Hudson Highlands Gateway Park Loop
Directions to trailhead
From the east end of the Bear Mountain Bridge, proceed east on US 6/US 202 for about 3.5 miles to a traffic circle. Take US 9 North, continue for 0.6 mile to the next traffic light, and turn right onto Roa Hook Road. At the next intersection, turn right onto Albany Post Road, then immediately turn left onto Sprout Brook Road. Continue for 0.6 mile, passing ballfields on the right, and park in a large dirt parking area on the right, at a sign for Hudson Highlands Gateway Park.
This hike explores the 352-acre Hudson Highlands Gateway Park, where the high points were used for signaling during the Revolutionary War. Subsequently, the land was logged to provide fuel for the local iron industry, and it later served as a dairy farm and a quarry. In recent years, this parcel was slated for development, but it was acquired as parkland in 2000 by Scenic Hudson, the Town of Cortlandt and the County of Westchester. In 2016, title to the parcel was transferred to the Town of Cortlandt, subject to a conservation easement held by Scenic Hudson.
From the parking area, cross the road, and proceed through a narrow opening in the guardrail. The blue-blazed Upland Trail begins at a kiosk, which displays a trail map and information on the history of the land that now forms the park. After passing a trail register (please sign), follow the blue trail across a wooden bridge and uphill through a former gravel pit – now covered with dense vegetation. Soon, you’ll reach a fork, where the loop of the blue trail begins. Turn right to follow the loop in a counterclockwise direction.
The trail climbs along the side of the hill, with some views of a large landfill on the right, across Sprout Brook Road. After making a U-turn, the trail proceeds through a forested area, paralleling an old stone wall on the right. It continues along an old woods road (note the stone embankment on the left), then bears right and proceeds rather steeply uphill.
After going through a gap in a stone wall, the grade moderates. A short distance beyond, you’ll come to a double blaze, indicating that the blue trail turns right. Turn left here and follow a side trail (also blazed blue) uphill for about 500 feet to a viewpoint at a rock outcrop. Ahead, you can see the road bridge over Annsville Creek and the Hudson River beyond, with the Indian Point nuclear power plant visible along the river.
When you’ve taken in the view, return to the main trail and bear left. After a level section, the trail begins to climb. In a third of a mile, you’ll come to a T-intersection where the blue trail turns left. You should turn right onto the yellow-blazed Hudson Overlook Spur Trail, which begins here. The yellow trail heads rather steeply downhill, but the grade moderates as the trail goes through a hemlock grove and passes a wetland on the left.
After another steep descent on a winding woods road, the yellow trail crosses a small stream and begins a steady ascent. About half a mile from its start, the yellow trail climbs a rock outcrop studded with pitch pines and reaches another overlook, also with a west-facing view. Although partially obstructed by vegetation, the view from this overlook is slightly broader, and you can see the Metro-North Railroad bridge over Annsville Creek (beyond the road bridge).
Now retrace your steps to the blue trail. Turn right and descend briefly, crossing a stone wall. In about 250 feet, you’ll reach a junction with the white-blazed Vernal Pool Trail. Turn right, now following the white blazes.
The white trail descends slightly, with a stone wall to the right. The trail then bears right, goes through a gap in the stone wall, and climbs a little. After descending, with a rock outcrop on the right, the trail turns left and descends through mountain laurel to a hollow. Next, it climbs to a rock outcrop with a northwest-facing view (when there are no leaves on the trees).
The white trail now bears left and begins a steady descent, passing a vernal pool (for which the trail is named) on the left. Soon, the trail bears right, and the descent steepens. At the base of the descent, the trail crosses two streams. After briefly paralleling the second stream, the trail crosses a wide stone wall and immediately turns left, heading uphill. It turns left onto a woods road and continues to head uphill until it reaches a junction with the blue trail.
Turn right and continue along the blue trail, which now heads downhill on an eroded woods road (on old maps, this road is called “Old Revolutionary Road”). At one point, the road becomes very gullied, and the trail is routed to the right to bypass this section of the road. Soon after the trail returns to the road, the busy Route 9 can be seen and heard directly to the right.
At the next junction, bear right and follow the red-blazed Annsville Creek Trail, which heads south through an open area, continuing to parallel Route 9, then bears left and crosses a wooden bridge over Annsville Creek. It turns right to parallel the creek, passes a stone foundation across the stream on the right, then climbs on a woods road.
At the top of the climb, a short unmarked side trail leads left 50 feet to a lookout over a pond directly below. After taking this short detour, return to the main trail, turn left, and follow the red trail as it curves left and parallels the southern shore of the pond, soon reaching another kiosk.
Turn left at the kiosk and continue along the red trail, which parallels the eastern shore of the pond, then heads downhill. When you reach a junction with the blue trail, which comes in from the left, continue straight ahead, continuing to descend, now following blue blazes. At the next junction, turn right and continue to follow the blue-blazed trail, now retracing your steps down to Sprout Brook Road and the parking area where the hike began.