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Appalachian Trail/Iron Mountain Trail/Double Pond Trail Loop from Park Headquarters
Directions to trailhead
Take I-287 to Exit 57 (Skyline Drive) and continue on Skyline Drive to its western terminus at Greenwood Lake Turnpike (County Route 511). Turn right and proceed north on Greenwood Lake Turnpike. In 8.3 miles, continue ahead on Warwick Turnpike (still County Route 511), following the sign for “Warwick, N.Y.” Proceed for another 4.5 miles to the entrance to Wawayanda State Park, on the left. Follow the entrance road for 0.3 mile to the parking lot at the park office..
A sign at the north end of the parking lot indicates the route of the blue-blazed William Hoeferlin Trail. Proceed north on this trail, following a woods road through a forest of hemlock, mountain laurel and deciduous trees. In a quarter mile, you’ll reach an intersection with the white-blazed Appalachian Trail (A.T.). Turn left and follow the A.T., which heads into the woods on a footpath.
In a short distance, a blue-blazed trail on the right leads to the Wawayanda Shelter, situated on the top of a rise. Overnight camping by A.T. hikers is permitted here, and you might want to take a short detour to this wooden shelter. Continue ahead on the A.T., which soon begins a gradual descent to the dirt Old Wawayanda Road, which it crosses diagonally to the left. The A.T. now climbs a rise, then descends gradually. Near the base of the descent, it crosses a woods road, and it heads west parallel to the northern shore of Kazmar Lake (visible through the trees on the left).
About half a mile from Old Wawayanda Road, follow the A.T. as it turns left onto the dirt Iron Mountain Road (the route of the blue-blazed Iron Mountain Trail) and begins a steady descent. At the base of the descent, the road crosses Wawayanda Creek on an iron bridge that dates to the 1890s (although the wooden deck and railing are newer). Just past the bridge, the A.T. bears right, leaving the road, but you should bear left to continue on the Iron Mountain Trail.
The Iron Mountain Trail climbs to the crest of a rise, descends to cross a stream, climbs gradually and levels off. In 1.2 miles, you’ll pass a locked gate and reach the park entrance road. Here, there is a small shelter with a bench on the left if you want to take a short break. Cross the road and proceed south, still following the blue blazes.
Soon, you’ll reach the southern end of the Iron Mountain Trail near the parking lot for Wawayanda Lake. Head towards the lake, but when you reach the edge of the parking lot parallel to the lake, turn left and walk towards the southeast corner of the parking lot. Here, you should head east on a wide dirt road, parallel to an arm of the lake.
A short distance ahead, you’ll pass a stone dam on the right. Wawayanda Lake was originally known as Double Pond, since it consisted of two separate bodies of water before the Thomas Iron Company constructed a stone dam here in 1862. The blue-blazed Wingdam Trail begins at the dam and heads south, but you should continue ahead along the wide dirt road.
Just ahead, you’ll cross a wooden footbridge amid stone ruins and reach the historic Wawayanda Furnace. Built in 1846 by Oliver Ames and his sons to smelt the iron ore mined in the area, it was in operation for only about 20 years. The furnace is largely intact, and plaques on its east side relate some of its interesting history.
After taking some time to explore the area, proceed ahead, crossing a gravel road. Continue to the left of two composting restrooms, and cross a bridge over a stream. Here, the yellow-blazed Double Pond Trail begins.
Proceed ahead on the Double Pond Trail, which bears left at a fork and continues along a gravel road through a group campsite. Soon, the trail descends slightly to cross a wetland on a boardwalk. Just beyond, the Red Dot Trail begins on the right, but you should continue ahead on the Double Pond Trail.
You now enter the Wawayanda Swamp Natural Area – a fascinating and ecologically significant tract - and the vegetation changes to a dense mix of hemlock, mountain laurel and rhododendron. Soon, the trail begins to pass through dense rhododendron thickets. Especially after heavy rains, portions of the trail may be quite wet (unless you wear waterproof boots, be prepared to get your feet wet), but the beauty of the rhododendron thickets makes this trail section one not to be missed! The trail is particularly spectacular when the rhododendron is in bloom – usually, the first week in July. The winter is also a good time to hike this trail, as the wet ground is often frozen (although you may want to bring along traction devices).
About a mile from the furnace, you’ll come to a fork. The blue-blazed Cedar Swamp Trail begins on the right, but you should bear left to continue on the Double Pond Trail. In a third of a mile, you’ll pass on the right the trailhead of the red-blazed Plymouth Lane Trail. A short distance beyond – just before a turnaround at the end of the driveable road – turn left onto the blue-blazed William Hoeferlin Trail and immediately pass through a dense rhododendron tunnel.
The William Hoeferlin Trail follows an old woods road which has narrowed to a footpath, and sections of the trail are quite rocky. The vegetation becomes a mix of rhododendron, hemlock and mountain laurel, with deciduous trees gradually becoming more dominant. After climbing gradually for 1.3 miles, you’ll reach a bend in the trail where the Black Eagle Trail begins on the left. Continue ahead on the blue-blazed William Hoeferlin Trail, which soon begins a steady descent, reaching the park office in another half mile. The parking lot where the hike began is just to the right.