This hike follows “single-track” multi-use trails recently constructed by volunteers and the Palisades AmeriCorps trail crew of the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference. This is the first “single-track” multi-use loop built in Sterling Forest State Park, and although open to hikers, it was designed primarily for mountain bikers, and it is heavily used by them. Although park regulations provide...
This hike follows “single-track” multi-use trails recently constructed by volunteers and the Palisades AmeriCorps trail crew of the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference. This is the first “single-track” multi-use loop built in Sterling Forest State Park, and although open to hikers, it was designed primarily for mountain bikers, and it is heavily used by them. Although park regulations provide that bicyclists must yield to hikers, hikers should be alert for approaching bicycles (both ahead and behind) on the “single-track” trails, and riders should make hikers aware of their approach.
The trail incorporates design features, such as switchbacks, that were installed to permit mountain bikers to more easily climb relatively steep grades and to prevent the bikes from careening down steep hills. The description below follows the loop in a clockwise direction.
The hike begins at the kiosk at the end of the parking area (to which are affixed tools for mountain bike repair), with an abandoned wooden shack on the left. This is the start of the Hutchinson Trail, marked with yellow-“H”-on-red blazes. The trail goes around a cable barrier and heads east on a woods road, passing an attractive pond on the right. Be alert for a turn, where the trail bears right, leaving the road, and continues on a “single-track” path.
A short distance beyond, you’ll arrive at a junction with the Munsee-Eagle Trail, blazed with white-stripe-on-blue blazes. Turn left onto this trail, which proceeds through an attractive stand of mountain laurel and hemlock. It approaches a woods road (a section of the same road that was followed earlier in the hike by the Hutchinson Trail), then bends to the right and descends on switchbacks to cross a stream on a winding wooden bridge. The trail now climbs on switchbacks, traverses a rock outcrop, and descends on switchbacks.
A short distance beyond, the trail climbs on switchbacks to cross under power lines in an open area. It reenters the woods and soon briefly joins a woods road. After passing an interesting huge boulder on the left, covered with moss and lichen, the trail crosses a stream on rocks and begins a long descent on switchbacks. It then follows a route along the side of a hill, with a valley on the left.
After traversing a relatively level section, the trail bears right and begins to climb on switchbacks. It follows a relatively level route until it approaches a power line (this is the same power line that you crossed earlier in the hike). The trail now bends to the right and climbs to the level of the power line. It crosses under the power line, turns left and briefly follows the power line road, then turns right and reenters the woods.
The trail moves away from the power line, but it soon bends to the left and reemerges at the edge of the power line corridor, with a limited view to the southeast. A short distance beyond, the trail passes between two large boulders.
The trail begins a long descent on switchbacks, crossing a stream along the way. At the base of the descent, it briefly joins a woods road. After turning left onto a “single-track” trail, it crosses a stream on narrow puncheons. The trail now swings to the east and approaches a wide stream below in a valley. As the trail descends along the edge of the valley, it passes several rock outcrops with views over the valley below and the hills to the southeast.
After moving away from the stream in the valley, the Munsee-Eagle Trail ends at a junction with the Red Back Trail, marked with magenta blazes. Turn right onto the Red Back Trail, which climbs on a woods road. A short distance ahead, it turns right and enters the woods on a “single-track” path. The trail loops around, again approaches the road, heads back into the woods, and finally rejoins the road once more, passing a huge boulder on the left. A short distance beyond, the trail bears left, leaving the road, and descends on a “single-track” path, passing the Spruce Swamp on the left.
At the end of the swamp, the trail turns sharply right and begins to climb. Soon, you’ll notice a deep trench on the left. This is a remnant of the Red Back Mine, after which the trail is named. You’ll also notice a large heap of rusted iron – a remnant of the roaster used to process the ore from the mine. The Red Back Mine was discovered in 1780 and was last worked in 1900.
Upon reaching the end of the mine, the trail turns left, leaving the road, and continues on a footpath, which crosses an underground stream on rocks, loops to the south, and then heads north on the opposite side of the valley, climbing gradually. Near the crest of the rise, the path rejoins the road. Just ahead, you’ll reach an intersection with the Hutchinson Trail. Here the Red Back Trail turns left, but you should continue ahead on the road, now following the Hutchinson Trail (yellow-“H”-on-red blazes).
For about a mile, the Hutchinson Trail follows a nearly level woods road. It then descends on switchbacks to cross a wooden bridge over a stream. The Hutchinson Trail climbs a little, then begins a steady descent on switchbacks until it reaches a junction with the Munsee-Eagle Trail. Bear left at this junction and retrace your steps along the Hutchinson Trail back to the Caretaker Parking Area, where the hike began.Publication: Submitted by Daniel Chazin on 10/07/2018
This loop hike follows “single-track” multi-use trails around the southeast area of Sterling Forest, passing the historic Red Back Mine.
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.