Walk back along the paved road to a junction with a gravel road on the left. Turn left onto the gravel road at a gate. A triple-white blaze on the gate marks the start of the white-blazed School Mountain Road, and a triple-blue blaze marks the start of the blue-blazed Fahnestock Trail. Continue ahead on the road, which soon crosses two streams on wooden bridges built by civil engineering...
Walk back along the paved road to a junction with a gravel road on the left. Turn left onto the gravel road at a gate. A triple-white blaze on the gate marks the start of the white-blazed School Mountain Road, and a triple-blue blaze marks the start of the blue-blazed Fahnestock Trail. Continue ahead on the road, which soon crosses two streams on wooden bridges built by civil engineering cadets of the West Point Military Academy.
In about half a mile, you’ll notice two stone pillars on the left. The road formerly crossed the stream here on a steel-plate bridge, but the bridge was washed out by Hurricane Irene in August 2011. Turn right, descend stone steps, and cross the stream on two steel I-beams.
Just beyond, the blue-blazed Fahnestock Trail turns sharply right, leaving School Mountain Road. Continue along the blue-blazed trail, which parallels the stream, following an old woods road which has narrowed in places to a footpath. In 0.2 mile, the woods road leaves the stream, and about half a mile from School Mountain Road, the Fahnestock Trail turns left, leaving the woods road, and begins a rather steep climb of Round Hill on switchbacks.
At the top of the steep climb, the trail reaches a limited west-facing viewpoint amid red cedars, with Bull Hill (Mt. Taurus) in the distance. The trail continues up the cedar-studded ridge of Round Hill, climbing gradually.
After following the ridge for about half a mile, the trail bears right, descends slightly into a shallow ravine, then climbs more steeply on a winding path. It levels off and soon reaches a southwest-facing viewpoint from a rock ledge to the right of the trail just below the summit of Round Hill. This is a good spot for a break.
After climbing a little more to reach a limited east-facing viewpoint over the hills of Fahnestock State Park, with a communications tower on the right, the trail descends rather steeply to a woods road in a valley. The trail turns right onto the woods road, briefly joining the green-blazed Round Hill Bypass Trail, and follows the road as it bends left and climbs over a rise, then descends gradually.
Continue on the Fahnestock Trail as it levels off, crosses a seasonally wet area, then climbs gradually. The trail makes a short, steep climb of a rock ledge, then continues to climb steadily to the crest of another ridge, first rather steeply, then more gradually. There are no views from the wooded summit (the highest point on the hike; elevation 1,180 feet), marked by a large lichen-covered boulder to the right of the trail.
The trail now begins to descend, first very gradually, then more steeply. After crossing a stream and climbing over a low rise covered with mountain laurel, the trail continues to descend, soon reaching a junction with the yellow-blazed Perkins Trail. You’ve now gone a little more than halfway along the hike.
Turn left at this intersection, leaving the blue-blazed Fahnestock Trail, and follow the yellow-blazed Perkins Trail, a wide multi-use trail, which descends on a winding route, crossing two wooden bridges over streams. When the Perkins Trail ends at a junction with the white-blazed School Mountain Road, turn left onto School Mountain Road, which continues to descend on switchbacks. At the base of the descent, you'll reach a T-intersection. Here, School Mountain Road turns left, but you should turn right onto the red-blazed East Mountain Loop.
Follow the red-blazed trail along a woods road bordered by stone walls. Soon, the road begins to descend. At the base of the descent, it crosses a stream on rocks in an area in which relics of the former agricultural use are abundant. The area is criss-crossed by a series of stone walls, and just before the stream crossing, the rusted iron wheels of an old farm wagon may be seen to the left of the trail.
The road now begins to climb, passing a stone foundation on the left. Near the top of the rise, follow the red-blazed trail as it turns left, leaving the woods road, and begins a steady ascent of the ridge of East Mountain. After bearing left at the crest of the rise, the trail continues along the summit ridge to reach a limited seasonal viewpoint through the trees just below the summit. The view is to the west and north over the Fishkill Ridge, with South Beacon Mountain (marked by a fire tower) and North Beacon Mountain (the site of several communications towers) directly ahead.
The red-blazed trail now begins a steady descent, with Round Hill (which you climbed earlier in the hike) visible through the trees on the left. On the way down, you’ll cross a number of stone walls and follow old woods roads for part of the way. At the base of the descent, you’ll cross a stream on a wooden footbridge and reach the end of the East Mountain Loop. Proceed ahead (southwest) on the white-blazed School Mountain Road, which immediately recrosses the stream on another wooden footbridge.
Follow School Mountain Road through a pleasant valley for about a quarter mile, paralleling a stone wall and a wide stream. After crossing a wooden arch bridge over a tributary stream, you’ll reach a junction where the yellow-blazed Hubbard Loop begins on the right. Bear right and continue on the Hubbard Loop Trail, which climbs gradually on a woods road bordered on the left by a stone wall, passing abandoned farm settlements along the way.
Just beyond the crest of the rise, the trail bears left, leaving the woods road, then rejoins the road just ahead. The road is now bordered by stone walls on both sides. Soon, you’ll pass an interesting stone structure on the right.
After curving to the left, the Hubbard Loop passes between two stone pillars and ends at School Mountain Road, opposite the steel I-beams that you used to cross the stream earlier in the hike. Turn right onto the white-blazed School Mountain Road (also the route of the blue-blazed Fahnestock Trail), retracing your steps back to the starting point of the hike.Publication: Submitted by Daniel Chazin on 03/09/2004 updated/verified on 03/20/2022
This loop hike climbs Round Hill and East Mountain, reaching several viewpoints and passing historic stone walls and other remnants of the area's former agricultural use.
Whether you are going for a day hike or backpacking overnight, it is good practice to carry what we call The Hiking Essentials. These essentials will help you enjoy your outing more and will provide basic safety gear if needed. There may also be more essentials, depending on the season and your needs.
Hiking Shoes or Boots
Water - Two quarts per person is recommended in every season. Keep in mind that fluid loss is heightened in winter as well as summer. Don't put yourself in the position of having to end your hike early because you have run out of water.
Map - Know where you are and where you are going. Many of our hiking areas feature interconnecting network of trails. Use a waterproof/tear-resistant Tyvek Trail Conference map if available or enclose your map in a Ziplock plastic bag. If you have a mobile device, download Avenza’s free PDF Maps app and grab some GPS-enhanced Trail Conference maps (a backup Tyvek or paper version of the map is good to have just in case your batteries die or you don't have service). Check out some map-reading basics here.
Food - Snacks/lunch will keep you going as you burn energy walking or climbing. Nuts, seeds, and chocolate are favorites on the trail.
Sunscreen and insect repellent
Rain Gear and Extra Clothing - Rain happens. So does cold. Be prepared for changing weather. Avoid cotton--it traps water against your skin and is slow to dry. If you are wearing wet cotton and must return to your starting point, you risk getting chills that may lead to a dangerous hypothermia. Choose synthetic shirts, sweaters and/or vests and dress in layers for easy on and off.
Compass - A simple compass is all you need to orient you and your map to magnetic north.
Light - A flashlight or small, lightweight headlamp will be welcome gear if you find yourself still on the trail when darkness falls. Check the batteries before you start out and have extras in your pack.
First Aid Kit - Keep it simple, compact, and weatherproof. Know how to use the basic components.
Firestarter and Matches - In an emergency, you may need to keep yourself or someone else warm until help arrives. A firestarter (this could be as simple as leftover birthday candles that are kept inside a waterproof container) and matches (again, make sure to keep them in a waterproof container) could save a life.
Knife or Multi-tool - You may need to cut a piece of moleskin to put over a blister, repair a piece of broken equipment, or solve some other unexpected problem.
Emergency Numbers - Know the emergency numbers for the area you're going to and realize that in many locations--especially mountainous ones, your phone will not get reception.
Common Sense - Pay attention to your environment, your energy, and the condition of your companions. Has the weather turned rainy? Is daylight fading? Did you drink all your water? Did your companion fail to bring rain gear? Are you getting tired? Keep in mind that until you turn around you are (typically) only half-way to completing your hike--you must still get back to where you started from! (Exceptions are loop hikes.)
Check the weather forecast before you head out. Know the rules and regulations of the area.
The Leave No Trace Seven Principles
- Know the regulations and special concerns for the area you'll visit.
- Prepare for extreme weather, hazards, and emergencies.
- Schedule your trip to avoid times of high use.
- Visit in small groups when possible. Consider splitting larger groups into smaller groups.
- Repackage food to minimize waste.
- Use a map and compass to eliminate the use of marking paint, rock cairns or flagging.
- Durable surfaces include established trails and campsites, rock, gravel, dry grasses or snow.
- Protect riparian areas by camping at least 200 feet from lakes and streams.
- Good campsites are found, not made. Altering a site is not necessary.
- In popular areas:
- Concentrate use on existing trails and campsites.
- Walk single file in the middle of the trail, even when wet or muddy.
- Keep campsites small. Focus activity in areas where vegetation is absent.
- In pristine areas:
- Disperse use to prevent the creation of campsites and trails.
- Avoid places where impacts are just beginning.
- Pack it in, pack it out. Inspect your campsite and rest areas for trash or spilled foods. Pack out all trash, leftover food and litter.
- Deposit solid human waste in catholes dug 6 to 8 inches deep, at least 200 feet from water, camp and trails. Cover and disguise the cathole when finished.
- Pack out toilet paper and hygiene products.
- To wash yourself or your dishes, carry water 200 feet away from streams or lakes and use small amounts of biodegradable soap. Scatter strained dishwater.
- Preserve the past: examine, but do not touch cultural or historic structures and artifacts.
- Leave rocks, plants and other natural objects as you find them.
- Avoid introducing or transporting non-native species.
- Do not build structures, furniture, or dig trenches.
- Campfires can cause lasting impacts to the backcountry. Use a lightweight stove for cooking and enjoy a candle lantern for light.
- Where fires are permitted, use established fire rings, fire pans, or mound fires.
- Keep fires small. Only use sticks from the ground that can be broken by hand.
- Burn all wood and coals to ash, put out campfires completely, then scatter cool ashes.
- Observe wildlife from a distance. Do not follow or approach them.
- Never feed animals. Feeding wildlife damages their health, alters natural behaviors, and exposes them to predators and other dangers.
- Protect wildlife and your food by storing rations and trash securely.
- Control pets at all times, or leave them at home.
- Avoid wildlife during sensitive times: mating, nesting, raising young, or winter.
- Respect other visitors and protect the quality of their experience.
- Be courteous. Yield to other users on the trail.
- Step to the downhill side of the trail when encountering pack stock.
- Take breaks and camp away from trails and other visitors.
- Let nature's sounds prevail. Avoid loud voices and noises.
The Trail Conference is a 2015 Leave No Trace partner.
(c) Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics: www.LNT.org.