Although the majority of the hiking trails outlined below are off-road, some portions of the trail systems may use on-road facilities in order to continue the off-road trail. It is recommended that users review the “rules of the road” in the appropriate sections of the Vehicle and Traffic Laws of New York State.
Some hiking trails described below may be within facilities or near facilities that allow hunting. Various legal hunting seasons take place between September 1st and May 31st in New York State. Refer to the NYSDEC informational page on hunting for more information. Always use caution when utilizing facilities that allow hunting.
The Appalachian Trail is a rugged “super trail” that is the longest continuously marked footpath in the United States that is limited to use by pedestrians. It stretches from Katahdin, Maine to Springer Mountain, Georgia. The Trail consists of approximately 2,180 miles through fourteen (14) states. In Orange County the Trail generally traverses in an easterly direction entering the County from the south in the Town of Warwick at the New Jersey border, west of Greenwood Lake in the vicinity of Bellvale Mountain. Utilizing a combination of public and private lands; the Trail moves through the Town of Warwick in a northeasterly direction. Just short of the Town of Chester the Trail moves east where it enters Sterling Forest and Harriman State Park through a small portion of the Town of Monroe in to the Town of Tuxedo. The Appalachian Trial continues in a westerly and northwesterly direction within Harriman State Park as it enters the Town/Village of Woodbury, eventually leaving Orange County and entering Rockland County. Within Rockland County, the Trail enters Bear Mountain State Park and traverses in a northwesterly direction where it reenters Orange County and utilizes the Bear Mountain Bridge to continue on into Putnam County. The Trail is part of the National Park System and is managed through a unique partnership between the National Park Service, USDA Forest Service, a number of State agencies, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy and thirty-one (31) trail maintaining clubs.
In June 2012, the Town of Warwick was designated an Appalachian Trail Community, the first in New York State. In being designated a Trail community, the Town has codified protection of the trail with its Zoning Law. The Town has identified the Trail as a “Designated Protection Area’ in the Zoning Law, which requires authorization by the Planning Board in order to change land contours, remove natural vegetation or erect structures within designated areas, Additionally a 100 foot setback is required from the centerline of the Appalachian Trail. The Trail is also listed within the Conservation “CO” District which recognizes the environmentally sensitivity of certain geographic features which includes the Appalachian Trail.
The Long Path begins in Fort Lee Historic Park on the New Jersey side of the George Washington Bridge and continues in a generally northerly direction for approximately 365 miles ending north of Albany, New York at Route 146 in Altamont.
Shawangunk Ridge Trail
The Shawangunk Ridge Trail begins in New Jersey’s High Point State Park at the intersection with the Appalachian Trail. It traverses in a northeasterly direction approximately forty-one (41) miles, generally along the Shawangunk Ridge, ending at Sam’s Point Preserve which is the highest point of the Shawangunk Ridge. The Trail intersects the Long Path southwest of Sam’s Point Preserve within the Wurtsboro Ridge State Forest. It makes a gradual ascent approaching the New York border into Orange County; in the Town of Greenville the trail utilizes private lands for approximately 1.4 miles in a northeasterly direction to access Greenville Turnpike. Greenville Turnpike is utilized for a short distance, 0.4 miles, to access a stretch of the trail, approximately 2.75 miles, which traverses public and private lands; eventually accessing Old Mountain Road and US Route 6 for 0.6 miles. Off US Route 6 the Trail utilized Hathorn Boulevard and Lakeside Drive for 0.25 miles to access an approximate 2.1 mile stretch on a combination of public and private lands, at some point crossing into the Town of Deerpark. At this point the Trail utilizes the Metro-North Railroad service road for a distance of 0.65 miles. At Shin Hollow Road the Trail straddles the Town of Deerpark and Town of Greenville municipal boundary and re-enters the public and private land for approximately 0.35 miles. At which point the Trail meets up with the recently realigned Long Path, northwest of the Village of Otisville near the municipal boundary of the Town of Mount Hope and the Town of Deerpark. The Trail and the Long Path utilize the same route for the remainder of Orange County on to Sam’s Point Preserve.
The Highlands Trail is continuously evolving, connecting the Delaware Water Gap in New Jersey through New York to the Connecticut Border. The trail enters Orange County via the Appalachian Trail as it intersects Lakes Road in the Town of Warwick. This is where the Trail has been recently rerouted. Utilizing Lakes Road for approximately 1.7 miles, the trail traverses northeast and makes a left onto Camp Monroe Road. The trail runs the entire length of 0.3 miles to Trout Brook Road. The trail then utilizes Trout Brook Road for approximately 0.7 miles to access Laroe Road. The intersection of Dock Hill Road and the CSX railroad crossing represents the end of the west of Hudson portion of the Trail. At this point in time there is a disconnect to the east of Hudson portion of the Highlands Trail.
Stillman and Howells Trail
The Stillman and Howells Trails are mostly contained within Storm King State Park and the Black Rock Forest. Stillman Trail is the anchor trail connecting the Storm King State Park and Black Rock Forest, generally following a similar path as the Highlands Trail. The Trail starts at the gated entrance to Storm King State Park on Mountain Road in the Village of Cornwall-on-Hudson.
Stewart State Forest
Mostly located in the Town of New Windsor, with portion extending into the Town of Montgomery, Village of Maybrook and the Town of Hamptonburgh; Stewart State Forest was first set aside in 1971 as the "Stewart Bufferlands," when the State condemned 8,076 acres to the west of then Stewart Air Force Base. The land was to become the east coast's premier Super Sonic Transport (SST) airport, and the large buffer was needed for expansion and noise abatement. The State bought 802 parcels of land, removing 337 farms and houses, and almost 1,200 people.
The airport expansion and SST plans were abandoned by 1982 and commercial flights began at the newly created Stewart International Airport in 1990. The airport's long runway remains one of several emergency landing sites for the Space Shuttle. Between 1974 and 1999, the DEC's Division of Fish and Wildlife managed Stewart as a Cooperative Hunting Area. The "Stewart Bufferlands" were turned over to the DEC in 1999 and 2006, after parts of the property were set aside for development.
Highland Lakes State Park
Generally located in the Town of Wallkill, with a small portion extending into the Town of Crawford; Highland Lakes State Park consists of more than 3,115 undeveloped acres. “In 1964, the [Palisades Interstate Park] Commission purchased more than 50 parcels - a total of 800 acres or so - in the Town of Wallkill, in Orange County. These purchases marked the beginning of Highland Lakes State Park, a pristine preserve near the busy corner created by Interstate 84 and State Route 17. Over the following years, Highland Lakes has nearly quadrupled in size.” (The Palisades Parks Conservancy)
Visitors use the park for fishing, hiking, horseback riding, and flying model planes. The Long Path passes through the park and is the only marked trail. An expansive network of unmarked woods roads provide an opportunity to traverse the park via a number of loops. A permit is required for use of the bridle paths.
Pochuck State Forest
Located in the Town of Warwick, Pochuck State Forest incorporates 503 acres owned by the State of New York, originally purchased in order to promote forest health, timber production, wildlife habitat, and recreational facilities. Additionally the Forest is meant to reduce soil erosion and protect water quality. It is currently used to promote a wide variety of ecological, recreational, and economic benefits; including hunting, hiking, camping, and horseback riding.
Informal Horseback riding and hiking within the Forest has grown in popularity. The land is undeveloped and has no formally marked trails, however, there are former logging trails, skid trails, and Public Forest Access Roads which provide opportunities for recreational access throughout.
The Orange County Land Trust is a non-profit group formed in 1993 with the mission of preserving the fields, forests, wetlands, ridgelines, and river corridors around Orange County for the benefit of the people. “From the beginning, the group had a clear set of goals: to protect and preserve scenic and environmentally sensitive areas of the county for future generations before they became lost to anticipated growth and development.” (Orange County Land Trust) To date the Land Trust has helped protect nearly 4,700 acres included in twelve (12) public nature preserves and almost thirty (30) properties with conservation easements.
Fuller Mountain is located in the Town of Warwick, stretching between Black Rock Road and the New Jersey border, consisting of a 225 acre wooded ravine. The preserve has a small parking area and information kiosk with maps of the preserve’s two trails, a moderate 1.75 mile round trip trail that leads to a fantastic vista overlooking the Warwick Valley and an enchanting ¾ mile loop that meanders along and over Fuller’s Brook.
Hamptonburgh Preserve is located in the Town of Hamptonburgh along the Wallkill River. The preserve consists of 130 acres of prime habitat for a variety of fowl species, plus 74 acres of rolling wildflower meadows, farmland and riverine forest.
Hunter Farm is located in the Town of Wawayanda. The preserve consists of 60 acres of open rolling fields, woodlands and two ponds and is open year round for hiking, photography, birding, and fishing. The preserve contains Tadpole Trail, a ¾ of a mile trail with seven (7) outdoor learning stations, the Land Trust’s exploratory nature trail for children.
Laurel Hill Preserve is located in the Town of Minisink and is meant to protect the Wallkill Watershed and many biologically diverse habitats. The preserve consists of 89 acres of varied habitat, including woodland, alfalfa fields, wetlands, vernal pools, and Tunkamoes Creek.
Lower Bashakill is located in the Town of Deerpark, flanking the Bashakill at the base of the Shawangunk Ridge. The preserve consists of 138 acres of working farmland and wooded slopes and is open to the public for hiking, birding, and fishing. Hunting is granted to member of the Barbers Eddy Hunt Club between October 1st and December 20th, use caution during this time of year when enjoying the preserve.
Moonbeams Preserve is located in the Town of Wallkill at the base of the Shawangunk Ridge, bordering the Shawangunk Kill. The preserve consists of 150 acres of fields, forest and wetlands and is open to the public for hiking, birding and nature study. There is a small parking area with a kiosk informing the public on interesting Flora and Fauna found on within the preserve, as well as maps for the two designated trails systems.”