“One of the best hikes in the Gunks combining awesome views with precarious hiking!”
— Gunks Jesse
Birding · Fall Colors · River/Creek · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife
This hike is probably one of the most popular destinations for non-climbers in the Gunks. It begins in a meadow, traverses through some hills, then scrambles up the side of Bonticou Crag, providing a very exposed feeling on the way up. Bonticou Crag has an incredible 360 degree view of the surrounding countryside, including the Wallkill Valley, the Catskills, the Gunks, and much more! The hike continues along the ridge, where it descends and reenters the forest below to loop back around to the parking area.
Need to Know
Bring water and be aware that the scramble up Bonticou is intense and rocky. Don't do this hike if a storm is in the forecast. The top of the crag is very exposed and offers almost no protection from lightning strikes.
Begin at the Spring Farm parking area and hike north along the parking lot on Farm Road
. Take the obvious right on Crag Trail
(red blazes) where it crosses an open meadow along a hedgerow. Stay straight on Crag Trail
as it crosses Cedar Drive
and Spring Farm Road
. Crag Trail
will dead end at the 5-way intersection with Cedar Drive
and Bonticou Road
. A pond will be visible directly in front of you.
Turn left, but stay right to take Bonticou Road
as it begins a traverse around a small rise. Enjoy the view of the small depression on the left and look for wildflowers in this area. As you work around the rise, Bonticou Crag will come into view. Bonticou Ascent Path
(yellow blazes) breaks off to the left at an obvious intersection directly in front of Bonticou Crag.
Take the ascent path as it rises through the talus pile and access the ridge via a notch in the wall. Be careful to follow the yellow blazes painted on the rocks and stay on course. Enjoy the scenery and explore the top of the crag. From this point, you may choose to descend and return the way you came (a popular but more risky route as the descent is a bit more perilous than the ascent).
Or, continue along the yellow-blazed Bonticou Ascent Path
as it heads north along the ridge. After a half mile or so it will meet up with the Northeast Trail
(blue blazes), and descend through a narrow and steep path. Use roots and rocks to balance as you descend. Follow Northeast Trail
as it descends into the base of a small gulley. As soon as it starts to rise, Cedar Trail (red blazes) tees in from the right. Take Cedar Trail north past Cedar Drive
to where it dead ends into Table Rocks Trail
(blue blazes). Turn left on Table Rocks Trail
and follow it all the way back to the parking area.