The automated light, operated by solar power, beams a flash of light once every four seconds.

Stony Point Lighthouse

Stony Point Lighthouse

The movement for the acquisition of Stony Point as a state park began in 1895. The property was acquired through the American Scenic and Historic Preservation Society (ASHPS), which became the trustees of the original 35 acres of property. In 1898, the state began acquiring land associated with the Battle of Stony Point, including the oldest lighthouse built along the Hudson River, which dates to 1826 and belonged to the federal government. By 1978, the state had amassed 87 acres. After subsequent land acquisitions, the current site is now comprised of 137 acres. The state historic site opened to the public in 1902 and the museum, featuring exhibits about the battle and the lighthouse, was built in 1936. It was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1961.

The site is now operated as Stony Point Battlefield State Historic Site and is a beautiful mix of woods and tended lawns, with commanding panoramic views of the Hudson River looking north to the Hudson Highlands and south to Haverstraw Bay. The site features a self-guided walking trail and a museum displaying artifacts uncovered during archaeological digs. Also on the grounds is the Stony Point Lighthouse, the Hudson River’s oldest, which protected the southern entrance to the Hudson Highlands from 1826 to 1925.

Kings Ferry Overlook

Kings Ferry Overlook

 

Museum - Stony Point Battlefield State Historic Site

Museum – Stony Point Battlefield State Historic Site

 

Stony Point lighthouse

Stony Point lighthouse


Trails Overview:

Most of the trails are paved paths that lead visitors throughout the site. There are several grassy footpaths as well. This State Historic Site is geared more towards people that are looking for a leisurely walk with Hudson River views and learning about American History. On any given day during the winter, one can spot Bald Eagles riding on rising columns of warm air known as thermals or perched in the trees.

There is also a self-guided walking tour. This tour brings you from the fort’s outer works, around the southern crest of the point, up to the lighthouse, around the north end of the point and returns to the outer works, with illustrated interpretive signs along the way describing the defensive positions, batteries, and accounts of the British soldiers who manned them. On this path, visitors pass the spot where Wayne entered the fort, where Lieutenant colonel de Fleury struck the British colors, and where Colonel Febiger accepted the surrender of Lieutenant Colonel Johnson, the Crown commander. Behind the museum, a spur path brings you out to the King’s Ferry Overlook and through the area where Colonel Butler’s column entered the fort.


Hike Overview:

Having been to this site on numerous occasions, I was looking for an easy walk with some Hudson River views and this spot fit the bill. This is a good place to just wander around, enjoy some fresh air and hopefully spot some Bald Eagles or Hawks. I visited the Site on Christmas Eve day while there was some snow on the ground and returned several days later after the rain washed away the snow. We parked in the lot on our first visit and on Park Road when we returned on the 27th. It’s a nice walk up Battlefield Road which follows the shore of the fresh water wetlands. 

Stony Point Battlefield State Historic Site

Stony Point Battlefield State Historic Site


Points of Interest:

  • Battlefield Road ~  This paved park road winds its way along the fresh water wetlands and makes for a pleasant walk if parking your vehicle on Park Road.
Battlefield Road

Battlefield Road

 

Battlefield Road

Battlefield Road

  • Fresh Water Wetlands ~ There are diverse habitats for birds including a freshwater swamp area at the entrance. Great Blue Herons, Wood Ducks, Belted Kingfishers and Canadian Geese are just a few of the birds that one can spot along this area.
fresh water wetlands

fresh water wetlands

  • Memorial Arch ~ Following the acquisition of the property, the Daughters of the Revolution of the State of New York, with the consent and under the supervision of the ASHPS, began the erection of a stone archway at the entrance to the reservation as a tribute to the memory of the American patriots who fought for American independence on that historic ground. 
Memorial Arch - Stony Point Battlefield State Historic Site

Memorial Arch – Stony Point Battlefield State Historic Site

The corner stone was put in place on October 17, 1908.

Memorial Arch - Stony Point Battlefield State Historic Site

Memorial Arch – Stony Point Battlefield State Historic Site

The Memorial Arch, designed by Mr. H.K. Bush-Brown of Newburgh, NY, and built out of native rock of Stony Point with the exception of some of the granite trimmings, stands at the entrance to the bridge which leads across the West Shore Railroad cut to the the Reservation. The masonry measures 32 feet in width, 12 feet in depth and 23 feet in height. The archway is 12 feet wide, 12 feet deep and 15 feet in height.

Memorial Arch – Stony Point Battlefield State Historic Site

Memorial Arch – Stony Point Battlefield State Historic Site

Over the archway is the inscription “Stony Point State Park.” Just underneath is “The fort’s our own,” The words that were said when the British flag was taken down. The keystone of the arch has the letters, “S N Y.”

Memorial Arch – Stony Point Battlefield State Historic Site

Memorial Arch – Stony Point Battlefield State Historic Site

On either side of the archway there are tablets that are now faded. The northern tablet bears the following inscription: STONY POINT, A BRITISH OUTPOST COMMANDING THE KING’S FERRY, ASSAULTED AND TAKEN, JULY 15-16, 1779 BY THE CORPS OF LIGHT INFANTRY COMMANDED BY ANTHONY WAYNE. RE-NAMED FORT WAYNE. ACQUIRED BY THE STATE OF NEW YORK 1897. THE AMERICAN SCENIC AND HISTORIC PRESERVATION SOC. CUSTODIAN.

Memorial Arch – Stony Point Battlefield State Historic Site

Memorial Arch – Stony Point Battlefield State Historic Site

The southern tablet bears the following inscription: THE SOCIETY DAUGHTERS OF THE REVOLUTION OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK ERECTED THIS GATEWAY, GRATEFULLY COMMEMORATING THE SACRIFICES OF PATRIOTS FOR AMERICAN INDEPENDENCE AND THEIR GALLANT ACTION AT THIS PLACE. DEDICATED AND PRESENTED TO THE STATE, 1909.

Memorial Arch – Stony Point Battlefield State Historic Site

Memorial Arch – Stony Point Battlefield State Historic Site

  • Stone Gazebo ~ From a gazebo at the southern crest of the point, visitors can view the majestic Hudson River and the hills of Westchester and Rockland Counties. This stone gazebo dates back to at least 1908.
Stone Gazebo

Stone Gazebo

  • Horse Trough ~ Located near the museum on the circular drive, it is not your standard horse trough, as one can see in the images below. Rocks were used to build the trough as well as the wall behind it. The trough dates to about 1902, when the battlefield opened to the public. Many visitors arrived by boat at the landing on the north side of the peninsula and were taken by horse and wagon up the steep slope to the battlefield site. Horses could quench their thirst at the trough. To accommodate human thirst, a water fountain is located on the opposite side.
Horse Trough

Horse Trough

 

Horse Trough

Horse Trough

  • Stony Point Lighthouse ~ Stony Point Lighthouse, the oldest on the Hudson, marked the entrance to the Hudson Highlands for nearly a hundred years and was built in 1826. The lighthouse was decommissioned in 1925 and was acquired by the parks commission in 1941. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1979.
Stony Point Lighthouse

Stony Point Lighthouse

The specifications called for the construction of “an octagonal Pyramid, to be built of blue split stone and the best quick lime and sand mortar.” The building plan stated that the tower was to have three stories and a cellar for the storage of whale oil. A wooden stairway would lead from the first floor to the second, and a wooden ladder would connect the second floor with the lantern in the glass-enclosed top of the lighthouse. On December 1, 1826, the lighthouse, complete with copper roof and ventilator, was finished, at a cost of $3,350.

Stony Point Lighthouse

Stony Point Lighthouse

Benches near the lighthouse provide visitors with a place to relax and enjoy the south-facing views of the Hudson River Valley.

Bench by the lighthouse

Bench by the lighthouse

  • Stone Viewing Platform ~ At the northern crest of the point, visitors can enjoy north-facing views of the Hudson River from a stone viewing platform.
Stone Viewing Platform

Stone Viewing Platform

 

Stone Viewing Platform

Stone Viewing Platform

The stone platform also provides a good view of the lighthouse.

Stony Point Lighthouse

Stony Point Lighthouse

 

Stony Point Lighthouse

Stony Point Lighthouse

  • Picnic Shelter ~ The stone picnic shelter overlooking the Hudson River, is currently being renovated.
Picnic Shelter

Picnic Shelter

  • Museum ~ The stone museum was built in 1936 and is divided into two galleries: one for the Battle of Stony Point, and one for the nineteenth century lighthouse. The Battle Gallery hosts a number of artifacts – clay pipes, chevaux-de-frise remnants, musket balls, infantry camp axes, the sword of Colonel Brinkerhoff, and some of the artillery pieces Wayne’s men captured the night of the attack. The Lighthouse Gallery has panels explaining the 99-year history of the lighthouse, including photographs of its keepers, residence buildings, gardens, and lens. Special mention goes out to Nancy Rose, who maintained the light longer than anyone – nearly fifty years. In the gallery is an original fourth-order Fresnel lens beautifully restored by the United States Coast Guard, just like the one that would have been housed in the lighthouse to safely guide mariners into the Hudson Highlands.
Museum - Stony Point Battlefield State Historic Site

Museum – Stony Point Battlefield State Historic Site

On November 11, 1960, a plaque was mounted on a rock near the museum building. It reads: “This tablet is to commemorate the heroic capture of the fortress of Stony Point by troops of the light infantry under the command of Maj. Gen. ‘Mad’ Anthony Wayne the night of July 15-16, 1779.”

plaque near the museum

plaque near the museum

  • King’s Ferry Overlook ~ Behind the museum, a spur path brings visitors out to the King’s Ferry Overlook and through the area where Colonel Butler’s column entered the fort.
King’s Ferry Overlook

King’s Ferry Overlook

 

King’s Ferry Overlook

King’s Ferry Overlook

 

Kings Ferry Overlook

Kings Ferry Overlook

 

King’s Ferry Overlook

King’s Ferry Overlook

 

King’s Ferry Overlook

King’s Ferry Overlook

The hulk of an old fishing boat lies partially submerged in the river below. That wreck has been there since at least 2003. The name on the bow, which is no longer visible, once read: “King’s Ferry.”

King’s Ferry Overlook

King’s Ferry Overlook

  • Living History ~ On weekends from April to October, weather and staffing permitting, a living history soldier’s camp is open, highlighting 18th century military life. There are many hands-on activities including an artillery drill, cannon and musket firings, 18th century blacksmithing demonstrations, open fire camp cooking, gardening, military arts and children’s activities. Contact the Site for details and times at (845) 786-2521.
living history soldier's camp

living history soldier’s camp

 

living history soldier's camp

living history soldier’s camp

 

cannon

cannon

 

18th century blacksmithing demonstration

18th century blacksmithing demonstration

  • Birds of Prey ~ Thanks to conservation efforts, the Bald Eagle, which had been so close to extinction, has made a remarkable comeback, particularly on the Hudson River. One of the highlights of a winter visit to Stony Point is seeing Bald Eagles roosting in treetops or soaring overhead, attracted by the open water and plentiful fish. Turkey Vultures can be seen year round and Hawks during migration season in the early Fall.
Bald Eagle - Stony Point Battlefield State Historic Site

Bald Eagle – Stony Point Battlefield State Historic Site

 

Juvenile Bald Eagle

Juvenile Bald Eagle

 

Juvenile Bald Eagle

Juvenile Bald Eagle

 

Turkey Vulture

Turkey Vulture


Review:

There is a lot to do and see at Stony Point Battlefield State Historic Site. Visitors can visit the museum (when open), walk through the living history military camp, watch the live reenactments as uniformed interpreters fire muskets (when available). Signs are strategically placed around the site so visitors may conduct a self-guided walking tour. Step back in time and march in the footsteps of Brigadier General “Mad” Anthony Wayne and his soldiers as they charged up the hill and stand with the lightkeepers as they watched over the thousands of ships passing Stony Point every year, protecting our nation’s commerce. A great place to visit year round for the entire family.

Pros:

Historical features, Hudson River views, Stony Point Lighthouse, Bald Eagles.

Cons:

Limited Winter hours, Site closed Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day


Sources:


Putnam Memorial State Park

December 13, 2020 – Redding, Connecticut

Difficulty: Easy

Max elevation: 780 ft.

Free Web Map: Putnam Memorial State Park Trail Map (DEEP)

Avenza App Map (FREE): Putnam Memorial State Park Trail Map

Trailhead parking: 73-79 Putnam Park Rd, Redding, CT 06896


Park Overview:

Putnam Memorial State Park is a history-oriented public recreation area in the town of Redding, Connecticut. The state park preserves the site that Major General Israel Putnam chose as the winter encampment for his men in the winter of 1778-1779 during the American Revolutionary War. Putnam Memorial State Park, sometimes referred to as “Connecticut’s Valley Forge” in view of the fact that the conditions that winter were more severe than the previous Winter at Valley Forge. It is Connecticut’s oldest state park, created in 1887 at the instigation of Redding town residents. The park was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1970.

Putnam Memorial State Park

Putnam Memorial State Park

In addition to the remains of the encampment, reconstructed log buildings, and a museum, the park’s 183 acres include facilities for hiking, picnic tables, charcoal grills, pond fishing, and winter sports. The park is located at the intersection of Route 107 and Route 58 and is managed by the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. The park is open from 8am to sunset. Visitors Center and Museum is open daily 10am – 5pm.

Putnam Memorial State Park

Putnam Memorial State Park


History Of The Park:

The movement to preserve and memorialize the site of the winter quarters of 1778-1779 in Redding began in the late 19th century. Although the details of this movement are not recorded, it is likely that the initial efforts were made by local citizens of Redding, especially Charles B. Todd, the local historian, and Aaron Treadwell, the landowner who donated the first tract of land that would become the Israel Putnam Memorial Camp Ground.

Putnam Memorial State Park

Putnam Memorial State Park

From the beginning, the purpose of preserving the site of the encampment was to commemorate the winter quarters, not to create an area for recreation. Charles B. Todd explained, It is not proposed to erect a pleasure park, but a memorial. The men it is designed to commemorate were strong, rugged, simple. Its leading features, therefore, should be of similar character and of such an historical and antiquarian cast as to direct the thought to the men and times it commemorates. The rugged natural features in which the proposed site abounds should be retained.

Putnam Memorial State Park

Putnam Memorial State Park

As early as the turn of the century, the park commission had determined to acquire the grounds of the “Old Put Club” on the east side of the main encampment. The possession of “Old Put Lake” is in every way desirable for the camp grounds, it is one of the most beautiful sheets of water in Western Connecticut, lying just over the eastern boundary line of the park and for quite a distance is less than one hundred feet from it. The park commissioners envisioned a fundamental separation of the park into two areas: one, on the west side, preserving the historical remains of the encampment, and the other, on the east side, offering recreational and scenic resources. This functional division of the park has remained to the present.

Putnam Memorial State Park

Putnam Memorial State Park


Trails Overview:

The trails at Putnam Memorial State Park are mostly gravel roads which served as the camp roads during the encampment. These roads are an Interpretive Trail, with signs posted at all of the points of interest with historical information. There are unmarked footpaths, as shown on the map, which can be walked as well. 

gravel road - Putnam Memorial State Park

gravel road – Putnam Memorial State Park

The area around Philips Cave provides a short trail over and around jumbled rocks. On the east side of Putnam Park Pond, there are more trails as well.

area near Philips Cave

area near Philips Cave

 

area near Philips Cave

area near Philips Cave

 

cliff above Philips Cave

cliff above Philips Cave

Near the northern end of the park, just south of the Officers Quarters/Magazine, is a white/blazed trail that leads to the 36-acre Joan Plishner Wildlife Preserve. This Double loop, 1.3 miles long trail through mostly open woods, provides hikers the opportunity to tack on additional mileage if so desired.

Joan Plishner Wildlife Preserve

Joan Plishner Wildlife Preserve


Points of Interest:

  • Visitor Center – this building was originally built in 1893 as the park pavilion. It was used as a shelter during inclement weather, for dances and picnics, and for town events. The upstairs was used as the original park museum. The building was dismantled board by board in 2005, and reconstructed into a 4-season climate controlled visitor center where visitors can get a park orientation prior to entering the historic encampment.
Visitor Center - Putnam Memorial State Park

Visitor Center – Putnam Memorial State Park

  • Camp Guardhouse – A log hut which was reconstructed about 1890 on the remains of a hut from 1778. The actual purpose of the original structure is in question, although local lore said it was the Guard House. The construction and size of the hut gives the visitor an approximation of one of the 116 enlisted men’s soldiers huts. Each hut contained 12 soldiers.
Camp Guardhouse - Putnam Memorial State Park

Camp Guardhouse – Putnam Memorial State Park

 

Camp Guardhouse - Putnam Memorial State Park

Camp Guardhouse – Putnam Memorial State Park

  • Putnam’s Escape at Horseneck Bronze Statue – is on the front lawn of the Visitor Center. It was sculpted by renowned local artist Anna Hyatt Huntington at her estate just a few miles from the park. Ms. Huntington was 94 when she completed the statue for its 1969 dedication at the park. The bronze depicts General Israel Putnam’s legendary ride down the stone steps in Greenwich, then called” Horseneck,” where he narrowly escaped from the British dragoons.
Putnam's Escape at Horseneck Bronze Statue

Putnam’s Escape at Horseneck Bronze Statue

 

Putnam's Escape at Horseneck Bronze Statue

Putnam’s Escape at Horseneck Bronze Statue

 

Putnam's Escape at Horseneck Bronze Statue

Putnam’s Escape at Horseneck Bronze Statue

  • Main Entrance Area – Civil War cannons and miniature blockhouses flank the road. Blockhouses were used in frontier areas during the French and Indian War where Israel Putnam achieved fame for his courageous exploits. There are several other Civil War cannons inside the park. These weapons were surplus arms from the Civil War which ended only a few years prior to the park’s commissioning. The gateway view focuses on the Monument.
Main Entrance Area - Putnam Memorial State Park

Main Entrance Area – Putnam Memorial State Park

 

Main Entrance Area - Putnam Memorial State Park

Main Entrance Area – Putnam Memorial State Park

 

Main Entrance Area - Putnam Memorial State Park

Main Entrance Area – Putnam Memorial State Park

  • Memorial Monument – Constructed in 1888, one year after the commissioning of the memorial park, this monument honors the men of the three different camps in Redding during that winter of 1778-79. The monument was the very first structure erected at the park. The visitor can read the names of the different brigade generals who commanded the camps under Major General Israel Putnam’s command.
Memorial Monument - Putnam Memorial State Park

Memorial Monument – Putnam Memorial State Park

 

Memorial Monument - Putnam Memorial State Park

Memorial Monument – Putnam Memorial State Park

The 44-ft. tall granite obelisk was built in the summer of 1888 under the supervision of a committee appointed by the governor.

Memorial Monument - Putnam Memorial State Park

Memorial Monument – Putnam Memorial State Park

 

Memorial Monument - Putnam Memorial State Park

Memorial Monument – Putnam Memorial State Park

 

Memorial Monument - Putnam Memorial State Park

Memorial Monument – Putnam Memorial State Park

  • Collapsed Chimney Remains (Firebacks) and Company Street – The enlisted men’s encampment consisted of 116 log huts set in a double row for almost a quarter mile down the company street. The only above ground remains of those huts today are the piles of collapsed stone chimneys. Each stone pile, or fireback, marks the location of a 1778 hut. The men camped in this location belonged to Brig. Gen. Enoch Poor’s New Hampshire Brigade and the 2nd Canadian Regiment under Col. Moses Hazen. The fireplaces and chimneys were made of local fieldstone. The huts had dimensions of 16 x 12 feet. Each hut held the 12 soldiers who built their own hut. The troops lived in tents until their huts were completed in late December. Ongoing archaeological field work has told us much about the huts and their occupants.
Firebacks - Putnam Memorial State Park

Firebacks – Putnam Memorial State Park

  • Museum – This building contains exhibits and historical materials including artifacts unearthed at the campsite during archaeological excavations. The museum was built in 1921 by long time Redding Town Historian Margaret Wixted’s father. This building replaced the original museum housed on the second floor of the old 1893 Pavilion. Park Guides are present to tell visitors about the park and answer questions. Hours are posted at the park gates or at the Visitor Center.
Museum - Putnam Memorial State Park

Museum – Putnam Memorial State Park

  • Officers Quarters – The chimney remains mark the site of a company officer’s hut. The hut was an 1890 replica built on the original site. The hut was destroyed by fire years ago. The company-level officer’s huts were located behind the enlisted hut line. There are several other firebacks of these junior officer hut remains in the woods behind the enlisted hut line.
Officers Quarters - Putnam Memorial State Park

Officers Quarters – Putnam Memorial State Park

  • Philips Cave – Local legend says a shallow cave in this rock outcrop was used by one Mr. Philips. Philips was a soldier who returned after the war to live in this cave. He led the life of a hermit, including liberating an occasional chicken or produce from local farmers. He was evicted by the community. Another version said he was “permanently removed.”
Philips Cave - Putnam Memorial State Park

Philips Cave – Putnam Memorial State Park

There are several cave-like openings throughout this area. 

cave - Putnam Memorial State Park

cave – Putnam Memorial State Park

 

cave - Putnam Memorial State Park

cave – Putnam Memorial State Park

  • Officers Quarters/Magazine – This structure was reconstructed on the original foundations that are cut into the hillside. Long thought to be an officer’s barracks, recent information is now leading archaeologists to believe it was actually the camp magazine which held the kegs of gunpowder. The location far away from troop quarters and being semi-enclosed in the earthen bank support this theory. More research will be done on this site.
Officers Quarters/Magazine - Putnam Memorial State Park

Officers Quarters/Magazine – Putnam Memorial State Park

  • Cemetery/Command Officer’s Quarters – Another bit of hand-me-down lore at the time the park was created in the 1880’s was that the two mounds of stones, inside the square formed by the granite posts, were thought to be the camp cemetery. Accordingly, a memorial monument was erected to mark the site circa 1890. Archaeology work from the 2002-04 seasons has proven the site actually to be a double-ended (two chimneys) Field Officers quarters. Further research has pointed to the distinct probability that the hut belonged to Lt. Col. Henry Dearborn who was the ranking officer living at the camp (Some senior officers were quartered at area homes).
memorial monument - Putnam Memorial State Park

memorial monument – Putnam Memorial State Park

  • Lake McDougall – The stone damn which creates this pond was installed at the time of the park’s creation. But the stream was very much in in existence during the 1778-79 army encampment. It is one of two main streams, one at each end of the camp, which provided water for the troops. Gen. Alexander McDougall’s name is listed on the memorial monument as one of the commanders at the Reading camps. Actually, McDougall had been the commander of Putnam’s Division prior to going into winter quarters. Gen. Washington placed the division under Israel Putnam and kept Gen. McDougall in command of the Hudson Highlands which included the all important fortress West Point.
Lake McDougall - Putnam Memorial State Park

Lake McDougall – Putnam Memorial State Park

  • The Recreational Section –  provides access to Putnam Park Pond, picnic tables and charcoal grills as well as more walking trails. 
Recreational Section - Putnam Memorial State Park

Recreational Section – Putnam Memorial State Park

 

Recreational Section - Putnam Memorial State Park

Recreational Section – Putnam Memorial State Park

 

Recreational Section - Putnam Memorial State Park

Recreational Section – Putnam Memorial State Park


Review:

A truly beautiful park that is well laid out and loaded with history. One can spend quite some time here walking around capturing images of the historical features as well as the landscape. Well worth a visit anytime of year to get a hands-on history lesson of the American Revolution and the hardships that those soldiers endured during their winter encampment from 1778 – 1779.

Pros:

Historical site, scenic landscape, well maintained park.

Cons:

The park is bisected by Connecticut Route 58, some road noise can be heard throughout the park.


Sources:

Prospect Mountain Preserve – Litchfield Land Trust

November 28, 2020 – Bantam, Connecticut

Difficulty: Moderate – strenuous (steep ascents, steep descents)

Length: Approximately 4.1 miles

Max elevation: 1,350 ft.– total elevation gain approximately 811 ft.

Route type: Circuit

Free Web Map: Prospect Mountain Preserve Trail Map

Trailhead parking: 213-127 Prospect Mountain Rd, Bantam, CT 06750


Preserve Overview:

Located in the Litchfield Hills Region of Connecticut, the Prospect Mountain Preserve includes 340 acres, west of the Borough of Litchfield. The preserve features most of a locally prominent hill with a nice viewpoint near its 1,350-foot summit, as well as a large pond to the west. The property is mostly forested, with several meadows indicating past agricultural uses. The area was subject to significant nickel-mining explorations in the nineteenth century. A number of mine shafts still exist on the property. Many are filled with water and visitors are cautioned to approach them with care.

Prospect Mountain Preserve

Prospect Mountain Preserve

There are three access points to the preserve, Cathole Road, lower Prospect Mountain Road (no parking), and the main trailhead on upper Prospect Mountain Road, where there is room for 6-8 cars. There are no restrooms available on site. Prospect Mountain is preserved by the Litchfield Land Trust and open to the public for hiking and recreational enjoyment. No hunting, ATVs, or vehicles are permitted on the property.

Prospect Mountain Preserve

Prospect Mountain Preserve


History:

Prospect Mountain was an area of exploration and excavation for mineral riches from the town’s earliest days. Between the mid-1700’s and the mid 1800’s, people used the land here for farming, grazing, logging, and mining (for iron ore, copper and nickel ore). Connecticut’s early history is full of mines. Litchfield’s Prospect Mountain is part of that mining history, and remnants of its copper and nickel excavations are still evident along the nearly 5 miles of trails that wind across the 1,350-foot summit. Industrial activity which had grown during the Revolution continued in the years that followed.

The area of most of the mining activity in Litchfield, in the mid-to-late 19th century, was Mount Prospect, where at least six mines or prospects were worked. Various companies were incorporated to do mining in the town of Litchfield, chiefly on Prospect Mountain, sometimes called Prospect Hill or Mount Prospect. The three principle mines were the Granniss Mine just west of Prospect Mountain, Buck’s Mine on the southwest slope of the hill, and the Connecticut Nickel Company’s mine, one mile south of the summit. The mines were worked intermittently from 1835 until 1880, but were too small and too low a grade to be commercially exploitable.

In 1860 the Connecticut Mining Company bought two mining rights on Prospect Mountain. They promised an abundant return for funds invested and labor performed.

Connecticut Mining Company

Connecticut Mining Company

In 1864, the Nickel Mining and Smelting Company purchased the rights to mine on the west slope of Prospect Mountain. Some nickel was indeed taken out of the mountain, and it is said that it was sold to the Government and used to make the nickel cents which were in circulation before the nickel five-cent piece was placed in use. Eventually, the venture shared the fate of the other Litchfield mines.

Image courtesy of the Litchfield Historical Society

Image courtesy of the Litchfield Historical Society

In 1983, 481 acres on Prospect Mountain were titled to the Litchfield Land Trust from the Nature Conservancy, a gift from Mr. and Mrs. Andrew Gagarin, the James J. Porter Trust and Mr. Thurston Green. Since then additional parcels on Prospect Mountain have been obtained and LLT has established and maintains 4 scenic trails on its Prospect Mountain Preserve offering views from the highest elevation in Litchfield.


Trails Overview:

  • Prospect Mountain Trail – blue blazes – 1.9 miles – is rated moderate/challenging as it includes a 400-ft. elevation gain to the summit, as well as some steep and rocky areas. The Prospect Mountain Trail transects the preserve. This trail was once a portion of the blue-blazed Mattatuck Trail. Highlights include rocky terrain, mountain laurel, a stand of young black birch (regeneration from tornado destruction in 1989), a steep ravine, and Prospect Mountain’s south and north summits, each with long views.
  • Yellow Trail – 0.7 mile – is rated moderate/challenging. This trail forms a loop with the blue-blazed trail, traveling through a predominantly birch forest. It crosses seasonal wetlands and ascends steeply to meet the Prospect Mountain Trail near the mountain’s 1,350-foot summit.
  • Grannis Pond Loop Trail – red blazes – 1 mile – west of Prospect Mountain Road, is relatively easy. It passes along the south shore of Granniss Pond then turns north, crossing a footbridge, below the pond along its western shore on a boardwalk. This loop trail continues on through a pine plantation, old stone walls, an old farm road, an old high meadow, and back down towards the pond’s eastern side. The last feature before completion of the loop is an old horizontal mine shaft opening and a pond overlook.
  • Graham Thompson Trail – white blazes – 1.2 miles – is of moderate difficulty. The trail begins at Prospect Mountain Road, initially loops southeast, passing through wetlands and an old pine plantation, then recrossing the wetlands before turning sharply to the right and through barway. It continues in a northerly direction through mostly open forest of moderate inclines and descents. Finally, the trail bears more easterly, becoming steeper until it meets the Blue trail near the south summit.

The entire Prospect Mountain Preserve trail system is part of Connecticut Forest and Park Association’s (CFPA) statewide system of trails, and is jointly administered by CFPA and Litchfield Land Trust (LLT).


Hike Overview:

Always looking for interesting places to hike, I came across this preserve on social media and became interested. This hidden gem packs a lot of enjoyment for the novice and avid hiker alike. A novice hiker will enjoy its well marked and easy to follow trails. The avid hiker will enjoy the relentless ups and downs throughout the rugged landscape. There aren’t too many level stretches of trail to be found at Prospect Mountain Preserve. The views are enjoyable enough as is the scenic Granniss Pond. The mines provide another point of interest to search out along the trails.

Not knowing much about this place and not being able to find much info online, I was hoping to take in as much of what it has to offer. Unfortunately, we missed a mine or two during our visit and we did not hike the White Trail.

This hike follows the Blue Trail from Prospect Mountain Road (main trailhead), in a counterclockwise lollipop loop (Blue, Yellow, then Blue back to trailhead). Then following the Grannis Pond Loop Trail counterclockwise around Grannis Pond and back to the trailhead.

Prospect Mountain Preserve – Litchfield Land Trust

Prospect Mountain Preserve – Litchfield Land Trust

This hike climbs to the North Summit of Prospect Mountain twice and both routes are steep.

Prospect Mountain Preserve elevation profile

Prospect Mountain Preserve elevation profile


The Hike:

From the main trailhead on Prospect Mountain Road, follow the blue-blazed Prospect Mountain Trail as it heads northeast. To the left of the trail, mere feet from the trailhead, is an old water filled mine. Hikers should use caution in the vicinity of the mines, as their deep water filled pits, especially when covered with leaves, can be dangerous.

Main Trailhead - Prospect Mountain Preserve

Main Trailhead – Prospect Mountain Preserve

Blue Trail - Prospect Mountain Preserve

Blue Trail – Prospect Mountain Preserve

This water filled shaft, near the trailhead, is part of the Granniss Mine.

mine - Prospect Mountain Preserve

mine – Prospect Mountain Preserve

mine – Prospect Mountain Preserve

mine – Prospect Mountain Preserve

In a short distance, the Blue Trail turns right, crosses a small stream on rocks and soon runs along a stone wall that borders a meadow.

Blue Trail – Prospect Mountain Preserve

Blue Trail – Prospect Mountain Preserve

Blue Trail – Prospect Mountain Preserve

Blue Trail – Prospect Mountain Preserve

At the end of the stone wall, the trail begins a steep ascent. For about 300 yards, the trail climbs straight up the mountain, no switchbacks.

Blue Trail – Prospect Mountain Preserve

Blue Trail – Prospect Mountain Preserve

Blue Trail – Prospect Mountain Preserve

Blue Trail – Prospect Mountain Preserve

Blue Trail – Prospect Mountain Preserve

Blue Trail – Prospect Mountain Preserve

Blue Trail – Prospect Mountain Preserve

Blue Trail – Prospect Mountain Preserve

Blue Trail – Prospect Mountain Preserve

Blue Trail – Prospect Mountain Preserve

At the top of the rise, the trail turns left, dips down a little and climbs again. To the left is a short spur trail that leads to Gagarin Grove, where there is a small grove of giant, 200-plus-year-old Sugar Maples. You may want to stop a minute to catch your breath as you view these ancient trees.

Blue Trail – Prospect Mountain Preserve

Blue Trail – Prospect Mountain Preserve

Gagarin Grove – Prospect Mountain Preserve

Gagarin Grove – Prospect Mountain Preserve

Gagarin Grove – Prospect Mountain Preserve

Gagarin Grove – Prospect Mountain Preserve

The trail continues northeast, descending into a hollow, then climbs out of the hollow, gradually at first, then the climb steepens. In about another 420 yards (from Gagarin Grove), The Blue Trail reaches the North Summit of Prospect Mountain and turns right.

Blue Trail – Prospect Mountain Preserve

Blue Trail – Prospect Mountain Preserve

Blue Trail – Prospect Mountain Preserve

Blue Trail – Prospect Mountain Preserve

Blue Trail – Prospect Mountain Preserve

Blue Trail – Prospect Mountain Preserve

Turn left on the Yellow Trail and walk a short distance to a rock outcrop, furnished with a bench, to north and west-facing viewpoints of the surrounding countryside.

turn left to North Summit view

turn left to North Summit view

Yellow Trail - Prospect Mountain Preserve

Yellow Trail – Prospect Mountain Preserve

At the summit of Prospect Mountain, you will see a welcoming bench dedicated “In loving memory of Peter and Tekla Litwin from their son Ted Litwin.” This is a good place to take a break. Up to this point, you have hiked about 0.8 mile with more than 350 feet of elevation gain.

North Summit - Prospect Mountain Preserve

North Summit – Prospect Mountain Preserve

The north and west views were opened in spring 2011, when the Litchfield Land Trust created the yellow-blazed trail from Cathole Road to the summit.

North Summit view - Prospect Mountain Preserve

North Summit view – Prospect Mountain Preserve

North Summit view - Prospect Mountain Preserve

North Summit view – Prospect Mountain Preserve

North Summit view from bench - Prospect Mountain Preserve

North Summit view from bench – Prospect Mountain Preserve

When you are ready to continue, retrace your steps back to the junction with the Blue Trail and proceed ahead, now going southeast along the ridge. The trail climbs a little, descends into another hollow, passing a vernal pool on the left then gradually climbs until reaching the South Summit.

continue ahead on Blue Trail

continue ahead on Blue Trail

Blue Trail – Prospect Mountain Preserve

Blue Trail – Prospect Mountain Preserve

South Summit – Prospect Mountain Preserve

South Summit – Prospect Mountain Preserve

The South Summit affords a south-facing viewpoint and another place to stop along the way.

South Summit view – Prospect Mountain Preserve

South Summit view – Prospect Mountain Preserve

The mountain visible to the far left is Mount Tom. If you zoom in with your camera or binoculars, you can see the stone tower at the summit.

South Summit view – Prospect Mountain Preserve

South Summit view – Prospect Mountain Preserve

The Blue Trail descends from the summit, rather steeply in places. In about 300 feet, the Blue Trail comes to a T-intersection with the White Trail, which begins on the right. The Blue Trail turns left in front of a large rock cliff and a short distance later, turns right, and climbs up and across the same cliff, heading in a southerly direction.

Blue Trail – Prospect Mountain Preserve

Blue Trail – Prospect Mountain Preserve

Blue Trail – Prospect Mountain Preserve

Blue Trail – Prospect Mountain Preserve

Blue Trail – Prospect Mountain Preserve

Blue Trail – Prospect Mountain Preserve

turn left to remain on Blue Trail

turn left to remain on Blue Trail

turn left to remain on Blue Trail

turn left to remain on Blue Trail

rock formations at junction of Blue/White Trails

rock formations at junction of Blue/White Trails

Blue Trail – Prospect Mountain Preserve

Blue Trail – Prospect Mountain Preserve

The trail soon begins a steady descent on what appears to be an old mining road. Stay alert for the “Pool Mine” which is in this area. We missed this mine when we got distracted stopping to talk to the president of the Litchfield Land Trust, who was hiking with a small group. He commented that they are working on a new trail. By the time we realized that we had passed the mine, we did not feel like climbing back up to look for it.

Blue Trail – Prospect Mountain Preserve

Blue Trail – Prospect Mountain Preserve

The trail soon makes a left turn, leaving the road and passes through Mountain Laurel thickets.

Blue Trail turns left

Blue Trail turns left

Blue Trail turns left

Blue Trail turns left

Blue Trail – Prospect Mountain Preserve

Blue Trail – Prospect Mountain Preserve

The Blue Trail passes some interesting looking rock formations and a short distance later, at the base of the descent, reaches a junction with the start of the Yellow Trail. Turning right on the Blue Trail here will lead to the Cathole Road trailhead. Continue straight, now following the yellow blazes.

Blue Trail – Prospect Mountain Preserve

Blue Trail – Prospect Mountain Preserve

Cathole Road trailhead junction

Cathole Road trailhead junction

The Yellow Trail soon crosses a small stream on rocks and begins a steady ascent of Prospect Mountain.

Yellow Trail – Prospect Mountain Preserve

Yellow Trail – Prospect Mountain Preserve

Yellow Trail – Prospect Mountain Preserve

Yellow Trail – Prospect Mountain Preserve

Yellow Trail – Prospect Mountain Preserve

Yellow Trail – Prospect Mountain Preserve

In about 375 yards from the start of the Yellow Trail, there is a pile of mine tailings (waste rock) to the left of the trail. Just past the pile is one of the vertical shafts of the Smith Mine. The other water filled shaft is about 200 feet south.

Yellow Trail – Prospect Mountain Preserve

Yellow Trail – Prospect Mountain Preserve

The Smith Mine, located in the upper northeast area of the mountain, was first worked by the Connecticut Mining Company in the late 1850’s. In the late summer of 1859, they had a twenty-foot shaft dug with “a beautiful show of mineral wealth” according to a company prospectus. Two years later, the shaft had been increased to fifty feet and had produced well over 400 tons of ore analyzed at three percent and more of nickel content.

Smith Mine - Yellow Trail – Prospect Mountain Preserve

Smith Mine – Yellow Trail – Prospect Mountain Preserve

Please exercise extreme caution in the vicinity of these mines. They are deep water filled pits and the ground around them may be unstable, which could cave-in without warning.

Smith Mine - Yellow Trail – Prospect Mountain Preserve

Smith Mine – Yellow Trail – Prospect Mountain Preserve

As there are two shafts at this location, it is assumed the second one was started around this time also.

Smith Mine (2nd shaft) - Yellow Trail – Prospect Mountain Preserve

Smith Mine (2nd shaft) – Yellow Trail – Prospect Mountain Preserve

Yellow Trail – Prospect Mountain Preserve

Yellow Trail – Prospect Mountain Preserve

After passing the mines, the trail levels off briefly, then resumes its climb, gradually at first then becomes much more steep.

Yellow Trail – Prospect Mountain Preserve

Yellow Trail – Prospect Mountain Preserve

Yellow Trail – Prospect Mountain Preserve

Yellow Trail – Prospect Mountain Preserve

Yellow Trail – Prospect Mountain Preserve

Yellow Trail – Prospect Mountain Preserve

Yellow Trail – Prospect Mountain Preserve

Yellow Trail – Prospect Mountain Preserve

Yellow Trail – Prospect Mountain Preserve

Yellow Trail – Prospect Mountain Preserve

Yellow Trail – Prospect Mountain Preserve

Yellow Trail – Prospect Mountain Preserve

Yellow Trail – Prospect Mountain Preserve

Yellow Trail – Prospect Mountain Preserve