Seven Hills/HTS/Raccoon Brook Hills Loop from Reeves Meadow

Overview

This rugged hike traverses the southeastern corner of Harriman State Park, climbing to several panoramic viewpoints and following the cascading Stony Brook.

Details
Time:
6 hours
Difficulty:
Strenuous
Length:
8 miles
Route Type:
Circuit
Dogs:
Allowed on leash
Features:
Views, Waterfall, Public Transportation, Cliffs
Location
Park:
Region:
County:
Rockland
State:
NY
Publication
First Published:
09/28/2007
Submitter:
Daniel Chazin

Photo

View from Ramapo Torne - Photo by Daniel Chazin

Parking


View Reeves Meadow Visitor Center in a larger map

Trail Conference volunteers maintain trails in this park.
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 Seven Lakes Drive for 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 0.8 mile to the Reeves Meadow Visitor Center.
Description

On the southwest side of the parking lot (right when facing the woods), you will find a post with the red-on-white blaze of the Pine Meadow Trail. Follow the Pine Meadow Trail as it heads southwest, parallel to the Seven Lakes Drive. Soon, the trail bears left and heads uphill on a rocky path. After a short level stretch, you'll come to a T-intersection, with three blue-on-white blazes marking the start of the Seven Hills Trail. Turn left and follow the Seven Hills Trail, which 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, and the footpath narrows.

About a mile and a half from the start, you'll reach a T-intersection with a woods road. Here, the Seven Hills Trail turns sharply left, but you should turn right, now following the orange blazes of the Hillburn-Torne-Sebago (HTS) Trail, which begins here. This is the route of the "Old Red" Trail - an informal route up the Ramapo Torne which became an official trail in spring 2007.

The HTS Trail follows a level woods road for about a third of a mile, then turns left, crosses a stream, and climbs rather steeply on a woods road. After gaining about 300 feet in elevation, the trail turns sharply left and climbs very steeply over rocks, emerging at a viewpoint to the southwest. It bears left and soon climbs some more to a rock ledge, just below the summit of Ramapo Torne, with an expansive view over Torne Valley and Ramapo Valley, traversed by the New York Thruway.

At the summit, the trail turns right and follows the ridge for about a third of a mile. After descending a little, it reaches a junction with the Seven Hills Trail, which joins from the left. Bear right and continue along the ridge, now following both blue and orange blazes.

In a quarter of a mile, at a high point on the ridge, the two trails split. Bear left and follow the blue-on-white blazes of the Seven Hills Trail, which descends steeply into a gully, then climbs back up to reach a west-facing viewpoint, known as Torne View. From here, the Ramapo Torne, which you just climbed, is visible to the left, with the hills of Sterling Forest to the west.

A short distance beyond, you'll reach a junction with the black-on-white-blazed Raccoon Brook Hills (RBH) Trail. Turn right onto the RBH Trail, which descends to cross a stream on rocks (passing the end of the white-blazed Reeves Brook Trail on the way down). It then climbs an escarpment, first steeply, then more gradually, passing two southwest-facing viewpoints. Near the second viewpoint, a large rock, known as The Pulpit, juts out by the cliff edge. After a short descent, the RBH Trail climbs to reach a junction with the orange-blazed HTS Trail on an open rock ledge.

Continue ahead on the RBH Trail, which climbs gradually to the crest of the ridge (1,230 feet) - the highest point on the hike. On a clear day, you can see the New York City skyline in the distance to the right.

The trail descends to cross a gas pipeline diagonally to the right, regains the ridge, and then begins a rather steep descent. At the base of the descent, the trail turns right onto a woods road (which soon narrows to a footpath), then bears left and descends more gradually. Soon, the white-blazed Kakiat Trail joins from the left.

When the two trails diverge in about 100 feet, turn left, continuing to follow the RBH Trail. After a short level stretch, the trail descends gradually, then climbs steeply to an open rock ledge, with pitch pines and scrub oak. Just ahead, you'll encounter another steep, rocky climb, with a wooden ladder placed at a particularly steep spot near the top.

At the top, the trail comes out on a rock ledge with a panoramic southwest-facing view. This is the western summit of Raccoon Brook Hill. The trail continues along the crest of the ridge, soon again coming out on open rocks, with more views. After descending through thick mountain laurel, it climbs slightly to reach the eastern summit. Pine Meadow Lake is below to the right, but it cannot be seen when there are leaves on the trees.

The RBH Trail now begins a steep descent. At the base of the descent, a junction is reached with the yellow-on-white-blazed Poached Egg Trail. Continue to follow the RBH Trail, which turns left, climbs over a hill, and descends, steeply in places. At the base of the descent, it passes several rock shelters to the right, crosses a seasonal stream, and climbs to its terminus at a junction with the white-blazed Kakiat Trail.

Turn right onto the Kakiat Trail, which descends steadily. Soon, you'll reach a junction with the Seven Hills Trail (blue on white) and the Pine Meadow Trail (red on white). Turn right, now following the "red, white and blue" blazes of all three trails.

After crossing Pine Meadow Brook on a wooden footbridge, turn left, following the blue-on-white and white blazes. Soon, the blue-on-white-blazed Seven Hills Trail also departs to the right, but you should continue ahead, following the white-blazed Kakiat Trail. In about half a mile, you'll pass cascades in the brook and cross the orange-blazed Hillburn-Torne-Sebago Trail.

Continue ahead on the white-blazed trail, which becomes rougher as it proceeds over and around huge boulders. In another quarter of a mile, you'll reach a junction with the yellow-blazed Stony Brook Trail. Turn left, now following both white and yellow blazes, and cross a footbridge over Pine Meadow Brook. A short distance beyond, the Kakiat Trail leaves to the right, but you should continue ahead on the yellow-blazed Stony Brook Trail. This section of the trail, which closely parallels the cascading Stony Brook, is particularly scenic.

After crossing a gas pipeline right-of-way and then Quartz Brook, the Stony Brook Trail ends at a junction with the red-on-white-blazed Pine Meadow Trail. Continue ahead on the Pine Meadow Trail, which parallels Stony Brook and leads back to the parking lot where the hike began.

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

excellent workout

This is probably one of the hardest hikes in Harriman State Park.  That being said, it's quite a great workout for the legs and a good hike to do on a weekday, when the crowds dissipate. I did this hike on Monday afternoon and had the trail pretty much to myself.  Great views from Hill Torne Sebago, Seven Hills, Racoon Brook.  Since it was in the high 60s today, I thought perhaps I might see a rattler sunning himself on one of the ledges. Nope.  The blueberry bushes have turned a bright red foliage, and the scrub oak on top of the hills are a bright orange.  Enjoy! 

lakes but no swimming?

What is up? A lake but no mention of swimming?

Correct, no swimming in Pine Meadow Lake

As described, the hike does not quite reach the lake.  Regardless, swimming in Pine Meadow Lake (or any other lake in the park unless officially so designated and when a lifeguard is present) is not allowed."

A nice variety of trails, hard but fun

I did this loop on the first warm day of this spring,  It was good to use some trails, and trail sections, that I do not usually take, making this hike longer and harder.  Using the HTS to climb the torne, rather than the Seven Hills, avoids an eroded stretch of trail, and adds some views.  It is too bad that the steep climb, on the RBH, up to the Pulpit, is not in good condition.  Some of big rocks have lost so much soil around them from traffic that the present route may have to be abandoned. The last hard section is next to the cascading brook, on the Kakiat, over boulders.  This is hard walking, but at least you are not on the terribly overused Pine Meadow Trail. Despite having reached retirement age, I was able to finish in 4:40.

Loved it!

My boyfriend and I wanted to finish off the summer with a good strenuous hike .  This one did the trick.  Nice and long for a day hike with something for everyone.  Lots of uphills, rock climbing, beautiful views , and a babbling stream.  I would love to go back when the waters are higher though, as they weren't quite in full force this time of year.  Today was the perfecT weather for a hike.  Deep blue sky, 75 degrees, nice breeze and no humidity.   Saw lots of other folks out and about enjoying the day.   We did pass someone who said that a bear had been spotted on the trail today, so be careful out there! Luckily, we had no incidents:).  Lovely hike, definitely a challenge, but worth every step!

Whoa.....

This may just be my new favorite hike.  It has everything one could want. While Breakneck offers a sense of acute strain, this one is relentless. Starts off fairly benign, but the series of ups and downs, culminating in bouldering down the ravine streamside, puts this one in it's own category. Not for the faint of heart, but if you are so inclined you'll find this hike to be spectacular.

Tough, but worth it

My husband, friend, pup, and I hiked this route on Sunday 9/11.  Definitely difficult, but had a great time.  Our dog (50lbs lab/retriever mut) only needed help 2 times in extremely steep areas.  She was even able to tackle the ladder which were really more like extremely steep steps since the ladder was leaning against a hill with the area behind each rung filled in with soil.  Warning, the footbridge after the red,white, and blue blaze is washed out as are the other two bridges allowing access back to the orange blaze side.  There did appear to be areas where you could try to cross, but the sign we read advised against it.  Irene and subsequent heavy rain has definitely left its mark on this trail, but overrall, the area was in decent shape.  We even met a couple repairing trail as they hiked through.  Took us 6 hrs but we couldn't enjoy the the cross and trip to the waterfall (could have broke trail to view them, but were too tired by then). 

Fun hike!

I completed this hike this past weekend with my teenaged daughter and son.  We had a great time!  There was plenty of opportunity to play on rocks, enjoy views and finished off by listening to a babbling brook.  We even got to see our first timber rattle snake. The trails are well marked, but there are a lot of trails that criss cross that don't seem to be marked - and there are some tricky places where it can be easy to miss a turn if not paying attention.  But we managed to complete this hike as it was written.  It took us 8 hours to complete - 1 mile per hour seems to be our pace for any hike rated as strenuous so far this summer. I can't wait to do this hike again -maybe in the spring when the streams are running higher or in the fall to enjoy the turning leaves.

Tricky - missed RBH during heavy fog..

The views that the initial part of the trail provided (overlooking Route 287) were quite amazing. We were really looking forward to the part of the hike where we would be climbing RBH, but unfortunately, we ended up missing the intersection of RBH Trail with the Seven Hills Trail; wonder if it was just our mistake in not noticing, or if it was the low visibility, or otherwise. We do hope to go back and "conquer" RBH though ;) Best still, the views on the hike made the trip well worth it - and taught us to always carry a map around.