Near the bottom of the ramp, at the entrance to the parking area, you'll see a brown post with a yellow arrow, a blue blaze, and 1777W and 1779 blazes. This marks the start of three co-aligned trails: the 1777W and 1779 Trails (which commemorate Revolutionary War events) and the blue-...
Near the bottom of the ramp, at the entrance to the parking area, you'll see a brown post with a yellow arrow, a blue blaze, and 1777W and 1779 blazes. This marks the start of three co-aligned trails: the 1777W and 1779 Trails (which commemorate Revolutionary War events) and the blue-blazed Timp-Torne Trail. Follow these trails up stone steps and under the US 9W viaduct.
Soon, the trails turn left on a paved road. They follow the road for only a short distance and reenter the woods. In another 0.2 mile, the trails turn left onto the paved Mine Road, but in 125 feet, they turn right, leaving the road, and descend on a grassy woods road. In a short distance, the three trails turn left on a footpath, briefly joining the red-on-white-blazed Brooks Lake Trail. The trails cross a wet area on puncheons, then immediately bear left, climb the hillside (with seasonal views of Brooks Lake below on the right), and come out once again on the paved Mine Road.
Turn right onto the paved road and follow it for about 500 feet. Just past the intersection with Wildwood Ridge (another road), follow the three trails as they turn left, leave the paved road, and descend into the woods. The trails soon cross a stream on rocks and join a wide woods road - the route of the West Point Aqueduct, built in 1906. At first, the route climbs steeply, but it soon descends steeply and then levels off, with a stone-and-concrete retaining wall on the left. The trails begin to parallel Popolopen Gorge, with the rushing waters of Popolopen Creek visible in places through the trees on the left.
After about two-thirds of a mile along the West Point Aqueduct, you'll reach a trail junction. The 1777W and 1779 Trails continue ahead, following the aqueduct, but you should turn sharply right, following the blue blazes of the Timp-Torne Trail, which climbs gradually on a woods road, soon reaching paved Mine Road. The trail turns left, follows Mine Road for 100 feet, then turns right at a kiosk and begins to climb the Popolopen Torne on stone steps and switchbacks. After a relatively level stretch, the trail turns left and climbs more steeply. Soon, it comes out on a east-facing viewpoint over the Hudson River, the Bear Mountain Bridge and the East Hudson Highlands from a rock ledge.
You'll want to stop here for a short break, but - despite what you might think - this is not the summit of the mountain. Continue ahead on the trail, which makes a sharp bend to the south and continues to climb over rock ledges. In another ten minutes or so, you will reach the true summit of the Popolopen Torne, where open rock ledges afford a 360° view. From here, you can see not only the Hudson River and the Bear Mountain Bridge to the east, but also Bear Mountain to the south, and the hills of the West Point Military Reservation to the west.
After spending some time at this beautiful spot, continue ahead as the trail steeply descends the mountain on rock ledges. The descent is much steeper than the climb, and you will have to use both your hands and your feet in places. About halfway down, the trail reenters the woods and continues to descend more moderately on stone steps and switchbacks. You'll cross paved Mine Road and unpaved Fort Montgomery Road and descend to rejoin the 1777W and 1779 Trails at the West Point Aqueduct.
Turn right and follow the three trails (Timp-Torne, 1777W and 1779) along the aqueduct route for 250 feet, then turn left, descend stone steps, and cross Popolopen Creek on a 62-foot footbridge. This prefabricated bridge was installed in 2012 by a volunteer trail crew from the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference, replacing a similar bridge that was severely damaged in 2011 by Hurricane Irene.
On the other side of the bridge, the trails climb the hillside to reach the route of the Bear Mountain Aqueduct, built in 1929 and rebuilt in 2012. Here, the Timp-Torne, 1777W and 1779 Trails turn right, but you should turn left, now following the red-on-white blazes of the Popolopen Gorge Trail. The trail proceeds along the route of the 1929 aqueduct (you will note manhole covers and exposed sections of the pipe along the way), passing through a wild and beautiful section of the Popolopen Gorge. Although the Palisades Interstate Parkway is only a short distance to your right, for most of the way the sounds of traffic are drowned out by the sounds of the rushing waters in the gorge far below.
Soon, the route of the 2012 aqueduct comes in from the right, and the trail begins to follow it. In three-quarters of a mile, the Popolopen Gorge Trail descends on switchbacks and stone steps towards the bottom of the gorge. Near the bottom, it turns right onto a level footpath. A short distance ahead, it bears left at a fork and descends to the level of the cascading creek. It passes the site of the former Roe Pond, created in 1901 by the construction of a stone dam across the creek. The dam (visible just ahead) was recently breached. The trail now climbs a little, then descends to reach an abutment of a former bridge over Popolopen Creek, from where it climbs out of the gorge on a wide gravel road.
At the top of the climb, the trail bears left and heads out to the trailhead on US 9W. Cross this busy highway (watch carefully for traffic), turn left, and cross the viaduct over Popolopen Creek, with panoramic views to the right of a suspension footbridge and a railroad bridge over Popolopen Creek and the Bear Mountain Bridge over the Hudson River. At the end of the viaduct, turn right and descend the ramp into the Fort Montgomery State Historic Site, where the hike began.
06/01/2004 updated/verified on 03/08/2016
This loop hike climbs to the summit of Popolopen Torne, with panoramic views, and runs along the scenic Popolopen Gorge.
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.