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Round Hill/East Mountain Loop
This loop hike climbs Round Hill and East Mountain, reaching several viewpoints and passing historic stone walls and other remnants of the area's former agricultural use.
Allowed on leash
Views, Historic feature
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Trail Conference volunteers maintain trails in this park.
Trailhead GPS Coordinates41.442839,-73.915168
Take the Palisades Interstate Parkway to its northern terminus at the Bear Mountain Bridge. Cross the bridge and proceed north on N.Y. Route 9D for 8.0 miles to Peekskill Road at the southern end of Cold Spring (just beyond the Boscobel Restoration). Turn right and follow Peekskill Road for 0.5 mile to its terminus at a junction with N.Y. Route 301, then turn right and follow Route 301 for 2.0 miles to its intersection with U.S. Route 9. Turn left onto Route 9 and proceed north for 0.2 mile, then turn right onto a paved road at a brown sign for the "Hubbard Lodge." Bear left at the fork, continue past a house on the left, and park along the right side of the road..
Walk back along the paved road to a junction with a grassy road on the left. Turn left on the grassy road and, almost immediately, you’ll reach a gate. A triple-white blaze on the gate marks the start of the white-blazed School Mountain Road (a sign on the gate shows the route of the Hudson Trail, which you’ll also be following for the first part of the hike). Continue ahead along the road, soon joining the blue-blazed Fahnestock Trail. A short distance beyond, the road crosses two streams on steel-plate bridges.
In about half a mile, you’ll notice two stone pillars on the left. The road formerly crossed the stream here on a steel-plate bridge, but the bridge was washed out by Hurricane Irene in August 2011. Turn right, steeply descend to the stream, and cross the stream on two steel I-beams. Just beyond, the blue-blazed Fahnestock Trail turns sharply right, leaving School Mountain Road. Continue along the blue-blazed trail, which parallels the stream, following an old woods road. In 0.2 mile, the woods road leaves the stream, and about half a mile from School Mountain Road, the Fahnestock Trail turns left, leaving the woods road, and begins a rather steep climb of Round Hill on switchbacks.
At the top of the steep climb, the trail reaches a west-facing viewpoint amid red cedars, with the intersection of Routes 9 and 301 directly below, and Bull Hill (Mt. Taurus) in the distance. This is a good place to take a short break. The trail continues up the cedar-studded ridge of Round Hill, climbing gradually.
After following the ridge for about half a mile, crossing several old stone walls, the trail turns right, descends slightly into a shallow ravine, then climbs more steeply on a winding path. It levels off and soon reaches a viewpoint from a rock ledge just below the summit of Round Hill. The view here is to the southwest, with the Bear Mountain Bridge over the Hudson River visible in the distance on a clear day. This is another good spot for a break.
After climbing to reach an east-facing viewpoint over the hills of Fahnestock State Park, with Route 301 visible below and a communications tower to the right, the trail descends rather steeply to a woods road in a valley. The trail turns right onto the woods road and follows it as it bends left and climbs over a rise, then descends gradually.
Continue on the Fahnestock Trail as it levels off, crosses a seasonally wet area, then climbs gradually. After a short, steep climb of a rock ledge, the trail passes a west-facing viewpoint through the trees and continues to climb steadily to the crest of another ridge, first rather steeply, then more gradually. There are some east-facing views on the way up, but there are no views from the wooded summit (the highest point on the hike; elevation 1,180 feet), marked by a large lichen-covered boulder to the right of the trail.
The trail now begins a very gradual descent. After crossing a stream and climbing over a low rise covered with mountain laurel, the trail continues to descend, soon reaching a junction with the yellow-blazed Perkins Trail. You’ve now gone a little more than halfway along the hike.
Turn left at this intersection, leaving the blue-blazed Fahnestock Trail, and follow the yellow-blazed Perkins Trail, which descends on an old woods road to cross a stream, then continues through an area with many stone walls. It bears left at a fork and continues to descend along a cascading stream, reaching its terminus on School Mountain Road. Turn right onto School Mountain Road, cross a stream on rocks, then immediately turn left onto the red-blazed East Mountain Loop, passing an abandoned farmhouse on the right.
Follow the red-blazed trail along a woods road bordered by stone walls. Soon, the road begins to descend. At the base of the descent, it crosses a stream on rocks in an area in which relics of the former agricultural use are abundant. The area is criss-crossed by a series of stone walls, and just before the stream crossing, the rusted iron wheels of an old farm wagon may be seen to the left of the trail.
The road now begins to climb, passing a stone foundation to the left. Near the top of the rise, follow the red-blazed trail as it turns left, leaving the woods road, and begins a steady ascent of the ridge of East Mountain. After bearing left at the crest of the rise, the trail continues along the summit ridge to reach a panoramic viewpoint just below the summit. The view is to the west and north over the Fishkill Ridge, with South Beacon Mountain (marked by a fire tower) and North Beacon Mountain (the site of several communications towers) directly ahead. This is another good location for a break.
The red-blazed trail now begins a steady descent, with Round Mountain (which you climbed earlier in the hike) visible through the trees on the left. On the way down, you’ll cross a number of stone walls and follow old woods roads for part of the way. At the base of the descent, you’ll cross a stream on a wooden footbridge and reach a triple-red blaze that marks the end of the East Mountain Loop. Proceed ahead (southwest) on the white-blazed School Mountain Road, which immediately recrosses the stream on another wooden footbridge.
Follow School Mountain Road through a pleasant valley for about a mile, paralleling a stone wall and a wide stream for much of the way and crossing two steel-plate bridges. When you reach the intersection with the blue-blazed Fahnestock Trail, cross the stream on the I-beam bridge and continue ahead on School Mountain Road, retracing your steps back to the starting point of the hike.