Walk out of the parking lot and turn left on County Road 42 for a short distance. Cross the road to the right at a red circular trail marker and follow the trail...
Walk out of the parking lot and turn left on County Road 42 for a short distance. Cross the road to the right at a red circular trail marker and follow the trail downhill to a very sturdy bridge over Kanape Brook. This bridge replaced the one destroyed by Hurricane Irene in August 2011. Shortly after crossing the bridge, sign in at the trail register.
Follow the well-defined woods road, marked with the circular red discs (and every so often a yellow ski trail disc) as it follows along Kanape Brook, complete with babbling brook sounds, then starts to ascend higher above the brook. About three quarters of a mile into the hike, old stone walls line the woods road. At 1.5 miles enter an area of mountain laurel before crossing the brook on a wooden footbridge.
Cross several tributaries that feed into Kanape Brook, some via rock hops, others on old culverts. Pay particular attention to the stream crossing at the 1.9-mile point as it is not obvious where the trail continues on the other side. Rock hop over, then turn left to see the red markers following along the right bank of the stream.
The trail now leads away from water and arrives at a junction at the 2.7-mile mark. Do not continue straight ahead as the woods road now enters private property. The turn is clearly marked with a sign and arrow; turn left leaving the woods road and continue on a footpath. Just a few steps ahead the trail forks; keep right. Left will be the return route. The trail will now start to ascend more steeply. Up to this point the ascent has been a little over 900 feet in 2.7 miles. You will now climb another 1,000 feet over the next mile.
Keep left at both 2.95 and 3.05 miles when trails branch off to the right. There probably won’t be much to see when the trees are in full bloom but without the obstruction of leaves, remember to turn around to enjoy some views on the way up.
At the 3.25-mile point the terrain might remind you of the tiers of a wedding cake. The trail will ascend steeply on rocks and then level out for a while before ascending steeply and leveling out again. Just when you think you have reached the top, another level comes into view. Stone steps built into mountain facilitate the steep rock climbs and you can catch a break (and your breath) on the level sections.
At 3.75 miles arrive at the top level, the 3,080-foot high summit of Ashokan High Point. To the right are views of Roundout Valley and the Shawangunk Ridge. Graffiti dating back to the latter part of the 1800’s is etched into the rock surfaces. Two benchmarks and old bolts are anchored into the stone. The red trail markers continue to the left.
The views from the summit have become overgrown over the years and are minimal unless the leaves are down. An optional out-and-back hike on an unmarked, often undefined path, leads to an overlook about a quarter of a mile away on what is sometimes called Little High Point. A footpath leaves the Ashokan High Point summit area at the northern end but soon fizzles out. Veering to the right, a bushwhack down a steep section along the ridge will eventually meet up with a more defined path to a campsite in the saddle. From there a path leads up through dense blueberry patches to outstanding unobstructed views from rock slabs.
From the Ashokan High Point summit, continue on the red-blazed trail for 1/10ths of a mile to a short unmarked side trail on the left that leads to views. Retrace and continue on through one blueberry patch veering left into another larger open blueberry patch. A large fire ring with some stone chairs is a prominent fixture in the clearing. Use this as your reference point if you want to explore this area as the trail can be difficult to locate with several herd paths crossing in this vicinity. You may be able to catch a glimpse of the Ashokan Reservoir by following paths to the right depending on the fullness of the foliage. When finished exploring, return to the fire pit with the stone seating and stand as you would having come in on the trail from the summit. Turn left at the fire pit, proceed straight ahead, and you will soon see the familiar red trail markers again.
The trail will ascend some before making a sharp left turn at the 4.85-mile mark. Ignore cairns and side trails branching off along the way. After a level section, the trail will begin to descend more steeply as it becomes a wider path on loose rocks – watch your footing here, it can feel like walking downhill on marbles.
The trail narrows and becomes less rocky as it enters a section of mountain laurel, then widens again upon exiting the mountain laurel at the 6-mile mark. In another .4 mile, arrive at the fork that brings you full circle from earlier in the hike. Keep right, then right again as you begin to retrace your steps back on the old woods road.
Watch for that tricky turn at the creek in another .2 mile but in reverse this time. Turn left at the creek and walk along the left bank a short distance before turning right and rock hopping over to continue following the red markers.
Cross the small wooden foot bridge at the 7.5 mile point, then continue retracing along Kanape Brook all the way back. Don’t forget to sign out at the trail register before crossing the bridge to return to the parking lot.
Turn By Turn Description:
[ 0.00] Exit parking lot, turn left and walk along paved road
[ 0.05] Cross road at red trail marker on the right; descend to bridge
[ 0.10] Sign in at trail register
[ 0.75] Old stone walls along trail
[ 1.00] Hemlock grove
[ 1.30] Stone-lined spring to the left of the trail
[ 1.45] Trail goes through mountain laurel
[ 1.60] Cross wooden footbridge
[ 1.90] Rock hop creek then turn left where trail follows along opposite side of creek (turn not marked and blazes hard to see)
[ 2.70] Turn left at sign (straight is private property) then when trail splits, keep right (left is return route)
[ 2.85] Trail ascends more steeply; start to watch behind for seasonal views
[ 2.95] Keep left on red when an unmarked trail not on the map goes sharply to the right
[ 3.05] Keep left at fork; right ends after short distance at overgrown views
[ 3.25] Rock steps ascend then level section; ascents followed by level stretches repeat several times
[ 3.75] Summit of Ashokan High Point; views on right, unmaintained trail to Little High Point straight ahead, turn left to stay on red trail
[ 3.85] Side trail to left to view; retrace and continue left on red trail
[ 3.90] Come out into blueberry field, trail veers left into another open area
[ 3.95] Turn left at fire pit with stone seating to remain on red trail
[ 4.40] Short ascent
[ 4.85] Trail makes sharp turn left; ignore cairns and side trails along trail
[ 5.25] After fairly level stretch, trail starts to descend more steeply
[ 5.40] Trail becomes woods road and descends steeply on loose rocks
[ 5.70] Woods road becomes less rocky footpath through mountain laurel
[ 6.00] Footpath becomes woods road after leaving mountain laurel
[ 6.40] At trail split turn right, then right again when private land road goes left
[ 7.20] Veer left at creek, turn right to rock hop creek, continue straight on red trail (no turn markers here)
[ 7.50] Cross wooden footbridge
[ 9.20] Back at car
Follow an old woods road with a gradual incline along scenic Kanape Brook then ascend more steeply on a footpath with rocky sections to the summit of Ashokan High Point.
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.