Ramapo Torne/Raccoon Brook Hills Trail Loop from Reeves Meadow

Overview

This loop hike at the southern end of Harriman State Park climbs to two panoramic viewpoints and follows the cascading Stony Brook.

Details
Time:
4 hours
Difficulty:
Moderate
Length:
6.5 miles
Route Type:
Circuit
Dogs:
Allowed on leash
Features:
Views, Waterfall, Public Transportation
Location
Park:
Region:
County:
Rockland
State:
NY
Publication
First Published:
02/23/2007

Updated/Verified:
02/07/2009
Submitter:
Daniel Chazin

Photo

Parking


View Reeves Meadow Visitor Center in a larger map

Trailhead GPS Coordinates
41.173916,-74.168658

Driving Directions

Take N.J. Route 17 north to the New York State Thruway and take the first exit, Exit 15A (Sloatsburg). Turn left at the bottom of the ramp onto N.Y. Route 17 north, and continue through the Village of Sloatsburg. Just past the village, turn right at the traffic light, following the sign for Harriman State Park. Cross an overpass over railroad tracks and continue along the Seven Lakes Drive, passing under the Thruway overpass, and soon entering Harriman State Park. Proceed for another three-quarters of a mile to the Reeves Meadow Visitor Center, on the right side of the road. Park in the Visitor Center’s parking lot.

Train

Take the NJ Transit/Metro-North Port Jervis Line to the Sloatsburg station.  From the station, cross the railroad tracks and head north on Ballard Avenue. When Ballard Avenue ends, turn right onto Academy Avenue and continue to Seven Lakes Drive. Turn right on Seven Lakes Drive, continue under the New York State Thruway, and pass Greenway Road and Laurel Road on the right. A short distance beyond, about 0.9 mile from the train station, you'll reach a bridge over the Stony Brook. On the bridge, you will notice a triple red-square-on-white blaze and a directional arrow, which mark the trailhead of the Pine Meadow Trail. Turn right, leaving the road, and follow this red-on-white-blazed trail for another 0.7 mile until you reach an intersection where the Pine Meadow Trail turns left and the blue-on-white blazed Seven Hills Trail continues ahead. Proceed ahead on the Seven Hills Trail and follow the hike description, beginning with the second paragraph.

Description

On the southwest side of the parking lot (right when facing the woods), you will find the red-on-white blazes of the Pine Meadow Trail. Follow the Pine Meadow Trail as it heads southwest, parallel to Seven Lakes Drive. Soon, the trail bears left and heads uphill on a rocky path. After a short level stretch, you'll reach a junction where the Pine Meadow Trail makes a sharp right turn. Turn left, leaving the Pine Meadow Trail, and follow the blue-on-white-blazed Seven Hills Trail, which begins here.

The Seven Hills Trail climbs steadily along a woods road. After crossing a stream, the trail briefly turns left onto another woods road, then turns right, leaving the road, and continues to ascend. Soon, the trail levels off, the footpath narrows, and you follow undulating terrain, with some short ups and downs. You'll also pass an interesting wetland to the right of the trail.

About a mile and a half from the start, you'll reach a T-intersection with a woods road. The orange-blazed Hillburn-Torne-Sebago (HTS) Trail begins to the right, but you should turn left to continue along the blue-on-white-blazed Seven Hills Trail, which begins a rather steep ascent. The grade soon moderates, then again steepens.

At the top of the ridge, the Seven Hills Trail reaches a junction with the orange-blazed HTS Trail. Turn right and follow the HTS Trail as it runs along the ridge of the Ramapo Torne, reaching its summit in about a third of a mile. Here, there is an expansive view to the south over Torne Valley and Hillburn, with the New York State Thruway visible below.

After spending some time enjoying the view, retrace your steps to the junction with the Seven Hills Trail. Now continue ahead, following the joint HTS/Seven Hills Trail along the ridge, blazed with both orange and blue-on-white blazes. In 0.2 mile, at a high point on the ridge, the two trails split. You should continue ahead, following the orange-blazed HTS Trail, which soon bears left and descends into a valley. It climbs a ridge on the other side, then descends on stone steps.

At the base of the descent, the HTS Trail crosses a stream on a wooden bridge. To the left, an imposing cliff towers above the trail. You will soon reach the top, but via a more gradual route. The trail continues ahead, climbing gradually through a dense thicket of mountain laurel. After reaching a small level area, the trail bears left and climbs on a long flight of stone steps, finally reaching the top of the rise. A large boulder, known as the “Russian Bear,” formerly stood at the edge of the cliff, but it fell down in 2004. From here, there is a panoramic view over the Torne Valley (the best view is from a rock outcrop just below the summit). Unfortunately, the view is marred by the large Orange and Rockland Utilities power substation in the valley, and by the electric transmission lines extending up the hill.

The HTS Trail now heads north on a relatively level route, going over several open rock outcrops. In a quarter of a mile, you’ll cross the black-on-white-blazed Raccoon Brook Hills Trail (the junction is marked by paint blazes on the rocks). Continue ahead on the orange-blazed HTS Trail, which proceeds through dense mountain laurel thickets. The trail descends to cross a strip cleared for a gas pipeline, climbs to a minor summit, then begins a steady descent. On the way down, the blue-on-white-blazed Seven Hills Trail joins briefly from the left and soon leaves to the right, following which the descent steepens.

At the base of the descent, the HTS Trail reaches a woods road, the route of the red-on-white-blazed Pine Meadow Trail. You will take the Pine Meadow Trail all the way back to the parking area. Turn left and briefly follow the joint HTS/Pine Meadow Trail along the woods road, but just ahead, where the HTS Trail departs to the right, continue ahead on the Pine Meadow Trail. Soon, you’ll come to a section where the woods road has eroded, and the trail has been relocated onto a footpath to the left. You can hear the roar of Stony Brook down below in the valley.

After crossing Quartz Brook on a wooden bridge, the Pine Meadow Trail reaches a junction where the yellow-blazed Stony Brook Trail begins to the right. Here, the Pine Meadow Trail bears left and begins to run close to Stony Brook, with its attractive cascades (and, in winter, interesting ice formations). To bypass a wet spot at the crossing of a tributary stream, the trail has been relocated to the hillside on the left, where it crosses another wooden bridge (both this bridge, and the one over Quartz Brook, were constructed recently by Trail Conference volunteers). Just beyond, you’ll come to the Reeves Meadow Visitor Center and the parking lot where the hike began.

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

Great Hike; Beware of Snakes on Sunny Days; Thick Laurel

My husband and I did this hike the afternoon of 6/10/2012. This is the second time we’ve taken this route. We’ve been hiking in the Harriman State Park for the past 4 years and we always use the online hiking trail finder guide. Thank you very much for providing such detailed and user-friendly directions!!!

We both loved the terrain of this hike. We chose to make it more of a strenuous workout so we walked pretty fast this time and didn’t make stops apart from quickly catching our breath here and there. As such, we manage to complete the hike in 2.5hrs. We chose not to do the quick detour to the Ramapo Torne summit (where you get the view over Torne Valley and Hillburn with the NY Thruway below) which further cut on the time and about a little over half a mile from the hike.

Two things to keep in mind:

1. We saw 2 pretty big black snakes – both on the orange-blazed HTS trail section of the hike, top of the mountain area. I am not an expert in snakes but from what I’ve read about Harriman, they must have been black rat snakes and hopefully not rattler snakes. As this trail passes through several open area mountain tops and areas of dense laurel it provides perfect places for snakes to surprise you. So be aware of that particularly on sunny summer days. Wear high hiking boots and long pants. It might also not be a bad idea to have a hiking pole with which to clear your path. Making some noise for snakes to get out of the trail might also help.

2. The laurel is pretty thick this time of the year. In my opinion it needs some trimming as the trail is extremely tight at places but I am not sure what the park’s policy is on that. So if you are not comfortable with hiking in areas where you do not know what might be hiding under the thick laurel, reserve this trail for the fall, winter, or early spring time when there should be less vegetation or just choose one of the more traveled trails (e.g. such as the ones along the Stony Brook). If you want more of a seclusion (until we reached the red-on-white Pine Meadow Trail we passed only 2 people) and wildlife encounters (apart from the snakes we saw a whole bunch of chipmunks, predatory birds, a wild hare, and a frog) then this hike is for you.