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**UPDATE March 2016**
The forum turned out to be a bit of a failed experiment (I like to think this is because the Facebook page and comments across the site provide all we really need in the way of a forum).  I’ll leave these pages here for a while longer, because some cool people have posted some good information below.  And if you’d like to be the one to resurrect the forum, everything still works — have at it!

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Wonder Lake
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July 5, 2014
4:47 pm
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justherb
Mt. Kisco, NY
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It’s funny how you think you know about all the hikes in your ‘hood and then stumble upon one out of the blue. That’s just what I did with Wonder Lake State Park a few weeks ago.

The park is located in Patterson, NY between exits 17 and 18 just East of rte. 84. Coming from the North take exit 17 and turn left on Luddington Rd. following it South for a couple miles until upon see the park sign on your left. From the South take exit 18, turn right on 311 and your first left onto Luddington, park is a couple miles on your right. Plenty of parking.

The trails are laid out so that you can do shorter or longer loops. I suggest the 6 mile loop, but you can always bail and circle back. The main trail is the teal diamond blazed Highlands Trail which is part of a longer 200 mile trail in NJ, PA, NY and CT.

Follow the Yellow/Highlands signs up through the brush and into the woods. When the two split, take the Highlands to the right and continue up a gradual slope. This route is very well maintained with some stone steps that almost look natural. You’ll skirt around the lower slope of Bare Hill which you can ‘climb’ on your way back.

All hikes in the Northeast have the occasional stone wall crossing, this park seems to have more than their fair share, so watch your step. There are also a lot of roots to twist a wobbly ankle. As you move away from 84 the traffic noise fades and once you crest the hill if goes away almost completely. You’ll be crossing over the yellow trail a few times and just be aware that it’s a combined use trail that allows bikes, horses, ATVs.

Soon you’ll start to see the lake through the trees. The Highlands trail circles the lake and you can pop over at numerous spots to have a better look at this untouched body of water. At the Southeast corner of the lake you’ll cross the dam that created it and a small spillway with a narrow bridge. Always stay on the Highlands trail as it crosses and joins the yellow trail and/or the unmarked woods road. It’s pretty obvious which is which so you shouldn’t get confused.

The East side of the lake is like a different World with lots of mountain laurel and hemlock trees. After a few zigs and zags around ravines you’ll come to the smaller Laurel Pond…see if you can spot the old rope swing before heading uphill away from the pond.

Keep following the Highlands blazes up and around a few more shallow ravines until you come to the blue circle blazed Orchard Hill trail which will return you back towards the lake. Once onto the blue trail you may see the private property signs to your right. They indicate the property of the original owners of the land you’ve been hiking on. The lKe and surrounding are on e belonged to the Cushman family and then to the Montgomery family, the latter of which included Hollywood actor Robert Montgomery and his daughter Elizabeth who you may remember as the witch Samantha Stevens from the 60s and 70s, Bewitched.  After her death in the early 90s the land was donated to NY state to preserve the hiking trails.

The blue trail briefly joins a white connector and then returns to the Highlands which you can retrace back to your car. If you’re curious about Bare Hill you can take the yellow trail/road which you crossed on your way in. Take it to the right for about half a mole until you see the red Bare Hill trail that will loop you back to the Highlands again. Not much of a hill and no views with leaves on the trees, but it adds a nice change of scenery for those who don’t like to back track. You could also skip the hill altogether and stay on yellow which also rejoins the Highlands.

I found the yellow trail to be a little too wide and road like for me. Though I didn’t see or hear anything, I felt like I could get run over at any moment. It was also muddy and wet when I was there after a rainy day.

Overall this is a nice hike with varied terrain and no big climbs. It feels very secluded and the scenery is always engaging.

I went back and hiked this with my wife and kids and cut across the North end of the lake on the previously mentioned white connector trail. Use lots of bug spray because the mosquitoes are everywhere and check for ticks as I came home with a couple.

Wonder Lake Route

July 6, 2014
6:55 pm
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EdC
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Very nice write up. This isn’t all too far from me, plus I grew up in  Brewster and I know the area well. Do you know if there is a NY-NJ Trail Conference Trail Map for this area? I really like maps!

-Ed-

-Ed-

July 6, 2014
10:55 pm
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justherb
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Wonder Lake Trail Map

July 7, 2014
7:56 am
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EdC
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Awesome! Thanks a bunch. I will probably hike this today.

-Ed-

July 8, 2014
9:39 am
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EdC
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Thanks again for posting this hike. I hiked it yesterday. It was a nice change of pace from my usual hikes.

I’d like to suggest using west and east in your directions to the trailhead as opposed to north and south. Coming from the west you take exit 17 off of 84. Coming from the east you take exit 18. I am sure most people would figure that out, but I just wanted to put that out there :) The park is on Ludingtonville Road. The parking area is 1.4 miles from the exit 17 on Ludingtonville Road. I am not sure of the exact distance from exit 18. The sign looks like this:Sign.jpgImage Enlarger

-Ed-

July 8, 2014
9:56 am
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justherb
Mt. Kisco, NY
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Noted. 84 runs N/S in the Patterson area so I was thinking coming from Poughkeepsie vs. say White Plains.

July 25, 2014
1:01 pm
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GoldenHikerNY14
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July 25, 2014
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Thanks for all the great info about the Wonder Lake trails! I am very new to hiking and this is close to me so I have been trying to learn more about it before attempting it. Do you know if Wonder Lake or Laurel Pond are good places for dogs to swim? Are dogs allowed to be off-leash on the trails? 

July 25, 2014
3:57 pm
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justherb
Mt. Kisco, NY
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Officially dogs are allowed on leashes, but I’ve seen a couple off leash. Not sure about dogs in the water. I’d go for lake over pond though as the pond looked a little stagnant. 

July 25, 2014
5:47 pm
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GoldenHikerNY14
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Great, thanks so much!

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