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Hudson Highlands Gateway Park Loop
This hike loops through the park, climbing to two viewpoints and crossing several streams with cascades.
Allowed on leash
Views, Waterfall, Woods
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Trail Conference volunteers maintain trails in this park.
Take US 9 north to the Annsville Circle go north for 0.6 mile to the next traffic light, and turn right onto Roa Hook Road. At the next intersection, turn right onto Albany Post Road, then immediately turn left onto Sprout Brook Road. Continue for 0.6 mile, passing ballfields on the right, and park in a large dirt parking area on the right, at a sign for Hudson Highlands Gateway Park.
This hike explores the 352-acre Hudson Highlands Gateway Park, where the high points were used for signaling during the Revolutionary War. Subsequently, the land was logged to provide fuel for the local iron industry, and it later served as a dairy farm and a quarry. In the 1990s, this parcel was slated for development, but it was acquired as parkland in 2000 by Scenic Hudson, the Town of Cortlandt and Westchester County. In March 2016, title to the property was transferred to the Town of Cortlandt.
From the parking area, cross the road, and proceed through a narrow opening in the guardrail. The blue-blazed Upland Trail begins at a kiosk, which displays a trail map and information on the history of the land that now forms the park. Follow the blue trail across a wooden bridge and uphill through a former gravel pit, where the vegetation is now just starting to regenerate. Soon, you will reach a wooden post, where the loop of the blue trail begins. Turn right to follow the loop in a counterclockwise direction.
At first, the trail heads along the side of the hill, with a large landfill (covered by plastic sheeting) visible across Sprout Brook Road. The trail then makes a U-turn and enters a forested area, paralleling an old stone wall on the right. It continues along an old woods road (note the stone embankment on the left), then turns right and proceeds steeply uphill.
After going through a gap in a stone wall, the grade moderates. A short distance beyond, you’ll reach a junction, where blue blazes lead both to the left and to the right. Turn left and follow a side trail (also blazed blue) uphill for about 500 feet to a viewpoint at a stone fireplace. Ahead, you can see the road bridge over Annsville Creek and the Hudson River beyond, with the Indian Point nuclear power plant visible along the river.
When you’ve taken in the view, return to the main trail and turn left. In another third of a mile, after descending a little and then climbing again, you’ll reach the trailhead for the yellow-blazed Hudson Overlook Spur Trail. Turn right onto this trail, which heads rather steeply downhill. The grade begins to moderate as the trail passes through a hemlock grove and goes by a vernal pool to the left.
After another steep descent on a stone-lined woods road, the yellow trail crosses a small stream, with cascades on either side of the trail. The trail now begins a steady ascent. The blazing along this section of the trail is rather sparse, and the trail is also marked in places with pink flagging tape. A half mile from its start, the yellow trail climbs a rock outcrop studded with pitch pines and reaches another overlook, also with a west-facing view. The view from this overlook is slightly broader, and you can see the Metro-North Railroad bridge over Annsville Creek (beyond the road bridge).
Now retrace your steps to the blue trail. Turn right and descend briefly, crossing a stone wall. In about 250 feet, you’ll reach a junction with the white-blazed Vernal Pool Trail. Turn right, now following the white blazes.
The white trail descends slightly, with a stone wall to the right. The trail then bears right, goes through a gap in the stone wall, and climbs a little. After descending, with a rock outcrop to the right, the trail turns left and descends through mountain laurel to a hollow. Next, it climbs to a rock outcrop with a north-facing view (when there are no leaves on the trees).
The white trail now bears left and begins a steady descent, passing a vernal pool (for which the trail is named) on the left. Soon, the trail bears right, and the descent steepens. At the base of the descent, the trail crosses two streams, with cascades to the right of the second stream crossing. After briefly paralleling the stream, the trail crosses a wide stone wall and immediately turns left, heading uphill. It turns left onto a woods road and continues to head uphill until it reaches a junction with the blue trail.
Turn right and continue along the blue trail, which now heads downhill on an eroded woods road (on old maps, this road is called “Old Revolutionary Road”). At one point, the road becomes very gullied, and the trail is routed to the right to bypass this section of the road. Soon after the trail returns to the road, the busy Route 9 can be seen and heard directly to the right.
At the next junction, bear right and follow the red-blazed Annsville Creek Trail, which heads south through an open area, continuing to parallel Route 9, then bears left and crosses a wooden bridge over Annsville Creek. It turns right to parallel the creek, passes a stone foundation to the right, then climbs on a woods road.
At the top of the climb, a short side trail (also marked red) leads left 50 feet to a lookout over a pond directly below. After taking this short detour, return to the main trail, turn left, and follow the red trail as it curves left and parallels the southern shore of the pond, soon reaching another kiosk.
Turn left at the kiosk and continue along the red trail, which parallels the eastern shore of the pond, then heads downhill (bear left at a fork in the trail). When you reach a junction with the blue trail, which comes in from the left, continue straight ahead, now following blue blazes. At the next junction, marked by a wooden post, turn right and continue to follow the blue-blazed trail, now retracing your steps down to Sprout Brook Road and the parking area where the hike began.