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. Just before a switchback turn, there are views over Schunemunk Mountain, the Moodna Viaduct, and the Shawangunks from open rocks to the left of the trail....
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. Just before a switchback turn, there are views over Schunemunk Mountain, the Moodna Viaduct, and the Shawangunks from open rocks to the left of the trail. 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 left and follow the Sackett Trail, which soon climbs rather steeply over rock ledges, with views to the northwest. After descending a little, the trail climbs some more. Just beyond the crest of the rise, the red-blazed H. Peter Stern Trail, which leads down to the Hudson Highlands Nature Museum begins on the left, but you should continue ahead on the yellow-blazed Sackett Trail, which begins a steady descent. At the base of the descent, the trail crosses a stream and continues through a wet area. After climbing a little, the trail crosses a second stream. Just beyond, you'll notice a stone chimney to the left of the trail-the remnant of an old cabin, built many years ago as a family camping retreat.
A short distance beyond, the yellow blazes turn left and follow the grassy Hall Road for about 300 feet. Where the road bears left, continue along the yellow-blazed trail as it bears right, leaving the road. It descends to a low point, with many fallen trees, then ascends gradually, traversing a rocky area along the way. About 1.6 miles from the start of the hike, the Sackett Trail turns right onto Continental Road, another woods road, which it follows for a short distance to its junction with Hulse Road. Here, the Sackett Trail ends.
Turn left onto Hulse Road, now following the route of the Stillman Trail, blazed with yellow rectangles, which is co-aligned with the Highlands Trail (teal-diamond blazes). The trail follows the road for only 150 feet. Just past a stream crossing, watch carefully as the yellow and teal blazes bear right, leaving the road, and continue ahead on a footpath. Follow the Stillman and Highlands Trails through a thick stand of mountain laurel and hemlock and then steadily but gradually uphill. About 0.4 mile from the last intersection, the trail climbs steeply over a rock outcrop and reaches the 1,410-foot summit of Black Rock Mountain (after which the forest is named), with panoramic views. The best views are from a rock ledge just north of the trail. Schunemunk Mountain is on the left, with the Moodna Viaduct to its right. The Hudson River may be seen on the right, with the Newburgh-Beacon Bridge visible in the distance. On the horizon, you can see the Shawangunks, with the Catskills beyond. You’ll want to take a break here to rest from the climb and enjoy the spectacular views.
When you’re ready to continue, return to the trail and turn left, following the teal and yellow blazes as they descend rather steeply on a wide footpath. At the base of the descent, the trail makes a sharp left turn. Here, you should leave the yellow-and-teal-blazed trail and turn right onto a grassy path that leads 50 feet down to White Oak Road, a wide gravel road (a sign along the road identifies this location as “Buster’s Bend”). Turn right on White Oak Road and follow it as it climbs gently, paralleling the outlet stream from Arthurs Pond on the left. In half a mile, you'll reach a Y-junction, with a giant white oak tree (after which the road is named) in the middle of the intersection.
Bear left at the road intersection onto the gravel Continental Road, passing a pine plantation on the left. In 200 feet, you'll reach a junction with the white-blazed White Oak Trail. Turn sharply right and follow the white blazes, which run along a grassy woods road for a short distance, then continue ahead where the main woods road turns left. The White Oak Trail soon narrows to a footpath and goes through dense mountain laurel thickets, with an understory of blueberry bushes. In about 0.3 mile, after passing on the right an unmarked side trail that leads to the Phil Faurot Birding Platform at the edge of a wetland, it crosses a stream and reaches the stone impoundment of Sphagnum Pond. The trail skirts the dam, crosses a wet area on puncheons, bears left and climbs to the pond, then bears right and crosses Sutherland Road. Continue ahead on the White Oak Trail, which climbs along a grassy woods road that soon narrows to a footpath. At the top of the climb, the White Oak Trail ends at a junction with the yellow-rectangle-blazed Stillman Trail (co-aligned with the teal-diamond-blazed Highlands Trail), a grassy woods road.
Turn left and follow the Stillman/Highlands Trail south along a ridge, passing two interesting swamps on the right. In half a mile, you’ll reach a junction where the blue-blazed Compartment Trail comes in from the south and the teal-blazed Highlands Trail continues straight ahead. Turn right at this junction, continuing to follow the yellow-rectangle-blazed Stillman Trail, which now heads downhill, joined by the blue-blazed Compartment Trail. At the base of the descent, the Compartment Trail leaves to the right. Bear left and follow the yellow rectangle blazes, which in 100 feet turn right and continue along Hall Road. (Note that the yellow-triangle-blazed Short Cut Trail begins on the left at this intersection; make sure that you follow the yellow rectangles, not the yellow triangles.)
Near the crest of a slight rise, at a sign for “Mine Hill Road,” follow the yellow-rectangle-blazed Stillman Trail as it turns left, leaving the road, and proceeds through dense mountain laurel thickets. The Stillman Trail soon reaches a T-junction, where the yellow-circle-blazed Sackett Trail begins. Turn right and follow the Sackett Trail past a limited west-facing viewpoint. When you reach the next intersection, turn left and follow the yellow-diamond-blazed Mine Hill Trail down to Mine Hill Road, where you began the hike.Publication: Submitted by Daniel Chazin on 07/10/2003 updated/verified on 07/18/2018
This loop hike climbs to the summit of Black Rock Mountain, with panoramic views, and passes by scenic Sphagnum Pond.
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.