Raccoon Brook Hills Trail/Pine Meadow Lake/Diamond Mountain Loop
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 Harriman State Park. Cross an overpass over railroad tracks and continue along the Seven Lakes Drive, passing under the Thruway overpass, and soon entering Harriman State Park. Proceed for another mile to the Reeves Meadow Visitor Center, on the right side of the road. Park in the Visitor Center's parking lot.
Take the NJ Transit/Metro-North Port Jervis Line to the Sloatsburg station. From the station, cross the railroad tracks and head north on Ballard Avenue. When Ballard Avenue ends, turn right onto Academy Avenue and continue to Seven Lakes Drive. Turn right on Seven Lakes Drive, continue under the New York State Thruway, and pass Greenway Road and Laurel Road on the right. A short distance beyond, about 0.9 mile from the train station, you'll reach a bridge over the Stony Brook. On the bridge, you will notice a triple red-square-on-white blaze and a directional arrow, which mark the trailhead of the Pine Meadow Trail. Turn right, leaving the road, and follow this red-on-white-blazed trail for another 0.8 mile to the Reeves Meadow Visitor Center.
From the parking lot, head east (left when facing the woods), passing the Visitor Center to the left. You are following the red-on-white-blazed Pine Meadow Trail, which parallels Stony Brook, to the left. Continue ahead along this wide trail for 0.4 mile until you reach a fork. The yellow-blazed Stony Brook Trail, which proceeds straight ahead, will be your return route, but you should bear right and continue along the red-on-white-blazed Pine Meadow Trail.
The trail dips slightly to cross Quartz Brook. There is a footbridge over the stream on the right, but when the water is low, the stream can easily be crossed on rocks. After crossing a gas pipeline right-of-way, the trail continues to follow a wide path along the hillside, high above Stony Brook (which can be heard below to the left).
About 1.2 miles from the start, the orange-blazed Hillburn-Torne-Sebago Trail joins briefly. Continue ahead on the red-on-white blazed Pine Meadow Trail. Soon, the blue-on-white-blazed Seven Hills Trail joins from the right. In another 500 feet, you’ll reach a junction. Here, the Pine Meadow and Seven Hills Trails turn left to cross Pine Meadow Brook on a footbridge, but you should continue ahead (don’t cross the footbridge), now following the white-blazed Kakiat Trail.
The Kakiat Trail climbs gradually for about a third of a mile until it reaches the start of the black-on-white-blazed Raccoon Brook Hills Trail. You’ll be following this trail in a short while, but for now, continue ahead on the white-blazed Kakiat Trail. The trail levels off and passes some huge boulders to the right. It then turns left to cross an intermittent stream and continues through a dense mountain laurel thicket, with an understory of blueberry bushes.
After climbing a narrow passage through rocks and passing jumbled boulders to the right, the Kakiat Trail is joined by the black-on-white-blazed Raccoon Brook Hills Trail. The two trails run together for about 100 feet, and when they diverge, turn left and follow the Raccoon Brook Hills Trail. The trail descends gradually for a short distance, then climbs steeply to an open rock ledge, with pitch pines and scrub oak. There is a view to the southwest from here, and it might seem like the summit – but it’s not. Just ahead, you’ll encounter another steep, rocky climb, with a wooden ladder placed at a particularly steep spot near the top.
At the top of the climb (elevation 1,150 feet), the trail comes out on a rock ledge with a panoramic southwest-facing view. This spot – the western summit of the mountain – is the halfway point of the hike, and it’s a good place to take a break. The trail continues along the crest of the ridge, soon once again coming out on open rocks, with more views. It then descends through thick mountain laurel, comes out on an open area, and climbs slightly to reach the eastern summit. Pine Meadow Lake is to the right, but the lake cannot be seen from the summit when there are leaves on the trees.
The Raccoon Brook Hills Trail now begins a steep descent. At the base of the descent, a junction is reached with the yellow-on-white-blazed Poached Egg Trail. Here, the Raccoon Brook Hills Trail turns left, but you should continue ahead on the Poached Egg Trail. This short trail proceeds through a rocky area to reach Pine Meadow Road West – an unmarked dirt road, built in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC).
Turn left onto Pine Meadow Road West, which runs near the shore of Pine Meadow Lake. In about a third of a mile, the road comes out on the lake shore. You’ll want to stop here and enjoy the beauty of this scenic lake. Built by the CCC in 1934, it was designed to serve children’s camps that would be developed around the lake, but these camps were never established.
Continue ahead and cross the dam of the lake (which was designed to accommodate a two-lane road). About 100 feet beyond the dam, turn left onto the red-on-white-blazed Pine Meadow Trail, which descends on a woods road. At the base of the descent, after crossing a wide, shallow stream, the Pine Meadow Trail curves to the right and reaches, in about 200 feet, a junction with the yellow-blazed Diamond Mountain-Tower Trail.
Turn left on the yellow trail, which almost immediately turns right and climbs Diamond Mountain on switchbacks. As you reach the top, there is an excellent view back over Pine Meadow Lake. At the crest of the ridge, the Diamond Mountain-Tower Trail ends at a junction with the blue-on-white-blazed Seven Hills Trail and the orange-blazed Hillburn-Torne-Sebago Trail. Turn left and follow the blue and orange trails, which soon reach a panoramic viewpoint to the west and north.
A short distance beyond, where the trails separate, bear right and follow the orange-blazed Hillburn-Torne-Sebago Trail. The trail descends very steeply for a short distance, then levels off and follows the ridge of Halfway Mountain for about half a mile. At a west-facing viewpoint, the trail begins a gradual descent to Pine Meadow Brook.
At the brook, the Hillburn-Torne-Sebago Trail reaches a junction with the white-blazed Kakiat Trail. Turn right and follow the Kakiat Trail, which proceeds over and around huge boulders. In another quarter of a mile, you’ll reach a junction with the yellow-blazed Stony Brook Trail. Turn left, now following both white and yellow blazes, and cross a footbridge over Pine Meadow Brook. (Note: As of January 2018, this bridge is out. It is scheduled to be replaced in the spring of 2018. It may be possible, under favorable conditions, to cross the brook on rocks. If this is not possible, you can backtrack on the Kakiat Trail for a quarter mile and cross the brook on the HTS bridge at the Cascade of Slid, then return to the trailhead on the Pine Meadow Trail.) A short distance beyond, the Kakiat Trail leaves to the right, but you should continue ahead on the yellow-blazed Stony Brook Trail. This section of the 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. Continue ahead on the Pine Meadow Trail, which parallels Stony Brook and leads back to the parking lot where the hike began.