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Shaupeneak Ridge Cooperative Recreation Area
Directions to trailhead
Take the New York State Thruway to Exit 18 (Poughkeepsie/New Paltz). After the toll booths, turn right onto N.Y. Route 299 and continue for 5.2 miles to U.S. Route 9W. Turn left onto Route 9W, proceed north for 6.0 miles, and turn left onto County Route 16 (Old Post Road). In 0.2 mile, you'll cross an active CSX rail line. Just beyond, turn right into the parking area for Shaupeneak Ridge.
This hike traverses the Shaupeneak Ridge Recreation Area, owned by the Scenic Hudson Land Trust and managed in cooperation with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.
From the kiosk at the end of the parking area, where maps are usually available, proceed uphill on the gravel path which curves to the left, then bears right and enters the woods. It runs along the base of a hill for about a third of a mile, then begins to climb. Here, the first white blazes appear. You'll be following the White Trail to the crest of the ridge.
After passing through a gap in a stone wall, the trail descends and continues along the base of the hill, but it soon bears left and begins a steady climb. A short distance up the slope, you'll notice a purple trail blaze on the right. Turn right onto the Purple Trail, which parallels a stone wall along a contour. In 500 feet, it reaches an attractive waterfall which cascades over a huge moss-covered boulder.
When you're ready to continue, retrace your steps to the White Trail and turn right, uphill, following a cascading stream that feeds the falls below. At the crest of the rise, the trail turns right, crosses the stream on a split-log bridge, and levels off. After passing a vernal pool on the right , the trail resumes its steady climb.
Soon after passing several rock outcrops on the left, the White Trail ends at a junction with the Red Trail. Bear right and follow the Red Trail, which almost immediately reaches the Hudson River Overlook – a large flat rock outcrop on the right. This is a good spot to rest from your 700-foot climb while enjoying the panoramic views.
When you're ready to continue, proceed ahead on the Red Trail, which undulates along the ridge and eventually reaches Poppletown Road. The trail crosses the road and, just beyond, ends at a junction with the Blue Trail, with Louisa Pond visible through the trees on the left. On this side, the pond is an emergent marsh.
Continue ahead, following the Blue Trail in a counterclockwise direction around the pond. The Blue Trail soon moves away from the pond and passes the trailhead of the Green Trail on the right. It crosses a boardwalk over a wet area and enters a hemlock grove, where the Orange Trail begins on the right
The Blue Trail now bears right and climbs high above the pond, then descends to just above the level of the pond and begins to parallel it. It climbs again to a junction with the other end of the Orange Trail, then descends to cross the outlet of the pond on rocks just below a beaver dam.
The Blue Trail climbs to a hemlock grove and continues along a grassy path and across puncheons to an open area, where steps on the left lead downhill to the pond. Just beyond, a wooden bench along the trail offers the opportunity to take a break, with a broad view over the pond. Proceed ahead on a wide gravel path, passing two more benches on the left, before reaching the Louisa Pond parking area, where there is a kiosk.
From the parking area, cross Poppletown Road and find the triple blaze that marks the start of the Red Trail. Continue ahead on the Red Trail, which climbs gently on a grassy woods road and continues on a rocky footpath to the crest of the ridge. The Red Trail descends on a wide path, crosses a boardwalk over a wet area, and continues along undulating terrain to a junction with the White Trail just before the Hudson River Overlook. Turn right onto the White Trail and follow it downhill back to the parking area where the hike began.