Buttermilk Falls and Long Path in Rockland County

Overview

This loop hike passes scenic Buttermilk Falls and climbs to several panoramic viewpoints.

Details
Time:
2 hours
Difficulty:
Moderate
Length:
4 miles
Route Type:
Circuit
Dogs:
Allowed on leash
Features:
Views, Waterfall
Location
Park:
Region:
County:
Rockland
State:
NY
Maps/Books
Publication
First Published:
08/13/2009

Updated/Verified:
04/23/2014
Submitter:
Daniel Chazin

Photo

Buttermilk Falls

Parking


View Buttermilk Falls County Park in a larger map

Trailhead GPS Coordinates
41.087131,-73.94744
Driving Directions

Take the Palisades Interstate Parkway north to Exit 5N (NY 303/Orangeburg). Proceed north on NY 303 for 2.1 miles and bear right at a fork onto Greenbush Road North (do not turn very sharply right at the first intersection with Greenbush Road at 2.0 miles). Continue on Greenbush Road for 1.2 miles to the parking area for Buttermilk Falls County Park, on the right.

Description

From the northern end of the parking area, head into the woods on a blue-blazed trail, which climbs gradually to the right of a ravine. Pay careful attention to the blazes, as there are a number of side trails in this area. After turning sharply and ascending on a switchback, you’ll reach the remnants of two stone pillars to the left of the trail, with scenic Buttermilk Falls cascading down the mountain.

The trail now bears right and continues to climb. After a brief descent, you’ll reach a limited west-facing viewpoint, with a field visible below. Continue ahead uphill on the blue trail, and you’ll soon come to a broader viewpoint. You may hear and see a train along the West Shore railroad tracks running parallel to the hills in the background.South view near the start of the hike. Photo by Daniel Chazin

After a little more climbing, you’ll reach a T-junction with a woods road. Turn right and continue along the blue-blazed trail for about 150 feet to a third viewpoint, with the broadest view. You can see all the way west to Ramapo Mountains and, on a clear day, the skyscrapers of Newark are visible on the horizon to the south.

Retrace your steps to the junction and continue ahead on an orange-blazed trail, which begins here. The trail soon bears left at a fork and descends on a footpath to cross a stream on rocks. It then climbs slightly to cross paved Schuyler Road. On the other side of the road, the orange-blazed trail crosses a lawn and reenters the woods. Almost immediately, it turns sharply left and descends steeply. It then bears right and joins a wide wood-chip path, paralleling a large storm water retention area behind a fence on the left.

In 150 feet, the orange-blazed trail bears right and ends at a junction with a white-blazed trail. Turn left onto the white-blazed trail, which parallels the east side of the storm water retention area. It crosses a wet area and a stream on rocks and begins a steady climb. To the right, you’ll pass a line of trees felled by Hurricane Sandy in 2012. After reaching the end of the retention area, the trail reenters the woods and continues to climb. Just beyond a short level stretch, the white-blazed trail ends at a junction with the aqua-blazed Long Path. Turn right onto the Long Path and continue to climb, passing through a gap in an old stone wall near the crest of the rise. 

After another level section, the Long Path descends to cross paved Bradley Hill Road diagonally to the right. It reenters the woods, climbing gradually. As the trail approaches the crest of the rise, there are views through the trees to the left over the Hudson River and the Tappan Zee Bridge.

Tappan Zee Bridge from the Long Path on the Palisades Ridge. Photo by Daniel Chazin.South view near the start of the hike. Photo by Daniel ChazinThe Long Path descends to cross a macadam road, climbs again, then descends. After climbing railroad tie steps, you’ll notice a triple-red blaze on the right. You’ll be continuing on this red-blazed trail, but first proceed ahead on the Long Path for another 150 feet to an expansive south-facing viewpoint from a graffiti-scarred rock, with the New York City skyline visible in the distance.

After taking in the view, retrace your steps and bear left onto the red-blazed trail, which crosses Tweed Boulevard, climbs slightly, then begins a steady, gradual descent, with some views through the trees to the left. In half a mile, you’ll notice a white-blazed trail that begins on the left, but you should continue ahead on the red-blazed trail.

About 100 feet after crossing Bradley Hill Road, the red-blazed trail ends at a junction with another white-blazed trail. Turn left onto the white-blazed trail, which climbs for a short distance, then begins to descend. Soon, it crosses Schuyler Road, crosses a stream on a wooden footbridge, and continues to descend on a woods road. At a T-intersection, the trail bears left onto a wider gravel road and descends more steeply. Along the way, a blue-blazed trail begins on the right, but you should continue ahead on the white-blazed road.

As the road bears left near the base of the descent, watch carefully for a turn where the white blazes turn right, leaving the road. Continue to follow the white-blazed trail, which descends stone steps, crosses a boardwalk, and soon ends at the parking area where the hike began.nd soon ends at the parking area where the hike began.

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

The trail for winter only!

Three issues with this hike: There wasn't even one observation point throughout the hike. Maybe during the winter, when leafs are down, you can see something through the trees, otherwise the trees blocking everything. Another issue is bad marking on the trail. In the very end when it says to take the white-blazed trail to go back, it's a mistake. It's going to take you right into the loop where you started. Instead you have to continue on the orange/red trail till it meets blue, make right at the blue marked trail and then continue on the blue market trail the same way you came in to the parking lot. Third issue the hike came out to be about 6.2 miles insted of 4 as it says in the itinerary. Otherwise the nature and the forest were lively and beautiful.

Views are still there; mileage is correct

 Regarding the views from the trail, the directions state that, for the best views, you have to continue for 150 feet along the blue trail, then go back to the orange trail. The views are still there, and it seems that you may have just turned onto the orange trail without making the slight detour to the viewpoint.  The same can be said about the next viewpoint (on the Long Path), where you have to continue beyond the red trail to a “graffitti-scarred rock” and then return to the red trail.

It also seems that you made a wrong turn, towards the end of the hike, when you reached the terminus of the red trail at the white trail.  The directions clearly state to turn left here.  It would seem that you continued straight ahead.  I have added some additional white blazes near this junction, so that they are now more visible to anyone who looks for them.

As for the mileage of the hike, our cartographer, Jeremy Apgar, has carefully calculated the length of the hike from very accurate GIS data and has determined that the distance of 4.0 miles is correct.  We have found that some GPS units give inaccurate distances when used in the field, and that more accurate distances can be obtained once the tracks are downloaded to a computer and carefully measured.  It is also possible that, due to the mistake you made in following the route, you hiked a longer distance.

We encourage all hikers to bring along a copy of our trail maps, which enable one to understand the hike route and not just blindly follow written directions.  This hike is on Map 109 of our Hudson Palisades map set, and we would encourage you to take a copy of this map with you the next time you take this hike.

Glad to hear that you did enjoy your hike after all was said and done!


A couple of important things

A couple of important things to note about the directions:   1. At the part above where it says, "Turn left onto the white-blazed trail, which crosses a wet area and a stream on rocks..." -- the area that existed when this was written is now a construction zone (looks to be for more suburban homes, oh joy). You can't "turn left" onto the white blazed trail; there is no white-blazed trail there anymore. Instead, suggest you turn right and walk along the orange construction barrier to the corner, then turn left and follow it all the way to the end. Turn left, and you will soon see the white blazes. You can pick up the white-blazed trail from there. Also, note that while you are on this short detour, there is no real path. It's a bit rocky and full of brambles. Be cautious.   2. At the part above where it says, "About 100 feet after crossing Bradley Hill Road, the red-blazed trail ends at a junction with another white-blazed trail. Turn left onto the white-blazed trail.." BEWARE: it is very easy to miss that left onto the white-blazed trail. The white-blazed trail also goes off to the right, and those markers seem much more prominent (and thus alluring), but you don't want to make this mistake; DO make that left turn, and just keep a sharp eye out for the white blazes in that direction.   All in all, not a bad hike, though there are too many vistas that include homes, commercial developments, etc. I did love the views from high above the Tappan Zee Bridge. They made this hike worth it.

Update on item #1 above

The white blazes have been re-established and are fairly obvious. The construction project was apparently related to stormwater management. There is a big section of land with fence around it and signs stating "Danger. Stormwater Area. Rapidly Rising Water". But whatever prior trail interruption had been there is no longer a problem. Orange will terminate at White and you go left on White.

Buttermilk Falls/LP

This trail is suitable for almost any time of the year, except when it's icy. Crampons are a must then in the area near the falls. The falls are most spectacular the day after heavy rain, but the remainder of the hike is pretty any time. LindaC's comments are right on. Enjoy the hike. ps: there is no camping on this hike, and not a lot of going up or down.

Time of the Year for Hiking

To me, any time of the year is perfect for hiking, except possibly the hottest times of the summer.  Winter hiking, particularly as we experienced it last year, does require specialized equipment (snowshoes, crampons or ice creepers) so that may not be the best time to start, but this time of year is perfect.  Most trails are muddy at this time of year so waterproof boots are a great idea and you should always be prepared for downhills.  And bugs are definitely out so insect repellant is necessary now.   

Best time of year?

What is the earliest time of year that a good hike on this trail is most comfortable?  I've been in the area in late March and it was still pretty cold, especially in the mornings, so I'm wondering if early or late April provides a better environment for hiking and camping?  Also, is there a lot of downhill hiking on this trail?  If so, I would want to and be sure and lace my boots for downhill hiking and wear waterproof hiking boots.

Poor marking

I did this hike and found that at one point it said turn left, but there was no marker, so I went foward about a mile, and had to retrace my steps. Although very nice hike.