Know the New Hiking How-tos
Wurtsboro Ridge State Forest
Southern end (VFW Road): Take N.Y. Route 17 west to Exit 114 (Wurtsboro, Highview). Turn left at the end of the exit ramp onto Old Route 17 (County Route 171) and continue downhill for 0.7 mile. As the road makes a hairpin turn to the left, turn right onto a gravel road which leads to a VFW post. Approximate GPS: 41.57695, -74.46533.
Northern end (Ferguson Road): As above, take N.Y. Route 17 west to Exit 114, but turn right at the end exit ramp onto Old Route 17 (County Route 171). Take the first left (in roughly 0.4 mile) onto Shawanga Lodge Road, continue for about 3 miles just past Pickles Road on the right and turn left on Ferguson Road (on some maps, including the one in the Location Tab, “Ferguson” is named on variations of "Roosa Gap Summitville Road").
- The DEC parking area is located on Ferguson near this intersection. A yellow-blazed trail of 0.8 mile leads to the SRT/LP. GPS: 41.60627, -74.42649.
- Travel 0.7 mile further along Ferguson for limited roadside parking just west of where the SRT/LP trail passes over the roadway. GPS: 41.61105, -74.43498.
Note for the Trail Conference’s Web Trail Map: Roadside parking on Shawanga Lodge Road where the LP enters the State Forest (near the southern end of the State Forest) is now closed and will be eliminated from future maps.
Short Line Bus provides transportation to Wurtsboro with a stop at 129 Sullivan Street (a block southeast of Route 209). Weekend service is limited. Walk southeast for 1.2 miles on Sullivan Street (which becomes Mamakating Road), turn left at VFW Road at a hairpin turn which leads to a trailhead. Part of the distance includes walking on the side of a country road.
Stunning views from a section of the Shawangunk Ridge with wildly beautiful areas along co-aligned long-distance trails.
It is impossible to describe Wurtsboro Ridge State Forest without referring to two great long-distance trails, which are co-aligned here. The Shawangunk Ridge Trail (SRT) provides a hiking opportunity that runs for about 70 miles along the length of the ridge from High Point State Park in northwest New Jersey to Rosendale, NY. The Long Path (LP) runs for 356 miles from New York City to Thacher State Park near Albany, New York.
The web trail map linked near the top of the page shows the combined trails form a backbone through the state forest, with trailheads at its southern and northern ends (see driving directions). Click for a description pointing out prominent features while hiking this rugged, roughly 4-mile section of the Long Path. Scroll down to “Trail Description,” begin reading at Mile 6.25 (VFW Road Trailhead) and end at Mile 10.20 (Ferguson Road Trailhead).
The abandoned railroad bed shown on the web trail map (dotted line), maintained by Trail Conference volunteers, is open to the public. Returning on the D&H Canal Linear Park, which hews closely to the state forest boundary for much of its distance, makes a loop hike possible.
Back in the mid-80s the Town of Wurtsboro had approved and pushed hard for a condo development on top of the ridge. The Open Space Institute ultimately prevented the effort, and what remains is an abandoned road network of “development trails” scattered throughout the forest, constructed in preparation of the (fortunately) thwarted project.
Click for a detailed description of a strenuous 10-mile linear hike along the SRT/LP coming from the north through Shawangunk Ridge and Roosa Gap state forests to the southern end of Wurtsboro Ridge State Forest.
Wurtsboro Ridge State Forest
When traveling north along Route 17, ten miles or so beyond Middletown, the roadway dips downward near Bloomingburg. Rising immediately ahead is the imposing Shawangunk Mountain range. The Shawangunk Ridge runs atop it through Wurtsboro Ridge State Forest, Roosa Gap State Forest, and Shawangunk Ridge State Forest. The next 10 miles along the ridge top are among the most spectacular in New York State with open views of the Catskills looming in the distance, and views all the way back to High Point, New Jersey.