Ward Pound Ridge Reservation, the largest park in Westchester County, was opened in 1938. Over thirty farms were acquired for the park, and old stone walls, which once marked the boundaries between the various farms, criss-cross the reservation. The trails – most of which are woods roads – are open to hikers and equestrians, but bicycles are not permitted. Most trail intersections are marked...
Ward Pound Ridge Reservation, the largest park in Westchester County, was opened in 1938. Over thirty farms were acquired for the park, and old stone walls, which once marked the boundaries between the various farms, criss-cross the reservation. The trails – most of which are woods roads – are open to hikers and equestrians, but bicycles are not permitted. Most trail intersections are marked by numbered signs posted on trees. These numbers are shown on the park map and referred to in the description below. Since the trail system in the park is complex, hikers should obtain a free park map before beginning the hike. This hike will generally follow the Red Trail, but with several detours to include a number of interesting features.
From the circle at the end of the road, bear right and follow a road blocked by a wooden gate. Just beyond, pass a kiosk on the right and come to a fork at intersection #70. Bear right, following the red and green arrows, then bear right again at the next intersection (#53), as one leg of the Green Trail leaves to the left.
Proceed ahead on the Red and Green Trails, passing intersection #54 on the right. At intersection #31, turn right onto the Leatherman’s Loop Trail (LL-on-white blazes). When you reach the next intersection (#26), proceed straight ahead, but turn left at the following T-intersection (#27) and follow the “LL” blazes, which proceed along a winding route to the top of a hill. Here, just to the right of the trail, rock ledges afford a panoramic west-facing view over the Cross River Reservoir. A wooden bench has been placed here, and this is a good point to rest and take a short break.
Continue ahead along the Leatherman’s Loop Trail, which descends rather steeply on a footpath. After passing under an overhanging rock, you'll reach intersection #29. Turn around, and you’ll see a tree with arrows pointing in two directions and a sign “to junction marker 27.” Bear left at this tree and follow a white-blazed trail uphill to the cave, which was one of the regular campsites of the “Leather Man,” who wandered along a circular 365-mile route in the 1880s, staying in each of 34 campsites or shelters along the way. The cave provides shelter from the elements but must have been rather uncomfortable to sleep in! After exploring the cave, retrace your steps to intersection #29 and turn left (east), now following the “LL” blazes along a wide woods road.
When you reach intersection #28, the Leatherman’s Loop Trail turns left, but you should bear right and continue on a white-blazed trail. After crossing a bridge across a stream, the trail begins a gentle climb. At the top of the rise, the white-blazed trail turns left at a fork and almost immediately reaches intersection #30, where it ends at a junction with the Red and Green Trails. Bear right at the fork, now following red and green blazes. After continuing past intersection #32, you'll parallel a stream on the left and climb gradually on a winding woods road. When you reach intersection #34, turn right to continue on the Red and Green Trails.
After descending a little and passing a wetland on the left, you’ll reach intersection #38. Here, the Red and Green Trails turn left, but you should turn right onto a white-blazed trail. At the next fork, the trail bears left and crosses under a power line to reach intersection #39. Turn left onto the Rocks Trail (marked with “RT”-on-white blazes) and climb to the Bear Rock Petroglyph (on the left side of the trail), which features a carving in the shape of a bear attributed to Native Americans.
Continue along the Rocks Trail, which climbs more gradually. After crossing under the power line once more, it descends to reach intersection #60. Turn right at this junction and follow a white-blazed trail up to Dancing Rock – a flat rock where farmers danced to celebrate the completion of the harvest – then continue along the white-blazed trail, which loops around and descends to end at another junction with the Rocks Trail (intersection #37).
Turn right onto the Rocks Trail, which passes a small pond on the left and descends steadily to the next (unnumbered) junction, where the Red Trail joins from the left. Just ahead, you’ll come to intersection #36. Turn right here, leaving the Rocks Trail, and continue along the Red Trail, which heads southeast, following a wide woods road through a valley. At intersection #47, a white-blazed trail begins on the right, but you should bear left to continue along the Red Trail. After climbing a little, the trail bears left around a curve, with seasonal views to the right through the trees across the Stone Hill River valley.
Just beyond, turn right onto a white-blazed trail at intersection 61. In 100 feet, you'll reach a T-intersection with the Rocks Trail. Turn left and follow the Rocks Trail to Raven Rocks, marked by a bench, with an unobstructed overlook over the Stone Hill River valley from a cliff (use caution, as there is a sharp drop here!). After taking in the view, turn left onto another white-blazed trail which leads to intersection #48, where you should turn right onto the Red Trail.
At the base of a descent, you'll come to intersection #21. Turn right, leaving the Red Trail, and follow a white-blazed trail, passing jagged, moss-covered cliffs on the left. After crossing a stream, you’ll reach intersection #18. Here, the white-blazed trail ends, and you should turn left onto the Rocks Trail, almost immediately passing the Indian Rock Shelter on the right. Native Americans frequented this spot because the overhanging rocks offered protection from the rain.
Continue ahead on the Rocks Trail, which crosses two streams on wooden bridges. After crossing the second bridge, bear left, uphill, to reach intersection #19. Here, the Rocks Trail turns left, but you should turn right onto the joint Red and Yellow Trails, soon passing dramatic cliffs on the left. Continue to follow the Red and Yellow Trails along a wide woods road for about a mile, returning to the parking area where the hike began.Publication: Submitted by Daniel Chazin on 12/11/2004 updated/verified on 01/10/2018
This loop hike traverses the hills of this Westchester County park, climbing to a panoramic lookout over the Cross River Reservoir and the interesting Leatherman’s Cave, and passing a number of other features of interest.
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.