On a tree adjacent to the parking area, you'll notice two triple blazes. The triple white blaze marks the start of t...
On a tree adjacent to the parking area, you'll notice two triple blazes. The triple white blaze marks the start of the Wildcat Mountain Trail, while the triple green-stripe-on-orange blaze marks the start of the Townsend Trail. Head into the woods, following both white and green-stripe-on-orange blazes, and cross a stream on large stepping stones. The trails continue along a woods road, passing old stone walls and foundations.
In a third of a mile, you’ll come to a junction where the two trails diverge. Bear right and continue on the green-stripe-on-orange-blazed Townsend Trail, which passes a small body of water – impounded by a stone dam – on the right and continues uphill on a woods road through a valley. Watch carefully for a double blaze, which indicates that the trail turns right, leaving the road to bypass an eroded section. It crosses a stream on rocks and bears left to parallel the stream.
The trail rejoins the road, then again turns right and proceeds on a footpath higher on the hillside, bypassing another eroded section of the road. After rejoining the road once more, the trail reaches the crest of the rise and begins to descend.
After crossing another stream, the Townsend Trail reaches a rock ledge, with a view ahead through the trees. Here, the trail turns right and, in another 50 feet, it turns right again. At the second right turn, follow an unmarked trail that bears left and comes out on a long rock ledge, with a panoramic view to the southeast over the hills of Sterling Forest and Harriman State Park. Route 17A is visible directly below, with the New York Thruway in the distance.
After taking in the view, return to the marked trail and turn left. The trail now climbs to arrive at another rock ledge, just to the left of the trail, which features a large cairn and offers a view to the southwest over the Indian Kill Reservoir.
From the second viewpoint, the trail climbs to a high point and then descends to reach a junction with a wide gravel road. Turn left on the road, which continues to descend.
After half a mile along the road, you’ll come to a T-intersection, where a triple blaze marks the end of the Townsend Trail. Turn right onto another wide gravel road, the route of the Long Meadow Extension Trail, which is marked with white-stripe-on-green blazes (as well as blue markers indicating that the trail is also open to cross-country skiing and mountain biking). Signs point out that the trail follows the route of a gas pipeline.
At first, the road climbs steadily (this section was formerly paved, and you can see the crumbling asphalt). After reaching the highest point, the road becomes grassy and more pleasant. About a mile along the road (a quarter-mile beyond a cable barrier by a hunters’ parking area), there is an interesting lichen-covered balanced boulder on the left.
The trail ends at a gate just before reaching Orange Turnpike, where Hall Drive comes in from the right. Bear right and continue on paved Hall Drive for 500 feet to the parking area where the hike began.Publication: Submitted by Daniel Chazin on 01/01/2009 updated/verified on 12/09/2015
This loop hike climbs to two panoramic viewpoints.
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
Plan Ahead and Prepare
- 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.
Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
- 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.
Be Considerate of Other Visitors
- 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.