Loop Hike to Fire Tower Site and Indian Rock Shelter from Michigan Road Parking Area
Directions to trailhead
Take I-684 North to Exit 6 (Cross River), which briefly joins the Saw Mill River Parkway, then exits to N.Y. Route 35. Turn right and follow Route 35 east for 3.7 miles to N.Y. Route 121. Turn right onto Route 121, cross a bridge over the Cross River, then immediately turn left and enter Ward Pound Ridge Reservation. Continue for 0.7 mile to the tollbooth (a parking fee is charged on weekends, daily in the summer). Make the first right beyond the tollbooth onto Michigan Road and continue for 0.7 mile to a parking area just before a turnaround circle at the end of the road (if this parking area is full, additional parking is available uphill to the left).
Walk back to a junction where an "additional parking" sign points to the right. Turn right into a dirt parking area, follow it to its end, then continue along a wide path, passing a cedar tree on the right. At the end of the path, bear right and follow the FH blazes of the Fox Hill Trail (in the direction indicated by the sign "To Junction Marker 9"). The trail climbs, passing through gaps in several stone walls. Just below the high point, it bears left and begins to descend. As it parallels a stone wall at the edge of a field, there are north-facing views through the trees.
At the base of the descent, the trail crosses a footbridge over a stream and reaches junction 9, where the Fox Hill Trail ends. Turn right onto the Orange Trail, which follows a woods road gently uphill. In half a mile, you'll cross a footbridge and reach junction 10. A white-blazed trail begins here, but you should turn left to continue on the Orange Trail.
Just ahead, at junction 51, bear left at the fork to continue on the Orange Trail, which crosses a stream on a footbridge and climbs past a stone shelter on the left. The Orange Trail then crosses a woods road, passes shelter 29 (on the right), and reaches junction 63. Turn right onto a woods road, which soon arrives at junction 13. Here, you should bear left onto the white-blazed Fire Tower Trail, then immediately bear left to continue on this trail (do not follow the trail to "Junction Marker 12").
The Fire Tower Trail climbs along a woods road. At junction 52, bear right, following the sign "To Junction Marker 15." The trail continues to ascend, passing interesting rock formations and mountain laurel thickets.
At junction 15, the white-blazed trail ends. Continue ahead, now following the Blue Trail (do not turn left at this junction). Soon, you'll reach the highest point in the park (870 feet), the site of a former fire tower, now marked by a bench, a non-functional water pump and the stone ruins of the fire observer's cabin.
Just beyond, look carefully on the right for junction 16. Turn right here and descend on a white-blazed footpath, which goes down steeply over rocks and passes through a tunnel of mountain laurel. At the base of the descent, you'll cross a stream on a wooden footbridge and climb slightly to reach junction 49.
Turn right at the junction onto the Rocks Trail (marked with "RT" blazes) and head west and then north. At junction 18, continue ahead, and you'll pass, on the right, a natural rock shelter, used by Native Americans. After crossing two footbridges and passing impressive cliffs on the left, you'll climb to junction 19. Here, you should turn left onto a wide woods road, now following the Yellow and Red Trails (in addition to the Rocks Trail).
After passing junction 20 and Shelter 6 on the right, you'll reach junction 33, where the Red Trail turns left. Continue ahead, now following the Rocks Trail and the Yellow Trail. When you reach junction 22, the Rocks Trail leaves to the left, and you should turn right to continue on the Yellow Trail. In 0.6 mile, you'll pass junction 23, marked on the right by a kiosk which tells the story of the CCC camp that was located near here. Continue straight ahead to junction 24, where you bear left, then bear right at junction 70 to reach the parking area where the hike began.