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Schunnemunk Highlights

 4.5 (6)
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Length


6.2 Miles 10.0 Kilometers


1,373' 419 m

Ascent

-1,369' -417 m

Descent

8%

Avg Grade (5°)

37%

Max Grade (20°)

1,645' 502 m

High

297' 90 m

Low

Shared By Lou Poulas

Conditions


Unknown

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Jam-packed and ever-changing fun in a short 6 miles from the highlights of three great trails in Schunnemunk State Park.

Lou Poulas

Dogs Leashed

Features Birding · Cave · Fall Colors · River/Creek · Spring · Views · Waterfall · Wildflowers · Wildlife

Overview

This Featured Hike encompasses three unique trails that, when combined, offer highly appealing variety to the hiker. Sweet Clover Trail is a first-rate starting point and takes one through several large open meadows replete with wildflowers and wildlife before heading into the woods and up to a ridgeline. On the way, traverse through boulder fields with several viewpoints of the surrounding countryside. Hook in with Jessup Trail for a taste of New England, and follow the contours of the ridge over expansive rock formations with countless scrub pines marking the route. Just off the trail, take a side route to a huge megalith overlooking Washingtonville. Finally, head back via Dark Hollow Trail to experience a deep woods feel through a minor wetland area, next to a small cave, and along open portions of the southern and eastern ridge to spy the Hudson River and Storm King State Park in the distance.

Need to Know

Hunting is permitted within the park boundary, and there are signs encouraging hikers to wear bright colors.

Description

The park is very close to I87, and you can hear highway noise on portions of the hike at the beginning and end. Do not let this deter you! It really is a worthwhile hike.

The initial portion of the hike is on the white-blazed Sweet Clover Trail (though the very beginning is also yellow-blazed). This section is quite lovely and mostly flat through a striking meadow with open views. There can be non-hikers here taking in the view and snapping pictures. Follow the trail southwest for about 0.25 miles before bearing right and crossing a hunters' parking lot. Towards the end of the lot, the Sweet Clover Trail continues, so quickly bear left (staying on the white-blazed trail), leaving the yellow-blazed Jessup Trail behind. This section traverses a second lovely meadow and eventually breaks into the woods around the 0.6 overall mile mark.

This early part of this wooded section is up a slight incline on a very wide trail, and you’ll soon cross over an operating railroad track (approximate overall mile 0.9)—cross with caution. The next mile is mostly uphill with about 1,200 feet of total elevation gain from the initial meadows. This section is superb with sections of the trail cut into the side of a steep incline and several limited overlook points where you can see how quickly your climbing. There are also a few very minor rock scrambles and a very interesting boulder field along the side of a very steep hill.

At approximately the overall 2.1-mile mark, bear left onto the yellow-blazed Jessup Trail. This junction occurs at the top of a ridgeline, and the trail continues southwest for about 0.8 miles. Hike in and out of wide open rock formations past great looking scrub pines, and several overlooks. Keep a sharp eye out for the trail and expect to backtrack a few times. There is much exposed bedrock and finding the trail at the other end of the expanse can be tricky at times. The rock itself is of interest, with several areas colored pink and referred to as Puddingstone. Around the overall 3-mile mark and at a huge open expanse on exposed bedrock, pause and look for the white-blazed Megaliths Trail. This is not easy to find as the sign is worn away, and the trail commences several hundred feet northwest of Jessup Trail.

Take Megaliths Trail a few hundred yards to the megalith itself. Here is a great spot to rest and have a snack or lunch. The megalith is quite large, and it takes a small bit of balance to get there, but if you made it this far, it will be simple enough. You can see the Catskill Mountains in the distance as well as Stewart Airport.

Once rested, follow your steps back to the Jessup Trail and retrace them to the overall 3.5-mile mark and bear right onto the black square on white-blazed Dark Hallow Trail. This is also a great section that descends the 1200 feet you climbed earlier. Pass through rhododendron tunnels, down through some tricky and steep rocky sections of trail, over a minor stream crossing (mile 3.8), and along a portion of the ridge line facing south. Make sure your laces are tight, as it’s all downhill for the next mile and half. The highlight of Dark Hallow Trail is probably the small glimpses you see of the surrounding valley from a few vantage points along the way. Eventually, the trail takes you through a nice overlook where you can see the Hudson River far in the distance and the mountain that makes up Storm King State Park.

Finally, there is one tricky section navigating your way back to Sweet Clover Trail. As Dark Hallow Trail descends toward the railroad tracks, it makes intuitive sense to cross them. There is even a trail directly opposite of where you come out—but don’t cross here. Look left, and there is a tree marker for the red-blazed Otterkill Trail. Take this for a few hundred feet, over a stream crossing that has a nice cascade when flowing, and pick up Sweet Clover again by bearing right. Sweet Clover now retraces your way across the railroad tracks, through the meadows, and to the trailhead.

Flora & Fauna

Mostly hardwood trees with additional sections of scrub pine. Also open meadows with wildflowers and an abundance of crickets and butterflies as well.

History & Background

Skirmishes were fought within the park during the American Revolutionary War.

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Your Check-Ins

Check-Ins

Jan 19, 2019
Sam L Shapiro
6.2mi
Sep 29, 2018
Ian Mac
Sep 3, 2018
David Merkin
Aug 20, 2018
Joseph Hubicki
62mi
Jun 29, 2018
Jarek Zabczynski
May 20, 2018
Lou Poulas
Extended this by about 2 miles by continuing down Jessup before turning around. Was with hiking group 8mi — 6h 00m
Oct 28, 2017
Cody Burke
Oct 1, 2017
Lou Poulas
6.3mi — 4h 00m

Trail Ratings

  4.5 from 6 votes

#1722

Overall
  4.5 from 6 votes
5 Star
67%
4 Star
17%
3 Star
17%
2 Star
0%
1 Star
0%
Rankings

#31

in New York

#1,722

Overall
44 Views Last Month
1,100 Since Oct 1, 2017
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Joseph Hubicki
Redding, CT
Joseph Hubicki   Redding, CT
This is a wonderful hike. The trail is well maintained and clearly marked (it must have been fixed since the main description was written), except at the detour to Monaliths Rock at the top. The sign is blank and located in a section of exposed rock on a small scrub pine. It has 3 white blazes on the scrub pine. If you find it, then you follow the cairns about 100 ft to the Monalith trail. It helps to have your GPS on. Once you get to the trail it's only about its a short hike to Monaliths. The views are great there and throughout the trail. It starts out with the biggest fields of wild flowers I've ever seen. Once past the fields the trail climbs moderately and then steeply most of the way to the top. The downhill portion is much easier. There are many exposed areas with good throughout the hike. A minor issue is the noise from the highway, which is heard clearly for the first 1/3 of the hike, but the trail is wonderful nonetheless. Aug 22, 2018

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