The hike begins by following the yellow-diamond-blazed Mine Hill Trail, which starts on the opposite side of the road, just beyond the parking turnout. The trailhead is marked by a triple blaze. Follow the trail uphill, steeply in places. At a switchback turn, there are views over the Shawangunks and Catskills from open rocks to the...
The hike begins by following the yellow-diamond-blazed Mine Hill Trail, which starts on the opposite side of the road, just beyond the parking turnout. The trailhead is marked by a triple blaze. Follow the trail uphill, steeply in places. At a switchback turn, there are views over the Shawangunks and Catskills from open rocks to the left. The Mine Hill Trail now heads south and soon ends at a junction with the yellow-circle-blazed Sackett Trail. (You’ll encounter four different yellow-blazed trails on this hike, so it’s important to note the shape of the blazes, in addition to their color.) Turn right and follow the Sackett Trail to its end at a junction with the yellow-rectangle-blazed Stillman Trail. Turn left onto the Stillman Trail, which soon turns right onto Hall Road.
Where the road curves to the right, turn left and follow the yellow-rectangle blazes, which head into the woods on a less-used woods road. Almost immediately, you’ll reach a junction with the blue-blazed Compartment Trail. Bear right and follow both blue and yellow rectangle blazes, which climb towards the crest of a ridge. At the crest, the trails split, and you should turn right, continuing to follow the blue blazes of the Compartment Trail.
As the Compartment Trail curves left, watch for three white blazes on the left, which mark the start of the Split Rock Trail. Turn left and follow the white-blazed Split Rock Trail, which leads in a short distance to a panoramic viewpoint to the southeast from open rocks, with Sutherland Pond directly below. This is a good spot to take a break.
Continue ahead (northeast) on the white-blazed trail. After passing the Split Rock that gives the trail its name, the trail descends to its end at Sutherland Road. Turn right onto the road, and, almost immediately, you’ll notice a large cut into the hillside to the right. This is the site of an abandoned mine. Proceed ahead on Sutherland Road, which soon approaches the shore of Sutherland Pond – the only natural pond in Black Rock Forest (the other ponds are man-made). Swimming is permitted in this pond, but at your own risk.
In another half a mile, Hall Road comes in from the right. You should continue ahead along the road (now known as Jim’s Pond Road) for a few hundred feet until you reach a fork in the road, where three yellow blazes mark the start of the Arthur Trail. Follow the yellow-rectangle-blazed Arthur Trail, which crosses a stream on a split-log bridge and continues through dense mountain laurel. A short distance beyond, the trail crosses a swamp on puncheons made from large sections of logs. These puncheons can be slippery, and the crossing can be a little tricky, especially if the water is high.
Just beyond the swamp, you’ll reach a junction with the white-blazed Scenic Trail. Turn left, leaving the Arthur Trail, and continue ahead on the Scenic Trail. Soon, the blue-blazed Chatfield Trail leaves to the left, but you should continue ahead on the Scenic Trail.
After a short uphill stretch, you’ll reach a junction marked by a log sticking out of a cairn. This marks the start of the blue-blazed Eagle Cliff Trail. Turn right onto this trail, which leads in a short distance to Eagle Cliff – a huge rock outcrop, with glacial striations – that offers a panoramic south-facing view. On a clear day, you may be able to see the New York City skyline in the distance. Wilkins Pond is straight ahead, and Jim’s Pond is to the left. This is another good spot to take a break.
When you’re ready to continue, bear right onto the orange-blazed Rut Trail. This trail follows near the edge of the escarpment, with views through the trees to the right. Be alert for a sharp left turn, where the trail turns slightly away from the cliff edge and then goes down through a narrow passage between boulders. Soon, you’ll reach a trail junction, where the Rut Trail ends. Turn left onto the yellow-blazed Stropel Trail, which leads in a very short distance to the white-blazed Scenic Trail. Turn right and rejoin the Scenic Trail.
In another half a mile, after passing a junction with the yellow-blazed Ledge Trail, you’ll reach another junction, marked by a cairn. Here, the blue-blazed Spy Rock Trail leaves to the left. Turn left and follow this short trail, which leads in about 1,000 feet to Spy Rock, marked by a single pitch pine. This is the highest point in Black Rock Forest (1,461 feet), but there are only limited views of the Shawangunk Mountains to the north and the Hudson River to the northeast.
Now retrace your steps to the Scenic Trail and turn left, following a well-defined woods road that descends gradually. In another quarter of a mile, you’ll reach the wide Continental Road. Turn left and head north on this pleasant woods road. In about half a mile, you’ll notice an old stone building to the left. This is the Chatfield Stone House, built in the 1830s, damaged by fire in 1912, and reconstructed in 1932. It is the oldest building in Black Rock Forest and is currently used for educational programming. The body of water visible to the right is Arthurs Pond.
Continue ahead on Continental Road. In another quarter mile, you’ll come to a fork in the road at a huge white oak tree. The more traveled route curves to the right, but you should continue straight ahead on Continental Road. Then, a quarter mile beyond that junction, you’ll reach a cable barrier across the road. Here, the yellow-square-blazed Stillman Trail and the teal-diamond-blazed Highlands Trail join briefly. Continue ahead along the road. Soon, you’ll see a triple blaze, which marks the start of the yellow-circle-blazed Sackett Trail.
Follow the Sackett Trail, which runs along the road for a short distance, then turns left and reenters the woods on a footpath. In about 0.4 mile, the trail turns left onto the grassy Hall Road. It follows the road for only about 150 feet, then turns right and reenters the woods. The trail soon passes a stone chimney – a remnant of a cabin that once stood here. It descends to cross a brook, climbs a hill to reach a west-facing viewpoint, then makes a brief but steep descent.
About three-quarters of a mile from Hall Road, you’ll reach a junction with the yellow-diamond-blazed Mine Hill Trail. Turn right and follow the Mine Hill Trail down to Mine Hill Road, opposite the parking turnout where the hike began.Publication: Submitted by Daniel Chazin on 07/15/2005 updated/verified on 09/29/2013
This loop hike climbs to several panoramic viewpoints, passes two ponds and follows Continental Road past the historic Chatfield Stone House.
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.