Red Cross, Beech Trail and Long Path Loop from Lake Skannatati
Directions to trailhead
Proceed north on N.J. Route 17 to the New York State Thruway (I-87) north 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 Seven Lakes Drive/Harriman State Park. Follow Seven Lakes Drive for about 8 miles to the parking area for Lake Skannatati, on the left side of the road. The turnoff to the parking area is 0.7 mile beyond the Kanawauke Circle.
Although it includes several moderate climbs, this hike, for the most part, follows relatively level trails through a section of Harriman State Park that most hikers rarely visit.
From a kiosk at the northwest corner of the parking area, follow the inverted-red-triangle-on-white-blazed Arden-Surebridge (A-SB) Trail, which bears right, climbs stone steps, and begins to climb Pine Swamp Mountain on a moderate grade. As the trail bends to the left, there are seasonal views of Lake Askoti, below to the right. A short distance beyond the crest of the rise, at a group of boulders on the right side of the trail, the Red Cross Trail, marked by blazes of a red cross on a white background, begins on the right. Turn right and follow the Red Cross Trail, which descends steadily to Seven Lakes Drive.
On the other side of the paved road, the trail descends slightly, turns right over a short rise (a rock outcrop on the right offers a panoramic view of Lake Askoti), and descends again to cross the inlet stream of Lake Askoti. The trail now begins a steady climb through dense mountain laurel, with views over the lake through the trees to the right. Soon, the trail bends sharply left and continues its gradual climb of an arm of Hasenclever Mountain. Near the top of the ascent, a rock outcrop on the left offers views of Pine Swamp Mountain to the southwest.
The Red Cross Trail crosses an interesting hollow, climbs past an unmarked trail that begins on the left (the junction is marked by a cairn), levels off, and crosses a gravel road under a power line. Soon, it bears right at a small cairn, where the unmarked Hasenclever Mountain Trail begins on the left. The Red Cross Trail now descends gradually on a woods road and crosses a stream on a wooden bridge. A short distance beyond, the trail turns left onto a wider woods road and continues through dense mountain laurel thickets.
Soon, you’ll notice a large pit with several rusted drums on the left side of the trail. This is a remnant of the Hasenclever Mine, first opened in 1760 by Baron Peter Hasenclever, who dammed the Cedar Ponds to create the present-day Lake Tiorati. Just ahead, you’ll reach a junction with the Hasenclever Road (a woods road), where you should bear left, following the red cross blazes.
Here, on the right side of the road, is a water-filled pit, which is all that remains of the main opening of the mine. On the left, you will see several long rows of tailings – rocks that were excavated from the mine but discarded. A short distance ahead, you can find a stone foundation on the left side of the trail – a remnant of one of the many buildings that were built for the mine operations.
After exploring this fascinating area, continue ahead on the Red Cross Trail. This section of the trail may be very wet during rainy periods. In about half a mile, after bearing right at a fork, the trail crosses paved Tiorati Brook Road (closed to traffic during the winter). On the other side of the road, it passes through a grassy field (formerly a ballfield) and descends to cross Tiorati Brook on rocks. It turns right and briefly parallels the brook. After crossing a tributary stream, the trail bears left and begins to climb gently.
In about three-quarters of a mile from the crossing of Tiorati Brook Road, you’ll notice a cairn and a triple-blue blaze on the right side of the Red Cross Trail. Turn right onto a footpath and follow the blue-blazed Beech Trail, which begins here. After climbing a little, the trail widens to a woods road and begins a steady descent to Tiorati Brook Road.
The trail turns right, crosses Tiorati Brook on the road bridge, then immediately bears right and follows a footpath along the brook. It soon reaches the paved road again and turns right to cross the road bridge over a tributary stream. In 200 feet, the trail turns left and reenters the woods.
After crossing a stream on a wooden footbridge, the trail begins a steady climb on a footpath, which soon widens to a woods road and parallels another stream. About halfway up, you’ll notice an attractive cascade – known as Arthur’s Falls – on the left.
Three-quarters of a mile from Tiorati Brook Road, the Beech Trail reaches Hasenclever Road. It briefly turns right onto the road, then turns left onto a footpath, soon crossing a stream on rocks and continuing to climb gradually. After a short, steep climb, you’ll reach the site of an old farm, marked by several stone walls and dense vegetation.
At the top of the hill, you’ll notice a small cemetery just to the right of the trail. Restored by Boy Scouts in 1990, the graves in this cemetery date back to the mid-1800s and include those of Civil War veterans. You’ll want to take a few minutes to explore this unusual and interesting burying ground.
The trail now descends and soon joins a relatively level woods road. In about half a mile from the cemetery, at the crest of a small rise, there is a balanced rock to the left of the trail. In another half a mile, the trail bears left at a fork, leaving the woods road, and descends to cross Route 106.
The Beech Trail continues on a narrow footpath through dense mountain laurel, passing interesting rock formations on the right. A short distance ahead, the fascinating Green Swamp (probably named for the evergreens that grow in the swamp) is visible below on the left.
After descending slightly and passing the stone foundation of an old cabin, the Beech Trail ends at a junction with the aqua-blazed Long Path. Turn right and follow the Long Path, which begins a steady descent through dense laurel. At the base of the descent, it crosses a stream and continues with some minor ups and downs.
In two-thirds of a mile – after crossing a stream on a bed of rocks and a wet area on puncheons – the Long Path reaches Route 106. It turns right, follows the road for 250 feet, then turns left and climbs to a woods road. Follow the Long Path as it turns left onto the woods road, crosses under power lines, and descends to reach Seven Lakes Drive. Turn right and cross the outlet of Lake Askoti on the highway bridge. On the other side of the bridge, follow the Long Path as it turns left and heads down to reach the parking area where the hike began.