Dater Mountain Nature Park
Directions to trailhead
Take N.J. Route 17 north to the New York State Thruway 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. About half a mile past the village, turn right at a temporary traffic light, cross the railroad tracks, and continue along Washington Avenue for 0.5 mile to a T-intersection with Seven Lakes Drive. Turn left, passing under the Thruway. In a short distance, before reaching a large sign “Welcome to Harriman State Park,” turn left at a sign for Johnsontown Road, immediately reaching a T-intersection. Turn right and continue for 0.3 mile to a small parking turnout on the left side of the road, at a light green sign for the “NYS Environmental Protection Fund.”
To the left of the parking area, you’ll notice a triple-orange blaze on a rock. This marks the start of a trail system established in 2005 on land acquired by Rockland County and added to Dater Mountain Nature Park. Follow the Orange Trail as it climbs along a woods road. Be alert for a right turn where the trail leaves the road and continues rather steeply uphill on a footpath.
As you near the crest of the hill, you’ll notice a triple-blue blaze on a tree. This marks the start of the Blue Trail, which will be your return route, but for now, continue along the Orange Trail, which turns sharply right. After climbing a little more, the Orange Trail descends to cross a small stream in a narrow hollow, with a rock ledge looming above.
The trail continues to climb until you reach a panoramic south-facing viewpoint from open rocks to the right of the trail. You can see the hills of Harriman State Park, with the Reeves Brook Visitor Center visible on your right when there are no leaves on the trees.
Continue along the Orange Trail, which levels off for a short distance, then continues to climb. When you reach the height of the land, there is a view of Dater Mountain from open rocks about 50 feet to the right of the trail.
The Orange Trail now descends to reach an intersection with the Blue Trail. Turn left here and follow the Blue Trail along a woods road. Just beyond the intersection, you'll cross a stream – the outlet of a wetland on the left. You'll pass several wetlands along this section of the trail. As you continue, you’ll begin to hear the sounds of traffic on the New York State Thruway, below to the right, which grow louder as you approach Sleater Hill.
About three-quarters of a mile from the start of the Blue Trail, the woods road followed by the trail curves sharply to the left. Here, a side road to the right leads a short distance to a large glacial erratic and a panoramic west-facing viewpoint at a power line tower. The Thruway is directly below, the Village of Sloatsburg is just beyond, and the hills of the Ramapo Mountains in New Jersey and Sterling Forest in New York are in the distance. This is a good spot to take a break.
When you’re ready to continue, return to the Blue Trail and turn right. Just beyond, the Blue Trail leaves the woods road and continues on a footpath. It climbs Sleater Hill, passing just to the right of the summit, and then descends, soon reaching a rock outcrop on the right which offers a south-facing view over the Mirror Lake area of Sloatsburg, with the Thruway visible on the right when there are no leaves on the trees.
The Blue Trail continues to descend. After crossing a woods road, it levels off, then resumes a gradual descent, ending at an intersection with the Orange Trail. Bear right onto the Orange Trail and follow it downhill, retracing your steps to the parking area where the hike began.
To view a photo collection for this hike, click here.