Black Mountain Loop from Anthony Wayne Recreation Area

Overview

This loop hike climbs to the ridge of Black Mountain, with views over the Hudson River and the surrounding hills, and returns via lesser-used trails.

Details
Time:
4 hours
Difficulty:
Moderate to Strenuous
Length:
7.5 miles
Route Type:
Circuit
Dogs:
Allowed on leash
Features:
Views
Publication
First Published:
05/09/2008
Submitter:
Daniel Chazin

Photo

View from Black Mountain- Photo by Daniel Chazin

Parking


View Anthony Wayne Recreation Area in a larger map

Trail Conference volunteers maintain trails in this park.
Trailhead GPS Coordinates
41.297598,-74.027274
Driving Directions

Take the Palisades Interstate Parkway to Exit 17 (Anthony Wayne Recreation Area). Continue past the first large parking area and bear left at the fork, following the sign for the "Far South Parking Area." Continue through the Far South Parking Area and park at the southeast corner.

Description

The first part of the hike includes climbs totaling over 800 vertical feet over Black and Letterrock Mountains, but the remainder of the hike follows relatively level, little used trails.

From the kiosk at the southeast corner of the parking area, proceed south on the Horn Hill Loop Mountain Bike Trail, with blue-on-white diamond blazes. This pleasant, level trail (little used by bicycles) passes through a pine forest and crosses several bridges. In about half a mile, you'll reach an intersection with the white-blazed Appalachian Trail (A.T.), marked by a sign. Turn right, leaving the Bike Trail, and follow the white A.T. blazes, soon crossing a footbridge over Beechy Bottom Brook.

After climbing an embankment, you'll come to a junction with the red-dot-on-white-blazed Ramapo-Dunderberg (R-D) Trail. Turn right and follow the joint A.T./R-D, with both red-dot-on-white and white blazes. A short distance ahead, the trail descends wooden steps and crosses the Palisades Interstate Parkway - first the northbound lanes, then a wooded median strip, and finally the southbound lanes. The cars are traveling at high speeds, so use extreme caution!

The A.T./R-D now begins to climb Black Mountain, passing through an area with dense barberry thickets and crossing several old stone walls (signs that the land in this area was once farmed). At the top of a steep section of the climb, a cairn marks the intersection with the 1779 Trail (blue-on-white blazes). Continue ahead on the A.T./R-D, which descends briefly to cross a stream and then resumes a steady climb.

After a very steep climb over a rock outcrop, the trail emerges onto a viewpoint to the south and southeast. The AT&T relay towers just south of Route 106 may be seen directly ahead, with the Hudson River visible to the left. You'll want to take a short break here to rest from the climb. As you continue ahead along the summit ridge, there are views through the trees to the right (northeast) over Bear Mountain, with West Mountain to its right.

When you reach the highest point on the ridge, turn right and walk north for about 100 feet. Here you will see an open pit - a remnant of the Spanish Mine. Piles of tailings (waste rock that contains little or no iron ore) are visible adjacent to the pit. The history of this mine is the subject of much conjecture - one possible account is set forth in Ed Lenik's book Iron Mine Trails.

Continue ahead on the A.T./R-D, which descends steeply through a crevice in the rock and levels off along the south side of the ridge. After another rather steep descent over rocks and stone steps, you'll reach a panoramic viewpoint over Silvermine Lake from a rock ledge. The trail continues to descend until it crosses a small stream at the lowest point between Black and Letterrock Mountains.

Across the stream, you'll notice a well-built stone embankment that carries the Silvermine Ski Road, built by workers of the Temporary Emergency Relief Administration in 1934. After crossing this moss-covered road, the A.T./R-D begins a gradual climb of Letterrock Mountain. From a high point on the ridge, it descends through dense mountain laurel thickets, then traverses a few short ups and downs, finally reaching the stone William Brien Memorial Shelter (built in 1933 as the Letterrock Shelter and renamed in 1957 in memory of Mr. Brien).

Turn left in front of the shelter, leaving the A.T./R-D, and begin to follow the yellow-blazed Menomine Trail, which descends gently into a valley. After a while, the trail joins an old woods road, with a stream in a ravine below to the left. Since the road is badly eroded, portions of the trail have been rerouted to parallel the road.

The yellow trail ends at an intersection with the Red Cross Trail (red cross on white). Turn left onto the Red Cross Trail, crossing the stream on a wooden footbridge and continuing along another woods road. About 250 feet beyond the bridge, you'll notice a large barberry-covered depression to the left of the trail. This is the site of the "Burnt House" - reputed to have once been the home of woodcutter Jonas Lewis.

After passing a reed-filled marsh to the right, the trail bears left to parallel Stillwater Brook. In a short distance, it turns sharply right, crosses the wide brook on rocks, proceeds through a wet area, and begins a gentle climb along the shoulder of Big Bog Mountain. You will soon hear the sounds of automobile traffic - a sign that you are once again approaching the Palisades Interstate Parkway.

When you reach the southbound lanes of Parkway, turn left and follow the road for 150 feet, then cross opposite the end of the guardrail and enter the woods on the median strip. At the northbound lanes, cross the road, turn left and follow the guardrail for 150 feet, then turn right just beyond a Red Cross blaze on the guardrail and reenter the woods. Again, be sure to use extreme care when crossing this busy road!

In about 0.2 mile, you'll reach a T-intersection with a woods road - the route of the 1779 Trail. A double-blaze indicates that the Red Cross Trail turns right here, but you should turn left, leaving the Red Cross Trail, and begin to follow the blue-on-white-blazed 1779 Trail.

The 1779 Trail briefly approaches the Parkway, but it soon bears right, away from the busy road. After crossing a stone-lined causeway over a brook, the 1779 Trail turns left onto another woods road, the route of the Bike Trail. For a short distance, you follow both the 1779 Trail and the Bike Trail, but when the 1779 Trail leaves to the left, you should continue ahead on the Bike Trail. The Bike Trail once again comes near the Parkway, but it runs high above the road, which is in a rock cut.

In another third of a mile, you'll notice cairns on each side of the road. Here, the Bike Trail splits into two branches, and you should turn left, leaving the wide woods road and following a slightly rougher road (still the route of the Bike Trail), which descends to parallel a brook. After bearing right, away from the brook, the R-D Trail joins from the left.

When the R-D Trail turns right, continue ahead on the Bike Trail. A short distance ahead, you'll come to the intersection with the A.T. (marked by a sign) that you encountered earlier in the hike. Continue to follow the Bike Trail, now retracing your steps, until you reach the parking area where the hike began.

Comment: Please be relevant, civil, non-commercial.

Great Fall Foliage Hike!

DId this trail yesteday and the comments about finding the trail when crossing the Palisades are outdated. It was easy to find the trails after both crossings. The trail is well marked and absolutely stunning for leaf peeping.    It did get a little tricky at the end following the bike path back into the south parkign lot at Anthony Wayne. We misssed a turn somehwere and overshot the south parking lot and ended up in just north of the north entrance to the lot. But I think it was our fault for not following the instructions well at the end.   

Many 1779 Markers completely faded.

I agree with some of the people about the Palisades crossing.  It seems as if someone stole a Red Cross marker and hung it on a high tree branch well before the actual entrance. After a minute of walking around and not seeing any other Red Cross markers I knew it was wrong and walked north to find the actual entrance. 1779 markers should probably be replaced inside the Bike Trail area. NYC was visible that day and the views are excellent from the top of Black Mountain :) Silvermine Lake looked pretty awesome from the viewpoint! This is a great hike and I'll surely do it again sometime.

Great hike

We did this hike in summer of 2012. Like a few other commenters, we had a little trouble finding the entrance to the trail after crossing the the northbound Palisades Parkway. Would be great to have a sign there or some other more obvious marker.

Nice Hike

Hiked this solo on Good Friday. After crossing Palisades Pkwy, did not come across another hiker until coming back across the Palisades Pkwy. On a clear day, such as I had, you can see the Manhattan skyline from the top of Black Mountain. Trails are marked clearly enough along the way, did not have any problems. (Always bring trail maps.) With a few stops along the way, completed the hike in 4.5 hours. Would do this hike again. The south parking lot was closed, no biggie.

Black Mountain Loop red cross not marked

Hiked trail yesterday 10/26/10. Great trail for fall Foliage. Just becareful After crossing the North Bound Palisades Parkway ,the red cross trail is not marked and is hard to find.

trail maintenance on red cross trail and blowdowns

Hi, I hiked the red cross on the West side before the Palisades Parkway, and many trees were inadequately marked. Many of the blazes were faded, and in some parts where there was to be a turn mark, that had weathered away. The other side of the Palisades (Red Cross Trail, eastern portion), was in better shape. I did encounter one blowdown on the Red Cross trail, and one blowdown (the tree snapped and fell right in front of me about 30 feet uphill on the AT portion of the hike while climbing Black Mountain. The dead tree managed to somehow get caught on another small tree and did not completely fall to the ground. Due to the high winds today (25+mph), it was inevitable that some trees would be more inclined to fall. If one were to do the red cross trail in the Winter, I do not think anyone could safely navigate without reflective red on white. The tree bark on the Western side of that trail is very coarse, and it would be easier to just put up 2" by 3" high markers. It is also extremely hard to find the trailhead heading back eastward after crossing busy Palisades traffic. Thank you for letting me address these concerns, as I think this is a great trail to hike on.