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Black Rock Mountain Circuit Via Footpaths and Woods Roads
This loop hike follows footpaths to the summit of Black Rock, with panoramic views, and returns on attractive woods roads.
Moderate to Strenuous
Allowed on leash
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Address: 129 Continental Road, Cornwall, NY
From the south: Take the Palisades Interstate Parkway to its northern terminus at the Bear Mountain Circle and continue north on US 9W for 8.8 miles. About half a mile after passing a parking area marked with a blue sign, turn right onto Mountain Road. Immediately, turn right again and proceed through a very narrow underpass beneath US 9W (large vehicles may not fit). Continue ahead for 0.2 mile to a parking area for Black Rock Forest on the right.
From the kiosk just beyond the parking area, proceed ahead on the red-blazed Duggan Trail. In about half a mile, the red trail ends at a junction with the blue-blazed Reservoir Trail. Continue ahead on the blue trail, which crosses Ben's Bridge (a wooden footbridge) and climbs along a picturesque stream, with cascades and waterfalls, following an old woods road.
In about a third of a mile, you'll notice a pipeline crossing the stream on stone abutments. Turn right here (there is a "1" painted in blue on a rock) and follow a rocky footpath uphill. This trail - the route of a buried pipeline - is not blazed (except with occasional blue flagging tape), but it is obvious and easy to follow. (It is not shown on the 2006 edition of Trail Conference Map #113 or on the Black Rock Forest map.) As the trail levels off and curves to the left, a broad viewpoint opens up on the right. Just ahead is Black Rock (which you will soon climb), and the Shawangunk Mountains are visible on the horizon to the northwest.
The "pipeline" trail ends at a junction with the joint Stillman (yellow) and Highlands (teal diamond) Trails at the base of the Aleck Meadow Reservoir dam. Turn right onto the Stillman/Highlands Trail, which follows a woods road below the dam and, at the end of the reservoir, enters the woods on a footpath. Bear left at a junction with the white-blazed Black Rock Hollow Trail, then (in 300 feet) turn sharply right and climb to the summit of Black Rock (elevation 1,410 feet).
The summit affords a panoramic view, with Schunemunk Mountain and the Metro-North Railroad's Moodna Viaduct to the west, the Hudson River (crossed by the Newburgh-Beacon Bridge) to the northeast, and the Shawangunk Mountains on the northwest horizon. You'll want to take a break to rest from the climb and savor the view.
When you're ready to continue, turn left and descend steeply, continuing to follow the yellow and teal diamond blazes (do not follow the faded blue-and-yellow "footprint" blazes that lead across the summit). The grade soon moderates and, in about half a mile, you'll reach a wide gravel road.
Turn right and follow this road, known as Hulse Road, downhill. The road briefly climbs a little but then resumes a steady descent, rather steeply in places. Continue along this pleasant road for over a mile until it ends at a junction with the white-blazed Black Rock Hollow Trail. Route 9W is ahead, just across Black Rock Brook, so (unfortunately) you will hear the noise of traffic.
Turn right and follow the white-blazed trail along another gravel road, with Black Rock Brook to the left. You'll pass an old stone dam on the brook and some attractive cascades. Gradually, the road moves away from the brook and the trail, and the noise level decreases.
In half a mile, you'll reach a water filtration plant. Here, the Black Rock Hollow Trail turns right and starts to climb, but you should bear left, skirting the filtration plant, and continue on the blue-blazed Reservoir Trail.
A short distance ahead, you'll come to a junction where the Reservoir Trail turns right to cross Ben's Bridge. Turn sharply left here onto the red-blazed Duggan Trail and follow it back to the parking area where the hike began.