Explore New Trails and Parkland in Orange County

April 22, 2018
Sona Mason
New York-New Jersey Trail Conference

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Explore New Trails and Parkland in Orange County
Goosepond Mountain Highlands Trail Reroute. Photo by Erik Mickelson.

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After a lot of hard work and dedication from our fantastic volunteers and partners, a newly rerouted section of the Highlands Trail is now open in Goosepond Mountain State Park! 

The Trail Conference has been busy improving public access in and around Goosepond Mountain State Park in Orange County, N.Y., over the last year. Thanks to the efforts of our volunteers, a precarious road-walk section of the Highlands Trail in Chester has been rerouted into the park. Approximately 2 miles long, this new section is a beautiful, well-graded multi-use trail, built for use by hikers and non-motorized bikes. (Find a larger version of the trail reroute map here.)

The Highlands Trail at Goosepond Mountain has a lot to offer over a relatively short distance. One can travel from the parking lot at Bull Mill Road to Laroe Road for an approximately 3-mile hike, or continue along Lazy Hill Road to the parking at Route 17M for an approximately 5-mile hike (both are out-and-back or two-car shuttle options).

For either option, start at the parking lot on Bull Mill Road near the corner of Laroe Road. Follow the blue diamond Highlands Trail blazes along an avenue of grand sycamores, which overlook the wetlands of Trout Brook. Contemplate the stream at the bend before continuing uphill toward a spectacular overlook of Sugar Loaf Mountain. Continue through aromatic red cedar outcrops down to Bull Mill Road. Cross the road, then hop over the Seely Brook stepping stone crossing and bog bridge walkway. Head northward through more cedars, past massive, old field-grown oaks and along hillsides down toward the original trail route on Lazy Hill Road.

Here you can turn left, across the newly restored Seely Brook bridge to the Laroe Road parking. If you head right toward route 17M instead, keep an eye out for the unmarked entrance on the left to the Board Family Cemetery Trail. This semicircular loop leads to a bench on a knoll overlooking the vast, open wetlands below Goosepond Mountain. Take a seat on the bench, inhale deeply, and let the birdsong fill your ears.

Featured Hike

  • Trail: Highlands Trail
  • Park: Goosepond Mountain State Park, Orange County, N.Y.
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Length: Varies
  • Dogs: Allowed on leash
  • Features: Views, bikes allowed

Highlands Trail Opening

On Saturday, April 21, we officially opened the Highlands Trail relocation at Goosepond Mountain State Park with a ribbon-cutting ceremony. We celebrated the partnership of public, nonprofit, and private groups who have worked steadily over a period of years to preserve a beautiful patch of forested land from development—land that is now part of Goosepond Mountain State Park, and now accessible to the public via trails built by volunteers. 

More Land Preserved in Chester

Inspired by the recent parcel preservation activity in Chester, Stanley Felsinger, former owner of Camp Monroe, recently donated more than 30 acres along the proposed greenway corridor to the Town of Chester. Stanley said it was done “to show our appreciation for the 60 years we lived in Chester and operated Camp Monroe. Our goal was to assist in helping to connect a piece of the Highlands Trail and to make sure that the area around the Trail would remain free of development.” Stanley and his wife Hope said they were happy to “leave a small legacy showing our gratitude for the many wonderful years we spent living in beautiful Chester among our dear neighbors.”

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