From the parking lot, proceed north on Orange Avenue a short distance to the trailhead on the right (marked by the letters “SB” next to the sidewalk and by a large sign on the opposite side of the road). Turn right and proceed rather steeply uphill, following the yellow blazes of the Suffern-Bear Mountain Trail. After climbing about 200 vertical feet in 0.2 mile, you’ll reach...
From the parking lot, proceed north on Orange Avenue a short distance to the trailhead on the right (marked by the letters “SB” next to the sidewalk and by a large sign on the opposite side of the road). Turn right and proceed rather steeply uphill, following the yellow blazes of the Suffern-Bear Mountain Trail. After climbing about 200 vertical feet in 0.2 mile, you’ll reach a south-facing viewpoint from open rocks. The intersection of I-287, N.J. 17 and the New York State Thruway is directly below, Mahwah and Suffern are in the foreground, and on a clear day, the New York City skyline can be seen in the distance.
After taking in the view, continue uphill along the trail. In another 750 feet, there is another viewpoint from open rocks just to the right of the trail. You’re now about 100 feet higher in elevation, and the view from this point is broader and more panoramic than that from the first viewpoint.
The S-BM Trail continues ahead on a relatively level woods road. In a quarter mile, the trail crosses the route of a gas pipeline and continues on a footpath. It climbs gently to the summit of a hill, marked by several huge boulders, and descends to cross under a power line.
North of the power line, the descent steepens. Soon, the trail reaches the base of the descent and begins a gradual climb to the “Kitchen Stairs” – a broken rock fault, named by Frank Place in 1925. The trail bears right to climb this fault, then continues on a level route until it crosses another gas pipeline, 1.9 miles from the trailhead in Suffern.
Soon, the trail begins to descend. At the base of the descent, It passes a small cattail swamp on the left. The trail now begins to climb. After leveling off, the Suffern-Bear Mountain Trail crosses under another power line, with a good view of the Ramapo Torne on the left. As you enter the woods beyond the power line, be sure to bear left and follow the yellow blazes along a footpath (the woods road that descends to the right is not the route of the trail).
After crossing a woods road, the trail passes just to the right of a high point (elevation 1,096 feet) and begins a steady descent to a rocky hollow. Frank Place named this location the “Valley of Dry Bones” because he thought that some of the rocks resembled animals. The trail now begins a steady climb. At the highest point, marked by large boulder and a cairn, the trail turns sharply right. Soon, it proceeds through the site of the former Sky Sail Farm. The farm was abandoned many years ago, and only some stone walls remain.
About a mile past the “Valley of Dry Bones,” you’ll encounter a very rocky trail section and cross another gas line – the fifth crossing of a utility line in this trail section. This gas line was rebuilt recently, and the gas transmission company was required to remediate the line, with the result that it has been attractively planted with grass.
After passing through another rocky section (named MacIlvain’s Rocks, to honor a volunteer who helped construct this trail), you’ll reach Grandma and Grandpa Rocks – two huge pointed boulders adjacent to the trail. Just beyond, you’ll come to an intersection with the white-blazed Kakiat Trail. This is the first junction with a marked hiking trail that you’ve encountered in the 4.5 miles that you’ve hiked from Suffern.
Turn left, leaving the Suffern-Bear Mountain Trail, and follow the white blazes of the Kakiat Trail. The Kakiat Trail climbs a little, then begins a rather steep descent into a valley, where it crosses an intermittent stream. The trail then climbs steeply to the opposite rim, where it bears left and reaches a panoramic viewpoint over the Ramapo Rampart. This is the ridge that you just traversed on your hike from Suffern along the Suffern-Bear Mountain Trail. You’ll want to take a break here to rest from the steep climb and admire the view.
Continue ahead on the Kakiat Trail, which passes an interesting balanced boulder, then bears right and soon descends to a rocky area. After traversing a level section, the trail begins to descend parallel to the route of a gas pipeline (the same grassy pipeline route that you crossed on the Suffern-Bear Mountain Trail just before reaching the Kakiat Trail). The Kakiat Trail then descends to cross Torne Brook in a magnificent rocky ravine – a particularly picturesque location. A short distance beyond, it passes a split, slanted boulder on the right.
Soon, the trail crosses Torne Valley Road (a woods road) and climbs to reach a junction with the black-dot-on-white Raccoon Brook Hills Trail, which joins from the right and almost immediately leaves to the left. Continue ahead on the Kakiat Trail, which traverses an area with an understory of blueberries, then turns sharply right and descends through a cleft in the rock. It continues to descend along a valley, paralleling a stream on the right. Along the way, it passes on the right the eastern terminus of the Raccoon Brook Hills Trail.
A third of a mile from the terminus of the Raccoon Brook Hills Trail, you’ll come to an intersection with the blue-on-white-blazed Seven Hills Trail and the red-on-white-blazed Pine Meadow Trail. Here, the white-blazed Kakiat Trail turns right to cross Pine Meadow Brook on a wooden footbridge, but you should continue ahead (do not cross the bridge), following the blue-on-white and red-on-white blazes. When the blue-on-white-blazed Seven Hills Trail leaves to the left just beyond, proceed ahead on the red-on-white-blazed Pine Meadow Trail, which you will follow for the remainder of the hike.
The Pine Meadow Trail follows a wide path along the side of the hill, with Pine Meadow Brook below on the right. In a third of a mile, the orange-blazed Hillburn-Torne-Sebago Trail joins from the left and soon leaves to the right. Just beyond, you’ll come to a section where the woods road has eroded, and the trail has been relocated onto a footpath to the left. You can hear the roar of Pine Meadow Brook down below in the valley. A short distance beyond, an unmarked trail with wooden steps leaves to the right, but continue ahead on the red-on-white-blazed Pine Meadow Trail.
After crossing Quartz Brook on a wooden bridge, the Pine Meadow Trail reaches a junction where the yellow-blazed Stony Brook Trail begins to the right. Here, the Pine Meadow Trail bears left and begins to run close to Stony Brook, with its attractive cascades (and, in winter, interesting ice formations). To bypass a wet spot at the crossing of a tributary stream, the trail has been relocated to the hillside on the left, where it crosses another wooden bridge. Just beyond, you’ll come to the Reeves Meadow Visitor Center and a parking lot.
Cross the parking lot and find the continuation of the Pine Meadow Trail (marked by a wand on the southwest side of the parking area). Soon, you’ll pass a deer exclosure on the left and come to a junction with the blue-on-white-blazed Seven Hills Trail. Bear right here to continue on the Pine Meadow Trail. In about half a mile, after crossing the route of a gas line, the trail turns sharply right and descends to Stony Brook. It turns left and parallels the brook until it ends at Seven Lakes Drive, at the highway bridge across the brook.
To return to the start of the hike, turn left and head southwest along Seven Lakes Drive for 0.3 mile. Just beyond the Thruway overpass, turn right onto Washington Avenue, where there is a bus stop. Buses to Suffern depart hourly, at 30 minutes past the hour, with the last bus on Sundays departing at 5:30 p.m. (on weekdays and Saturdays, the last bus departs at 6:30 p.m.).Publication: Submitted by Daniel Chazin on 11/19/2015
This one-way hike, with return by Transit of Rockland's #93 bus, traverses some little-used areas of the park and passes many interesting rock formations.
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.