From the kiosk at the southern end of the parking area, proceed south on the Horn Hill Loop Mountain Bike Trail, with blue-on-white diamond blazes. The trail passes through a pine forest and crosses several bridges. In about half a mile, you’ll cross the white-blazed Appalachian Trail, and soon afterwards, you’ll reach a junction with the red-on-white-blazed...
From the kiosk at the southern end of the parking area, proceed south on the Horn Hill Loop Mountain Bike Trail, with blue-on-white diamond blazes. The trail passes through a pine forest and crosses several bridges. In about half a mile, you’ll cross the white-blazed Appalachian Trail, and soon afterwards, you’ll reach a junction with the red-on-white-blazed Ramapo-Dunderberg (R-D) Trail. Turn left onto the R-D Trail, which begins to climb West Mountain.
After ascending stone steps, the R-D Trail crosses the wide Beechy Bottom East Road, also marked with the blue-on-white blazes of the Horn Hill Bike Trail. It continues to climb steadily through dense mountain laurel thickets until it bears left and crosses a gully. The trail now turns left, passes an old mine opening and continues around the side of the mountain. Soon, it turns sharply left, climbs steeply, then follows a level path alongside a cliff, with views through the trees to the left.
After passing a west-facing viewpoint through the trees, the trail bears right and continues to climb, soon reaching a panoramic viewpoint (known as the Cats Elbow) at a junction with the yellow-blazed Suffern-Bear Mountain (S-BM) Trail. You can see the Hudson River on the left and the hills of Harriman State Park ahead, with the New York City skyline visible in the distance on a clear day. You’ll want to take a break here to rest from the climb and enjoy the views.
When you’re ready to continue, proceed ahead on the joint R-D/S-BM Trail. In 300 feet, after climbing a ledge, the two trails diverge. Turn left and follow the yellow blazes of the S-BM Trail, which descends slightly and proceeds through an area scarred by fire a number of years ago and now starting to regenerate.
After descending to a valley, crossing a stream on rocks, and then climbing again, the S-BM Trail reaches a T-intersection where the blue-blazed Timp-Torne Trail joins from the left. Turn right, following the blue/yellow-blazed trail, which runs along ledges, with some views to the south.
In another 0.3 mile, after passing a viewpoint from a rock ledge on the right, you’ll come to a junction. Here, the yellow-blazed S-BM Trail continues ahead, but you should bear right, following the blue-blazed Timp-Torne Trail. In 500 feet, you’ll arrive at the West Mountain Shelter, built in 1928, which offers panoramic views of the Hudson River to the southeast. This is a good place to stop for a break.
After you’ve rested for a while, retrace your steps back to the junction of the blue and yellow trails. Turn right at the junction, following the yellow-blazed S-BM Trail, which descends a little, then climbs to reach an open area, with views of Bear Mountain to the north through the trees. The trail now descends, first steeply, then more gradually through mountain laurel thickets. After reaching a valley at the base of the descent, it once again climbs steeply. In a level area at the top of the steep climb, there is a limited viewpoint to the southeast from a rock ledge to the right of the trail.
After climbing gradually to reach the highest point on the ridge, the S-BM Trail begins a steady descent of about 750 vertical feet. It soon reaches a very steep section, where extreme care should be taken if the trail is wet, icy or snow-covered. The grade then moderates somewhat. About halfway down, the trail crosses a stream and joins an old woods road, with more gentle grades. The road is eroded in places, and some stretches of the trail have been routed away from the road.
At the base of the descent, follow the yellow-blazed S-BM Trail as it turns left onto a level road, the route of the Doodletown Bridle Path. When the yellow blazes go off to the right, continue ahead on the wide bridle path, now following the Fawn Trail, blazed with red-“F”-on-white blazes, which begins here. The trail soon begins a gradual climb. In about half mile, at a T-intersection, the Fawn Trail bears left, leaving the bridle path. Continue to follow the red-“F”-on-white blazes of the Fawn Trail.
The Fawn Trail climbs over a rise and descends to cross the white-blazed Appalachian Trail. After a short climb, the Fawn Trail crosses the blue-blazed Timp-Torne Trail and descends to end at a junction with the white-blazed Anthony Wayne Trail at Beechy Bottom East Road. Turn left and follow Beechy Bottom East Road as it heads south. Almost immediately, you’ll reach an intersection where the Horn Hill Loop Mountain Bike Trail joins from the right. Bear left and continue ahead on the bike trail, following the blue-on-white blazes along the nearly level Beechy Bottom East Road (do not follow the white blazes of the Anthony Wayne Trail, which turns right and descends to the northern parking area at the Anthony Wayne Recreation Area).
In about a third of a mile, you’ll come to a Y-intersection, where you should bear right. In 100 feet, you’ll reach a second Y-intersection. Here, the bike trail bears left, but you should take the right fork, which descends towards the Anthony Wayne Recreation Area. When you reach a T-intersection near the base of the descent, turn left onto a grassy road which leads to a picnic area. Continue through the picnic area, then bear right and cross a stone-faced bridge over a stream, which leads to the northern end of the Far South Parking Area. Turn left and walk to the southern end of the parking area, where the hike began.Publication: Submitted by Daniel Chazin on 06/22/2007 updated/verified on 07/05/2021
This loop hike climbs to the ridge of West Mountain, passing several expansive viewpoints over the Hudson River and the surrounding hills.
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.