If you find this free trail guide useful, please provide payment by picking up at least one piece of litter on your hike. Cha-ching! Thanks for being awesome! (And here’s a quick primer on Leave No Trace, too, to help us keep the trails nice and fresh for each other.)

Background you can feel free to skip: Black Rock Forest is one of the first hikes I discovered when I moved to the Hudson Valley, and it remains one of my favorites.  There’s no huge, steep climb here, just a gentle, constant ascent past picturesque creeks and reservoirs on your way to one of the best money spots in the area.

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You’ll probably see another hiker or two as you stroll around Black Rock Forest, but for all the awesome trails and sights here, it seems like these woods are never crowded.  The last two times I’ve been up at the overlook on warm, sunny weekend afternoons, we didn’t see another soul.  Maybe we just lucked out, but we seem to luck out here just about every visit.


Somehow, Black Rock had fallen down my list of favorite hikes in recent years, perhaps because Storm King Mountain right up the street offers larger views, directly over the Hudson.  Now that I’ve been back to Black Rock a couple of times recently, I’ve remembered everything I love about this place, and it’s firmly back at the top of the list, where it belongs.

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The loop trail I’ll describe below takes you on many different trails, so if this is your first visit to Black Rock, please take your time and read the trail guide below very carefully.  NOTE TO SKIMMERS: I just asked you to please read the trail guide below very carefully.  There are lots of turns in it.If you like the hike I’ve outlined below, there are many more trails to explore here, and many more overlooks.  You can plot more hikes using the nice, official Black Rock trail map (which might not be as nice as the one you can buy from the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference, but it’s free, so that’s pretty awesome.)  You’ll also find some links to other quality online trail guides in the related resources section at the bottom of this write-up.

So next time the weather’s nice and you have a free afternoon, give Black Rock Forest a whirl and see if it doesn’t instantly become one of your favorites, too.  All the excitement might just wear you out.

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**UPDATE August 2018** Special thanks to Matt Brady, Forest Manager at Black Rock Forest, for reaching out to me with some updates for the trail guide below.  He also provided this background on the forest:

“Black Rock Forest is a private non-profit organization open to the public during daylight hours only (closed about 3 weeks during hunting season in the fall). The main goal of the Forest is to advance scientific understanding of the natural world through research, education and conservation. There are multiple schools and colleges that use areas of the forest for research and educational programs. This makes it a challenge to make sure those areas do not get disturbed. The public is allowed to use our trail networks with the understanding that visitors need to stay on roads and/or trails and not interfere with other operations throughout the forest. We have created and maintain 25+ miles of trails throughout the forest and work with volunteers to keep them usable.”

Thank you to you and your colleagues, Matt, and to the volunteers who do such excellent work!  We’ll treat the Black Rock Forest with the care it deserves, and we will indeed stick to the trails out there.

Trail Guide

Bonus unsolicited advice: Don't depend on having cell service in the woods - it can be spotty out there! Download this trail guide to your phone before you head out. (It's easy to do on iPhone and Android.) May your connection to nature be strong, even when your connection to the internet is weak.

**UPDATE June 2019** Thanks again to Matt Brady for keeping us all up-to-date!  He recently sent me this info:

The visitor pathway is now finished and being dedicated in June with a new name, “Sibyl’s Path”.  With that completion we have rerouted foot traffic off of Reservoir Road from the parking lot to Mailley’s Mill Bridge, to gain access to the other trails.  We have consortium members bring busses/vans/cars of school groups for research and educational programs to the forest throughout the year and also on weekends.  The pathway provides a safe route for hikers so that we can keep them out of vehicle traffic on a narrow road.  Also, the first section of the pathway meets handicap accessible grades.  This leads up to the 1st view point, so someone in a wheelchair can still navigate the trail and get a viewpoint towards the Moodna aqueduct.

Sounds like some very nice changes!  Steps 1 and 2 below are now out-of-date — after checking out the awesome new Sibyl’s Path from the parking lot, you can start at Step 3 below to follow this trail guide from Mailley’s Mill Bridge.  Enjoy the new trail work, and thanks to Black Rock for keeping us informed of the awesome updates being made here! 

1.  From the parking lot, find the stone staircase that heads up the little bank onto the road you drove in on.  Go up the stairs and take a right on the road to head uphill, past the gate.  (In case you skipped the update from June 2019 above, please go back and read it now!  Then you can go ahead and skip to Step 3.  Also, dude, didn’t we talk about the skimming already?  Read ALL the words!)

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2.  In about five minutes, bang!  Your first views.  That didn’t take long.  Keep climbing the gravel road and the views disappear again.  Don’t worry – there are plenty more where that came from.

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3.  Keep heading up the road, and in a few minutes you’ll see a walkway with solar panels leading up to your left, to the Center for Science and Education and the Forest Lodge.  I’ve never been up there, but I bet they run some cool programs.  To your right, you’ll see Mailley’s Mill Bridge, which we’ll cross over right now.

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4.  Pass over the second small bridge, then turn left to head upstream along the creek.

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The trail here is clear but unmarked.  Just stay as close to the stream as you can, heading uphill.  (If you see the Blue Trail here, even better – just keep following it uphill.  Whether you find the Blue Trail or not, no worries – we’ll be crossing the creek again very soon.)  UPDATE June 2015: Thank you, Morgan, for your comment with a photo of some new signage along this stretch!

5.  In a few minutes, you’ll see a nice stream crossing on your left, with trail markers indicating the end of the Blue Trail.

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Hop across the stream here to rejoin the gravel road, where you’ll make a right to keep heading gently uphill.  Yellow Trail blazes greet you as you make the turn.

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6.  Keep climbing as the road bends under the reservoir.  When the road forks, go left to climb the bank and stand on the shore of the reservoir.

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7.  What a nice spot.  Take a moment to relax here and look out over the reservoir, which serves as the Village of Cornwall’s drinking water.  (That’s one reason you’re not allowed to swim here – I guess they don’t want stinky hikers in their water.  We can’t really blame them.  I wouldn’t want to drink water my feet have been in, either.)

8.  When you’re done maxing and/or relaxing, turn to your right (assuming you’re looking out over the water) and follow the road that hugs the shore of the reservoir.  Keep heading straight as things get grassy.

Keep a sharp eye out on your right for the beginning of the blue-blazed Swamp Trail, which begins just a minute after you pass the “No Trespassing No Swimming” sign on your left at the far end of the reservoir.

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9.  Turn right onto the Blue Trail, which is marked with three blazes and a few stepping stones leading off of the grassy road.  You’d miss this turn if you weren’t looking for it.

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(If you come to a yellow gate across the grassy road, you’ve gone a few hundred yards too far.  Turn around and keep an even sharper eye out for the Blue Trail this time.  It’s there, I promise.)10.  Follow the Blue Trail through a beautiful section of woods, with old stone walls crisscrossing around you.  In just a minute, the White Trail begins straight ahead.  Turn right here to stay on the Blue Trail.

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11.  Maybe the Swamp Trail should be renamed the Fern Trail?  Seems like that would be a good PR move.In any event, keep following the blue-blazed Swamp Trail as it passes through some very nice woodland scenes.  If you notice the White Trail joining you again from the left, just ignore it and keep heading straight.  You’ll follow the Blue Trail until it dead-ends onto a gravel road about 10-15 minutes from the time you joined it.

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12.  When you reach the gravel road, turn right and follow it for just a moment.  You’re looking for a left turn about one minute down the road, around an old wooden gate.

13.  When you see the gate on the side road to your left, turn left off the gravel road and go around the gate.  Straight ahead, you’ll pass another “No Trespassing No Swimming” sign, then you’ll keep going straight to arrive at the shore of another gorgeous reservoir (the Aleck Meadow Reservoir, for those following along on a map).

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14.  Head to your right around the reservoir, stopping at the concrete wall that doubles as an excellent bench.  Take in the view across the water and, if the water’s high enough, listen to the cascades running down the spillway.  (The spillway has been totally dry on my last two visits, but it’s a pretty spot if you catch it at the right time.)


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15.  Follow the trail (now marked with the yellow blazes of the Stillman Trail and the teal blazes of the Highlands Trail) downhill, over the little bridge that runs over the bottom section of the spillway.  You’ll follow these blazes all the way to the overlook at Black Rock.

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16.  Emerge at the far end of the reservoir for one last peek.  If you’re looking out over the water, the trail plunges into the woods directly behind you (it would be a right turn if you just followed the trail from under the reservoir.)  In any event, plunge into the woods to continue following the Yellow-and-Teal Trail, and enjoy the beginning of the biggest ascent you’ll be tackling today.

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17.  After about five minutes of climbing, you’ll arrive at a junction with the White Trail, which departs to your right.  Turn left to stay on the Yellow-and-Teal Trail.18.  About one minute after the junction with the White Trail, you have to turn sharply to your right to stay on the Yellow-and-Teal Trail.  If you went straight, you’d pop out onto a gravel road, which you don’t want to do right now (though you’ll come back to this spot later, coming from the road back to where you’re standing now).  Just keep following the trail markers and you’ll be good to go.  (You might also notice a diamond-shaped Highlands Trail marker on a tree to your right.  That’s the only one of those markers I noticed, but if you see it, don’t be thrown off – you’re in the right place.)

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19.  You’ll climb about 400 vertical feet from the reservoir as you keep following the Yellow-and-Teal Trail uphill.  From the right turn at the gravel road, it took me ten more minutes to get to Black Rock.  And when the trail emerges onto Black Rock, you’ll know you’re in the right place.

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20.  Besides being among the most beautiful overlooks in the Hudson Valley, this spot also boasts some choice rocks for lazing upon.  If you brought some munchies, munch them here.  Take a load off, hydrate, and enjoy the view.

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21.  When you’re done spending your time, writing a memory or writing a rhyme, thinking about what is right or wrong, look straight out into the awesome view.  Now look to your left, as far left as you can without having your view blocked by the trees, and you’ll see a little fire tower on the horizon (that tower is not open to the public).  The trail heads down Black Rock toward that tower – you can follow the blazes there once you pick up their trail along the rocks.

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22.  Be careful climbing down the rocks here – it’s very steep, and you’ll probably have to use your hands a bit.

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23.  Once you’re on flat ground again, just keep following the trusty Yellow-and-Teal blazes.  In about ten minutes, the trail will dump you off onto a gravel road.  Turn left to walk down the road for just a moment.

24.  In less than a minute, you’ll arrive at another intersection.  Take a left at the intersection and say goodbye to the Yellow-and-Teal Trail.  If you’d like, before you make the turn, you can check out the podium on your right with a Black Rock trail map posted.

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25.  Enjoy a brisk stroll down the flat, wide gravel road.  This section is manageable for even the smallest hikers.  If you’d like, spend a minute investigating the awesome tire tracks.

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26.  In about 15 minutes (walking at toddler pace), you’ll arrive at a junction that is marked by a huge honking oak tree in the middle of the road, which gets a “White Oak Tree” designation on Black Rock trail maps.  If this old tree could talk, I bet it could tell some awesome stories.  Or maybe it would just brag about how big and awesome it is.

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In any event, make a left at the huge tree to join a different unmarked gravel road (White Oak Road, actually, but you won’t see any signs for it).

27.  Tricky trail junction alert!  As you walk along the gravel road, in about 10 minutes or less (it took me 12, walking at toddler pace, with one stop for putting the toddler back in the backpack), you’ll see some boulders lining the left side of the road as the road bends to the right (this spot is almost exactly half a mile from the big oak tree).  Between two of those boulders, you can see a faint trail heading into the bushes.  You want to be on that trail.

**UPDATE August 2018** Matt Brady, the forest manager, reports that there’s a new sign posted here that reads “Buster’s Bend.”  Sounds like this junction just got a little less tricky.  Thanks, Matt!  

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Take the short, unmarked trail between the boulders to arrive back at the Yellow-and-Teal Trail, right at the spot near the “Highlands Trail” marker from earlier in the day.  Find the trail?  Awesome.

28.  Take a right to head back down the Yellow-and-Teal Trail toward the reservoir.

29.  In about two minutes, be careful not to head straight at the junction with the White Trail.  Turn right to continue downhill on the Yellow-and-Teal Trail.

30.  If you’d like, take another stop to check out the reservoir when you get there.  This is a good spot to let the freeloader on your back throw a rock or two into the water.

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31.  Head back over the little bridge at the bottom of the spillway.  Standing on that bridge, do you see the unmarked trail straight ahead, departing to your left?  That’s where you want to go.  This trail saves you lots of gravel-road trudging, and discovering it has made my Black Rock hikes much more enjoyable.  (**UPDATE June 2015** Thank you again, Morgan, for your comments with an updated photo of this spot.)

**UPDATE October 2015**Okay, looks like the previously unmarked trail is now marked with white blazes when you turn left from the bridge under the reservoir and spillway.  You’ll follow those white blazes until you arrive at a stairway that didn’t exist the last time I was here.  

**UPDATE August 2018** This guide used to recommend going left at the staircase, following an unmarked trail (which is a bad idea for many reasons, but was the best option at the time this trail guide was originally written).  The very good news is that this new White Trail takes you exactly where you want to be – traversing Honey Hill and helping to close your loop for the day.  Hop on up those stairs and keep following the White Trail!  (And thanks again to Matt Brady for this helpful information that made this update possible!)  

32.  Follow the new white-blazed Honey Hill Trail past some nice views, similar to the ones pictured here (but slightly different, since these were taken before that trail existed.)

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33.  Does it feel okay, following a trail guide written by a dude who has never been on the trail you’re traversing right now?  Hey, at least it’s free!  In any event, I have it on good account from our friend Matt Brady that this trail is pretty sweet (paraphrasing).  Enjoy!

34.  In about twenty minutes, the White Trail dead-ends into the blue-blazed Reservoir Trail.  The creek that runs under Mailley’s Mill Bridge is straight ahead (the bridge itself is just ahead), and you can just make out the Black Rock Forest buildings from the beginning of the hike through the trees.  Turn left on the Blue Trail to head downhill along the creek, toward Ben’s Bridge.

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35.  Follow the Blue Trail for about .4 miles downhill, enjoying the burbles and drops of the creek beside you.  If you ask me, some of those drops should count as waterfalls.  Since nobody’s named ‘em yet, feel free to go ahead and name them after yourself.

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36.  In about 10-15 minutes from your turn onto the Blue Trail, you’ll come to Ben’s Bridge, a nice little wooden creek crossing.  (UPDATE April 2024: According to Maryellen’s helpful comment below, this bridge is washed out, but you can still hop across the creek without too much trouble.  Sorry to hear this news, and hope you don’t have any issues finding a safe way across!)

Head across the creek and then immediately look for the start of the red-blazed Duggan Trail straight ahead, where you’ll take the right-hand option at the fork with the Blue Trail.  Say goodbye to the Blue Trail as it departs to your left.

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37.  Follow the Red Trail as it gently ascends the final .5 miles to your car.  You’ll see some nice trail work in the form of rock walls and stepping stones as you go.

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38.  And then, finally, the three blazes marking the end of the Red Trail and the kiosk just outside the parking lot.  Your car!  Wouldn’t it be awesome if you left yourself a candy bar in there?  Go check the glove box.

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39.  After this hike, how could you not consider Black Rock Forest to be a friend?  You could even make it official.

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Directions to the trailhead: From Newburgh, head south on Route 9W.  About 5 miles south of Newburgh, you’ll cross under the overpass for Angola Road, then you’ll begin climbing a large hill.  1.7 miles after theAngola Road overpass, while you’re still climbing that hill, turn right from Route 9W onto Reservoir Road, which is also marked with a small wooden “Black Rock Forest” sign.

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When Reservoir Road comes to a T in just a moment, turn right.  The well-marked Black Rock Forest parking lot is on your right, just before a gate that is almost always closed.  Park here and let the good times rock.

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You can also get directions by checking out the Black Rock Forest entry on the Google map.

Sorta nearby address for your GPS: The intersection of Reservoir Road and Rt 9W in Cornwall, NY is less than a mile from the trailhead.  Turn southeast onto Reservoir Road (a right turn if you’re heading south on 9W), then right when Reservoir Road hits a T, and you’ll be there in a few seconds.  (My old-ish Garmin Nuvi lets me put in an intersection as a destination, so hopefully yours does, too.)

GPS coordinates of parking area: 41.41867, -74.01048 (Clicking will open in Google Maps or the Apple Maps app, depending on your browser/device.)

Resources & Interactives

Super-cool Google Earth flyover of hike route:

Google Terrain Map of hike route:

Related resources: 

If you’re looking for actual facts and/or useful information, visit these resources:

  • The very informative Black Rock Forest Consortium homepage (and thanks for the sweet forest, dudes!)
  • Some great information about the parking fees that began in 2019 on the official Black Rock Forest: Visit Us page
  • The official Black Rock Forest trail map (which isn’t as nice as the one you can buy from the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference, but it’s free, so that’s pretty awesome)
  • The impressively thorough Black Rock Forest Wikipedia page
  • A nice alternate write-up from the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference
  • This dude’s Black Rock write-up for a completely different 10.5-mile hike
  • Another good alternate write-up from

More Black Rock Forest pictures from the hike’s Picasa album:

Want to support trails in the Hudson Valley? Here’s one great way: Visit the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference homepage and click on Volunteer, Donate, or Shop! (Then you can volunteer, donate, or shop, depending on your mood.)

Comments (99)

Was this trail guide useful to you? Please leave a comment!
  1. Caryl

    Hi. Went yesterday to check Black Rock Forest out to see how it would be for me and my dogs. It was so peaceful and quiet I am looking forward to trying this loop. Thanks for posting such a great description.

    1. Mike

      That’s wonderful to hear, Caryl – I hope you have a great hike when you go back! Thanks for the kind words.

      1. Mike

        Thanks for the update, Maryellen! I’ve added this information to the trail guide above, at Step 36. Hope this doesn’t cause problems for anyone, thanks for making us aware!

  2. Barami

    Did this trail today, Thursday, 5/4/20. Very pleasant, a few decent ascents but mostly easy going. Ran into several people on Sibyl’s path but only two couples during the rest of the hike.

    Thanks for the route!

  3. kacy

    Did this hike on Sunday 4/19/20, which was a beautiful day. We arrived at 9:30am and the parking lot was almost to capacity. I would try to even get there earlier if possible. Hike was lovely and directions were so easy to follow. Can’t wait to explore more of the Black Forest area!
    Thanks for a great guide 🙂

  4. Ilyana

    Hey Mike,

    Just did this hike today and what an amazing trip! We pretty much followed your entire route up until the loop back. I guess because there was no real trail once you stepped into the woods by the reservoir we took the white trail all the way home (no blue trail to be seen). Either way it was perfect.

    Just an FYI…because of our current COVID-19 complications, Black Rock has temporarily suspended paying for parking in the lot. When you go to the kiosk theres a yellow sign letting all patrons know. They also mention that if the parking lot is full (and today it was), to please consider coming back another day to avoid large crowds. I forgot to take a picture of it, but any recent hikers will tell you the same. very helpful!

    Anyway, this trail guide was very much appreciated. Keep it up!

  5. Jeffrey


    This was a great hike, thanks for the guide!
    It was really helpful for navigating all of the turns, and the views were spectacular!

    You should try hiking Eagle Cliff – also in Black Rock Forest. If you tackle it from Old Mineral Springs road, there are a couple of nice views and a pretty big waterfall. Eagle Cliff is beautiful – and you can see NYC on a clear day.

    Thank you for all of your trail guides and all the work that you put into them. They have helped me know about new hikes that I can do, and how to do them without getting lost. I hope you keep hiking and putting out more trail guides.


  6. Jacki Spinelli

    We did this hike today (2/23/20) and the weather could not have been better for a day in late February. And once again, your commentary and descriptions made the hike! As we discovered in doing the Schunemunk Mt hike, if we did not pay attention to those things you pointed out we would have missed so much and it would have been a much different hike. Thank You! We had a great view of Schunemunk Mt from Black Rock and were able to see what we had conquered last Labor Day weekend.
    A few observations; 1. The organization that maintains this preserve does a FANTASTIC job on the trails both the marking and maintaining. They are definitely worth a donation. 2. While we mostly stuck to your guide (we did add a bit of an additional jug handle which took up to yet another reservoir at one point – my husband thinks a hike of less than 6 miles is not really a hike so we added some distance 🙂 ), there are a lot of options in both shortening and extending the distance and we hope to get back again. 3. We were lucky enough to be there when the water was cascading down the spillway – and it was beautiful.
    Lastly, we love all of your pictures and given the dates – I am guessing that little guy is a bit bigger and looks a lot different by now. Hope he still goes on hikes with you. Thanks again for these detailed guides we are slowly working our way through.

    1. Mike

      Jacki, thanks so much for all the kind words and observations! Really appreciate you taking the time to share them, and am in complete agreement about this forest and the folks who maintain it being worthy of a donation. As for the little dude in the pictures, he graduated from the hiking backpack ages ago, but I still drag him and his little brother on adventures when I can (on those rare instances when I’m not on the sidelines of a soccer field). You can see (way too many) pics of the former rugrats in my most recent trail guide:

      Thanks for taking the time to stop by. Here’s wishing you and your husband many more happy adventures out there!

  7. Ben Reisner

    Went this last Saturday (October 19th 2019) and had a great experience and wanted to share.

    We wouldn’t be able to get to any trailhead until noon, and since it would be a very popular hiking day, we chose this trail primarily because I thought it would be less crowded than some of the other nearby hikes, and I was absolutely correct. Driving past the Storm King trailhead the lot was 100% full and people were parking on the highway (illegaly I think) and walking along the road dangerously. We got to Black Rock Forest and paid the $5 and parked in a lot that was perhaps 30% full with only 10 or so cars in it.

    After reviewing our planned route with a friendly ranger who was collecting the parking fee we embarked on the route as described above (mainly). In the many years since this guide was written they must have made some significant improvements in the trail, because we found all of the trails very well marked and maintained.

    Not to say that we didn’t make some wrong turns. At #8 we hugged the reservoir too tightly for about 100 yards and went off of the road and crossed a cool old bridge ‘The Rusty Wagon Bridge’. The placards there stated that this 14 foot long bridge was built by 6th graders at the Metropolitan Montessori School using wood salvaged from an old wagon that was found in the forest. At #15 we accidently started along the White Blazed trail by Honey Hill instead of crossing the bridge at the spillway, and had to backtrack so we didn’t end the hike early.

    A great hike with some beautiful views, and reservoirs. I didn’t brief the friends on what we were going to see, and just before we got to the first reservoir one of the friends was saying how she loves to see lakes and rivers, and I was almost giddy with how perfectly it aligned.

    The entire forest was IMMACULATE, I did not see a single piece of garbage along the trails to pick up, a welcome change from the more popular nearby hikes. Without your trail guide I likely never would have found this place. Thanks for all your work!!

    1. Mike

      Thanks for sharing that here, Brian! I’ve updated the trail guide with a Cheapskate Alert, and put a link to their “Visit Us” page in the “Resources” section above. Really appreciate your help to keep this trail guide current!

  8. Pej

    Great Hike, and Thank you for the detailed guide.
    My girlfriend is a little afraid of hard hike and was somewhat hesitant about taking this trail, but after this she wanted to switch to 8/10 ones
    The only thing was that we sorta got lost at 28. we could not find the blue yellow trail and ended up on the white trail for which we had to take a detour through the forest to be back on track.
    So be extra extra careful there.
    Aside from that a great hike and great scenery.

  9. Matt Conroy

    Was just at Black Rock this Sunday and can attest that it is a lovely place to hike with minimal humans. From the parking lot we took the Stillman Trail over Whitehorse Mountain (small views but a nice vigorous climb) then down to the reservoir shown here. Instead of going on the Swamp Trail we followed the Highlands Trail north a bit then met back up with the Stillman Trail and did the steep climb up to Mt. Misery (nice place for a break and a view of the Aleck Meadow Reservoir. After coming down from Mt. Misery we took a right on the Swamp Trail up to the gravel woods road. Then we went left and stayed left on the woods roads until we got to the white blazed Scenic Trail. From the junction of Carpenter Road and the Scenic Trail we climbed up to the Hill of Pines for an amazing view. Hung out there for a while on the rocks and enjoyed the panoramic views. Way back was easy and almost all downhill – Scenic Trail east to Swamp Trail, back to reservoir, then Reservoir woods road back to parking, finishing with that sweet view you show as first here. 5 miles total. Will definitely be back for more hikes here!

  10. Jenn

    Hi! First I want to thank you for this amazing site. I have used it many times over the years as my preferred go-to for trail directions.

    I did this hike yesterday and somehow lost my way between these two steps:

    23. Once you’re on flat ground again, just keep following the trusty Yellow-and-Teal blazes. In about ten minutes, the trail will dump you off onto a gravel road. Turn left to walk down the road for just a moment.

    I was on the Yellow-and Teal trail and came to a point that you could either go straight to the gravel road or to the left to stay on the trail. I went to the gravel road (noticed a sign called Buster’s Bend) and took a left, but (this pertains to step 24 below) I walked 4 minutes and still no intersection or podium so I thought I must be in the wrong place and went back to the trail — which just looped me back to the spill off of the reservoir. This was ultimately fine because I could easily find my way back but can’t figure out where I went wrong as I thought I was following right along…

    24. In less than a minute, you’ll arrive at another intersection. Take a left at the intersection and say goodbye to the Yellow-and-Teal Trail. If you’d like, before you make the turn, you can check out the podium on your right with a Black Rock trail map posted

    Any ideas? Would love to try this again and get it right.

    Also an update – someone built a cairn to indicate the Right turn onto the blue marked Swamp Trail just past the reservoir. Still need to keep an eye out for it, as I still managed to walk past it but that was more me being lost in thought and not paying attention.

    Thanks again!! Happy Hiking.


    1. Jackie Tepper

      Thank you so much for the detailed hike guidance. Couldn’t have done it without you! The trail map was difficult to read so your detailed and thoughtful directions made the hike so enjoyable!

      One small change we’d make is to explicitly say to make a left at the Big Oak in order to get to Buster’s Bend. We went straight at first based on a misunderstanding of the directions and turned around at the Stone House.

      Awesome hike and awesome trail guide! Thank you!!

      1. Mike

        Thanks so much for the kind feedback, Jackie! Sorry you got turned around for a bit, glad you got back on track!

        On Step 26, the instructions currently say “…make a left at the huge tree,” along with a picture of my finger pointing to the left. I just put the word “left” in bold. Is that the right spot? Let me know if not — I want to make sure that same issue doesn’t happen to anyone else.

        Glad you had a great day out there, and thank you for your help to keep this trail guide steering folks in the right direction!

  11. John

    Thanks for the info. This was a great hike. I took a different route ( b/s I got lost). Saw a few wild animals, including a black bear so keep your eyes open!

  12. carrie dykes

    Hi Mike,

    We hike Black Rock often with our 5 year old and this will be the longest hike we try with him. Do you think he will have an issue at all?

    Does this trail lead to the swimming hole?


    1. Mike

      Hi Carrie — This would be a long haul for a five-year-old, but depending on how much he likes hiking (and how much you can help him down the really steep descent on Step 22), it could be do-able. I don’t think he’d have any particular issues with any other parts of the trail, except for the general length — if I’d brought my kids when they were five, they probably would have wanted to be carried for about the last two miles. And there are two reservoirs along this hike, but none in which swimming is allowed. Happy adventuring out there!

  13. Luis

    I just did this hike yesterday with my wife and 1.5 year old son on my back. The directions on this page were excellent, thank you Mike!
    If you’re interested stop at the Northwest corner of the reservoir where you can see tons of Salamanders and Turtles!

  14. Abima

    Great hike, thanks! We really enjoyed it and your directions were spot on. Came across someone else using your website to complete the same hike.

  15. Michelle S

    Thank you sonmuch for this website! This step by detailed step approach is a game changer for my family and I. No more fear of getting lost = more mindfulness and enjoyment in the experience of the hike. Will recommend this site to many and look forward to trying more hikes from this site!

  16. Eero Vaitkus

    The Picassa link doesn’t work (anymore?). Google has been retiring picassa but pictures are available through google photos. I thought they were maintaining the picassa links, but maybe not.

  17. David

    Terrific hike and Mike’s instructions were spot on. Don’t let the elevation gain of 1.000 feet in descriptor scare you, it’s a very low grade and hike felt moderate to easy even with our 9 year old. Wonderful combo of lake views, streams, forest, ridge, lookouts…. the variety (and lack of crowds) make it a great one. Enjoy, and thanks Mike for this resource!

  18. Turbo

    Awesome step by step directions for this hike. I followed Mike’s instructions to the T and it never let me down.

    The unmarked (now white blaze) trail by the cascade for the return loop was one of my favorite parts of the hike so it’s definitely recommended to follow that rather than retracing your steps up past the reservoirs. It offers some great views along the ridge-line but has a lot of loose rocks so just mind your footing.

    We were concerned about doing some of your other hikes with two 5 month preganant women in tow but they did just fine. This hike is pretty moderate and recommended for even the most novice of hikers. As long as you can follow the directions Mike lays out so nicely for you!

    Thanks for all your effort. This website rocks!!!

    – Turbo

    1. Mike

      Beautiful picture, and thanks so much for the kind words, Turbo! Really glad to hear the directions worked out well for you. Happy adventuring to you and your (soon-to-be-bigger by a couple of little people) crew!

  19. Gypsy

    Hi everyone,
    I am so excited going to take this hike on Sat, we are all.looking forward to it. Are dogs allowed on this trail?

    1. Mike

      Hi Gypsy! Indeed, dogs on leashes are welcome here (that’s the default for all of my trail guides, and I give a “pooch proclivity” warning if there are special canine considerations on any given hike). My dog enthusiastically vouches for this hike. Happy adventuring this weekend!

  20. PLN

    Hi Mike and others who have left comments. Mike, my family and I found your site last year and have done a couple of the hikes already and look forward to trying more! You do a great job guiding us, thank you so much.

    We just did Black Rock and I have a few comments on it:
    – Step 4: People should make a right at the sign Morgan took a picture of. You mention staying close to the stream which helped us figure out which way to go.
    – Step 31: Even though you say it again and again how important it is to read the directions clearly we almost took a wrong turn. In your October 2015 update you may want to bold “you’ll take the left fork”. My hiking partner had the directions and misread the earlier part of the sentence and thought we were supposed to go up the stairs and then turn left.
    – Step 32 on – this is a bit tricky this time of year because there are a lot of leaves all over the path making it slippery, also some muddy spots
    – Somewhere around step 32-34 on the no name trail – I kept thinking we may have made a wrong turn but we didn’t. Thereis a spot where people are making rock towers. Snagged a picture for you.
    – Step 34 – some people may want to figure out how to go back to the parking lot here,after this it is more uphill to end the hike.
    – I clocked this at just over 6 miles

      1. Mike

        Hi, PLN! Thanks so much for these updates. I just sat down to go through your bullets and update the trail guide, but I wanted to check on one thing first. For the update to Step 4, are you 100% confident that people should make a RIGHT turn at that sign? If you’re coming over Mailley’s Mill Bridge, you need to veer LEFT to stay near the stream and head uphill toward the reservoir. I’ve never seen that sign that Morgan photographed, so it’s possible it’s oriented in a way that makes a RIGHT turn the correct way to go, but I wanted to check on this before putting it into the guide. Can you help to clear up my confusion here? Many thanks for helping to keep this guide current!

  21. Danielle


    Just wondering if you would know if this hike is okay to do with winter weather. I always hike in the winter with spikes and good gear. I’m just weary of the steep inclines with ice. What do you think.


    Love your site by the way 🙂

    1. Mike

      Thank you, Danielle! The only particularly hairy spot would be just after the overlook (Step 22 above). It is very steep there. If it was impassable, though, you could just retrace your steps from there and you’d still have seen the best highlights of the hike. Huge caveat: I’m giving advice on something I’ve never attempted myself (have only done this hike in warm weather). Sounds like you know what you’re doing, though 🙂

      Good luck if you give it a go!

  22. Dave

    Went out on this hike yesterday and was pleased, and shocked that I hadn’t seen it sooner.

    The directions were spot on, and if you’re going to do this hike, take Mike’s advice and actually read the trail directions prior to showing up. There are a few points in the hike where it gets a little confusing, but all in all, the directions are fairly fool proof.

    The hike is very gradual, and honestly the two toughest parts are right before the summit, which wasn’t too bad, and the final half mile before your car, which isn’t horrible, but at that point I was ready to be done.

    The views are really amazing for such an easy hike. I saw a few people just heading to the reservoir and turning back. Don’t be those people… It’s not too much further to the top, and it’s really a great Hudson River Valley view from up there.

    I did see two small Gartner Snakes, which always freaks me out because I hate snakes, and because it makes me wonder if there are any copperheads around as well.

    Really enjoyed the hike!

  23. Jeremy

    My wife and I use your website all the time and have done about 10 of your guided hikes. We did this hike yesterday and found it to be just what we were looking for. When we reached the top, there were a few other hikers who mentioned that they were using your website as a guide as well. We all acknowledged how awesome your website is and I wanted you to know that we were singing your praises! Thank you for your hard work and diligence on the trails. Can’t wait to do more of your hikes!

    1. Adam Naill

      I can attest to this! I was there with my dachshund. One Brooklynite remarked he thought he had stumbled upon a site no one knew about – haha. Thanks for your dedication!!

      1. Mike


        Thanks so much for the awesome comment! Really, really nice to hear. Wish I could have been up there, too! (And thanks for the confirmation, Adam – hope you and your dachshund had a great trip!)


  24. Anita

    My husband and I went on this hike today. Your directions were perfect and the trail you laid out was exactly what we were looking for – great views, water, 4-5 miles. In particular, your photos and parking lot directions were very helpful. Thank you! I am bookmarking this site for future hikes!

    1. Mike

      Awesome, Anita! Made my day to get this comment. Hope you have similar results with your future adventures! Many thanks.

  25. Adam Naill

    Thanks for a great hike!! I’m trying to send an updated picture for your step 31. There’s now a tree that has a blue ?cloth tied around it. It makes it pretty obvious where to veer left. If you’re interested I can email it to you.

    1. Mike

      Thanks, Adam! You should be able to attach an image directly to your comment (by clicking the “Browse” button right under the comment as you’re typing it). Then I can link directly to that image in the trail guide. Appreciate the offer!

  26. Linda

    Mike – great hike! thanks for the awesome directions – couldn’t have done it without them! As you mentioned this was one of your more complicated hikes, but well worth it and we were able to follow with no problem. Love your website!! Thanks so much for doing it!

  27. Matt

    really nice hike i did 2 weeks ago with my girlfriend and dog. actually ran into another couple who said they were following this guide, pretty cool. didnt see any snakes or bears. thanks for the trail guide!

  28. Phil

    Thanks for the route. I followed your directions this past Monday with my girlfriend. There were others on the trail using your directions as well. Awesome!

  29. Noah

    Hello friend!

    Well after the mess I made on the Lemon Squeezer to Lichen Trail guide, I’m really happy to contribute something I know is actually useful here, even if it’s duplicative of another comment! Posted below is visual proof of Bec’s comment that it’s now blazed with very fresh-looking white markers.

    Part two to note here – again as Bec pointed out – really deserves a new step in your guide. At some point on the previously-unmarked-now-white-blazed-trail, the white blazes follow the newly constructed steps up to the right. Note the guide currently implies this happens at the spillway, but it’s really much further on, maybe 5-10 minutes onto the trail. To stay on your route, you need to stay left on the trail that remains true to it’s unmarked past, not up the steps. I’ll post a picture of that in a separate comment, since I can only figure out how to do one at a time.

    This hike featured yet another recruit for me to the family. 21 now I think. Thanks as always Mike!

      1. Mike

        Noah, my friend! I’ve updated Step 31 above with the information you provided — thanks so much for helping to keep this guide current! Let me know if that update didn’t get the job done. I think we’re in good shape now. Much appreciated!

  30. bec

    Just wanted to thank you for your awesome directions!!!! Did this hike this morning with my 13 year old and we loved it. The few times I’ve been to BRF were from the approach on Rt. 32, so this was a welcome change and a wonderful loop. Thanks!
    FYI–the unmarked trail from the lower part of the reservoir (the trail with the new staircase) is now marked with white blazes until the staircase area. So, when you’re standing on the bridge at the lower reservoir area, there will be white blazes on the trail. People should stay on the unmarked area to follow your directions where the white blazed trail veers right up the steps.

    1. Mike

      Thank you, Bec! I updated the guide above (Step 31) with the information you and Noah (in another recent comment) provided. Really appreciate your help to keep this guide current, and glad you had a great day out there!

      1. bec

        I just did this hike again today and it was still just as good–if not better(!!!!!)–than it was when I did it the first time!!!! Thanks again for all of these awesome write-ups. Your hikes are awesome!!!!!!!

  31. Jake

    I had a great day doing this hike. It was nice to enjoy some solitude on the trails while taking in some great views. Best of all, I did not run into any snakes or bears as others have recently reported. Thank you for the clear and thorough directions on your guide. I couldn’t have done it without them!

  32. Steve

    Just did this hike. Very dry out there. Dog and I ran into a rattlesnake as soon as I crossed the two bridges across from the science center. Be careful!

      1. Mike

        Yikes! And thank you! I will definitely be doing some careful stepping out there. Since creating this site, I’ve heard from people who have seen rattlesnakes here, Schunemunk Mountain, Brace Mountain, Minnewaska, Alander Mountain, Overlook Mountain and Mt. Beacon. They are listed as a threatened species in NY ( – must be a successful program! Seems like they’re feeling much better about things these days.

    1. Tony

      Mike thanks for the site, a lot of great info here. Hiked in the Black Rock Forest today with my dog and a friend. When we made our way up to the overlook on Black Rock my friend started walking to the right when he encountered a Rattlesnake, it rattled and let its presence be known, he backed off and it moved off before we could get some better looks at it. I didn’t even get a good look at it (friend did say it was at least a 3 footer and fat) but I heard him loud and clear from about 20 feet so listen and watch where you step.

      1. Mike

        Dang! Another hiker reported bumping into four rattlesnakes on Alander Mountain this weekend. They’re definitely out and about these days! Thanks for the heads-up, Tony – hope you all had a relaxing day otherwise 🙂

  33. Mike D.

    This summer I’ve hiked lots of the trails at Black Rock Forest. Yesterday my wife and I came across a bear, where Jim’s Pond Road meets the Arthur trail. When we saw the bear, it was about 50 feet to our right, and we continued hiking straight ahead at a slightly accelerated pace. We are very glad that all that happened was a great near-bear story!

    1. Caitlin

      Oh my. I have to admit I now have developed some fear about running into bears on a hike- a few weeks ago, my husband I and started out on a hike on Schunemunk and as we were passing through the meadow to begin the hike, a very large, very fast bear was bounding across the meadow in the direction of the trail. We decided to turn back. I’ve been reading up on what to do if you are face to face with a bear. But, I feel trepidatious now. I have a potentially unfounded theory that if there are a lot of people hiking a bear is less likely to come out because they are sensitive to sound. Any truth to that? Also, does anyone carry bear spray these days or is that just more common when hiking out west with brown bears?

  34. claudette

    I am looking at your points and number 22 – how steep is it, is there another way around it? we have cub scouts from Tigers to Webelows hiking this on June 28th.

    1. Mike

      Hi, Claudette! It is quite steep there, and there’s no other way around it (at least that I’m aware of). That being said, I would think that the kids would probably be A-OK as long as they took their time and carefully picked their way down. Some adult spotters would be helpful, too. I did this section while wearing a baby on my back (I do not recommend this behavior for everyone, and perhaps not even for myself, but it’s a relevant piece of information for this discussion). It is not a sheer rock face – there are plenty of places to put your feet and hands, and you just need to take your time and carefully make your way down.

      Hope this helps, and good luck out there if you give it a go!

  35. Rich

    Did this hike over the Memorial Day weekend and really enjoyed it. Great mix of woods, rocks, lakes, streams, views, etc… And some nice nearby options for lunch after. Thanks again for the helpful guide!

  36. Morgan

    The junction on the unmarked trail. The unmarked goes to the left and the new green trail goes up the stairs to the right.

      1. Mike

        Ha, the plugin that allows people to post images in the comments seems to have some issues with orientation of the thumbnails (perhaps not auto-rotating them the right way?). That’s a bummer, but if you click on the image to bring up the full-size version, it all comes out okay. Or we could stand on our heads to look at the thumbnails 🙂

        1. Mike

          And I just figured out how to fix the thumbnails when they’re upside-down. This one’s fixed now. Yee-ha! Now to root out the rest…

  37. Morgan

    As always, very good directions, I just wanted to comment on a couple of changes I saw along the way. At number 4/5 on your directions there’s a sign for the blue trail that I’m not sure has always been there since it wasn’t in your directions, I’ve attached a photo of it. Then, at 31/32 in your directions for the unmarked trail between the spillway and the red trail, there are new green tape like markers tied around some trees, so I’m thinking they’re planning on marking it, but then you hit a junction where there’s new “stairs” with the new green markers going up that trail to the right but the unmarked trail you reference goes off to the left. I attached that picture as well. Just wanted to give you an update of the trail! Great directions! Thanks!

    1. Mike


      I finally got around to updating the trail guide with links down to your comments and pictures – thanks so much for helping to keep this trail guide current! Very much appreciated!


  38. Antoine

    Hi Mike,

    One more great hike that I would have never known of without your blog. We almost never got lost 😉 and we loved the trail with no name! Thank you so much for helping us to discover our new country!


  39. Simon

    Thank you for the detailed trail guide and helpful stop-by-step directions. My wife and I followed it to a tee earlier today, and we are exhausted! It was a really wonderful hike for us. The only wildlife we saw were garter snakes, but on the descent from black rock mountain, we heard what sounded like an army of turkeys in the creek below. We couldn’t get close enough to see them, but it was really something to hear.

    1. Mike

      That is wonderful to hear, Simon – thanks so much for the comment, and glad you had a great day out there!

  40. Matt

    Thanks so much for your clear, easy, and funny directions. I had a great hike and never got lost, which is quite an accomplishment!

  41. Caitlin

    I just want to thank you for your site. We have followed your directions and they were very helpful. Really useful. Thank you! We did this climb with our 6 year old! Carried him piggy back for some of it but we did it!

  42. Ed

    I passed a couple of hikers who came across a Black Bear in the vicinity of Sutherland Road. They said it was sitting in the middle of the trail/road. They remained calm and still until the bear returned to the woods. Just a reminder that a bear encounter is always possible.

  43. Mr Bill

    I’ve hiked most of the trails in Black Rock Forest (not for a couple of years though) there are 4 different entrance spots I have take each one different look from the others. The main one where you find the sign to black rock forest off of 9W, one about 1/2 mile BEFORE you reach the sign on the right is a small parking lot, then you have two others a few miles away that approach from the west. One is Mineral Springs Falls the falls are gorgeous the hike in until you get to the forest does not have many views. There are so many trails and as mentioned by Mike never really crowded like across the road at Storm King in my opinion much more enjoyable.

  44. Ed

    Hi Mike – I was wondering if you have a hike that includes Mineral Spring Falls, located in the western most part of Black Rock Forest? I’ve seen pictures and it looks amazing. If you don’t, no worries. I will just make up a hike on my own 🙂 Thanks!


    1. Mike

      Ed, this is the first I’ve heard of this spot, but upon doing a Google image search, I agree that this looks like an awesome spot! If you find a good route there, I’d love to here how it goes. Hope it turns out to be a winner!

      1. Ed

        You can park right at a gate on Old Mineral Springs Road. From the gate to the falls is only about 1/4 mile down the White and Teal Highlands Trail….far too short to call it a hike, lol. From the falls it is about a mile to Jupiter’s Boulder, which is sort of neat, but not real exciting compared to the views offered by the other Hudson Highlands hikes.

        By the time the White/Teal Trail meets another trail, you will have hiked 1.4 miles. This means that 2.8 miles of whatever hike you do from there will consist of this segment on the White/Teal trail. I mapped out a hike that would start at the base of the falls and travel to Jupiter’s Boulder. From there it travels to Eagle Cliff and then loops around using Jims Road and the yellow square Ryerson trail (worth noting that the Ryerson trail was flooded the last time I used it). The Ryerson trail ends at the White/Teal Trail which you would take to return to Mineral Springs and your car. This hike would be approximately 5.5 miles. I’ve yet to see Eagle Cliff, so until I try this hike out I won’t know how good it is. I will let you know when I do it. In the meantime, I could recommend taking the short hike to see the falls and then driving to the main parking area and doing your Black Rock Forest Hike 🙂

  45. Ed

    This was a very enjoyable hike. The water level was high enough so that the water flowed down the cascades at the reservoir spillway. It was also a little swampy on the aptly named Swamp trail, so wear the proper footwear 🙂 The white oak tree was magnificent in person. I highly recommend this hike. Thanks, Mike!

  46. Jolanda Blum

    Thanks so much for posting the hike. We followed your instruction last weekend and had one of the most beautiful hike experience. You explained the way perfectly we found everything very easy and it was fun instead of a map using your instruction. If you have done any other hikes like that let us know. We would love to try out more :-).

    Grateful, J

  47. Joe

    Hey – Just wanted to let you know that my girlfriend and I will be doing this hike tomorrow morning. This is going to be our first real hike, we usually just do a lot of walking around the trails here on Long Island. Very excited! Thanks for the help!

  48. Mike

    Thank you for such an easy-to-follow description of this trail. We thoroughly enjoyed the beautiful hiking trail and great views.

    1. Mike

      Mike I,

      I’m really glad to hear that this trail guide was easy to follow — it’s one of the more complicated ones on this site. Thanks so much for the feedback, and I’m glad you had a good day out there!

      Mike II

      1. Beverly


        I have to thank you for your blog-website. It is so great to have your pictures and descriptions online. I make a note to check ur site out before heading into a hike it is so helpful. Especially the long ones.
        thx again

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