Appalachian Trail/Three Lakes Trail Loop from Route 301
Directions to trailhead
From the east end of the Bear Mountain Bridge, proceed north on N.Y. Route 9D for 8.0 miles to Peekskill Road at the southern end of Cold Spring (just beyond the Boscobel Restoration). Turn right and follow Peekskill Road for 0.5 mile to its terminus at a junction with N.Y. Route 301, then turn right and follow Route 301 for 7.0 miles to a parking area on the left side of the road on a small peninsula that juts into Canopus Lake.
From the parking area, walk back (southwest) along Route 301 for about 500 feet. When the guardrail on the left side of the road ends, turn left and follow a footpath, marked with the white blazes of the Appalachian Trail (A.T.), that leads downhill. The trail bears right and continues on a path built into the side of a hill. This was the route of a narrow-gauge railroad, built in 1873 to transport iron ore from mines in the area to Dump Hill, at the intersection of Philipstown Turnpike and Dennytown Road (from where it was transported to the foundry in Cold Spring by horse-drawn wagons). Below, on the left, is Canopus Creek, which soon widens into a large wetland.
In about two-thirds of a mile, you'll reach a particularly interesting section of the railbed that crosses a low area on a curved stone causeway. Just beyond, the A.T. bears left, leaving the railbed, and heads gently uphill on a footpath through dense mountain laurel.
In another quarter mile, the A.T. crosses the blue-blazed Three Lakes Trail (the junction is marked by a cairn). Continue ahead on the A.T., which descends, first moderately, then more steeply. At the base of the descent, the A.T. passes a wetland on the right and ascends to the right of a cliff, reaching a ridge covered with mountain laurel.
The A.T. descends through hemlocks to a level area overgrown with barberry thickets, then bears right to skirt a wetland. At the end of the level area, the A.T. climbs steeply to the top of a ridge covered with mountain laurel, hemlocks and pines. A large boulder in an open area to the right of the trail is a good spot to rest from the steep climb.
After descending slightly along a rocky ledge, it continues along the ridge, passing through an area with many young pines and hemlocks. At the end of the ridge, the A.T. steeply descends a rocky slope covered with pine needles. This section of the trail can be very slippery, so be sure to exercise caution. A short distance beyond, the trail follows stepping stones over the outlet of a beaver pond to the right of the trail, with a beautiful waterfall immediately downstream.
After a short climb, you'll reach dirt-and-gravel Sunken Mine Road. Turn right here, leaving the A.T., and follow the road, which crosses bridges over two streams and passes a pond on the right. A short distance beyond the pond, you’ll notice the blue-blazed Three Lakes Trail, which descends a slope on the right. Turn right onto the Three Lakes Trail, which will be your route for the rest of the hike.
The trail crosses the outlet of John Allen Pond on logs and rocks just below an old stone dam (now breached) and turns right, then bears left and comes out at the shore of the pond. After continuing along the shore for a short distance, the trail bears right, away from the pond. It reaches an old mine railbed and turns left to parallel it. After crossing a stream on rocks (on the left, the stone abutments of the mine railway are visible, but the bridge is gone), the trail bears left and joins the mine railbed for a short distance. It then turns left, leaving the railbed, and passes the stone foundations of several buildings from John Allen’s homestead.
The Three Lakes Trail now climbs to reach a junction with the red-blazed Charcoal Burners Trail, which begins on the left. Proceed ahead on the blue-blazed trail, which goes through mountain laurel thickets, continues through a grassy area, and crosses a small stream. Just ahead, the yellow-blazed Old Mine Railroad Trail begins on the left. Continue along the blue-blazed Three Lakes Trail, which bears right at a fork and heads north on a relatively level footpath. Soon, you’ll pass Hidden Lake on the left.
After climbing a little, you’ll reach a junction (marked by a cairn) with the white-blazed Appalachian Trail (A.T.). Continue ahead on the blue-blazed Three Lakes Trail, which descends steadily. At the base of the descent, it turns right onto a woods road and begins to parallel a wetland on the left. After descending steeply, the trail turns right and parallels the outlet stream of the wetland, then turns left and crosses the stream on a rock bridge built over a cascade.
The Three Lakes Trail climbs out of the valley and heads north, parallel to the stream below on the left. Soon, it turns left onto a woods road (the Green Trail, which leads into the Durland Scout Reservation, heads right on this road). The Three Lakes Trail follows the level woods road to the north, paralleling a large wetland on the left (this is the same wetland that you followed earlier in the hike, heading south on the A.T. on the opposite side of the wetland).
Towards the end of the wetland, the trail bears right, climbs a little, and passes several openings of the Philips Mine. First worked in the late 1700s, this was one of the earliest iron mines in the area. Soon, the sounds of traffic on Route 301 may be heard. As it approaches the highway, the Three Lakes Trail bears right and briefly parallels the road. It then turns left, crosses the old Philipstown Turnpike (now overgrown and wet), and ends opposite the parking area where the hike began.