Photo courtesy Michael O’Donnell, landscape photographer extraordinaire. Thank you, Michael!
Background you can feel free to skip: Our old hiking group used to come to Shaupeneak Ridge once a year, but eventually we stopped. I think the problem was that we came here once during prime mosquito season, and the hikers who still had blood left afterwards decided to take this one out of the rotation.
What a mistake. Shaupeneak Ridge has much to offer, and it deserves a visit from anyone who likes visiting awesome places. Lake Louise, which greets you from the parking lot, is gorgeous, and it really seems like it should have at least one moose standing at the edge of it. This lake looks so much like something that belongs in Maine, I can’t help but scan for a bull moose every time I visit.
If you come at the wrong time of year, sure, there can be a few bugs, but that’s probably also true of your back porch.
This stroll offers a very nice (though not huge) overlook, and some excellent hiking trails beyond the beautiful loop around Lake Louise. If you’re anywhere in the area, you’d be well-advised to come check this one out. And maybe pack some bug stuff, if it’s that time of year. It’d be a shame if this hike didn’t find a home in your rotation, too.
1. Like all of the excellent Scenic Hudson parks, this hike has a great website with a wonderful trail map included. They also have a nice kiosk in the parking area with extra brochures and maps. That’s really all you need, but I’ll provide a quick run-through anyway, on the off chance someone in the universe might find it useful.
2. After stopping by the kiosk and grabbing some info and a map, head to the right of the kiosk down the Blue Trail, with Lake Louise on your right.
3. As you head around the lake, you have an opportunity to go left on the Yellow Trail and then the Orange Trail. I’m sure these trails are nice, but I’ve never checked them out. The Blue Trail has great views of the lake, and this has always been the highlight of Shaupeneak for me. I’m assuming that you’re sticking with me on the Blue Trail in these directions, but feel free to consult the map and wander off for a bit if you’d like.
4. Keep following the Blue Trail all the way around the tip of the lake, enjoying the view through the pine stands as you go.
5. As you venture around the other side of the lake, the trail veers away from the water. Once you’ve gone almost a full lap around the lake, you’ll be looking for a left turn onto the Red Trail. Don’t mistake the Orange Trail for red blazes, like I did. I was several hundred yards down the Orange Trail before I realized my mistake. That wasn’t very smart of me, but I did it, so someone else might, too. Here’s a good way to tell if you’re in the right spot: If you haven’t gone over the boardwalk yet, then you haven’t reached the Red Trail.
The beginning of the Red Trail is very clearly marked. And hopefully, you’re better at discerning red from orange than I am.
6. Very shortly after you turn left onto the Red Trail, carefully cross the road (cars can be going quite fast here) to continue. Enjoy the hilly stretch as you follow the red blazes through the woods. On the Scenic Hudson map, there is a Catskill Overlook coming up on your left. Don’t get too excited, though. The view here is pleasant, but very seasonal. If there are leaves, you’d be forgiven for not noticing a vista at all.
Have no fear: the real money spot is coming up soon.
7. Continue on the Red Trail until you come to a small clearing with some rocks that beg to be sat upon as you take in the view of the Hudson Valley below. It’s not a 360-degree panorama, but this place has a nice, secluded feel that invites you to stick around and gaze awhile.
8. Once you’ve soaked it all in, continue on the Red Trail, which forms a nice loop. Just a few feet after the overlook, you’ll see the White Trail departing to your left. There’s a nice little waterfall down the White Trail, but it’s a long way down. If you’re interested in seeing it, I’d recommend parking in the lower Shaupeneak lot and hiking up from there.
9. Continue along the Red Trail back to the parking lot, once again being careful when it comes time to cross the road.
10. Take one last look at Lake Louise before heading home. See any moose out there?
Directions to the trailhead: From Highland, head north on Rt. 9W for about 8 miles. Turn left onto County Route 16 (Old Post Road). (There will be a small sign for Shaupeneak warning you about this turn.) You’ll pass a parking lot on your right marked “Shaupeneak Ridge”, which would seem like where you want to be, but it isn’t. This is the lower lot; we’re parking in the upper lot. Continue on Old Post Road for just under two miles. When County Route 16 (Old Post Road) splits off to the left, stay straight onto Popletown Road (this turn is well-marked but easy to miss, so drive slow and be careful). In less than a mile, you’ll see the very well-marked entrance to the upper Shaupeneak Ridge parking lot on your left. This is where you want to be.
You can also get directions by checking out the Shaupeneak Ridge entry on the HiketheHudsonValley.com Google map.
Sorta nearby address for your GPS: The intersection of Popletown Road and Old Post Road in Esopus, NY is less than a mile south of the Shaupeneak Ridge upper lot (the well-marked parking area is on Popletown Road, on your left if you’re heading north).
GPS coordinates of parking area: 41.83754, -73.99427 (Clicking will open in Google Maps or the Apple Maps app, depending on your browser/device.)
Related resources: If you’re looking for actual facts and/or useful information, visit the Scenic Hudson Shaupeneak Ridge page. (And if you’re a Scenic Hudson person, thanks for all the awesome parks, dudes!)
More Shaupeneak Ridge pictures from the hike’s Picasa album:
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