Ramapo Torne/Raccoon Brook Hills Trail Loop from Reeves Meadow
On the southwest side of the parking lot (right when facing the woods), you will find the red-on-white blazes of the Pine Meadow Trail. Follow the Pine Meadow Trail as it heads southwest, parallel to Seven Lakes Drive. Soon, the trail bears left and heads uphill on a rocky path. After a short level stretch, you'll reach a junction where the Pine Meadow Trail makes a sharp right turn. Turn left, leaving the Pine Meadow Trail, and follow the blue-on-white-blazed Seven Hills Trail, which begins here.
The Seven Hills Trail climbs steadily along a woods road. After crossing a stream, the trail briefly turns left onto another woods road, then turns right, leaving the road, and continues to ascend. Soon, the trail levels off, the footpath narrows, and you follow undulating terrain, with some short ups and downs. You'll also pass an interesting wetland to the right of the trail.
About a mile and a half from the start, you'll reach a T-intersection with a woods road. The orange-blazed Hillburn-Torne-Sebago (HTS) Trail begins to the right, but you should turn left to continue along the blue-on-white-blazed Seven Hills Trail, which begins a rather steep ascent. The grade soon moderates, then again steepens.
At the top of the ridge, the Seven Hills Trail reaches a junction with the orange-blazed HTS Trail. Turn right and follow the HTS Trail as it runs along the ridge of the Ramapo Torne, reaching its summit in about a third of a mile. Here, there is an expansive view to the south over Torne Valley and Hillburn, with the New York State Thruway visible below.
After spending some time enjoying the view, retrace your steps to the junction with the Seven Hills Trail. Now continue ahead, following the joint HTS/Seven Hills Trail along the ridge, blazed with both orange and blue-on-white blazes. In 0.2 mile, at a high point on the ridge, the two trails split. You should continue ahead, following the orange-blazed HTS Trail, which soon bears left and descends into a valley. It climbs a ridge on the other side, then descends on stone steps.
At the base of the descent, the HTS Trail crosses a stream on a wooden bridge. To the left, an imposing cliff towers above the trail. You will soon reach the top, but via a more gradual route. The trail continues ahead, climbing gradually through a dense thicket of mountain laurel. After reaching a small level area, the trail bears left and climbs on a long flight of stone steps, finally reaching the top of the rise. A large boulder, known as the “Russian Bear,” formerly stood at the edge of the cliff, but it fell down in 2004. From here, there is a panoramic view over the Torne Valley (the best view is from a rock outcrop just below the summit). Unfortunately, the view is marred by the large Orange and Rockland Utilities power substation in the valley, and by the electric transmission lines extending up the hill.
The HTS Trail now heads north on a relatively level route, going over several open rock outcrops. In a quarter of a mile, you’ll cross the black-on-white-blazed Raccoon Brook Hills Trail (the junction is marked by paint blazes on the rocks). Continue ahead on the orange-blazed HTS Trail, which proceeds through dense mountain laurel thickets. The trail descends to cross a strip cleared for a gas pipeline, climbs to a minor summit, then begins a steady descent. On the way down, the blue-on-white-blazed Seven Hills Trail joins briefly from the left and soon leaves to the right, following which the descent steepens.
At the base of the descent, the HTS Trail reaches a woods road, the route of the red-on-white-blazed Pine Meadow Trail. You will take the Pine Meadow Trail all the way back to the parking area. Turn left and briefly follow the joint HTS/Pine Meadow Trail along the woods road, but just ahead, where the HTS Trail departs to the right, continue ahead on the Pine Meadow Trail. Soon, you’ll come to a section where the woods road has eroded, and the trail has been relocated onto a footpath to the left. You can hear the roar of Stony Brook down below in the valley.
After crossing Quartz Brook on a wooden bridge, the Pine Meadow Trail reaches a junction where the yellow-blazed Stony Brook Trail begins to the right. Here, the Pine Meadow Trail bears left and begins to run close to Stony Brook, with its attractive cascades (and, in winter, interesting ice formations). To bypass a wet spot at the crossing of a tributary stream, the trail has been relocated to the hillside on the left, where it crosses another wooden bridge (both this bridge, and the one over Quartz Brook, were constructed recently by Trail Conference volunteers). Just beyond, you’ll come to the Reeves Meadow Visitor Center and the parking lot where the hike began.