Raccoon Brook Hills Trail/Cascade of Slid 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 (from the Thruway overpass) 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) on the broad red-on-white-blazed Pine Meadow Trail, passing the Visitor Center on the left. In about 300 feet, you'll notice a white-blazed trail that leaves to the right. Turn right onto this trail, known as the Reeves Brook Trail, which follows a woods road uphill. Soon, the trail begins to parallel Reeves Brook, which is to the left.
In about half a mile, another woods road leaves to the right. Just beyond, follow the white-blazed trail as it bears left and begins a steeper climb on a footpath, passing attractive cascades in the brook. The trail continues to climb more gradually, still paralleling the brook.
About a mile and a half from the start, you'll notice a steep escarpment just ahead. Here, you'll cross the blue-on-white-blazed Seven Hills Trail and continue ahead on the white-blazed Reeves Brook Trail, which now runs parallel to the escarpment. After a short descent, the Reeves Brook Trail ends at a junction with the black-on-white-blazed Raccoon Brook Hills Trail.
Turn left onto the Raccoon Brook Hills Trail, which briefly descends to cross a stream on rocks and then steeply climbs the escarpment. Near the top, you'll pass a large rock, known as The Pulpit, that juts out by the cliff edge. The trail continues along the ridge and passes two southwest-facing viewpoints over the Torne Valley, with the New York Thruway beyond. After a short descent, the trail climbs to reach a junction with the orange-blazed Hillburn-Torne-Sebago Trail on an open rock ledge.
Continue ahead on the Raccoon Brook Hills Trail, which continues to climb more gradually to a wooded area on the crest of the ridge. The elevation here is about 1,230 feet above sea level, and you've climbed about 800 feet to reach this ridge - the highest point on the hike. On a clear day, you can see the New York City skyline in the distance to the right!
The trail descends to cross the route of a gas pipeline, climbs to regain the ridge, and then begins a rather steep descent. At the base of the descent, the trail turns right onto a woods road which climbs gently. It then descends gradually on a footpath to a junction with the white-blazed Kakiat Trail.
Turn left at the junction and follow the Kakiat Trail, which descends gradually, passing through thick stands of dense mountain laurel and then paralleling Raccoon Brook, on the right. In about half a mile, you’ll pass the northern trailhead of the Raccoon Brook Hills Trail on the right. Continue ahead on the Kakiat Trail, which soon widens into a woods road.
Soon, you’ll reach a complex junction with the Seven Hills Trail (blue on white) and the Pine Meadow Trail (red on white). Turn right, now following the "red, white, and blue" blazes of all three trails (Pine Meadow, Kakiat and Seven Hills) and cross Pine Meadow Brook on a wooden footbridge.
After crossing the bridge, turn left, following the blue-on-white and white blazes (the red-on-white-blazed trail leaves to the right here). Soon, the blue-on-white-blazed Seven Hills Trail also departs to the right, but you should continue ahead along the brook, following the white-blazed Kakiat Trail. In about half a mile, you’ll pass cascades in the brook and cross the orange-blazed Hillburn-Torne-Sebago Trail. Just beyond is the Cascade of Slid – named for a character in The Gods of Pegana by Edward Plunkett, Lord Dunsany. This cascade is most spectacular in the spring, when the brook is running high.
Continue ahead on the white-blazed trail, which becomes rougher as it 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 Stony 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.