This hike explores the 352-acre Hudson Highlands Gateway Park, where the high points were used for signaling during the Revolutionary War. Subsequently, the land was logged to provide fuel for the local iron industry, and it later served as a dairy farm and a quarry. In recent years, this parcel was slated for development, but it was acquired as parkland in 2000 by Scenic Hudson, the Town of...
This hike explores the 352-acre Hudson Highlands Gateway Park, where the high points were used for signaling during the Revolutionary War. Subsequently, the land was logged to provide fuel for the local iron industry, and it later served as a dairy farm and a quarry. In recent years, this parcel was slated for development, but it was acquired as parkland in 2000 by Scenic Hudson, the Town of Cortlandt and the County of Westchester. In 2016, title to the parcel was transferred to the Town of Cortlandt, subject to a conservation easement held by Scenic Hudson.
From the parking area, cross the road, and proceed through a narrow opening in the guardrail. The blue-blazed Upland Trail begins at a kiosk, which displays a trail map and information on the history of the land that now forms the park. After passing a trail register (please sign), follow the blue trail across a wooden bridge and uphill through a former gravel pit – now covered with dense vegetation. Soon, you’ll reach a fork, where the loop of the blue trail begins. Turn right to follow the loop in a counterclockwise direction.
The trail climbs along the side of the hill, with some views of a large landfill on the right, across Sprout Brook Road. After making a U-turn, the trail proceeds through a forested area, paralleling an old stone wall on the right. It continues along an old woods road (note the stone embankment on the left), then bears right and proceeds rather steeply uphill.
After going through a gap in a stone wall, the grade moderates. A short distance beyond, you’ll come to a double blaze, indicating that the blue trail turns right. Turn left here and follow a side trail (also blazed blue) uphill for about 500 feet to a viewpoint at a rock outcrop. Ahead, you can see the road bridge over Annsville Creek and the Hudson River beyond, with the Indian Point nuclear power plant visible along the river.
When you’ve taken in the view, return to the main trail and bear left. After a level section, the trail begins to climb. In a third of a mile, you’ll come to a T-intersection where the blue trail turns left. You should turn right onto the yellow-blazed Hudson Overlook Spur Trail, which begins here. The yellow trail heads rather steeply downhill, but the grade moderates as the trail goes through a hemlock grove and passes a wetland on the left.
After another steep descent on a winding woods road, the yellow trail crosses a small stream and begins a steady ascent. About half a mile from its start, the yellow trail climbs a rock outcrop studded with pitch pines and reaches another overlook, also with a west-facing view. Although partially obstructed by vegetation, the view from this overlook is slightly broader, and you can see the Metro-North Railroad bridge over Annsville Creek (beyond the road bridge).
Now retrace your steps to the blue trail. Turn right and descend briefly, crossing a stone wall. In about 250 feet, you’ll reach a junction with the white-blazed Vernal Pool Trail. Turn right, now following the white blazes.
The white trail descends slightly, with a stone wall to the right. The trail then bears right, goes through a gap in the stone wall, and climbs a little. After descending, with a rock outcrop on the right, the trail turns left and descends through mountain laurel to a hollow. Next, it climbs to a rock outcrop with a northwest-facing view (when there are no leaves on the trees).
The white trail now bears left and begins a steady descent, passing a vernal pool (for which the trail is named) on the left. Soon, the trail bears right, and the descent steepens. At the base of the descent, the trail crosses two streams. After briefly paralleling the second stream, the trail crosses a wide stone wall and immediately turns left, heading uphill. It turns left onto a woods road and continues to head uphill until it reaches a junction with the blue trail.
Turn right and continue along the blue trail, which now heads downhill on an eroded woods road (on old maps, this road is called “Old Revolutionary Road”). At one point, the road becomes very gullied, and the trail is routed to the right to bypass this section of the road. Soon after the trail returns to the road, the busy Route 9 can be seen and heard directly to the right.
At the next junction, bear right and follow the red-blazed Annsville Creek Trail, which heads south through an open area, continuing to parallel Route 9, then bears left and crosses a wooden bridge over Annsville Creek. It turns right to parallel the creek, passes a stone foundation across the stream on the right, then climbs on a woods road.
At the top of the climb, a short unmarked side trail leads left 50 feet to a lookout over a pond directly below. After taking this short detour, return to the main trail, turn left, and follow the red trail as it curves left and parallels the southern shore of the pond, soon reaching another kiosk.
Turn left at the kiosk and continue along the red trail, which parallels the eastern shore of the pond, then heads downhill. When you reach a junction with the blue trail, which comes in from the left, continue straight ahead, continuing to descend, now following blue blazes. At the next junction, turn right and continue to follow the blue-blazed trail, now retracing your steps down to Sprout Brook Road and the parking area where the hike began.Publication: Submitted by Daniel Chazin on 04/27/2007 updated/verified on 12/21/2017
This hike loops through the park, climbing to two viewpoints and crossing several streams with cascades.
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.