Long Path and Shawangunk Ridge Trail (Wurtsboro, N.Y.)
Directions to trailhead
Take N.Y. Route 17 west to Exit 114 (Wurtsboro, Highview). Turn left at the end of the exit ramp onto Old Route 17 (County Route 171) and continue downhill for 0.7 mile. As the road makes a hairpin turn to the left, turn right onto a gravel road which leads to a VFW post. Park one car at the VFW post. With the second car, return to Old Route 17, turn left, and continue for about one mile (retracing your route for part of the way), then turn left onto Shawanga Lodge Road. Follow Shawanga Lodge Road north for about three miles to a stop sign at Pickles Road. Turn right, and continue on Pickles Road for 0.7 mile, then turn left at a stop sign onto Roosa Gap Road (there is no street sign for Roosa Gap Road here, but on the opposite side of the intersection, Pickles Road changes its name to Ski Run Road). Continue for two miles on Roosa Gap Road. When you reach an intersection where Frey Road begins to the right, bear left to continue on Pleasant Valley Road, and cross a bridge. In another 0.2 mile, turn left onto Cox Road, and follow it for about two miles to its end at N.Y. Route 52. Turn left onto Route 52, and continue for 1.7 miles to a scenic overlook on the left side of the road at the crest of a hill. Park the second car here.
After enjoying the panoramic view from the overlook, walk back along Route 52 (proceeding east) for about 750 feet. When you reach the end of the guardrail, you will see the start of a yellow-blazed trail on the right. Turn right and follow the yellow-blazed trail into the woods. The trail soon crosses an old road and continues downhill to a beautiful stream that cascades over rocks. It crosses the stream, parallels it uphill, and then bears right, away from the stream.
A short distance ahead, the yellow-blazed trail ends at another woods road. Turn right onto this road, marked with the aqua blazes of the Long Path, then immediately turn left (south) and begin a steady uphill climb. You're still following the Long Path, but the trail is now marked both with aqua blazes and with the blue circular plastic discs of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), as you are now on state land. For the next half mile or so, you'll be climbing, steeply in places, towards the crest of the Shawangunk Ridge.
About a mile and a half from the start, the trail levels off, and you'll soon reach a beautiful viewpoint from the west side of the ridge. This is a good place to take a break - a welcome respite from the steep climb up the ridge.
The trail continues along the ridge for the next mile or so, with spectacular viewpoints on both sides of the ridge. You'll be walking over huge slabs of the unusual Shawangunk conglomerate rock, with the vegetation including scrub oak and pitch pine. After about half a mile, you'll come to some fascinating rock formations on the east side of the ridge, with the trail running near the edge of steep 30-foot-high cliffs.
About two hours from the start of the hike, the trail bears left and begins to descend from the ridge. The vegetation now changes to the hardwoods characteristic of this area. Soon, the trail crosses several stone walls. A short distance beyond, the trail bears right and begins to parallel a rock escarpment to the left. After crossing a stone wall, the trail bears sharply left and climbs the escarpment on an easy route. You've now gone 3.5 miles from the start, and this is another good place to take a break.
Soon, the trail begins to ascend through a scrub oak forest. It again reaches the ridge, with good views in several directions. The trail continues along the ridge, with some ups and downs, for over a mile, with the scrub oak remaining the predominant vegetation, along with some blueberries and mountain laurel. This section is not as spectacular as the first stretch along the ridge, but it is easy walking, with a number of scenic lookouts.
After about 45 minutes of this ridgetop walking, you'll reach a memorial sign commemorating the work of Jack Hennessey, a dedicated volunteer trail maintainer. The trail now descends slightly from the ridge, then levels off. In another half a mile, you'll come to an outstanding viewpoint to the south -- another good spot for a break. The Wurtsboro Airport is visible in the valley below, with a very large Kohl's distribution center just beyond.
From this viewpoint, the trail descends steadily to cross Ferguson Road, six miles from the start of the hike.The trail then descends to cross a woods road and a stream. Here, a yellow-blazed side trail begins to the left (it heads east for 0.8 mile to a parking area on Ferguson Road, just west of Shawanga Lodge Road).
Climbing steadily, and paralleling the stream for part of the way, the Long Path finally reaches a large overhanging boulder, with views to the north over the Catskills, and to the south along the valley to the west of the ridge. Once more, the trail enters a wildly beautiful area characterized by pitch pine growing from cracks in conglomerate rock slabs. The trail ascends more gently, and finally levels off along the crest of the ridge. It reaches several more viewpoints over the valley to the west, with the Wurtsboro Airport overshadowed by the massive distribution center just to its south.
After about a mile of this delightful ridgetop walking, the trail crosses a gravel road. It then descends some more and crosses another road. Now the trail ascends rather steeply - the third, and final, ascent of the day. After regaining the ridgetop once more, the Long Path continues for about half a mile to a junction, marked by painted lettering on a rock. Here, the Long Path leaves to the left, but you should continue ahead on the Shawangunk Ridge Trail, also marked by blue DEC discs. The trail now begins to descend, first steeply, then more gradually. After about a mile, near the base of the descent, bear right onto a white-blazed side trail which leads for about 500 feet to the VFW post, where you left one of the two cars.