Black Creek Preserve
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 5.4 miles, and turn right onto Winding Brook Road. Immediately bear left at the sign for the Black Creek Preserve and park in the parking area.
This hike traverses the 130-acre Black Creek Preserve, acquired by Scenic Hudson is 1992 to protect it from development and provide a beautiful natural area for people to approach and experience the shore of the Hudson River in a secluded environment.
From the kiosk at the end of the parking area, cross the road and follow the yellow-blazed Black Creek Trail, which goes under a picturesque archway and briefly parallels the Black Creek. It soon turns right and crosses the creek on a 120-foot suspension bridge.
On the other side of the bridge, the Black Creek Trail climbs on switchbacks, traversing puncheons and rock steps along the way. After climbing about 160 vertical feet, you'll pass a kiosk just below the crest of the rise. The trail now bears left and levels off. It passes a vernal pool, known as Hemlock Pool, on the right, then bears left and begins a gradual descent. It crosses a small stream on a wooden footbridge and passes a kiosk with exhibits on the adjacent fenced deer exclosure.
Just beyond, a triple-yellow blaze marks the end of the Black Creek Trail at a junction with the red-blazed Vernal Pool Trail. The trail ahead will be your return route, but for now, turn right and follow the sign indicating the way to the Hudson River. The red-blazed trail climbs over a small rise and passes several vernal pools. Soon, the trail turns left and begins to parallel a stone wall – a reminder that this forested area was once farmland. It swings through a gap in the wall, then continues to parallel the other side of the wall.
At the end of the stone wall, a triple-blue blaze marks the start of the Hudson River Trail. Turn right and follow the blue blazes downhill, steeply in places, with glimpses of the Hudson River through the trees. Soon, you'll reach the shore of the river. You'll want to take a break here to take in the panoramic views across the river. You might see an Amtrak train along the tracks on the other side of the river.
The trail continues along the river, soon reaching a jagged rock outcrop, with a pitch pine growing on the water's edge. This is another good spot to take a break.
When you're ready to continue, follow the blue blazes uphill. The Hudson River Trail climbs on switchbacks to reach to a junction with the red-blazed Vernal Pool Trail. Turn right onto this red-blazed trail, which curves to the right and heads north, parallel to the river, with glimpses of the river through the trees on the right.
In a quarter of a mile, the trail bends sharply left and follows the Old Farm Road (still blazed red), now heading south. After passing through an attractive hemlock grove, you'll reach a junction with the yellow-blazed Black Creek Trail. Continue ahead on the Black Creek Trail, retracing your footsteps to your car.