Northeast Crags/Bonticou Crag Loop from Spring Farm
Directions to trailhead
Take the New York State Thruway to Exit 18 (New Paltz). After paying the toll, turn left onto Route 299 and continue west through the Village of New Paltz. After crossing the bridge over the Wallkill River at the west end of the village, turn right onto Springtown Road, following signs for the Mohonk Mountain House. At the next intersection, turn left onto Mountain Rest Road. Continue on Mountain Rest Road for 3.3 miles to the entrance to the Mohonk Mountain House at the top of the hill. Continue ahead downhill for 1.0 mile and turn right onto Upper 27 Knolls Road. The Spring Farm parking area of the Mohonk Preserve is just ahead on the left. A ranger is usually stationed at a trailhead kiosk to collect day-use fees ($12 per person; $55 annual pass) and distribute maps.
Bus service to New Paltz from New York City, Nanuet, Newburgh and Kingston is available via Adirondack Trailways, www.trailwaysny.com (800) 776-7548. Limited weekday bus service to New Paltz from Kingston and Highland is available via Routes R and H of Ulster County Area Transit, www.co.ulster.ny.us/ucat (888) 827-8228. Taxi service from New Paltz to Mohonk is available from New Paltz Taxi, www.npztaxi.com (845) 255-1550.
From the exit at the northern end of the parking area, follow a short unmarked trail uphill and turn left onto the blue-blazed Table Rocks Trail, which parallels Spring Farm Road. As the trail reaches the top of a rise, the red-blazed Crag Trail begins to the right. Continue ahead on the Table Rocks Trail. Just beyond,a broad panoramic view of the Catskill Mountains -- known as the "Million Dollar View" -- appears to the left.
Continue across open fields on a wide path. At the end of the field, the Table Rocks Trail crosses Spring Farm Road and reenters the woods. It follows a footpath on a contour along the side of a hill. After passing the Slingerland Pavilion, below to the left, the trail begins to climb, reaching a T-intersection at the top of the rise. Here, the red-blazed Cedar Trail begins to the right, but you should turn left to continue on the blue-blazed Table Rocks Trail, which now begins to descend.
At the base of the descent, the Table Rocks Trail turns right onto a gravel road, but almost immediately bears left and continues on a grassy woods road, with a row of cedars to the left and open fields to the right. At the end of the fields, the trail goes through a gap in a stone wall and reenters the woods. Soon, Farm Road joins from the right, and a short distance beyond, the trail reaches Clearwater Road.
Turn right, leaving the Table Rocks Trail, and follow Clearwater Road uphill, with a stone wall to the right. After reaching the crest of the rise, the trail descends gradually, passing the interesting ruins of a stone building to the left. A short distance beyond, after crossing a stream, the Northeast Trail begins to the right.
Turn right and follow the blue-blazed Northeast Trail, which climbs steadily through hemlock, mountain laurel and pitch pines. Near the top, the trail emerges onto a rock outcrop, with a panoramic view of the Catskill Mountains to the north.
Continuing along the ridge, the trail climbs gradually, with more views to the right. Soon, the trail emerges on an outcrop of fractured conglomerate rock, known as the Northeast Crags, which offers a spectacular unobstructed view over the entire Catskill range.
The trail continues along the crest of the ridge and soon moves to its south side. After a short descent through mountain laurel, you'll reach a T-intersection. Here, the yellow-blazed Bonticou Ascent Path begins to the left, but you should turn right to continue on the blue-blazed Northeast Trail.
After a short, steep descent, the trail passes under an overhanging ledge and reaches a fork. Turn left to the continue along the Northeast Trail (the right fork is the red-blazed Cedar Trail). Soon, the trail begins a steady climb. As you approach the top of the climb, you'll notice a huge jumble of fallen conglomerate rock to the left, with cliffs towering above. Soon, you'll cross the Bonticou Ascent Path, which climbs precipitously over these boulders to reach the summit, known as Bonticou Crag.
You might want to attempt this challenging climb another day, but for now, continue ahead on the Northeast Trail, which begins a gradual descent. It briefly parallels the cliffs to the left, then bends to the right, away from Bonticou Crag. After crossing a stream, the trail begins to climb, soon crossing a woods road (to the right, the route of the red-blazed Bonticou Path).
The trail now levels off. Just beyond an intersection with an old woods road that comes in from the right, the trail enters lands of the Mohonk Mountain House. Soon, the paved Mountain Rest Road (on which you drove to Mohonk) may be seen below to the left.
A short distance beyond, the trail turns right onto a gravel road which climbs towards the Mohonk Golf Course. Near the crest of the rise, the road curves to the right, but you should proceed straight ahead, following a sign to the "gatehouse," and continue along the left side of a field. After crossing another woods road, the trail descends to Mountain Rest Road.
Cross the paved road and continue along the blue-blazed Woodside Trail. After passing a stone foundation to the right, the trail descends to cross a stream. It soon begins a gradual climb, following the boundary of lands of the Village of New Paltz. After paralleling an old stone wall, the trail becomes relatively level and crosses two more streams.
Just beyond another stone ruin to the right, the blue-blazed trail turns right and climbs gradually along a woods road to end at Lenape Lane. Turn right and follow this wide road (which once served as the main access road to the Mohonk Mountain House) on a gentle uphill grade to the gatehouse at the entrance to the Mountain House.
Bear right at the gatehouse, then - before reaching Mountain Rest Road - turn left onto a paved road that leads up to an overpass across the road. At the end of the overpass, take the left fork, then bear right at the next intersection to continue along Spring Farm Road. This pleasant carriage road soon begins to run along the golf course.
At the end of the golf course, a branch of the road curves to the right, but you should continue straight ahead on Spring Farm Road, which begins a gentle descent, with views to the left through the trees. Continue ahead across an X-intersection with Bonticou Road, and turn left at the next junction onto the red-blazed Crag Trail.
Follow the Crag Trail as it head downhill on a grassy road through fields (this section is not blazed) and bears right into another field. When the Crag Trail ends at a junction with the blue-blazed Table Rocks Trail, turn left and retrace your steps to the parking area where you began the hike.