From the bulletin board at the end of the parking area, proceed ahead on the red-blazed Duggan Trail. In about half...
From the bulletin board at the end of the parking area, proceed ahead on the red-blazed Duggan Trail. In about half a mile, the red trail ends at a junction with the blue-blazed Reservoir Trail. Continue ahead on the blue trail, which immediately crosses Ben's Bridge (a wooden footbridge) and climbs along a picturesque stream, with cascades and waterfalls, following an old woods road. When the blue trail ends, bear right and continue ahead on the yellow-blazed Stillman Trail.
Soon, the Stillman Trail reaches the dirt White Oak Road. Here, it is joined by the teal-diamond-blazed Highlands Trail, which comes in from the left. The joint Highlands/Stillman Trails now turns right and follows the road for 100 feet, then turns left and begins a steep climb of Mt. Misery on a footpath. At the top, you’ll reach a viewpoint to the west and northwest which is partially obscured by trees. Continue ahead for a short distance, and you’ll come to a much better viewpoint, with Black Rock Mountain visible directly ahead, and Aleck Meadow Reservoir below to the left. You’ll want to stop here for a few minutes to savor the view and take a break from your arduous climb (you’ve climbed nearly 700 feet from Ben’s Bridge).
Continue ahead on the yellow/teal diamond trail, which begins its descent of Mt. Misery, first gradually and then more steeply. In a rocky area at the base of the descent, you’ll notice a triple white blaze, which marks the start of the Scenic Trail. Turn left and follow the white-blazed Scenic Trail, which crosses the blue-blazed Swamp Trail at the end of the rocky area and begins a steady climb of the Hill of Pines, passing through attractive mountain laurel and hemlock.
At the top of the climb, the trail comes out on open rocks, with a spectacular west-facing view. Black Rock Mountain may be seen on the right, and the Black Rock Forest fire tower is to its left. (Despite the name "Hill of Pines," there are only two pine trees near the summit, which is mostly covered with oaks). You’ll want to spend some time at this magnificent vantage point.
The trail climbs a little to the true summit, descends the hill, and soon crosses the dirt Carpenter Road diagonally to the right. It now begins a gradual climb of Rattlesnake Hill. After about ten minutes, you’ll reach a viewpoint to the right of the trail (the best view is from a rock ledge adjacent to a large pine tree). The fire tower may be seen straight ahead, and Bog Meadow Pond is to the left. After a short but steep descent and a relatively level stretch, you’ll reach a second viewpoint – this one marked by a cairn and a gnarled, nearly horizontal pine tree. Continue ahead through a dense mountain laurel thicket to the third viewpoint on Rattlesnake Hill, which offers a panoramic view from open rocks. Bog Meadow Pond is below on the left, with the rolling hills of Orange County beyond.
After pausing to enjoy the view, continue ahead on the white trail, which begins to descend, first steeply, then more gradually. The trail briefly runs along the southern boundary of Black Rock Forest, with Bog Meadow Pond visible through the trees to the left. After crossing the inlet stream of the pond, the trail reaches the dirt Bog Meadow Road. Turn left and continue along the road, which is marked with the white blazes of the Scenic Trail.
After about five minutes, you’ll reach a junction with the yellow-blazed Tower Vue Trail, marked by a cairn. This junction – which is easily missed – is just before a large rock outcrop. Turn right and follow the Tower Vue Trail over undulating terrain, through mountain laurel with an understory of blueberry. In about a third of a mile, there is a view through the trees of the fire tower from a rock ledge to the left of the trail. The trail now begins to run above Arthurs Pond, with views of the pond through the trees on the left.
When the Tower Vue Trail ends at the northern tip of the pond, by the dam, turn left onto the white-blazed White Oak Trail, cross below the dam, and continue along a gravel road. Soon, the White Oak Trail reaches Continental Road at a T-intersection. Turn right onto the road, continuing to follow the white blazes, but when the white blazes turn left and leave the road, proceed ahead on the road. Just beyond, you’ll come to a junction, marked by a huge white oak tree. Here you should continue ahead on Continental Road, as White Oak Road leaves to the right.
In another third of a mile, you’ll reach a complex intersection, with a cable barrier straight ahead. Turn right and continue on the yellow-rectangle-blazed Stillman Trail (also the route of the teal-diamond-blazed Highlands Trail). Just ahead, as the woods road bears left, bear right and follow the yellow and teal diamond blazes, which begin a gradual climb of Black Rock Mountain on a footpath.
After a short but very steep climb, you’ll reach the summit of the mountain (1,410 feet) amid scrub oak and pitch pines. The panoramic view from the summit includes Schunemunk Mountain and the Metro-North Railroad’s Moodna Viaduct to the west, and the Hudson River (crossed by the Newburgh-Beacon Bridge) to the northeast. Again, you’ll want to take a break to appreciate the view – the broadest of the entire hike.
The trail turns right and descends gradually. With the wide White Oak Road visible ahead, the trail bears left and joins a woods road. A short distance beyond, the yellow and teal-diamond blazes turn right, but you should continue ahead on the road, now following the white-blazed Black Rock Hollow Trail. This trail continues to descend along the road, with portions rerouted to bypass very eroded sections of the road.
At the base of the descent, the white-blazed trail ends at a filtration plant. Turn right onto the blue-blazed Reservoir Trail and follow it around the plant and along the brook to a junction with the red-blazed Duggan Trail just before Ben’s Bridge. Turn sharply left onto the red-blazed trail and follow it uphill to the parking area where the hike began.Publication: Submitted by Daniel Chazin on 06/29/2004 updated/verified on 10/14/2012
This loop hike parallels a cascading stream and climbs to several panoramic viewpoints.
Whether you are going for a day hike or backpacking overnight, it is good practice to carry what we call The Hiking Essentials. These essentials will help you enjoy your outing more and will provide basic safety gear if needed. There may also be more essentials, depending on the season and your needs.
Hiking Shoes or Boots
Water - Two quarts per person is recommended in every season. Keep in mind that fluid loss is heightened in winter as well as summer. Don't put yourself in the position of having to end your hike early because you have run out of water.
Map - Know where you are and where you are going. Many of our hiking areas feature interconnecting network of trails. Use a waterproof/tear-resistant Tyvek Trail Conference map if available or enclose your map in a Ziplock plastic bag. If you have a mobile device, download Avenza’s free PDF Maps app and grab some GPS-enhanced Trail Conference maps (a backup Tyvek or paper version of the map is good to have just in case your batteries die or you don't have service). Check out some map-reading basics here.
Food - Snacks/lunch will keep you going as you burn energy walking or climbing. Nuts, seeds, and chocolate are favorites on the trail.
Sunscreen and insect repellent
Rain Gear and Extra Clothing - Rain happens. So does cold. Be prepared for changing weather. Avoid cotton--it traps water against your skin and is slow to dry. If you are wearing wet cotton and must return to your starting point, you risk getting chills that may lead to a dangerous hypothermia. Choose synthetic shirts, sweaters and/or vests and dress in layers for easy on and off.
Compass - A simple compass is all you need to orient you and your map to magnetic north.
Light - A flashlight or small, lightweight headlamp will be welcome gear if you find yourself still on the trail when darkness falls. Check the batteries before you start out and have extras in your pack.
First Aid Kit - Keep it simple, compact, and weatherproof. Know how to use the basic components.
Firestarter and Matches - In an emergency, you may need to keep yourself or someone else warm until help arrives. A firestarter (this could be as simple as leftover birthday candles that are kept inside a waterproof container) and matches (again, make sure to keep them in a waterproof container) could save a life.
Knife or Multi-tool - You may need to cut a piece of moleskin to put over a blister, repair a piece of broken equipment, or solve some other unexpected problem.
Emergency Numbers - Know the emergency numbers for the area you're going to and realize that in many locations--especially mountainous ones, your phone will not get reception.
Common Sense - Pay attention to your environment, your energy, and the condition of your companions. Has the weather turned rainy? Is daylight fading? Did you drink all your water? Did your companion fail to bring rain gear? Are you getting tired? Keep in mind that until you turn around you are (typically) only half-way to completing your hike--you must still get back to where you started from! (Exceptions are loop hikes.)
Check the weather forecast before you head out. Know the rules and regulations of the area.
The Leave No Trace Seven Principles
- Know the regulations and special concerns for the area you'll visit.
- Prepare for extreme weather, hazards, and emergencies.
- Schedule your trip to avoid times of high use.
- Visit in small groups when possible. Consider splitting larger groups into smaller groups.
- Repackage food to minimize waste.
- Use a map and compass to eliminate the use of marking paint, rock cairns or flagging.
- Durable surfaces include established trails and campsites, rock, gravel, dry grasses or snow.
- Protect riparian areas by camping at least 200 feet from lakes and streams.
- Good campsites are found, not made. Altering a site is not necessary.
- In popular areas:
- Concentrate use on existing trails and campsites.
- Walk single file in the middle of the trail, even when wet or muddy.
- Keep campsites small. Focus activity in areas where vegetation is absent.
- In pristine areas:
- Disperse use to prevent the creation of campsites and trails.
- Avoid places where impacts are just beginning.
- Pack it in, pack it out. Inspect your campsite and rest areas for trash or spilled foods. Pack out all trash, leftover food and litter.
- Deposit solid human waste in catholes dug 6 to 8 inches deep, at least 200 feet from water, camp and trails. Cover and disguise the cathole when finished.
- Pack out toilet paper and hygiene products.
- To wash yourself or your dishes, carry water 200 feet away from streams or lakes and use small amounts of biodegradable soap. Scatter strained dishwater.
- Preserve the past: examine, but do not touch cultural or historic structures and artifacts.
- Leave rocks, plants and other natural objects as you find them.
- Avoid introducing or transporting non-native species.
- Do not build structures, furniture, or dig trenches.
- Campfires can cause lasting impacts to the backcountry. Use a lightweight stove for cooking and enjoy a candle lantern for light.
- Where fires are permitted, use established fire rings, fire pans, or mound fires.
- Keep fires small. Only use sticks from the ground that can be broken by hand.
- Burn all wood and coals to ash, put out campfires completely, then scatter cool ashes.
- Observe wildlife from a distance. Do not follow or approach them.
- Never feed animals. Feeding wildlife damages their health, alters natural behaviors, and exposes them to predators and other dangers.
- Protect wildlife and your food by storing rations and trash securely.
- Control pets at all times, or leave them at home.
- Avoid wildlife during sensitive times: mating, nesting, raising young, or winter.
- Respect other visitors and protect the quality of their experience.
- Be courteous. Yield to other users on the trail.
- Step to the downhill side of the trail when encountering pack stock.
- Take breaks and camp away from trails and other visitors.
- Let nature's sounds prevail. Avoid loud voices and noises.
The Trail Conference is a 2015 Leave No Trace partner.
(c) Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics: www.LNT.org.