Proceed ahead on the blue-blazed Lone Star Trail, which climbs gradually along a woods road. In half a mile, you’ll pass a huge split boulder to the right of the trail. Here, the red-blazed Split Rock Trail leaves to the left. This will be your return route, but for now, you should continue ahead on the blue-blazed trail.
After climbing a rather steep pitch, the trail levels off. Soon, the blue-blazed Lone Star Trail ends at a junction with a wide woods road – the route of the green-blazed Nelsonville Trail. Turn right and follow the Nelsonville Trail, which continues to climb along the woods road. Soon, you’ll encounter a rocky, eroded section of the road.
Near the top of the rise, the trail passes through mountain laurel thickets and reaches a junction. The blue-blazed Notch Trail begins on the right, but you should continue ahead on the woods road, now blazed white as the Washburn Trail. Follow the Washburn Trail as it climbs Bull Hill (Mt. Taurus) on broad switchbacks.
As the trail approaches the summit, you’ll come to a panoramic north-facing view from rock ledges just to the right of the trail. To the left, you can see the Hudson River. The imposing ridge extending northeast from the river is Breakneck Ridge, with the Newburgh-Beacon Bridge visible through a low point in the ridge. To the right, you can see the fire tower on South Beacon Mountain, the highest point in the East Hudson Highlands. In the distance to the left, the Shawangunk Mountains – and beyond them, the Catskills – may be seen on a clear day. This is a good spot to take a well-deserved rest, as you’ve climbed about 1,100 vertical feet to reach this point!
Just ahead along the Washburn Trail, an unmarked side trail leads left to a viewpoint from rock ledges to the south and east. Continue to follow the white-blazed Washburn Trail along the summit ridge. After passing the viewless summit – marked by a split rock on the right and a USGS survey marker along the trail – the trail makes a short, rather steep descent. Just beyond, an open rock ledge on the left affords a panoramic south-facing view over the Hudson River. Just north of the sharp bend in the river – of great strategic importance during the Revolutionary War – is Constitution Island, and beyond the bend is the United States Military Academy at West Point. To the right, on the west side of the river, is Crows Nest Mountain. On a clear day, you can see the Bear Mountain Bridge down the river in the distance.
After descending some more, you’ll reach a spectacular viewpoint over the Hudson River from a rock outcrop to the right of the trail. The view – the broadest of the entire hike - extends from West Point up the river to Storm King Mountain (identified by the gash carved into the mountain by the construction of the Storm King Highway in 1922).
The Washburn Trail continues to descend rather steeply, then ascends a little. Just beyond, you’ll come to a junction with the yellow-blazed Undercliff Trail. Turn left onto the Undercliff Trail, which soon reaches another viewpoint over Cold Spring and West Point, with Crows Nest Mountain visible to the right, across the river.
Follow the Undercliff Trail as it continues to descend, on the way passing a seasonal waterfall to the left. After a relatively level section, the trail turns right and continues to descend on a woods road. Be alert, as the yellow trail soon turns left, leaving the woods road, and reaches an east-facing viewpoint over the hills of Fahnestock State Park, with the Hudson River visible on the right. Here, the trail turns right and continues to descend, entering the Nelsonville Nature Preserve (the trail in the preserve is marked by green “Nelsonville Footpath” blazes).
At the base of the descent, the Undercliff Trail reaches a T-junction with a wide woods road – the route of the green-blazed Nelsonville Trail. Turn left and follow the green blazes along this road. Soon, you’ll cross paved Gate House Road at a parking area and, in another 500 feet, you’ll cross a grassy strip which is the route of the Catskill Aqueduct. The stone building on the left marks one end of an inverted syphon that carries the water down to and then under Route 301, to the east.
Beyond the aqueduct, the trail begins to climb, first gradually, then more steeply. In about half a mile, you’ll pass rusted gate posts on either side of the trail. Just beyond, you’ll notice three red blazes that mark the start of the Split Rock Trail. Turn right and follow this short trail back to the Lone Star Trail at the “split rock,” then turn right again and follow the blue-blazed Lone Star Trail back to the trailhead on Fishkill Road, where the hike began.
Publication: Submitted by Daniel Chazinon 04/20/2004updated/verified on 10/12/2015
This loop hike climbs Bull Hill, with spectacular views over the Hudson River, Breakneck Ridge, Cold Spring and West Point.
Proceed ahead on the blue-blazed Lone Star Trail, which climbs gradually along a woods road. In half a mile,...
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.
Take the Palisades Interstate Parkway to its northern terminus at the Bear Mountain Bridge. Cross the bridge and proceed north on N.Y. Route 9D for 8.0 miles to Peekskill Road at the southern end of Cold Spring (just beyond the Boscobel Restoration). Turn right and follow Peekskill Road for 0.5 mile to its terminus at a junction with N.Y. Route 301, then turn right and follow Route 301 for 0.4 mile to its intersection with Fishkill Road (County Route 10). Bear left onto Fishkill Road and proceed for 0.4 mile to a small unmarked parking area on the left side of the road, just beyond a red fire hydrant, and opposite a break in the guardrail on the right side of the road (a brown sign marking the start of the Lone Star Trail is just beyond the parking area).
Today, I did this hike (for the first time in 11 years). I found a number of other things in the hike description that required updating (and I have since updated the description), but had little trouble following the route of the Undercliff and Split Rock Trails. I agree that the blazng is somewhat sparse in places and could probably be improved, but there are enough blazes to show the hiker where to go. Thanks for alerting me to a potential issue with the hike -- as a result of which I enjoyed a magnificent hike today!
October 09, 2015
Undercliff needs re-blazing
My husband and I did this hike in three and a half hours today. Beautiful hike with great views, BUT: Please, please re-blaze the Undercliff trail! We nearly got lost a few different times on it. First we encountered a single blaze where there should have been two, indicating a left turn; at other times the blazes were too "few and far between"; and at one junction, just after a great viewpoint, hikers can see two trees, both seemingly "aimed at" hikers coming from the same direction, where one tree has two blazes indicating a turn, and the other has a single, "straight-ahead" blaze. Here we accidentally hiked in a complete circle, coming back to where we'd started! And as long as i'm grousing: On the red trail near the end of the hike, but before you get back to the blue trail, more red blazes are needed. We wandered around for quite a while there, too, looking for the next blaze.
April 05, 2014
Missed turns too!
I have to laugh. I didn't take notes about where other people said they missed turns on the yellow trail. I remember reading the comments that the yellow trail was tricky, so we paid careful attention to the blazes. However, we missed two turns too! The same ones described by others. One of my dogs actually pointed out the first one to us (which we had just past). The second one, at the view, where the trail markers changed we missed too. We no longer saw blazes and had to go back, where someone else pointed out the turn to us.
Nice hike though with several views.
Some photos: http://agiletrekker.blogspot.com/2014/04/bull-hill-mt-taurus-via-lone.html