Dater Mountain Nature Park and Harriman State Park
Directions to trailhead
Take N.J. Route 17 north to the New York State Thruway and take the first exit, Exit 15A (Sloatsburg). Turn left at the bottom of the ramp onto N.Y. Route 17 north, and continue through the Village of Sloatsburg. Just past the village, turn right at the traffic light, following the sign for Seven Lakes Drive/Harriman State Park. Cross an overpass over railroad tracks and continue along Seven Lakes Drive for 0.7 mile, passing under the Thruway. Just before reaching a large sign “Entering Harriman State Park,” turn left at a sign for Johnsontown Road, immediately reaching a T-intersection. Turn right and continue for 0.3 mile to a small parking turnout on the left side of the road, at a light green sign for the “NYS Environmental Protection Fund.”
Take NJ Transit/Metro-North's Port Jervis Line to the Sloatsburg station. Proceed north on Route 17 to Seven Lakes Drive, then walk along Seven Lakes Drive into the park and follow driving directions to the trailhead.
To the left of the parking area, you'll notice a triple-orange blaze on a tree. This marks the start of a trail system established in August 2005 on land acquired by Rockland County and added to Dater Mountain Nature Park. Follow the orange-blazed trail as it climbs along a woods road. Be alert for a right turn where the trail leaves the road and continues rather steeply uphill on a footpath.
As you near the crest of the hill, where the orange trail turns sharply right, you'll notice a triple-blue blaze to the left. Turn left onto the blue-blazed trail, which heads southwest along the ridge, with views through the trees over the hills of Harriman State Park. After crossing a woods road, the trail begins to climb. Just beyond, a rock outcrop to the left offers a south-facing view over the Mirror Lake area of Sloatsburg, with the New York State Thruway to the right.
After climbing some more, the trail descends and joins a woods road. Just beyond, turn left onto a side road which leads a short distance to a large glacial erratic and a panoramic west-facing viewpoint at a power line tower. The Thruway is directly below, the Village of Sloatsburg is just beyond, and the hills of Sterling Forest are in the distance. This is a good spot to take a break.
When you're ready to continue, return to the blue trail and turn left.
For the next half mile, the trail follows a pleasant woods road along the crest of the ridge. Several other woods roads intersect, so take care to follow the blue blazes, some of which are painted on rocks. (You'll also notice some old white blazes along the road.) When the blue trail ends, turn left, rejoining the orange trail, which continues to follow the woods road.
After crossing an open area where the trail traverses a slab of bedrock (note some interesting stone cairns to the right), the orange trail ends at a junction with the white-blazed Kakiat Trail. Turn right onto the Kakiat Trail, which soon enters Harriman State Park. In about a quarter of a mile, the Blue Disc Trail (blue on white) joins briefly. When the trails diverge, bear left, continuing to follow the white-blazed Kakiat Trail.
The Kakiat Trail crosses the route of a gas pipeline and descends through a hemlock grove to cross Spring Brook (and several tributary streams) on rocks. It then climbs to reach the old Johnsontown Road -- the route of the White Bar Trail. (Note that both trails are blazed white; the letters "KT" and "WB" are used to distinguish each trail at the intersection.) Follow the Kakiat Trail as it turns left onto this woods road for about 250 feet, then turns right and follows an old driveway to Seven Lakes Drive. The trail crosses Seven Lakes Drive (watch carefully for traffic on this busy road) and follows a woods road uphill.
Descending from the top of the hill, the trail passes several stone walls and a stone foundation to the right. These are the remains of a farm that once belonged to Fred Bentley, who was the head gardener at Tuxedo Park in the early 1900s. After a level stretch, the trail descends rather steeply to cross Stony Brook on a wooden footbridge. NOTE: This footbridge was washed away by Hurricane Irene in August 2011 and has not been replaced. It is difficult and not advisable to cross Stony Brook in the absence of the bridge.
On the opposite side of the bridge, turn right, leaving the Kakiat Trail, and continue along the yellow-blazed Stony Brook Trail. This trail, which closely parallels the cascading brook, is particularly scenic. After crossing a gas pipeline right-of-way and then Quartz Brook, the Stony Brook Trail ends at a junction with the red-on-white-blazed Pine Meadow Trail. Proceed straight ahead on the Pine Meadow Trail, which continues to parallel Stony Brook.
In another third of a mile, you'll pass the start of the white-blazed Reeves Brook Trail to the left and reach a parking area at the Reeves Meadow Visitor Center. Cross the parking area and continue along the red-on-white-blazed Pine Meadow Trail (marked by a post at the southwest side of the parking area). The trail continues through an open field and then climbs into the woods.
Soon, the blue-on-white-blazed Seven Hills Trail begins to the left, but you should continue to follow the Pine Meadow Trail parallel to Seven Lakes Drive, which can be heard below to the right. The trail climbs a rocky slope and proceeds through dense thickets of mountain laurel. It briefly joins a woods road, then descends to Stony Brook.
Follow the Pine Meadow Trail as it turns left, once again closely paralleling the brook. After a while, it bears left, away from the brook, passes through an old cherry orchard, and ends at Seven Lakes Drive, just west of the road bridge over the brook. Turn right, cross the bridge, then turn left at the sign for Johnsontown Road. Turn right at the T-intersection and follow Johnsontown Road northeast for 0.3 mile to the parking turnout where the hike began.