From the parking area, proceed ahead (north) on Hall Drive,heading uphill and following the white blazes of the Wildcat...
From the parking area, proceed ahead (north) on Hall Drive,heading uphill and following the white blazes of the Wildcat Mountain Trail (the blazing along Hall Drive is very sparse). When you reach Orange Turnpike, turn right and cross the road, climb over the guardrail, and descend to cross a footbridge over Mombasha Creek. The trail now turns right and heads east, parallel to the stream.
Just beyond, the white-blazed trail ends, and you should continue ahead on the red-blazed Furnace Loop Trail, which passes the remains of the historic Southfields Furnace, originally built in 1805, rebuilt in 1836 and last fired in 1887, on the right. Besides the furnace itself, the stone-arch charging bridge and several walls of the casting room still stand. The trail continues along an old railroad bed, then turns left and begins to climb on a woods road.
After descending a little, the Furnace Loop Trail climbs rock steps below rock outcrops on the left to reach a junction (marked by a cairn) with the white-stripe-on-yellow-blazed Indian Hill Loop Trail (as of this writing, there are also some plain yellow blazes along this trail). You will be continuing north on this trail, but for now, turn left and follow both red and white-stripe-on-yellow blazes. The trail soon bends to the right and, in about three minutes, turns sharply left at a cairn. Continue ahead, now following the yellow-bird-on-green blazes of the Warbler Trail, which soon bears right and descends to the dam of an attractive pond. This is a good place to take a break.
When you’re ready to continue, retrace your steps back to the junction of the red-blazed Furnace Loop and white-stripe-on-yellow-blazed Indian Hill Loop Trails and continue ahead, now following only the white-stripe-on-yellow blazes of the Indian Hill Loop Trail. The trail crosses a stream on rocks and climbs to a panoramic south-facing viewpoint from a rock ledge. It then ascends to the ridgetop, which it follows north.
After a relatively level stretch, the trail climbs to the highest point on the ridge (1,047 feet). Just beyond, rock ledges to the right of the trail offer unobstructed views across the Ramapo Valley to Harriman State Park. Green Pond Mountain dominates the view, with the grassy Elk Pen in the foreground and the New York State Thruway below in the valley.
From the ridge, the trail descends gradually on switchbacks. Near the bottom, it briefly follows a stone wall, then turns right onto a woods road. At the base of the descent, it turns left onto a woods road between unusually wide stone walls. Soon, the trail turns right, goes through a gap in a massive stone wall, and continues on a footpath, passing a huge oak tree.
After crossing a stone wall, the Indian Hill Loop Trail reaches a junction with a blue-blazed trail that begins on the right (this blue-blazed trail heads north to connect, in 0.4 mile, with the white-blazed Appalachian Trail). Here, the Indian Hill Loop Trail turns left and begins to parallel the stone wall. It soon crosses two more stone walls, as well as a woods road lined on both sides with wide stone walls.
After passing through a wide gap in yet another stone wall, the trail turns left onto a grassy woods road. At a T-intersection, it turns right onto another woods road, which it follows for about a quarter mile to a barrier gate. Here, you’ll see a triple blaze that marks the official end of the Indian Hill Loop Trail. Turn left and climb to the parking area, where you will notice a kiosk on the left and a triple blaze that marks the start of the Indian Hill Loop Trail.
Turn left and reenter the woods on a footpath. The trail proceeds through a hemlock grove, bears right and climbs to the crest of a rise. After descending a little, it climbs through mountain laurel to reach a open granite ledge, with west-facing views over the hills of Sterling Forest.
A short distance beyond, you’ll reach a junction with the red-blazed Furnace Loop Trail (marked by a cairn). Turn right and descend steeply on this red-blazed trail, passing lichen-covered cliffs and interesting rock outcrops along the way. At the base of the descent, you’ll reach a junction with the white-blazed Wildcat Mountain Trail. Turn right, now retracing your steps, and follow the white blazes across the stream and along Hall Drive back to the parking area where the hike began.Publication: Submitted by Daniel Chazin on 04/22/2013
This hike passes the historic Southfields Furnace and climbs to the Indian Hill Loop Trail, which offers several viewpoints of the surrounding countryside and crosses numerous old stone walls.
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.