The blue-blazed Camp Smith Trail starts behind historic Bear Mountain Bridge toll house, 0.7 mile north of the entrance to Camp Smith on Bear Mountain Road, Route 6/202. At first, the trail parallels the road, climbing steadily. It drops steeply through a rock field and turns left before reaching a massive cliff. Staying within sight and sound of the road, it works its way gradually uphill,...
The blue-blazed Camp Smith Trail starts behind historic Bear Mountain Bridge toll house, 0.7 mile north of the entrance to Camp Smith on Bear Mountain Road, Route 6/202. At first, the trail parallels the road, climbing steadily. It drops steeply through a rock field and turns left before reaching a massive cliff. Staying within sight and sound of the road, it works its way gradually uphill, crossing small ridges. At 0.6 mile, it begins a serious ascent of Manitou Mountain, soon climbing very steeply on a series of rock steps. It turns left to reach a viewpoint to the south. Turning right, it crosses the top of an open rock face.
The Camp Smith Trail drops slightly and resumes its steady ascent of Manitou Mountain. It passes through a gully as it approaches viewpoints on the brow of the mountain. Two pines beckon hikers to sit and savor the view of Iona Island at 0.9 mile. The trail turns away from the river and then left again toward a rock outcropping with views. It then turns right and away from the views to begin its descent. The rock steps, switchbacks, and sidehill construction make it possible to safely descend the extremely steep talus slope.
At 1.2 miles, the Camp Smith Trail reaches the bottom of the slope, crosses a flat area, turns gradually left, and arrives at a small rock outcropping with a view. From the viewpoint, the trail leads inland and then turns once again towards the river for another view to the west. Leaving the view, the trail continues the gradual descent, crossing intermittent brooks. At 1.9 miles, it reaches a parking area on Route 6/202 at a large bend in the road, 2.2 miles north of the entrance to Camp Smith.
Continuing north to Anthony's Nose, the trail crosses Broccy Creek and heads gradually uphill, paralleling the road. After turning away from the road, it joins and leaves woods roads and crosses streams. Rising out of a ravine, the trail turns right at 2.4 miles, onto a rock outcropping with views of the Hudson River, Iona Island, and Bear Mountain-Harriman State Park. Paralleling the river high over the road, the trail first drops slightly then begins to climb steeply.
At 2.7 miles, another rock outcropping with a view offers an excuse to stop before tackling the remaining unrelenting assault up Anthony's Nose. Along the last 0.4 mile, there are both seasonal and year-round views from open rock slabs. The trail drops down off the summit to join a woods road. Follow it straight ahead to panoramic views of the Hudson River, the Bear Mountain Bridge, and Bear Mountain-Harriman State Park. A right turn takes hikers to the Appalachian Trail, where the Camp Smith Trail ends at 3.7 miles. Follow the white blazes to the left and descend steeply for 0.6 mile to Route 9D.
Camp Smith (military reservation) is about 50 feet to the right of the trail in most places on the way to the Nose. It is heavily used by the military and may include live gunfire. For your safety, you must stay on the marked trail. Many places to the left of the trail there are steep cliffs that drop down to the Bear Mountain Road. For your safety and the motorists below, please stay on the trail lest you dislodge rocks onto the cars.Publication: Submitted by Jane Daniels on 10/22/2009
Without a doubt, the most rugged trail in Westchester County is the Camp Smith Trail, which rewards a hiker with many panoramic views along its route.
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.