Sutherland Pond/Scenic Trail/Eagle Cliff Loop from Mine Hill Road

Overview

This loop hike climbs to several panoramic viewpoints, passes two ponds and follows Continental Road past the historic Chatfield Stone House.

Details
Time:
4 hours
Difficulty:
Moderate
Length:
6.5 miles
Route Type:
Circuit
Dogs:
Allowed on leash
Features:
Views, Swimming, Historic feature
Location
Park:
Region:
County:
Orange
State:
NY
Maps/Books
Buy Trail Map:

Buy Book:
Publication
First Published:
07/15/2005

Updated/Verified:
09/29/2013
Submitter:
Daniel Chazin

Photo

Parking


View Black Rock Forest Mine Hill Road in a larger map

Trail Conference volunteers maintain trails in this park.
Trailhead GPS Coordinates
41.402043,-74.047106
Driving Directions

Take the New York Thruway north to Exit 16. Follow N.Y. Route 32 north for seven miles to Mountainville, and turn right onto Angola Road. After 0.8 mile, you will come to a stop sign. Turn left to continue on Angola Road. In another 0.8 mile, turn right onto Mine Hill Road. Follow Mine Hill Road uphill for 0.9 mile to a parking turnout on the right side of the road, just beyond a very sharp, steep hairpin turn. NOTE: Trailhead parking is very limited (maximum five vehicles). Please make sure that you do not block the road or hamper access by emergency vehicles.

Description

The hike begins by following the yellow-diamond-blazed Mine Hill Trail, which starts on the opposite side of the road, just beyond the parking turnout. The trailhead is marked by a triple blaze. Follow the trail uphill, steeply in places. At a switchback turn, there are views over the Shawangunks and Catskills from open rocks to the left. The Mine Hill Trail now heads south and soon ends at a junction with the yellow-circle-blazed Sackett Trail. (You’ll encounter four different yellow-blazed trails on this hike, so it’s important to note the shape of the blazes, in addition to their color.) Turn right and follow the Sackett Trail to its end at a junction with the yellow-rectangle-blazed Stillman Trail. Turn left onto the Stillman Trail, which soon turns right onto Hall Road.

Where the road curves to the right, turn left and follow the yellow-rectangle blazes, which head into the woods on a less-used woods road. Almost immediately, you’ll reach a junction with the blue-blazed Compartment Trail. Bear right and follow both blue and yellow rectangle blazes, which climb towards the crest of a ridge. At the crest, the trails split, and you should turn right, continuing to follow the blue blazes of the Compartment Trail.

As the Compartment Trail curves left, watch for three white blazes on the left, which mark the start of the Split Rock Trail. Turn left and follow the white-blazed Split Rock Trail, which leads in a short distance to a panoramic viewpoint to the southeast from open rocks, with Sutherland Pond directly below. This is a good spot to take a break.

Continue ahead (northeast) on the white-blazed trail. After passing the Split Rock that gives the trail its name, the trail descends to its end at Sutherland Road. Turn right onto the road, and, almost immediately, you’ll notice a large cut into the hillside to the right. This is the site of an abandoned mine. Proceed ahead on Sutherland Road, which soon approaches the shore of Sutherland Pond – the only natural pond in Black Rock Forest (the other ponds are man-made). Swimming is permitted in this pond, but at your own risk.

In another half a mile, Hall Road comes in from the right. You should continue ahead along the road (now known as Jim’s Pond Road) for a few hundred feet until you reach a fork in the road, where three yellow blazes mark the start of the Arthur Trail. Follow the yellow-rectangle-blazed Arthur Trail, which crosses a stream on a split-log bridge and continues through dense mountain laurel. A short distance beyond, the trail crosses a swamp on puncheons made from large sections of logs. These puncheons can be slippery, and the crossing can be a little tricky, especially if the water is high.

Just beyond the swamp, you’ll reach a junction with the white-blazed Scenic Trail. Turn left, leaving the Arthur Trail, and continue ahead on the Scenic Trail. Soon, the blue-blazed Chatfield Trail leaves to the left, but you should continue ahead on the Scenic Trail.

After a short uphill stretch, you’ll reach a junction marked by a log sticking out of a cairn. This marks the start of the blue-blazed Eagle Cliff Trail. Turn right onto this trail, which leads in a short distance to Eagle Cliff – a huge rock outcrop, with glacial striations – that offers a panoramic south-facing view. On a clear day, you may be able to see the New York City skyline in the distance. Wilkins Pond is straight ahead, and Jim’s Pond is to the left. This is another good spot to take a break.

When you’re ready to continue, bear right onto the orange-blazed Rut Trail. This trail follows near the edge of the escarpment, with views through the trees to the right. Be alert for a sharp left turn, where the trail turns slightly away from the cliff edge and then goes down through a narrow passage between boulders. Soon, you’ll reach a trail junction, where the Rut Trail ends. Turn left onto the yellow-blazed Stropel Trail, which leads in a very short distance to the white-blazed Scenic Trail. Turn right and rejoin the Scenic Trail.

In another half a mile, after passing a junction with the yellow-blazed Ledge Trail, you’ll reach another junction, marked by a cairn. Here, the blue-blazed Spy Rock Trail leaves to the left. Turn left and follow this short trail, which leads in about 1,000 feet to Spy Rock, marked by a single pitch pine. This is the highest point in Black Rock Forest (1,461 feet), but there are only limited views of the Shawangunk Mountains to the north and the Hudson River to the northeast.

Now retrace your steps to the Scenic Trail and turn left, following a well-defined woods road that descends gradually. In another quarter of a mile, you’ll reach the wide Continental Road. Turn left and head north on this pleasant woods road. In about half a mile, you’ll notice an old stone building to the left. This is the Chatfield Stone House, built in the 1830s, damaged by fire in 1912, and reconstructed in 1932. It is the oldest building in Black Rock Forest and is currently used for educational programming. The body of water visible to the right is Arthurs Pond.

Continue ahead on Continental Road. In another quarter mile, you’ll come to a fork in the road at a huge white oak tree. The more traveled route curves to the right, but you should continue straight ahead on Continental Road. Then, a quarter mile beyond that junction, you’ll reach a cable barrier across the road. Here, the yellow-square-blazed Stillman Trail and the teal-diamond-blazed Highlands Trail join briefly. Continue ahead along the road. Soon, you’ll see a triple blaze, which marks the start of the yellow-circle-blazed Sackett Trail.

Follow the Sackett Trail, which runs along the road for a short distance, then turns left and reenters the woods on a footpath. After briefly following the grassy Hall Road, the trail passes a stone chimney – a remnant of a cabin that once stood here. It descends to cross a brook, climbs a hill to reach a west-facing viewpoint, then makes a brief but steep descent.

About three-quarters of a mile from Hall Road, you’ll reach a junction with the yellow-diamond-blazed Mine Hill Trail. Turn right and follow the Mine Hill Trail down to Mine Hill Road, opposite the parking turnout where the hike began.

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

A bit of confusion for me:

A bit of confusion for me: "...you'll reach a cable barrier across the road.  Here, the yellow-square-blazed Stillman Trail & the teal-diamond-blazed Highlands Trail join briefly.  Continue ahead along the road."  I think it would be more clear to say that one must cross the cable barrier and continue forward on that road, otherwise one might be prompted to continue on Continental Rd which turns left, as I did.  Also, these roads (Continental, Hall, etc) are not labeled, furthermore what constitues a 'road' and a 'trail' can be deceptive.  The last part of this hike, from the cable barrier onward, is quite over-grown and at times the blazes are difficult to find.  Not a good position to be in when one is running out of daylight.  One other comment:  the word "soon" is relative and one should keep that in mind when gauging distance.  Over-all, an incredible hike.  There is a great place to swim in Sutherland pond slightly off the beaten path and I could have spent 2 hours hanging out on Eagle Cliff.

Either description is wrong, or my map is wrong

After printing out these directions on 12/28/13, i noticed that either they or my "West Hudson Trails" Map #113, Fifth Edition, 2009, must be wrong. At one point you say we should "bear right onto the orange-blazed Rut Trail," but the map clearly shows that we must bear LEFT onto the RED-blazed Rut Trail. 

Is my map out of date? Or are these turn-by-turn directions wrong? Please advise. 

Both map and hike description are correct

You have raised a good point.  Actually, though, both the map and the description are correct.  The viewpoint at the end of the Eagle Cliff Trail is a short distance beyond the junction with the Rut Trail (much too short a distance to be shown on a map of the scale that we publish).  If you were coming on the Eagle Cliff Trail and skipped the view, you would, indeed, turn left onto the Rut Trail.  But if you head to the viewpoint (and the hike description assumes that you would), you would have to retrace your steps for a very short distance and then turn right onto the Rut Trail.  

Black Rock Forest Pictures

Hiked a longer (10.5 mile) version of this hike on 5/9/10 to also include Rattlesnake Hill, Hill of Pines and Black Rock. Great views. For pictures: http://gonehikin.blogspot.com/2010/05/black-rock-forest-ny.html