Although Schooley's Mountain County Park features a large picnic area, a lodge, and other developed recreational facilities, most of the park remains in its natural state. This hike passes through wild and undeveloped portions of the park that are far removed from the more heavily used areas...
Although Schooley's Mountain County Park features a large picnic area, a lodge, and other developed recreational facilities, most of the park remains in its natural state. This hike passes through wild and undeveloped portions of the park that are far removed from the more heavily used areas.
From the kiosk at the end of the parking area, cross a grassy strip and turn left onto a paved service road. Just before reaching a restroom building on the left and a trail junction (marked by signs for the Patriots' Path and the Grand Loop Trail), turn right onto a gravel road and descend towards Lake George, bearing right at a fork. Upon reaching the lake, turn left and continue along the lakeshore.
Just beyond the dam at the end of the lake, a triple-blue blaze on a tree marks the start of the Falling Waters Trail. Continue along this trail, which descends into the scenic gorge of Electric Brook, named for a long-abandoned electric generating plant which was powered by the brook (the concrete foundations of the plant are still visible just beyond a small waterfall). This section of the hike is particularly beautiful, but the trail is quite rocky in places.
After a short but steep descent over rocks, you'll pass two attractive waterfalls. This is a good place to take a short break to appreciate the wild and spectacular scenery. A short distance beyond, the trail bears left and climbs out of the gorge, following a woods road.
At the top of the climb, the blue-blazed trail ends at a junction with the white-blazed Patriots’ Path and the teal-diamond-blazed Highlands Trail. Turn right and follow the Patriots’ Path/Highlands Trail for only about 50 feet. Where the trail makes a sharp left turn, continue ahead to a south-facing overlook from a rock outcrop. The view is over agricultural lands, with some development in the foreground and hills in the background.
After taking in the view, retrace your steps and bear left onto the Patriots’ Path/Highlands Trail. Continue a short distance beyond the junction with the blue-blazed trail that you just climbed, but when the Patriots’ Path/Highlands Trail turns left at a kiosk, continue ahead on a wide gravel road with pink blazes. Follow this road through attractive woodlands to its end at a junction with the Grand Loop Trail (marked by a sign). (Here, an unmarked path to the right leads a short distance to an interesting rock outcrop.).
Following the arrow that points towards the Bee-Line Trail, turn right onto the yellow-blazed Grand Loop Trail, which descends steadily. When you reach the Bee-Line Trail (this junction is also marked by signs), turn left, continuing to follow the Grand Loop Trail. You now begin to climb steadily, rather steeply in places.
At the top of the climb, marked by a sign and a cairn, turn left onto the red-blazed Highland Cut. This trail is a rocky footpath that "cuts across" the ridge of Schooley's Mountain, passing the highest point in the park (elevation 1,104 feet), marked by a rock ledge on the left, along the way. Unfortunately, there are no views from this high point, which is in the midst of deep woods.
After a brief, gentle descent, the Highland Cut ends at a junction with the yellow-blazed Grand Loop Trail, a wide woods road. Turn right onto the Grand Loop Trail, which descends gradually. Follow the Grand Loop Trail back to the restroom building and the parking area where the hike began.Publication: Submitted by Daniel Chazin on 06/15/2004 updated/verified on 09/06/2020
This loop hike runs along the gorge of a scenic brook, climbs to an overlook over the surrounding countryside, and continues through attractive woods.
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.