From the exit at the northern end of the parking area, follow a short unmarked trail uphill and turn left onto the blue-blazed Table Rocks Trail, which parallels Spring Farm Road. As the trail reaches the top of a rise, the red-blazed Crag Trail begins on the right. Continue ahead on the Table Rocks Trail, which enters a field and bears right. Just beyond, a broad panoramic view of the...
From the exit at the northern end of the parking area, follow a short unmarked trail uphill and turn left onto the blue-blazed Table Rocks Trail, which parallels Spring Farm Road. As the trail reaches the top of a rise, the red-blazed Crag Trail begins on the right. Continue ahead on the Table Rocks Trail, which enters a field and bears right. Just beyond, a broad panoramic view of the Catskill Mountains -- known as the "Million Dollar View" -- appears on the left.
Continue across open fields on a wide path. At the end of the field, the Table Rocks Trail turns right onto Spring Farm Road, then turns left and reenters the woods. It follows a footpath on a contour along the side of a hill. After passing the Slingerland Pavilion, below to the left, the trail begins to climb, reaching a T-intersection at the top of the rise. Here, the red-blazed Cedar Trail begins on the right, but you should bear left to continue on the blue-blazed Table Rocks Trail, which now begins to descend.
At the base of the descent, the Table Rocks Trail turns right onto Farm Road, but in 150 feet, the trail bears left and continues on a grassy road, with cedars and deciduous trees on the left and a meadow on the right. At the end of the meadow, the trail bears left, goes through a gap in a stone wall and reenters the woods. Soon, Farm Road joins from the right, and a short distance beyond, the trail reaches Clearwater Road.
Turn right, leaving the Table Rocks Trail, and follow Clearwater Road uphill, with a stone wall on the right. After reaching the crest of the rise, the trail descends gradually, passing the interesting ruins of a stone building on the left. A short distance beyond, after crossing a stream, the Northeast Trail begins on the right.
Turn right and follow the blue-blazed Northeast Trail, which climbs steadily through hemlock, mountain laurel and pitch pines. Near the top, the trail emerges onto a rock outcrop, with a panoramic view of the Catskill Mountains to the north.
Continuing along the ridge, the trail climbs gradually, with more views to the right. Soon, the trail emerges on an outcrop of fractured conglomerate rock, known as the Northeast Crags, which offers a spectacular unobstructed view over the entire Catskill range.
The trail continues along the crest of the ridge and soon moves to its south side, with views through the trees over the Wallkill Valley. After a short descent through mountain laurel, you'll reach a T-intersection. Here you should turn left onto the yellow-blazed Bonticou Foot Path, which climbs, rather steeply in places, to the open summit of Bonticou Crag, studded with pitch pines. On a clear day, there are views northwest to the Catskills, northeast to Stissing Mountain and Dutchess County, and southeast to the Hudson Highlands. The Village of New Paltz may be seen below to the southeast. You'll want to spend some time exploring this fascinating rock summit.
When you're ready to continue, head downhill on the yellow-blazed Bonticou Foot Path, retracing your steps to the junction with the blue-blazed Northeast Trail. Turn left onto the Northeast Trail, which makes a short, steep descent, passes under an overhanging ledge and reaches a fork. Turn left to continue along the Northeast Trail (the right fork is the red-blazed Cedar Trail). Soon, the trail begins a steady climb. As you approach the top of the climb, you'll notice a huge jumble of fallen conglomerate rock on the left (through the trees), with the cliffs of Bonticou Crag towering above. Just ahead, you'll reach the red-blazed Bonticou Rock Scramble, which begins on the left, climbing precipitously over huge boulders to the summit of Bonticou Crag. You've already reached the summit by a much easier route (although you might want to attempt this challenging climb some other day).
Turn right and follow the red-blazed trail up log steps. In 250 feet, you'll reach the Bonticou Carriage Road. Turn right onto this road and follow it for a third of a mile around several turns to a four-way intersection with Cedar Drive. Turn right onto Cedar Drive, but immediately turn left onto the red-blazed Crag Trail (also marked at intersections with the blue blazes of the Shawangunk Ridge Trail). Follow the Crag Trail as it descends rather steeply on a wide path. In a third of mile, the trail crosses Spring Farm Road and Cedar Drive in quick succession. It continues along meadows, descending more gradually to end at a junction with the blue-blazed Table Rocks Trail. Briefly turn left onto the Table Rocks Trail, then turn right and descend to the parking area where the hike began.Publication: Submitted by Daniel Chazin on 01/26/2007 updated/verified on 10/01/2020
This loop hike traverses the Northeast Crags and climbs to the summit of Bonticou Crag, with expansive views over the surrounding countryside.
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
Plan Ahead and Prepare
- 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.
Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
- 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.
Be Considerate of Other Visitors
- 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.