Blue Mountain Reservation Loop
Directions to trailhead
From Route 9, take the Welcher Avenue exit and turn east away from the river. Follow Welcher Avenue for 0.4 mile to the park entrance (a parking fee - $5 for Westchester County residents with a Park Pass; $10 for non-residents is charged on weekends). Bear left beyond the tollbooth (following signs to Parking Area 3) and continue along the park road for 0.5 mile to a large parking area, passing the Trail Lodge along the way.
Mountain bikes are allowed on nearly all trails in Blue Mountain Reservation, a Westchester County park, but the trails described in this hike are wide woods roads, allowing ample room for bicyclists to pass hikers. Bicyclists frequent the trails on weekends, so hikers may wish to visit the park on a weekday. Many of the park’s trails are rather poorly blazed, but they follow woods roads whose routes are clearly evident.
Most intersections are numbered on the park map, although (as of September 2014) few of these intersections are numbered on the ground. It is useful to be able to identify these intersections on the map, and for this reason, the numbers of the various intersections are included in this description. However, hikers should be aware that few intersections are actually marked by signposts, and no numbers are evident at most intersections. The free park map is essential to navigation in this park, which has a complex trail network. Thus, hikers should obtain a copy of the park map before beginning the hike.
From the entrance to the parking area, head uphill on a paved road. Just ahead, you’ll reach Intersection #1, marked by a triple-yellow blaze on a tree on the left. Bear left onto a yellow-blazed gravel road that heads to the northeast. At one point, the trail approaches the paved park road (opposite the Trail Lodge), but it curves right and reenters the woods, soon beginning to parallel a stream on the left.
At the next intersection (marked with the number “38" on a tree), turn left and cross the stream on a wide wooden bridge, then turn right and continue to parallel the stream, which is now on your right. At the following intersection (#36), turn right and recross the stream on another bridge, continuing to follow the yellow blazes. In another five minutes, you’ll reach Intersection #34 (marked with a small wooden marker on the west side of a large tree). Bear left here and follow an eroded red-blazed woods road uphill. (Intersection #34 is easy to miss; if you come to Intersection #38, you’ve gone too far and should retrace your steps.) As you follow this road, you’ll pass several “single-track” trails that leave to the right and left.
After passing a huge rock outcrop on the right, the woods road turns sharply right. A short distance beyond, you’ll reach Intersection #33. Bear left at the fork, continuing to follow the red blazes along a winding woods road, which eventually reaches the crest of the rise and begins to descend.
The red blazes end at a T-intersection (#31). Here, you should turn right onto a blue-blazed woods road. Follow this road for a short distance to Intersection #30 (marked by both a signpost and a number painted on a rock), then bear left and continue uphill on a white-blazed trail. At a sharp right turn on this trail, you’ll notice a yellow arrow on a tree that points to the left. Follow this arrow, which leads to a rock outcrop, just below the summit of Blue Mountain, with a view over the Hudson River. The mountains visible across the river are Dunderberg and Bear Mountains (the Perkins Memorial Tower can be seen on the left side of Bear Mountain). This is a good place to take a break. (There is no view from the actual summit of Blue Mountain.)
When you’re ready to continue, return to the white trail and retrace your steps (downhill) to Intersection #30. Turn left here and continue along the blue-blazed woods road. At the next fork (#29), bear right, continuing to follow the blue blazes. Soon, you’ll come to the route of a gas pipeline. After briefly following the pipeline, you’ll come to another fork (Intersection #27). Bear left, cross unpaved Montrose Station Road, and reenter the woods (passing Intersection #25, with the number painted on a rock). You’re now following the Briarcliff-Peekskill Trailway, marked by green diamond blazes, along a relatively level woods road (you’ll also notice a few blue blazes along the road).
At the next intersection (#21), bear left, continuing to follow the green diamond blazes along the woods road. After about ten minutes, you’ll reach a fork, with a huge fallen tree just ahead. (Just north of this junction, a metal “No Horseback Riders” sign has been enveloped by a tree!) Bear right and follow a wide stone-lined path uphill. After passing an abandoned stone cabin, you’ll come to a viewpoint from a rock outcrop at the summit of Mount Spitzenberg. The view from here is over Haverstraw Bay, with Hook Mountain beyond.
After taking in the view, retrace your steps to the junction with the main woods road, then turn left and follow the road back to Intersection #21. Bear left at the junction, and just ahead you’ll pass a huge boulder on the left, with several small trees growing out of cracks in the boulder. The woods road now heads downhill. At the next intersection (#20), turn right and begin to follow a white-blazed woods road (you can also follow a shortcut trail that bypasses this intersection).
In about a quarter mile, you’ll once again cross Montrose Station Road at Intersection #19 (the number is painted on a rock). After crossing a gas line, the woods road descends towards an unnamed pond. With the pond visible on the left, you’ll reach Intersection #12. Here, a purple-blazed trail continues ahead, but you should turn sharply left to continue on the white-blazed woods road, which proceeds around the pond in a clockwise direction. Just beyond Intersection #13 (marked by a metal sign enveloped by a tree), you’ll pass an interesting cracked rock on the right.
A short distance beyond the pond, you’ll come to Intersection #7, with the other end of the purple-blazed trail on the right. Continue ahead on the white-blazed woods road to the next intersection (#5). Here, you should bear left and soon begin to head downhill, now following blue, white and green diamond blazes. Continue ahead at Intersection #4 (marked by a signpost), where an orange-blazed trail begins on the left, and you’ll soon arrive back at the parking area where the hike began.