Building Your Next Adventure in Sterling Forest

December 14, 2017
Erik Mickelson
New York-New Jersey Trail Conference


Building Your Next Adventure in Sterling Forest
Hikers and Mountain Biker meet on Sterling Forest's multi-use trails. Photo by Robert Celestin.


Multi-use trails in Sterling Forest State Park are blazing new adventures and bringing trail users together.

Ask people returning from a journey on the new trails at Sterling Forest State Park about their experience, and you’re likely to catch their excitement: “fun and flowy,” “special,” and “my new favorite trail” have become common descriptions.

The new and repurposed trails are mostly narrow, single-track, multi-use trails. In 2016, the Red Back Trail was rerouted in a few sections and the 2-mile Hutchinson Trail was opened. Thanks to the support of New York State Parks and private donors such as the Tuxedo Hudson Company/Valley Rock Inn, this year has seen the addition of more than half of the planned Munsee Eagle Trail, with 3 miles built so far. The Munsee Eagle will connect the Red Back and Hutchinson into a loop for hikers and bikers. (Find a larger map of the multi-use trails in Sterling Forest here.)

The Hutchinson and Red Back out-and-back section is currently open to equestrians, hikers, and mountain bikers; the Munsee Eagle will only be open for hiking and biking. After the completion of the Munsee Eagle Trail, the future vision is to improve the rest of the Red Back Trail, opening approximately 6 additional miles to all three user groups. 

In the meantime, you can enjoy the Hutchinson Trail, which joins onto the southeastern section of the Red Back loop. The entire distance from the Caretaker Parking Area to the South Gate Parking Area is 3.5 miles, which can be done as an out-and-back or one-way hike or ride with a car shuttle.

The new trails incorporate several sustainability features like softer grades, pinches, and a general narrowness and turns to slow bikes down. They were built with frequent drains, open sight lines, and some banked curves and parallel trail features like rollers and drops for bikers, trail runners, or adventurous hikers. The character is a little different than a pure hiking trail in sections, but it is equally enjoyable for boots and sneakers. It’s a playful trail with a sense of adventure that showcases the unique beauty of Sterling Forest. 

In spite of all these design considerations, please refrain from using the trails after a significant rain event, or on the thaw end of a freeze-thaw cycle. Feet and tires rut the trails on wet, muddy days. Besides that, have fun and enjoy the new sights and shiny ribbons of dirt waiting for you in Sterling Forest.

Sharing the Trail

Because the new trails in Sterling Forest are mostly single-track, multi-use trail with some short sections that are particularly narrow, please practice proper trail etiquette. Pause and acknowledge each other’s presence. All users yield to horses, and bikes yield to horses and hikers. If possible, move down low off the trail below horses rather than climbing above them. 

Help Finish These Trails!

Exciting new trails aren’t possible without the support of the people who use them. Volunteers are needed to help complete the final section of the Munsee Eagle Trail—no experience necessary! Give a few hours of your time, and we’ll teach you everything you need to know to help build trails. Contact Field Manager Erik Mickelson at [email protected] for info on how to get involved. If you’d like to support our efforts without getting dirty, your gift goes a long way in allowing us to improve your trail experience.


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peterd's picture

It's a great job being done on these trails! It's nice to see all the multi trail users working together to create such great trails and bridges.
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tree6hugger's picture

This is not a hiking adventure, it's an amusement park. What happened to the Trail Conference I joined 25 years ago in 1993 when the Trail Conference prided itself on building and maintaining foot trails for hikers and protecting the land on which those trails were built?
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