West Point Foundry Preserve

July 17, 2020 – Cold Spring, NY

Difficulty: Easy

Trail miles: Approximately 2 miles (additional connecting trails)

Free Web Map: West Point Foundry Preserve Trail Map

Buy Map: East Hudson Trails Map

Brochure and Trail Guide: WPFP Brochure and Trail Guide

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

Amenities: Restrooms on site

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


Overview:

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

West Point Foundry Preserve

West Point Foundry Preserve

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

West Point Foundry Preserve

West Point Foundry Preserve

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

Water Wheel - West Point Foundry Preserve

Water Wheel – West Point Foundry Preserve

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

1865 Office Building - West Point Foundry Preserve

1865 Office Building – West Point Foundry Preserve

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

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

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

West Point Foundry Preserve

West Point Foundry Preserve

Restrooms are available on site.

West Point Foundry Preserve

West Point Foundry Preserve


History:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

West Point Foundry Preserve

West Point Foundry Preserve

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

West Point Foundry Preserve

West Point Foundry Preserve


Trails Overview:

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

West Point Foundry Preserve Trail Map

West Point Foundry Preserve Trail Map

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

Scenic Hudson trail marker

Scenic Hudson trail marker

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

Yellow Foundry Trail - West Point Foundry Preserve

Yellow Foundry Trail – West Point Foundry Preserve

Yellow Foundry Trail - West Point Foundry Preserve

Yellow Foundry Trail – West Point Foundry Preserve

Yellow Foundry Trail - West Point Foundry Preserve

Yellow Foundry Trail – West Point Foundry Preserve

Yellow Foundry Trail - West Point Foundry Preserve

Yellow Foundry Trail – West Point Foundry Preserve

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

Red Trail – West Point Foundry Preserve

Red Trail - West Point Foundry Preserve

Red Trail – West Point Foundry Preserve

Red Trail - West Point Foundry Preserve

Red Trail – West Point Foundry Preserve

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

Blue Marsh Trail – West Point Foundry Preserve

Blue Marsh Trail - West Point Foundry Preserve

Blue Marsh Trail – West Point Foundry Preserve

Blue Marsh Trail - West Point Foundry Preserve

Blue Marsh Trail – West Point Foundry Preserve


Points of Interest:

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

  • Gun Testing Platform ~

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

Gun Testing Platform - West Point Foundry Preserve

Gun Testing Platform – West Point Foundry Preserve

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

Gun Testing Platform – West Point Foundry Preserve

Gun Testing Platform – West Point Foundry Preserve

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

Gun Testing Platform - West Point Foundry Preserve

Gun Testing Platform – West Point Foundry Preserve

Gun Testing Platform - West Point Foundry Preserve

Gun Testing Platform – West Point Foundry Preserve

  • 1865 Office Building ~

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

1865 Office Building - West Point Foundry Preserve

1865 Office Building – West Point Foundry Preserve

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

1865 Office Building - January 2, 2015

1865 Office Building – January 2, 2015

  • Foundry Brook ~

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

Foundry Brook Falls – West Point Foundry Preserve

Foundry Brook Falls – West Point Foundry Preserve

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

Foundry Brook Falls - West Point Foundry Preserve

Foundry Brook Falls – West Point Foundry Preserve

Foundry Brook – West Point Foundry Preserve

Foundry Brook – West Point Foundry Preserve

Foundry Brook – West Point Foundry Preserve

Foundry Brook – West Point Foundry Preserve

  • Water Wheel ~

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

Water Wheel - West Point Foundry Preserve

Water Wheel – West Point Foundry Preserve

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

Water Wheel - West Point Foundry Preserve

Water Wheel – West Point Foundry Preserve

  • Tuyere Arch ~

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

Tuyere Arch - West Point Foundry Preserve

Tuyere Arch – West Point Foundry Preserve

  • Building Ruins ~

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

Pattern Shop - West Point Foundry Preserve

Pattern Shop – West Point Foundry Preserve

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

Carpentry Shop - West Point Foundry Preserve

Carpentry Shop – West Point Foundry Preserve

  • The Staircase ~

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

The Staircase - West Point Foundry Preserve

The Staircase – West Point Foundry Preserve

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

Boring Mill Overlook - West Point Foundry Preserve

Boring Mill Overlook – West Point Foundry Preserve

  • Kemble Overlook ~

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

Kemble Overlook - West Point Foundry Preserve

Kemble Overlook – West Point Foundry Preserve

Kemble Overlook - West Point Foundry Preserve

Kemble Overlook – West Point Foundry Preserve

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

Kemble Overlook - West Point Foundry Preserve

Kemble Overlook – West Point Foundry Preserve

Kemble Overlook - West Point Foundry Preserve

Kemble Overlook – West Point Foundry Preserve

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

Kemble Overlook - West Point Foundry Preserve

Kemble Overlook – West Point Foundry Preserve

Kemble Overlook - West Point Foundry Preserve

Kemble Overlook – West Point Foundry Preserve

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

Kemble Overlook - July 17, 2021

Kemble Overlook – July 17, 2021

Same view in winter.

Kemble Overlook - January 2, 2021

Kemble Overlook – January 2, 2021

Kemble Overlook - January 2, 2021

Kemble Overlook – January 2, 2021


Review:

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

Pros:

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

Cons:

None.


Take a hike!

West Point Foundry Preserve

West Point Foundry Preserve


Sources:


Lower Hornbecks Creek Trail – Delaware Water Gap

July 10, 2021 – Dingmans Ferry, Pennsylvania

Difficulty: Easy

Length: Approximately 2 miles

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

Route type: Out and back

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

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

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

No bathrooms on site

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


Overview:

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

Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area

Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area

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

Hornbecks Creek Falls

Hornbecks Creek Falls


History:

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

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

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


Trails Overview:

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

Lower Hornbecks Creek Trailhead

Lower Hornbecks Creek Trailhead

Lower Hornbecks Creek Trailhead

Lower Hornbecks Creek Trailhead

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

Lower Hornbecks Creek Trail

Lower Hornbecks Creek Trail


Hike Overview:

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

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

Lower Hornbecks Creek Trail

Lower Hornbecks Creek Trail

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


The Hike:

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

Lower Hornbecks Creek Trail

Lower Hornbecks Creek Trail

Lower Hornbecks Creek Trail

Lower Hornbecks Creek Trail

Lower Hornbecks Creek Trail

Lower Hornbecks Creek Trail

Lower Hornbecks Creek Trail

Lower Hornbecks Creek Trail

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

Lower Hornbecks Creek Trail

Lower Hornbecks Creek Trail

Lower Hornbecks Creek Trail

Lower Hornbecks Creek Trail

Lower Hornbecks Creek Trail

Lower Hornbecks Creek Trail

Lower Hornbecks Creek Trail

Lower Hornbecks Creek Trail

Lower Hornbecks Creek Trail

Lower Hornbecks Creek Trail

Lower Hornbecks Creek Trail

Lower Hornbecks Creek Trail

Lower Hornbecks Creek Trail

Lower Hornbecks Creek Trail

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

Lower Hornbecks Creek Trail

Lower Hornbecks Creek Trail

Lower Hornbecks Creek Trail

Lower Hornbecks Creek Trail

Lower Hornbecks Creek Trail

Lower Hornbecks Creek Trail

Lower Hornbecks Creek Trail

Lower Hornbecks Creek Trail

Lower Hornbecks Creek Trail

Lower Hornbecks Creek Trail

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

Lower Hornbecks Creek Trail

Lower Hornbecks Creek Trail

A look back at the stone staircase.

Lower Hornbecks Creek Trail

Lower Hornbecks Creek Trail

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

Lower Hornbecks Creek Trail

Lower Hornbecks Creek Trail

Lower Hornbecks Creek Trail

Lower Hornbecks Creek Trail

Lower Hornbecks Creek Trail

Lower Hornbecks Creek Trail

Lower Hornbecks Creek Trail

Lower Hornbecks Creek Trail

Lower Hornbecks Creek Trail

Lower Hornbecks Creek Trail

Lower Hornbecks Creek Trail

Lower Hornbecks Creek Trail

Lower Hornbecks Creek Trail

Lower Hornbecks Creek Trail

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

Lower Hornbecks Creek Trail

Lower Hornbecks Creek Trail

Lower Hornbecks Creek Trail

Lower Hornbecks Creek Trail

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

Hornbecks Creek Falls

Hornbecks Creek Falls

Hornbecks Creek Falls

Hornbecks Creek Falls

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

Lower Hornbecks Creek Trailhead

Lower Hornbecks Creek Trailhead


Review:

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

Pros:

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

Cons:

None.


Take a hike!

Lower Hornbecks Creek Trail – Delaware Water Gap

Lower Hornbecks Creek Trail – Delaware Water Gap


Sources:


Breakneck Ridge via Nimham Trail

July 5, 2021 – Cold Spring, NY

Difficulty: Moderate

Length: Approximately 1.9 miles

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

Route type: Out and back

Buy Map: East Hudson Trails Map #102

Free Web Map: Hudson Highlands Trail Map North 2021

Trailhead parking: Wilkinson Memorial Trailhead – Beacon, NY 12508


Overview:

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

Breakneck Ridge as viewed from Storm King Mountain

Breakneck Ridge as viewed from Storm King Mountain

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

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


History:

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

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

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

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

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

Daniel Nimham statue - Putnam County Veterans Memorial Park

Daniel Nimham statue – Putnam County Veterans Memorial Park


Trails Overview:

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

Wilkinson Memorial Trail - East Hudson Highlands

Wilkinson Memorial Trail – East Hudson Highlands

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

Nimham Trail - Breakneck Ridge

Nimham Trail – Breakneck Ridge

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

flagpole area – Breakneck Ridge

flagpole area – Breakneck Ridge

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


Hike Overview:

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

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

Breakneck Ridge via Nimham Trail

Breakneck Ridge via Nimham Trail

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

elevation profile - Nimham Trail

elevation profile – Nimham Trail

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


The Hike:

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

Wilkinson Memorial Trail - East Hudson Highlands

Wilkinson Memorial Trail – East Hudson Highlands

Wilkinson Memorial Trail - East Hudson Highlands

Wilkinson Memorial Trail – East Hudson Highlands

Wilkinson Memorial Trail - East Hudson Highlands

Wilkinson Memorial Trail – East Hudson Highlands

Wilkinson Memorial Trail - East Hudson Highlands

Wilkinson Memorial Trail – East Hudson Highlands

Wilkinson Memorial Trail - East Hudson Highlands

Wilkinson Memorial Trail – East Hudson Highlands

Wilkinson Memorial Trail - East Hudson Highlands

Wilkinson Memorial Trail – East Hudson Highlands

Wilkinson Memorial Trail - East Hudson Highlands

Wilkinson Memorial Trail – East Hudson Highlands

Wilkinson Memorial Trail – East Hudson Highlands

Wilkinson Memorial Trail – East Hudson Highlands

Wilkinson Memorial Trail – East Hudson Highlands

Wilkinson Memorial Trail – East Hudson Highlands

Turn right on Nimham Trail

Turn right on Nimham Trail

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

Turn right on Nimham Trail

Turn right on Nimham Trail

Nimham Trail - Breakneck Ridge

Nimham Trail – Breakneck Ridge

Nimham Trail - Breakneck Ridge

Nimham Trail – Breakneck Ridge

Nimham Trail - Breakneck Ridge

Nimham Trail – Breakneck Ridge

Nimham Trail - Breakneck Ridge

Nimham Trail – Breakneck Ridge

Nimham Trail - Breakneck Ridge

Nimham Trail – Breakneck Ridge

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

Nimham Trail - Breakneck Ridge

Nimham Trail – Breakneck Ridge

Nimham Trail - Breakneck Ridge

Nimham Trail – Breakneck Ridge

Nimham Trail - Breakneck Ridge

Nimham Trail – Breakneck Ridge

Nimham Trail - Breakneck Ridge

Nimham Trail – Breakneck Ridge

Nimham Trail - Breakneck Ridge

Nimham Trail – Breakneck Ridge

Nimham Trail - Breakneck Ridge

Nimham Trail – Breakneck Ridge

Nimham Trail – Breakneck Ridge

Nimham Trail – Breakneck Ridge

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

Nimham Trail – Breakneck Ridge

Nimham Trail – Breakneck Ridge

Nimham Trail – Breakneck Ridge

Nimham Trail – Breakneck Ridge

Nimham Trail – Breakneck Ridge

Nimham Trail – Breakneck Ridge

Nimham Trail – Breakneck Ridge

Nimham Trail – Breakneck Ridge

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

Nimham Trail – Breakneck Ridge

Nimham Trail – Breakneck Ridge

Nimham Trail – Breakneck Ridge

Nimham Trail – Breakneck Ridge

Nimham Trail – Breakneck Ridge

Nimham Trail – Breakneck Ridge

Nimham Trail – Breakneck Ridge

Nimham Trail – Breakneck Ridge

Nimham Trail – Breakneck Ridge

Nimham Trail – Breakneck Ridge

Nimham Trail – Breakneck Ridge

Nimham Trail – Breakneck Ridge

Nimham Trail – Breakneck Ridge

Nimham Trail – Breakneck Ridge

Nimham Trail – Breakneck Ridge

Nimham Trail – Breakneck Ridge

Nimham Trail – Breakneck Ridge

Nimham Trail – Breakneck Ridge

Nimham Trail – Breakneck Ridge

Nimham Trail – Breakneck Ridge

Nimham Trail – Breakneck Ridge

Nimham Trail – Breakneck Ridge

Nimham Trail – Breakneck Ridge

Nimham Trail – Breakneck Ridge

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

flagpole area – Breakneck Ridge

flagpole area – Breakneck Ridge

flagpole area – Breakneck Ridge

flagpole area – Breakneck Ridge

flagpole area – Breakneck Ridge

flagpole area – Breakneck Ridge

flagpole area – Breakneck Ridge

flagpole area – Breakneck Ridge

flagpole area – Breakneck Ridge

flagpole area – Breakneck Ridge

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

Breakneck Ridge Trail

Breakneck Ridge Trail

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

Breakneck Ridge Trail

Breakneck Ridge Trail

Nimham Trail – Breakneck Ridge

Nimham Trail – Breakneck Ridge

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

Nimham Trail – Breakneck Ridge

Nimham Trail – Breakneck Ridge

Nimham Trail – Breakneck Ridge

Nimham Trail – Breakneck Ridge

Veer left at the junction

Veer left at the junction

Wilkinson Memorial Trail

Wilkinson Memorial Trail

Wilkinson Memorial Trail

Wilkinson Memorial Trail


Review:

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

Pros:

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

Cons:

Breakneck Ridge gets extremely crowded on weekends.


Take a hike!

Breakneck Ridge via Nimham Trail

Breakneck Ridge via Nimham Trail


Sources:


Candlewood Hill Loop – Fahnestock State Park

June 12, 2021 – Putnam Valley, NY

Difficulty: Moderate

Length: Approximately 3.3 miles

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

Route type: Lollipop Loop

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

Free Web Map: Fahnestock State Park Trail Map 2020

Free Avenza App Map: Fahnestock State Park Trail Map

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

Roadside parking for approximately 6 cars – No bathrooms on site


Overview:

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

Clarence Fahnestock Memorial State Park

Clarence Fahnestock Memorial State Park

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

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

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

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

Candlewood Hill – Fahnestock State Park

Candlewood Hill – Fahnestock State Park


History:

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

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

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


Trails Overview:

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

Sunken Mine Road - Fahnestock State Park

Sunken Mine Road – Fahnestock State Park

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

Candlewood Hill Trail - Fahnestock State Park

Candlewood Hill Trail – Fahnestock State Park

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

Bell Hollow Road – Fahnestock State Park

Bell Hollow Road – Fahnestock State Park

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

Hudson Trail in Fahnestock State Park

Hudson Trail in Fahnestock State Park

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


Hike Overview:

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

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

Candlewood Hill Loop – Fahnestock State Park

Candlewood Hill Loop – Fahnestock State Park

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

elevation profile - Candlewood Hill Loop

elevation profile – Candlewood Hill Loop


The Hike:

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

Sunken Mine Road

Sunken Mine Road

Sunken Mine Road

Sunken Mine Road

Sunken Mine Road

Sunken Mine Road

Sunken Mine Road

Sunken Mine Road

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

Candlewood Hill Trail - Fahnestock State Park

Candlewood Hill Trail – Fahnestock State Park

Candlewood Hill Trail - Fahnestock State Park

Candlewood Hill Trail – Fahnestock State Park

Candlewood Hill Trail - Fahnestock State Park

Candlewood Hill Trail – Fahnestock State Park

Candlewood Hill Trail – Fahnestock State Park

Candlewood Hill Trail – Fahnestock State Park

Candlewood Hill Trail – Fahnestock State Park

Candlewood Hill Trail – Fahnestock State Park

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

Candlewood Hill Trail – Fahnestock State Park

Candlewood Hill Trail – Fahnestock State Park

Candlewood Hill Trail – Fahnestock State Park

Candlewood Hill Trail – Fahnestock State Park

Candlewood Hill Trail – Fahnestock State Park

Candlewood Hill Trail – Fahnestock State Park

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

Candlewood Hill Trail – Fahnestock State Park

Candlewood Hill Trail – Fahnestock State Park

Candlewood Hill Trail – Fahnestock State Park

Candlewood Hill Trail – Fahnestock State Park

Candlewood Hill Trail – Fahnestock State Park

Candlewood Hill Trail – Fahnestock State Park

Candlewood Hill Trail – Fahnestock State Park

Candlewood Hill Trail – Fahnestock State Park

Candlewood Hill Trail – Fahnestock State Park

Candlewood Hill Trail – Fahnestock State Park

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

Candlewood Hill Trail – Fahnestock State Park

Candlewood Hill Trail – Fahnestock State Park

Candlewood Hill summit – Fahnestock State Park

Candlewood Hill summit – Fahnestock State Park

Candlewood Hill summit – Fahnestock State Park

Candlewood Hill summit – Fahnestock State Park

Candlewood Hill summit – Fahnestock State Park

Candlewood Hill summit – Fahnestock State Park

Candlewood Hill summit – Fahnestock State Park

Candlewood Hill summit – Fahnestock State Park

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

Candlewood Hill summit – Fahnestock State Park

Candlewood Hill summit – Fahnestock State Park

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

Candlewood Hill Trail – Fahnestock State Park

Candlewood Hill Trail – Fahnestock State Park

Candlewood Hill Trail – Fahnestock State Park

Candlewood Hill Trail – Fahnestock State Park

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

Candlewood Hill Trail – Fahnestock State Park

Candlewood Hill Trail – Fahnestock State Park

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

Candlewood Hill Trail – Fahnestock State Park

Candlewood Hill Trail – Fahnestock State Park

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

Candlewood Hill Trail – Fahnestock State Park

Candlewood Hill Trail – Fahnestock State Park

Candlewood Hill Trail – Fahnestock State Park

Candlewood Hill Trail – Fahnestock State Park

Candlewood Hill Trail – Fahnestock State Park

Candlewood Hill Trail – Fahnestock State Park

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

Candlewood Hill Trail – Fahnestock State Park

Candlewood Hill Trail – Fahnestock State Park

Candlewood Hill Trail – Fahnestock State Park

Candlewood Hill Trail – Fahnestock State Park

Candlewood Hill Trail – Fahnestock State Park

Candlewood Hill Trail – Fahnestock State Park

Candlewood Hill Trail – Fahnestock State Park

Candlewood Hill Trail – Fahnestock State Park

Candlewood Hill Trail – Fahnestock State Park

Candlewood Hill Trail – Fahnestock State Park

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

Bell Hollow Road – Fahnestock State Park

Bell Hollow Road – Fahnestock State Park

Bell Hollow Road – Fahnestock State Park

Bell Hollow Road – Fahnestock State Park

Bell Hollow Road – Fahnestock State Park

Bell Hollow Road – Fahnestock State Park

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

turn right on Sunken Mine Road

turn right on Sunken Mine Road

Sunken Mine Road - Fahnestock State Park

Sunken Mine Road – Fahnestock State Park

Sunken Mine Road - Fahnestock State Park

Sunken Mine Road – Fahnestock State Park

Sunken Mine Road - Fahnestock State Park

Sunken Mine Road – Fahnestock State Park

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

Sunken Mine Road - Fahnestock State Park

Sunken Mine Road – Fahnestock State Park

Viewpoint off of Sunken Mine Road

Viewpoint off of Sunken Mine Road

Viewpoint off of Sunken Mine Road

Viewpoint off of Sunken Mine Road

Viewpoint off of Sunken Mine Road

Viewpoint off of Sunken Mine Road

Viewpoint off of Sunken Mine Road

Viewpoint off of Sunken Mine Road

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

Turn right on Sunken Mine Road

Turn right on Sunken Mine Road

Sunken Mine Road - Fahnestock State Park

Sunken Mine Road – Fahnestock State Park

Sunken Mine Road - Fahnestock State Park

Sunken Mine Road – Fahnestock State Park

Sunken Mine Road - Fahnestock State Park

Sunken Mine Road – Fahnestock State Park

Sunken Mine Road - Fahnestock State Park

Sunken Mine Road – Fahnestock State Park


Review:

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

Pros:

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

Cons:

None.


Take a hike!

Candlewood Hill Loop – Fahnestock State Park

Candlewood Hill Loop – Fahnestock State Park


Sources:


Granite Mountain Preserve

June 5, 2021 – Putnam Valley, NY

Difficulty: Moderate – strenuous

Length: Approximately 4 miles

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

Route type: Double Lollipop Loop

Free Web Map: Granite Mountain Preserve Trail Map 2020

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

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

No bathrooms on site


Preserve Overview:

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

Granite Mountain Preserve

Granite Mountain Preserve

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

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

Granite Mountain Preserve

Granite Mountain Preserve


History:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Trails Overview:

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

Granite Mountain Preserve Trail Map 2020

Granite Mountain Preserve Trail Map 2020

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

Trail markers - Hudson Highlands Land Trust

Trail markers – Hudson Highlands Land Trust

Trail signs - Granite Mountain Preserve

Trail signs – Granite Mountain Preserve


Hike Overview:

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

Granite Mountain Preserve

Granite Mountain Preserve

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

Parking lot – Granite Mountain Preserve

Parking lot – Granite Mountain Preserve

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

Granite Mountain Preserve

Granite Mountain Preserve

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

Granite Mountain Preserve

Granite Mountain Preserve

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

elevation profile - Granite Mountain Preserve

elevation profile – Granite Mountain Preserve

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


The Hike:

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

Trailhead - Granite Mountain Preserve

Trailhead – Granite Mountain Preserve

Trailhead – Granite Mountain Preserve

Trailhead – Granite Mountain Preserve

Red-Yellow Trail - Granite Mountain Preserve

Red-Yellow Trail – Granite Mountain Preserve

Red-Yellow Trail - Granite Mountain Preserve

Red-Yellow Trail – Granite Mountain Preserve

Red-Yellow Trail - Granite Mountain Preserve

Red-Yellow Trail – Granite Mountain Preserve

Red-Yellow Trail - Granite Mountain Preserve

Red-Yellow Trail – Granite Mountain Preserve

Red-Yellow Trail - Granite Mountain Preserve

Red-Yellow Trail – Granite Mountain Preserve

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

Red-Yellow Trail - Granite Mountain Preserve

Red-Yellow Trail – Granite Mountain Preserve

Red-Yellow Trail - Granite Mountain Preserve

Red-Yellow Trail – Granite Mountain Preserve

Red-Yellow Trail - Granite Mountain Preserve

Red-Yellow Trail – Granite Mountain Preserve

Red-Yellow Trail - Granite Mountain Preserve

Red-Yellow Trail – Granite Mountain Preserve

Red-Yellow Trail - Granite Mountain Preserve

Red-Yellow Trail – Granite Mountain Preserve

Red-Yellow Trail - Granite Mountain Preserve

Red-Yellow Trail – Granite Mountain Preserve

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

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

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

Turn left on the Yellow Trail towards Lookout Rock

Turn left on the Yellow Trail towards Lookout Rock

Yellow Trail - Granite Mountain Preserve

Yellow Trail – Granite Mountain Preserve

Yellow Trail - Granite Mountain Preserve

Yellow Trail – Granite Mountain Preserve

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

Yellow Trail - Granite Mountain Preserve

Yellow Trail – Granite Mountain Preserve

Yellow Trail - Granite Mountain Preserve

Yellow Trail – Granite Mountain Preserve

Yellow Trail - Granite Mountain Preserve

Yellow Trail – Granite Mountain Preserve

Yellow Trail - Granite Mountain Preserve

Yellow Trail – Granite Mountain Preserve

Yellow Trail - Granite Mountain Preserve

Yellow Trail – Granite Mountain Preserve

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

Yellow Trail - Granite Mountain Preserve

Yellow Trail – Granite Mountain Preserve

Yellow Trail - Granite Mountain Preserve

Yellow Trail – Granite Mountain Preserve

Yellow Trail - Granite Mountain Preserve

Yellow Trail – Granite Mountain Preserve

Lookout Rock - Granite Mountain Preserve

Lookout Rock – Granite Mountain Preserve

Lookout Rock - Granite Mountain Preserve

Lookout Rock – Granite Mountain Preserve

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

Lookout Rock - Granite Mountain Preserve

Lookout Rock – Granite Mountain Preserve

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

Yellow Trail - Granite Mountain Preserve

Yellow Trail – Granite Mountain Preserve

Yellow Trail - Granite Mountain Preserve

Yellow Trail – Granite Mountain Preserve

Yellow Trail - Granite Mountain Preserve

Yellow Trail – Granite Mountain Preserve

Yellow Trail - Granite Mountain Preserve

Yellow Trail – Granite Mountain Preserve

Yellow Trail - Granite Mountain Preserve

Yellow Trail – Granite Mountain Preserve

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

Turn left to remain on Yellow Trail

Turn left to remain on Yellow Trail

Turn left to remain on Yellow Trail

Turn left to remain on Yellow Trail

Yellow Trail - Granite Mountain Preserve

Yellow Trail – Granite Mountain Preserve

Yellow Trail - Granite Mountain Preserve

Yellow Trail – Granite Mountain Preserve

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

Yellow Trail - Granite Mountain Preserve

Yellow Trail – Granite Mountain Preserve

Yellow Trail - Granite Mountain Preserve

Yellow Trail – Granite Mountain Preserve

Yellow Trail - Granite Mountain Preserve

Yellow Trail – Granite Mountain Preserve

Yellow Trail - Granite Mountain Preserve

Yellow Trail – Granite Mountain Preserve

Yellow Trail - Granite Mountain Preserve

Yellow Trail – Granite Mountain Preserve

Turn left on the Red-Yellow Trail and head uphill for another 500 feet. You will arrive at the T-intersection that you encountered earlier in the hike. This time turn right towards the Red Loop.

Terminus of Yellow Trail - Granite Mountain Preserve

Terminus of Yellow Trail – Granite Mountain Preserve

Turn right towards Red Loop

Turn right towards Red Loop

Follow the Red-Yellow Trail for about 140 feet until its terminus at a collapsed stone wall. The Red Trail Loop begins on the other side of the wall. After passing through the stone wall, turn right on the Red Trail and follow it uphill as it travels on a woods road.

Red-Yellow Trail - Granite Mountain Preserve

Red-Yellow Trail – Granite Mountain Preserve

After passing through the stone wall, turn right on the Red Trail

After passing through the stone wall, turn right on the Red Trail

Turn right on the Red Trail

Turn right on the Red Trail

Red Trail - Granite Mountain Preserve

Red Trail – Granite Mountain Preserve

Soon the trail levels off as it sidehills the slope, heading in a northeasterly direction.

Red Trail - Granite Mountain Preserve

Red Trail – Granite Mountain Preserve

Red Trail - Granite Mountain Preserve

Red Trail – Granite Mountain Preserve

Looking up at the steep slope towards the summit, one can see cave-like openings in the granite rock formations.

Red Trail - Granite Mountain Preserve

Red Trail – Granite Mountain Preserve

The trail runs along the eastern border of the the preserve and soon begins a gradual ascent. The trail soon passes through a grassy area bounded on all sides by stone walls then veers left and begins to climb some more. The trail passes through a stone wall then over another stone wall.

Red Trail - Granite Mountain Preserve

Red Trail – Granite Mountain Preserve

Red Trail - Granite Mountain Preserve

Red Trail – Granite Mountain Preserve

Red Trail - Granite Mountain Preserve

Red Trail – Granite Mountain Preserve

Red Trail - Granite Mountain Preserve

Red Trail – Granite Mountain Preserve

Red Trail - Granite Mountain Preserve

Red Trail – Granite Mountain Preserve

Red Trail - Granite Mountain Preserve

Red Trail – Granite Mountain Preserve

As the trail bends to the west, it levels off and begins a gradual descent. In about 0.8-mile, the Red Trail closes the loop at the collapsed stone wall that you passed through earlier.

Red Trail - Granite Mountain Preserve

Red Trail – Granite Mountain Preserve

Turn right, leaving the Red Trail, crossing through the collapsed stone wall and begin retracing your steps on the Red-Yellow Trail. When you reach the junction with the Yellow Trail, turn left to remain on the Red-Yellow Trail. Follow the red/yellow blazes downhill, now retracing your steps back to the parking area, where the hike began.

Turn right on Red-Yellow Trail

Turn right on Red-Yellow Trail

Turn left to remain on Red-Yellow Trail

Turn left to remain on Red-Yellow Trail

Trailhead – Granite Mountain Preserve

Trailhead – Granite Mountain Preserve

Parking lot – Granite Mountain Preserve

Parking lot – Granite Mountain Preserve


Review:

Although the one view on this hike is not much to speak of, this was a really good hike. The trails are well marked and the preserve was free of litter. The landscape is scenic and the elevation gain will get your heart pumping. We only encountered two people while we were there and for the most part, had the place to ourselves. The bonus was that on a hot and humid day, the entire hike was in the shade.

Pros:

Well marked trails, litter free, well maintained preserve, Trails are shaded throughout.

Cons:

Partial views.


Take a hike!

Granite Mountain Preserve

Granite Mountain Preserve


Sources:


Kay’s Cottage Ruins from Cooper Gristmill

May 23, 2021 – Chester, New Jersey

Difficulty: Moderate

Length: Approximately 5 miles

Max elevation: 744 ft.– total elevation gain approximately 472 ft.

Route type: Semi-Loop

Trail Map: Cooper Gristmill & Elizabeth D. Kay Environmental Center

Avenza App Map: Patriots Path Chester Trail Map – Oct. 2017

Trailhead parking: Cooper Mill County Park – Chester, NJ 07930

Large parking lot – portable toilet on site


Overview:

Black River County Park, part of the Morris County Park System, consists of 858 acres. It includes four important cultural sites – the Cooper Gristmill, Elizabeth D. Kay Environmental Center, Bamboo Brook Outdoor Education Center, and Willowwood Arboretum – each of which is not only worth visiting in its own right, but also provides access to trails in the area. A more comprehensive description of each of these areas can be found on the Morris County Park System web site by searching for the name of the cultural site, not “Black River County Park.”

Cooper Gristmill, located on 14 acres, was built in 1826 and is one of the remaining restored water-powered mills in New Jersey. It is listed on the State and National Registers of Historic Places. It is a living example of the state’s transition from an agricultural to an industrial economy.

Cooper Gristmill

Cooper Gristmill

Cooper Gristmill is one of about 30 access points for the Patriots’ Path, which links federal, state, county, and municipal parks, watershed lands, historic sites, and other points of interest. The site is managed by the Morris County Park Commission.

Cooper Gristmill

Cooper Gristmill

The Patriots’ Path stretches from East Hanover, where it connects with the Lenape Trail in Essex County to Allamuchy Mountain State Park in Sussex County, intersecting with the Columbia Trail in Washington Township.


History:

Kay’s Cottage ruins sits on property that is now The Elizabeth D. Kay Environmental Center in Chester. It was once part of a 233-acre estate owned by Elizabeth and Alfred Kay called Hidden River Farm. The property encompassed an array of habitats, including fields, deciduous forests and a hemlock gorge set along the Black River. The Kays built carriage trails through fields and woods that wind down to the Black River where a dam was built to create a deep and calm swimming pool with a diving board. A summer house was built alongside the ‘pool’ with showers, changing rooms, a fireplace, and a terrace. Only the stone foundations and walls remain today.

Kay's Cottage Ruins - Black River County Park

Kay’s Cottage Ruins – Black River County Park

Elizabeth and Alfred bought land in Chester in 1924, including a late 18th century stone farmhouse that they converted into a comfortable country estate. They lived in Chester during the spring, summer and fall.

Starting in 1962, the Kays began donating parts of their 233-acre Hidden River Farm to the Morris County Parks Commission to be used as an environmental center, where “each day would bring a new wonder and challenge to learn.” The Elizabeth D. Kay Environmental Center in Chester was dedicated on October 28, 1993 for “the teaching of children and adults in the natural sciences and the appreciation thereof.”


Trails Overview:

The Patriots’ Path is blazed with the path-and-tree logo and the abundance of markers, makes it relatively easy to follow.

Patriots’ Path - Black River County Park

Patriots’ Path – Black River County Park

The section of the Patriots’ Path followed on this hike is a level and easy walk along the Black River as it runs on an old railroad bed for much of the route. There are exposed roots through much of the trail.

Patriots’ Path - Black River County Park

Patriots’ Path – Black River County Park

From Cooper Mill, the Patriots’ Path is coaligned with the Black River Trail as it heads south (downstream), passing where an old trestle of the Hacklebarney Mine Railroad spanned the river. The Patriots’ Path soon joins the railroad right-of-way, passing alongside Kay’s Pond, just below old mine areas on the slope to the left. Beyond the pond is the refurbished dam and the Hacklebarney mine site, which are chained off. The trail can be followed as far south to Willowwood Arboretum in Far Hills, NJ.

Patriots’ Path - Cooper Gristmill

Patriots’ Path – Cooper Gristmill

Other Trails:

Orange Trail ~ Follows a woods road that provides access to Kay’s Cottage along the Black River. The trail crosses the Black River on a wooden bridge, climbs a little then descends to the river’s edge.

Green Trail ~ The section between the Patriots’ Path and the Orange Trail is a woods road and easy walking. South of the Orange Trail it becomes a bit more rugged as it turns into a narrow footpath that sidehills the steep slope above the east bank of the Black River. The trail is rocky in places, uneven with short steep elevation changes and is poorly marked with numerous blow downs.

Red Trail ~ Follows a woods road just above the the Green Trail as it heads north. It eventually leaves the woods road and continues on a footpath. It ends at a junction with the Orange Trail.

Connector Trails ~ There are several short connector trails that are used on this hike. They are blazed with the two colors of the trails that they connect.


Hike Overview:

With high temperatures expected for the weekend, I was looking to do a hike with some shaded trails and water, while keeping the elevation gain to a minimum. This turned out to be the perfect hike for a hot and humid day. Not only were all of the trails that were hiked shaded, but the scenic landscape and the stone ruins kept it interesting as well. By getting an early start, we had the woods mostly to ourselves.

The parking lot on a Sunday at 8:40 am.

Cooper Gristmill – Black River County Park

Cooper Gristmill – Black River County Park

By the time we returned to the parking lot at about 11:30 am, it was at or near capacity.

Cooper Gristmill - Black River County Park

Cooper Gristmill – Black River County Park

The focal point of this hike is Kay’s Cottage and the surrounding area, but the rest of the hike was enjoyable as well. Even though this hike is on the lower spectrum of a moderate hike, sections of the Green and Red Trails gave it a more backwoods feel.

Kay’s Cottage Ruins from Cooper Gristmill

Kay’s Cottage Ruins from Cooper Gristmill

elevation profile - Kay's Cottage

elevation profile – Kay’s Cottage


The Hike:

From the northwest corner of the parking area, proceed west to the stone Cooper Gristmill. The mill, built in 1826, is open for tours in the summer and on weekends in the spring and fall. Descend the stairs alongside the mill and head south on the blue-blazed spur of the Patriots’ Path (blazed with the path-and-tree logo), which crosses several tributary streams on wooden bridges and several wet areas on puncheons.

Cooper Gristmill

Cooper Gristmill

Cooper Gristmill

Cooper Gristmill

Bartley Turbine - Cooper Gristmill

Bartley Turbine – Cooper Gristmill

Cooper Gristmill

Cooper Gristmill

Patriots’ Path - Cooper Gristmill

Patriots’ Path – Cooper Gristmill

Patriots’ Path - Cooper Gristmill

Patriots’ Path – Cooper Gristmill

Cooper Gristmill

Cooper Gristmill

Patriots’ Path - Black River County Park

Patriots’ Path – Black River County Park

Patriots’ Path - Black River County Park

Patriots’ Path – Black River County Park

Patriots’ Path - Black River County Park

Patriots’ Path – Black River County Park

Patriots’ Path - Black River County Park

Patriots’ Path – Black River County Park

About a third of a mile from the start, the trail turns left onto an abandoned railroad grade – the former route of the Hacklebarney Branch of the Central Railroad of New Jersey, built in 1873 to carry iron ore from mines along the river and abandoned in 1900. The trail follows this railroad grade for the next mile. Although it was abandoned over a century ago, the right-of-way is in remarkably good condition.

Patriots’ Path - Black River County Park

Patriots’ Path – Black River County Park

Patriots’ Path - Black River County Park

Patriots’ Path – Black River County Park

Half a mile from the start, you’ll pass Kay Pond (formerly known as Hacklebarney Pond) on the right. Here, the railroad had to be blasted through a rock cut, and the drill marks from the blasting may still be seen in the rock. The small building at the south end of Kay Pond was once used to store ice cut from the pond in the winter.

Patriots’ Path - Black River County Park

Patriots’ Path – Black River County Park

Patriots’ Path - Black River County Park

Patriots’ Path – Black River County Park

Patriots’ Path - Black River County Park

Patriots’ Path – Black River County Park

Patriots’ Path - Black River County Park

Patriots’ Path – Black River County Park

Patriots’ Path - Black River County Park

Patriots’ Path – Black River County Park

Patriots’ Path - Black River County Park

Patriots’ Path – Black River County Park

After passing the stone dam at the end of the pond, the trail goes by a bridge over the Black River (closed to vehicular traffic), turns left, and passes a fenced-in area on the left. This is the site of the former Hacklebarney Mine, where a considerable amount of iron ore was mined in the last quarter of the nineteenth century. The trail proceeds along the scenic river. Soon, the railroad grade ends and the trail continues on a slightly rougher footpath parallel to the river.

Patriots’ Path - Black River County Park

Patriots’ Path – Black River County Park

Patriots’ Path - Black River County Park

Patriots’ Path – Black River County Park

Patriots’ Path - Black River County Park

Patriots’ Path – Black River County Park

Patriots’ Path - Black River County Park

Patriots’ Path – Black River County Park

Patriots’ Path - Black River County Park

Patriots’ Path – Black River County Park

About 1.2 miles from the start, after crossing two wooden footbridges over tributary streams, the trail reaches abandoned concrete abutments in the river, the remnants of a former bridge. Here, the trail bears left and begins to head uphill on a wide woods road. It soon reaches the start of the Green Trail, which begins on the right.

Patriots’ Path - Black River County Park

Patriots’ Path – Black River County Park

Patriots’ Path - Black River County Park

Patriots’ Path – Black River County Park

Patriots’ Path - Black River County Park

Patriots’ Path – Black River County Park

Green Trail begins on the right

Green Trail begins on the right

Turn right on the Green Trail, marked by three green blazes on a post. The Green Trail follows a wide path for about 350 yards (0.2 mile), then reaches a four way junction with the Orange Trail.

Green Trail - Black River County Park

Green Trail – Black River County Park

Green Trail - Black River County Park

Green Trail – Black River County Park

Turn right on the Orange Trail and follow the woods road downhill towards the Black River. The trail passes a junction with the Green/Orange Connector Trail (you will return back to this spot) and continues across the Black River on a wooden bridge. The trail continues uphill, away from the river then curves to the left, parallels the river from high above and begins to descend as it approaches the river.

turn right on Orange Trail

turn right on Orange Trail

Orange Trail - Black River County Park

Orange Trail – Black River County Park

Orange Trail - Black River County Park

Orange Trail – Black River County Park

Orange Trail - Black River County Park

Orange Trail – Black River County Park

Orange Trail - Black River County Park

Orange Trail – Black River County Park

Orange Trail - Black River County Park

Orange Trail – Black River County Park

Orange Trail - Black River County Park

Orange Trail – Black River County Park

As the trail descends, the river will come into view, keep an eye out on the left for stone steps leading down to Kay’s Cottage. Take the steps downhill to the ruins of Kay’s Cottage next to a dam and waterfall. You may want to take some time here to check out these interesting stone ruins.

Orange Trail - Black River County Park

Orange Trail – Black River County Park

Turn left and descend the stone steps towards the Black River

Turn left and descend the stone steps towards the Black River

Kay's Cottage Ruins - Black River County Park

Kay’s Cottage Ruins – Black River County Park

Kay's Cottage Ruins - Black River County Park

Kay’s Cottage Ruins – Black River County Park

Dam waterfall - Kay's Cottage Ruins

Dam waterfall – Kay’s Cottage Ruins

Kay's Cottage Ruins - Black River County Park

Kay’s Cottage Ruins – Black River County Park

Kay's Cottage Ruins - Black River County Park

Kay’s Cottage Ruins – Black River County Park

Kay's Cottage Ruins - Black River County Park

Kay’s Cottage Ruins – Black River County Park

Kay's Cottage Ruins - Black River County Park

Kay’s Cottage Ruins – Black River County Park

Kay's Cottage Ruins - Black River County Park

Kay’s Cottage Ruins – Black River County Park

When you are ready to proceed, climb back up the stone steps, turn right and retrace your route back to the bridge. Side note: we turned left and walked the Orange Trail for about 300 feet to its terminus at the base of the river, but there is nothing to see in that direction.

Orange Trail - Black River County Park

Orange Trail – Black River County Park

Orange Trail - Black River County Park

Orange Trail – Black River County Park

Orange Trail - Black River County Park

Orange Trail – Black River County Park

Just after crossing the bridge, turn right on the Green/Orange Connector Trail which begins on a woods road, but soon descends towards the river on a footpath.

Green/Orange Connector Trail - Black River County Park

Green/Orange Connector Trail – Black River County Park

Green/Orange Connector Trail - Black River County Park

Green/Orange Connector Trail – Black River County Park

Green/Orange Connector Trail - Black River County Park

Green/Orange Connector Trail – Black River County Park

Green/Orange Connector Trail - Black River County Park

Green/Orange Connector Trail – Black River County Park

The trail leaves the river and begins to climb the hill, although the footpath is discernible, we didn’t spot any blazes. There was more than one path going in the same direction so we may have been on the wrong trail or a blowdown may have altered our route. We didn’t see where the connector trail ended and the Green Trail started. Eventually the green blazes appeared and we followed them along the steep hillside on a narrow footpath. After several ups and downs and climbing over blowdowns, the trail descends to the Black River directly opposite of Kay’s Cottage Ruins.

Green Trail - Black River County Park

Green Trail – Black River County Park

Kay's Cottage Ruins - Black River County Park

Kay’s Cottage Ruins – Black River County Park

The square concrete block on the right is where the diving board was located.

Kay's Cottage Ruins - Black River County Park

Kay’s Cottage Ruins – Black River County Park

When you are ready to proceed, continue south on the Green Trail which climbs and descends along the river. The trail is narrow and runs along the steep hillside, so take care as you traverse this portion of the trail. This section of trail is more wild and has a feeling of remoteness. In about 425 yards, the Green Trail reaches a stone chimney and stone foundations on the right.

Green Trail - Black River County Park

Green Trail – Black River County Park

Green Trail - Black River County Park

Green Trail – Black River County Park

Green Trail - Black River County Park

Green Trail – Black River County Park

Green Trail - Black River County Park

Green Trail – Black River County Park

Green Trail - Black River County Park

Green Trail – Black River County Park

Green Trail - Black River County Park

Green Trail – Black River County Park

Green Trail - Black River County Park

Green Trail – Black River County Park

This is a good place to take a break and enjoy the beauty of your surroundings.

Green Trail - Black River County Park

Green Trail – Black River County Park

Green Trail - Black River County Park

Green Trail – Black River County Park

When you are ready to continue, proceed uphill on the Green Trail a short distance to its terminus at a junction with the Red Trail. Continue uphill, now following the red blazes. DO NOT TURN RIGHT. The Red Trail curves to the left and heads in a northeasterly direction on a level wide track which soon turns into a more rugged footpath as it descends a little. The Red Trail runs parallel to the Green Trail, higher up the slope. The Red Trail passes a junction with a faded Gray Trail which connects to the Green Trail down below. Veer right at this junction to continue following the red blazes. The Red Trail now begins a steady climb and in almost half a mile from the junction with the Green Trail, the Red Trail ends at a T-intersection with a woods road, the route of the Orange Trail.

Green Trail - Black River County Park

Green Trail – Black River County Park

Circled are three green blazes indicating the end of the Green Trail.

Terminus of Green Trail - Black River County Park

Terminus of Green Trail – Black River County Park

Red Trail - Black River County Park

Red Trail – Black River County Park

Red Trail - Black River County Park

Red Trail – Black River County Park

Red Trail - Black River County Park

Red Trail – Black River County Park

Red Trail - Black River County Park

Red Trail – Black River County Park

Red Trail - Black River County Park

Red Trail – Black River County Park

While I was standing by this tree waiting for my hiking mates to catch up, A coyote came up the slope, walked along the trail for about 15 feet, then ran up the hillside. Every time that I raised the camera, it would run about 10 feet higher, all the while looking at me. It was watching me as I was watching it. I’ve seen a few coyotes in the woods, but this was the largest by far.

Red Trail - Black River County Park

Red Trail – Black River County Park

Red Trail - Black River County Park

Red Trail – Black River County Park

Turn left on Orange Trail

Turn left on Orange Trail

Turn left on the Orange Trail which heads north on the woods road.

Turn left on Orange Trail

Turn left on Orange Trail

In about 210 yards, the Orange Trail comes to a Y-intersection with another woods road and veers left. Turn RIGHT at this junction, the route of the Blue/Orange Connector Trail.

Turn right on Blue/Orange Connector Trail

Turn right on Blue/Orange Connector Trail

Turn right on Blue/Orange Connector Trail

Turn right on Blue/Orange Connector Trail

Blue/Orange Connector Trail - Black River County Park

Blue/Orange Connector Trail – Black River County Park

In about 220 yards, the Blue/Orange Connector Trail comes to a Y-intersection with the Patriots’ Path. This junction is not well marked, but you should turn left here. A few feet after turning left, you’ll pass the junction with the Green Trail on the left that you took earlier in the hike. Continue ahead on the Patriots’ Path. From that point you will be retracing your steps, heading north, back to the Cooper Gristmill, where the hike began.

Turn left on Patriots’ Path

Turn left on Patriots’ Path

Patriots’ Path - Black River County Park

Patriots’ Path – Black River County Park

Patriots’ Path - Black River County Park

Patriots’ Path – Black River County Park

Cooper Gristmill - Black River County Park

Cooper Gristmill – Black River County Park

When we returned to the parking lot at approximately 11:30 am, it was at or near capacity.

Cooper Gristmill - Black River County Park

Cooper Gristmill – Black River County Park


Review:

An excellent hike along the Black River with numerous points of interest. This hike is perfect for a hot and humid day as the entire hike was shaded from the sun. A good combination of well graded woods roads/railbed and rugged footpaths. Kay’s Cottage Ruins are eye-catching as is the view of them from across the river. The trails are well marked, but the junctions could use some signage. The Green Trail, south of the Orange Trail, is a more wild and remote area. Although we failed to see some blazes in that area, it could have been due to a blowdown along the trail that redirected our route. Carry a map and compass and you shouldn’t have any issues. Although the parking lot was full when we returned, we started early enough (8:40 am) that we only encountered a few people throughout the hike. All in all a great day on the trails.

Pros:

Kay’s Cottage Ruins, Black River, large parking lot, well marked trails, scenic landscape.

Cons:

Trail junctions could use some signage.


Take a hike!

Kay’s Cottage Ruins from Cooper Gristmill

Kay’s Cottage Ruins from Cooper Gristmill


Sources:


Indian Hill Loop – Sterling Forest State Park

May 15, 2021 – Southfields, NY

Difficulty: Moderate

Length: Approximately 4 miles

Max elevation: 1,047 ft.– total elevation gain 621 ft.

Route type: Circuit

Buy Map: Sterling Forest Trails Map 2020 #100

Free Map: Sterling Forest State Park Trail Map

Trailhead parking: Furnace Loop Trailhead – Southfields, NY 10975

Large dirt parking area at the end of an unmaintained dirt road – portable toilet on site

Please note: Hunting is permitted in the park during hunting seasons. Hikers should wear bright clothing.


Park Overview:

Located within the towns of Tuxedo, Warwick, and Greenwood Lake in Orange County, NY, Sterling Forest State Park comprises nearly 22,000 acres of nearly pristine natural refuge amidst one of the nation’s most densely populated areas. It includes numerous lakes, streams and miles of hiking trails. The Park is also the home of significant historic sites relating to the mining of iron ore and production of iron products from colonial days up through the early years of the 20th century.

Sterling Forest State Park contains significant natural resources. 95% of the park is designated as a Park Preserve Area and as a Bird Conservation Area. The Park also contains many rare animals. In addition to the Timber Rattlesnake, the Park contains a wide variety of amphibians and reptiles. The North American Beaver are a common species which are also widespread in Sterling Forest State Park, inhabiting many of the Park’s major drainages and wetland systems.

Indian Hill is strategically located between Bear Mountain-Harriman State Parks and Sterling Forest. At 1,047 feet above sea level, the summit of Indian Hill offers views of the surrounding lands of the Ramapo River Valley, Sterling Forest and Harriman State Park. 

View east towards Harriman State Park

View east towards Harriman State Park

The property is made up of wooded, rolling hills and former farm fields, with hardwood forest and exposed bedrock, characteristics of the Highlands Region. It contains a pond, several wooded wetlands, steep bedrock slopes and picturesque streams.

Warbler Trail - Sterling Forest State Park

Warbler Trail – Sterling Forest State Park

The property is also home to Southfields Furnace, a site listed on the National and State Registers of Historic Places as one of the most intact iron furnaces in the Highlands Region.

The Appalachian National Scenic Trail traverses Harriman State Park, then enters into Sterling Forest directly adjacent to the northern flank of Indian Hill. There is a 0.5-mile connector trail that links the two.

Indian Hill Loop – Sterling Forest State Park

Indian Hill Loop – Sterling Forest State Park

A NYS DEC hunting license and a Sterling Forest State Park hunting permit are required to hunt in the park, which is only permitted during deer and turkey season. Some areas are closed to hunting.


History:

In the Town of Tuxedo, off Orange Turnpike, just north of Bramerton Road, is Indian Hill, a section of Sterling Forest State Park. It was an old farm going all the way back to 1697. The property was sold several times, but in 1804 it ended up with the Townsend family, who also owned the Sterling Furnace further south. They built another iron furnace up here at Southfields. It was quite a large farm, employing more than 400 people. Indian Hill got its name from a golf course that was planned for the land back in the 1940’s. 

In the deep woods of Indian Hill are tall, wide and meticulously-constructed stone walls that are much too wide to be property markers. Some folks have hypothesized that those walls were sacred, constructed by Native Americans and used to mark the summer solstice. Others have written that the walls are “mysterious.”

wide stone walls - Indian Hill Loop Trail

wide stone walls – Indian Hill Loop Trail

Donald “Doc” Bayne, president of the Friends of Sterling Forest and a former park ranger and environmental historian who retired in 2011, has said: “What we believe is that the farmer would let his cows graze in the pasture in the morning, take them down to the stream for water, and then bring them back up to relax under those big shade trees in the afternoon. Those walls were to contain the herds and keep the cattle away from the crops and for that, they needed to be both tall and wide.”

wide stone walls – Indian Hill Loop Trail

wide stone walls – Indian Hill Loop Trail

“We call the road between the big walls ‘Broadway’ because it’s wide enough for three wagons,” Doc says. “There are signs of bridge abutments down by the stream, with the remnants of five small houses which we believe housed the farmhands.”

"Broadway" - Indian Hill Loop Trail

“Broadway” – Indian Hill Loop Trail

Sterling Forest State Park was established in 1998 after New York State paid $55 million for 15,280 acres of land using a combination of public and private funds.

The 490-acre Indian Hill tract was acquired independently by Scenic Hudson Land Trust, Inc. for $2.25 million in 1994 from a developer who wanted to build a golf course and luxury housing on the property. Scenic Hudson transferred the property to the Palisades Interstate Park Commission a few years later. In 2002, Indian Hill was added to Sterling Forest State Park.

Indian Hill connects Harriman State Park with Sterling Forest State Park. The NY-NJ Trail Conference built and maintains the 3.8-mile Indian Hill Loop Trail and a 0.5-mile trail that connects to the Appalachian Trail.


Trails Overview:

The trailhead is located off of Orange Turnpike (County Route 19), marked by a sign for “Indian Hill.” There is a large dirt parking area at the end of an unmaintained dirt road. The parking area has a portable toilet.

Indian Hill Trailhead – Sterling Forest State Park

Indian Hill Trailhead – Sterling Forest State Park 

It’s a 0.2-mile drive down this dirt road to the parking area. Low lying vehicles are not recommended for this road as it is rutted in places and there are potholes as well.

Indian Hill Trailhead – Sterling Forest State Park

Indian Hill Trailhead – Sterling Forest State Park

Although hard to tell in this photograph, there is a short steep incline from the road to the parking area. Low lying vehicles may bottom out here. The parking area itself has space for about 14 vehicles.

Indian Hill Trailhead – Sterling Forest State Park

Indian Hill Trailhead – Sterling Forest State Park

The white-stripe-on-yellow-blazed Indian Hill Loop Trail is a closed loop trail that is approximately 3.8 miles long of moderate difficulty. There are several seasonal viewpoints along the trail. The trail parallels and cuts through an extensive system of rock walls, both natural and man-made. From this trail, connection can be made to both the Appalachian Trail to the north and the Furnace Loop trail to the south. This trail is maintained by the NY-NJ Trail Conference.

Indian Hill Loop Trail - Sterling Forest State Park

Indian Hill Loop Trail – Sterling Forest State Park


Hike Overview:

This moderate four-mile hike is perfect for both beginner and intermediate hikers looking for a more challenging hike. Indian Hill is not as well-known as the more popular trails, and the area provides nice views of the surrounding hills in a more serene setting. It also boasts some of the largest and oldest oak trees which can be found in the park. For those that are navigationally challenged, this hike follows just one trail (optional short detour) for the entire hike, making getting lost very difficult.

With a widespread gasoline shortage along the U.S. East Coast, we decided to keep the travel to a minimum. With only a 30 minute drive from the Tappan Zee Bridge, this hike was perfect. I have had this hike on my list since 2017, but had forgotten about it. Trying to find hikes that are lightly trafficked has become increasingly difficult these days, but this one checked all the boxes. No crowds, plenty of parking, nice views and well marked trails.

Indian Hill Loop Trail – Sterling Forest State Park

Indian Hill Loop Trail – Sterling Forest State Park

There are several short steep climbs and numerous ups and downs on this hike, but the elevation gain at about 621-ft. is at the lower spectrum of a moderate hike.

elevation profile - Indian Hill Loop Trail

elevation profile – Indian Hill Loop Trail


The Hike:

This hike follows the white-stripe-on-yellow-blazed Indian Hill Loop Trail, described here in a counter-clockwise direction. From the information kiosk in the parking area, the trail proceeds through a hemlock grove, bears right and climbs to the crest of a rise. After descending a little, it climbs to reach an open granite ledge, with west-facing views over the hills of Sterling Forest.

Indian Hill Loop Trail - Sterling Forest State Park

Indian Hill Loop Trail – Sterling Forest State Park

 

Indian Hill Loop Trail - Sterling Forest State Park

Indian Hill Loop Trail – Sterling Forest State Park

 

Indian Hill Loop Trail - Sterling Forest State Park

Indian Hill Loop Trail – Sterling Forest State Park

 

Indian Hill Loop Trail - Sterling Forest State Park

Indian Hill Loop Trail – Sterling Forest State Park

 

Indian Hill Loop Trail - Sterling Forest State Park

Indian Hill Loop Trail – Sterling Forest State Park

 

Indian Hill Loop Trail - Sterling Forest State Park

Indian Hill Loop Trail – Sterling Forest State Park

 

Indian Hill Loop Trail - Sterling Forest State Park

Indian Hill Loop Trail – Sterling Forest State Park

 

Indian Hill Loop Trail - Sterling Forest State Park

Indian Hill Loop Trail – Sterling Forest State Park

A short distance beyond, the red-blazed Furnace Loop Trail joins from the right. Continue ahead, now following both yellow and red blazes, as the joint trails climb to the ridgetop and descend into a valley, crossing several stone walls. After climbing to another rock ledge, with partial views to the south and east, they descend to a junction with a woods road. The trails turn right onto the road, but you may wish to detour to the left on this road, the route of the Warbler Trail, which leads in 200 feet to a dam and a picturesque pond.

Indian Hill Loop Trail - Sterling Forest State Park

Indian Hill Loop Trail – Sterling Forest State Park

 

Indian Hill Loop Trail - Sterling Forest State Park

Indian Hill Loop Trail – Sterling Forest State Park

 

Indian Hill Loop Trail - Sterling Forest State Park

Indian Hill Loop Trail – Sterling Forest State Park

 

Indian Hill Loop Trail - Sterling Forest State Park

Indian Hill Loop Trail – Sterling Forest State Park

 

Indian Hill Loop Trail - Sterling Forest State Park

Indian Hill Loop Trail – Sterling Forest State Park

 

Indian Hill Loop Trail - Sterling Forest State Park

Indian Hill Loop Trail – Sterling Forest State Park

 

Indian Hill Loop Trail - Sterling Forest State Park

Indian Hill Loop Trail – Sterling Forest State Park

 

Indian Hill Loop Trail - Sterling Forest State Park

Indian Hill Loop Trail – Sterling Forest State Park

 

Indian Hill Loop Trail - Sterling Forest State Park

Indian Hill Loop Trail – Sterling Forest State Park

 

Warbler Trail - Sterling Forest State Park

Warbler Trail – Sterling Forest State Park

 

Warbler Trail - Sterling Forest State Park

Warbler Trail – Sterling Forest State Park

 

Warbler Trail - Sterling Forest State Park

Warbler Trail – Sterling Forest State Park

Retrace your steps back to the junction and continue to follow the joint Indian Hill/Furnace Loop trails. Soon, the red-blazed Furnace Loop Trail leaves to the right. For the remainder of the hike, you’ll be following only the white-stripe-on-yellow blazes of the Indian Hill Loop Trail. The trail now crosses a stream on rocks and climbs to a panoramic south-facing viewpoint from a rock ledge. It then ascends to the ridgetop, which it follows north.

Indian Hill Loop Trail - Sterling Forest State Park

Indian Hill Loop Trail – Sterling Forest State Park

 

Indian Hill Loop Trail - Sterling Forest State Park

Indian Hill Loop Trail – Sterling Forest State Park

 

Indian Hill Loop Trail - Sterling Forest State Park

Indian Hill Loop Trail – Sterling Forest State Park

 

Indian Hill Loop Trail - Sterling Forest State Park

Indian Hill Loop Trail – Sterling Forest State Park<