Walk back to a junction where a "parking" sign points to the right. Turn right into a dirt parking area, follow it to its end, then continue along a wide path, passing a cedar tree on the right. At the end of the path, steeply descend the hillside. At the base of the descent, bear right and follow the FH blazes of the Fox Hill Trail (in the direction indicated by the sign "To Junction Marker 9...
Walk back to a junction where a "parking" sign points to the right. Turn right into a dirt parking area, follow it to its end, then continue along a wide path, passing a cedar tree on the right. At the end of the path, steeply descend the hillside. At the base of the descent, bear right and follow the FH blazes of the Fox Hill Trail (in the direction indicated by the sign "To Junction Marker 9"). The trail climbs, passing through gaps in several stone walls. Just below the high point, it bears left and begins to descend. As it parallels a stone wall at the edge of a field, there are north-facing views through the trees.
At the base of the descent, the trail passes a shelter, built of branches and covered with bark and reaches junction 9 where the Fox Hill Trail ends. Turn right onto the Orange Trail, which follows a woods road gently uphill. In half a mile, you'll cross a footbridge and reach junction 10. A white-blazed trail begins here, but you should turn left to continue on the Orange Trail.
Just ahead, at junction 51, bear left at the fork to continue on the Orange Trail, which crosses a stream on a footbridge and climbs to the stone ruins of a former shelter. After passing Shelter 29 (to the right), you'll reach junction 13. Here, you should bear right onto the white-blazed Fire Tower Trail, then immediately bear left to continue on this trail (do not follow the trail to "Junction Marker 12").
The Fire Tower Trail climbs along a woods road. At junction 52, bear right, following the sign "To Junction Marker 15." The trail continues to ascend, passing interesting rock formations and mountain laurel thickets.
At junction 15, the white-blazed trail ends. Continue ahead, now following the Blue Trail (do not turn left at this junction). Soon, you'll reach the highest point in the park (860 feet), the site of a former fire tower, now marked by a bench, a non-functional water pump and the stone ruins of the fire observer's cabin.
Just beyond, look carefully on the right for junction 16. Turn right here and descend on a white-blazed footpath, which goes down steeply over rocks and passes through a tunnel of mountain laurel. At the base of the descent, you'll cross a stream on rocks and climb slightly to reach junction 49.
Turn right at the junction and head west and then north. At junction 18, continue ahead, and you'll pass, to the right, a natural rock shelter, used by Native Americans. After crossing two footbridges and passing cliffs to the left, you'll reach junction 19. Here, the white-blazed trail ends, and you turn left onto the Yellow/Red Trail which is a wide woods road.
After passing junction 20 and Shelter 6 on the right, you'll reach junction 33, where the Red Trail turns left. Continue ahead, now following only yellow blazes. When you reach junction 24 in about a mile, continue straight ahead, then bear right at junction 70 to reach the parking area where the hike began.Publication: Submitted by Daniel Chazin on 02/25/2010
This loop hike climbs to the highest point of this Westchester County park and passes an interesting rock shelter.
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.