From the northern end of the parking area, head into the woods on a blue-blazed trail, which climbs gradually to the right of a ravine. Pay careful attention to the blazes, as there are a number of side trails in this area. After turning sharply and ascending on a switchback, you’ll reach the remnants of two stone pillars to the left of the trail, with scenic Buttermilk Falls cascading down...
From the northern end of the parking area, head into the woods on a blue-blazed trail, which climbs gradually to the right of a ravine. Pay careful attention to the blazes, as there are a number of side trails in this area. After turning sharply and ascending on a switchback, you’ll reach the remnants of two stone pillars to the left of the trail, with scenic Buttermilk Falls cascading down the mountain..
The trail now bears right and continues to climb. After a brief descent, you'll reach a limited west-facing viewpoint, with a field visible below. Continue ahead on the blue trail, and you'll soon come to a much broader viewpoint. The tall building in the distance is part of the Blue Hill Plaza office complex in Pearl River. You may hear and see a train along the railroad tracks running parallel to the hills in the background. This rail line - commonly known as the West Shore Railroad - was built in 1883 as the New York, West Shore and Buffalo. Passenger service along the line, which extends from northern New Jersey to Albany, was discontinued in 1959, but the line remains an important route for freight trains traveling between the Midwest and the New York metropolitan area.
After a little more climbing, you'll reach a junction with a woods road. An orange-blazed trail turns left on the road, but you should turn right, continuing to follow the blue blazes. Just beyond - about half a mile from the start of the hike - you'll reach the third viewpoint, with the broadest view. You can see all the way west to Ramapo Mountains and, on a clear day, the skyscrapers of Newark are visible on the horizon to the south. In the early 1900s, when he rode horseback in the area, President Theodore Roosevelt would stop here to take in the view. This is a good spot to rest from the climb and enjoy the panoramic view.
In another 300 feet, follow the blue trail as it turns sharply right, leaving the woods road it has been following, and descends on switchbacks along another woods road. When the blue trail ends at a junction with a white-blazed gravel road, turn right and follow the white blazes along the road. As the road bears left near the base of the descent, watch carefully for a turn where the white blazes turn right, leaving the road. Continue to follow the white-blazed trail, which descends stone steps, crosses a boardwalk, and soon ends at the parking area where the hike began.Publication: Submitted by Daniel Chazin on 10/22/2004 updated/verified on 04/23/2014
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.