Know the New Hiking How-tos
Black Rock Mountain and Sphagnum Pond Loop from Mine Hill Road
Directions to trailhead
Take the New York Thruway north to Exit 16. Follow N.Y. Route 32 north for seven miles to Mountainville, and turn right onto Angola Road. After 0.8 mile, you will come to a stop sign. Turn left to continue on Angola Road. In another 0.8 mile, turn right onto Mine Hill Road. Follow Mine Hill Road uphill for 0.9 mile to a parking turnout on the right side of the road, just beyond a very sharp, steep hairpin turn. NOTE: Trailhead parking is very limited (maximum five vehicles). Please make sure that you do not block the road or hamper access by emergency vehicles.
The hike begins by following the yellow-diamond-blazed Mine Hill Trail, which starts on the opposite side of the road, just beyond the parking turnout. The trailhead is marked by a triple blaze. Follow the trail uphill, steeply in places. Just before a switchback turn, there are views over Schunemunk Mountain, the Moodna Viaduct, and the Shawangunks from open rocks to the left of the trail. The Mine Hill Trail now heads south and soon ends at a junction with the yellow-circle-blazed Sackett Trail. (You'll encounter four different yellow-blazed trails on this hike, so it's important to note the shape of the blazes, in addition to their color.)
Turn left and follow the Sackett Trail, which soon climbs rather steeply over rock ledges, with views to the northwest. After descending a little, the trail climbs some more. Just beyond the crest of the rise, the red-blazed H. Peter Stern Trail, which leads down to the Hudson Highlands Nature Museum begins on the left, but you should continue ahead on the yellow-blazed Sackett Trail, which begins a steady descent. At the base of the descent, the trail crosses a stream and continues through a wet area. After climbing a little, the trail crosses a second stream. Just beyond, you'll notice a stone chimney to the left of the trail-the remnant of an old cabin, built many years ago as a family camping retreat.
A short distance beyond, the yellow blazes turn left and follow the grassy Hall Road for about 300 feet. Where the road bears left, continue along the yellow-blazed trail as it bears right, leaving the road. It descends to a low point, with many fallen trees, then ascends gradually, traversing a rocky area along the way. About 1.6 miles from the start of the hike, the Sackett Trail turns right onto Continental Road, another woods road, which it follows for a short distance to its junction with Hulse Road. Here, the Sackett Trail ends.
Turn left onto Hulse Road, now following the route of the Stillman Trail, blazed with yellow rectangles, which is co-aligned with the Highlands Trail (teal-diamond blazes). The trail follows the road for only 150 feet. Just past a stream crossing, watch carefully as the yellow and teal blazes bear right, leaving the road, and continue ahead on a footpath. Follow the Stillman and Highlands Trails through a thick stand of mountain laurel and hemlock and then steadily but gradually uphill. About 0.4 mile from the last intersection, the trail climbs steeply over a rock outcrop and reaches the 1,410-foot summit of Black Rock Mountain (after which the forest is named), with panoramic views. The best views are from a rock ledge just north of the trail. Schunemunk Mountain is on the left, with the Moodna Viaduct to its right. The Hudson River may be seen on the right, with the Newburgh-Beacon Bridge visible in the distance. On the horizon, you can see the Shawangunks, with the Catskills beyond. You’ll want to take a break here to rest from the climb and enjoy the spectacular views.
When you’re ready to continue, return to the trail and turn left, following the teal and yellow blazes as they descend rather steeply on a wide footpath. At the base of the descent, the trail makes a sharp left turn. Here, you should leave the yellow-and-teal-blazed trail and turn right onto a grassy path that leads 50 feet down to White Oak Road, a wide gravel road (a sign along the road identifies this location as “Buster’s Bend”). Turn right on White Oak Road and follow it as it climbs gently, paralleling the outlet stream from Arthurs Pond on the left. In half a mile, you'll reach a Y-junction, with a giant white oak tree (after which the road is named) in the middle of the intersection.
Bear left at the road intersection onto the gravel Continental Road, passing a pine plantation on the left. In 200 feet, you'll reach a junction with the white-blazed White Oak Trail. Turn sharply right and follow the white blazes, which run along a grassy woods road for a short distance, then continue ahead where the main woods road turns left. The White Oak Trail soon narrows to a footpath and goes through dense mountain laurel thickets, with an understory of blueberry bushes. In about 0.3 mile, after passing on the right an unmarked side trail that leads to the Phil Faurot Birding Platform at the edge of a wetland, it crosses a stream and reaches the stone impoundment of Sphagnum Pond. The trail skirts the dam, crosses a wet area on puncheons, bears left and climbs to the pond, then bears right and crosses Sutherland Road. Continue ahead on the White Oak Trail, which climbs along a grassy woods road that soon narrows to a footpath. At the top of the climb, the White Oak Trail ends at a junction with the yellow-rectangle-blazed Stillman Trail (co-aligned with the teal-diamond-blazed Highlands Trail), a grassy woods road.
Turn left and follow the Stillman/Highlands Trail south along a ridge, passing two interesting swamps on the right. In half a mile, you’ll reach a junction where the blue-blazed Compartment Trail comes in from the south and the teal-blazed Highlands Trail continues straight ahead. Turn right at this junction, continuing to follow the yellow-rectangle-blazed Stillman Trail, which now heads downhill, joined by the blue-blazed Compartment Trail. At the base of the descent, the Compartment Trail leaves to the right. Bear left and follow the yellow rectangle blazes, which in 100 feet turn right and continue along Hall Road. (Note that the yellow-triangle-blazed Short Cut Trail begins on the left at this intersection; make sure that you follow the yellow rectangles, not the yellow triangles.)
Near the crest of a slight rise, at a sign for “Mine Hill Road,” follow the yellow-rectangle-blazed Stillman Trail as it turns left, leaving the road, and proceeds through dense mountain laurel thickets. The Stillman Trail soon reaches a T-junction, where the yellow-circle-blazed Sackett Trail begins. Turn right and follow the Sackett Trail past a limited west-facing viewpoint. When you reach the next intersection, turn left and follow the yellow-diamond-blazed Mine Hill Trail down to Mine Hill Road, where you began the hike.