SYNOPSIS: This place has a very different feel to it than many of the hikes in this book. The quaint dirt road you take to get here sets the mood for the hike. You stroll through active grazing pastures on an old farm to a scenic overlook. Along the way, the surrounding fields host artists’ sculptures (in the autumn months), and make for an interesting walk. But I think the highlight event for the kids, or at least the funniest, was when Dad somehow managed to step in a big cow pie.
APPROXIMATE TIME: Two hours.
DIRECTIONS: From the intersection of Route 301 and Route 9 in Philipstown, head south on Route 9 for 3.4 miles. Turn left onto Fraizer Road and go 3/10th of a mile. Make a left onto Philipse Brook Road and go 8/10ths of a mile. Make a right on to Old Albany Post Road. Shortly after turning, there will be a pull-off area on the left side of the road.
THE HIKE: Walk north from the parking area and make a left onto Philipse Brook Rd. A few yards down the road there will be a gate through the fence on the right side of the road. (NOTE: At the request of the property owner, please leave the gates the way you find them. If they are closed, leave them closed. If they are open, leave them open.) Once inside the gate, turn left and follow along the inside of the fence that separates the field and Philipse Brook Road. As you approach the end of the field, another gate will lead you into a second field. Once through the gate, turn right and walk along the stone wall. There were cow silhouette cutouts in the middle of the field. At the far corner of the second field turn left, and continue to follow the outside edge of the field.
When you get to the top of the hill at the end of the second field, you will see two gates (one larger, one smaller) on the right. Go through either gate and make an immediate left. The trail leads down into the woods. When you get to the next fence, make a right to continue to follow the fence through the woods.
You will come to another large gate. There are trail markers on the tree that seem to indicate you should make a left down the old road. Don’t. Go just a few feet further and make a left through a small break in the stone wall. There was a yellow marker on a stone in the path.
Continue walking straight ahead after you get through the stone wall, keeping the field on your right and the tall brush on your left. There is another gate at the top of the hill. Go through the gate and make an immediate right to take the trail that follows along the stone wall.
You will come to a clearing with a large, elongated boulder that is a perfect place to sit. Enough of the trees have been cleared to provide a narrow view to the Hudson River and Storm King Mountain.
My eight year old son pointed out Little Stony Point State Park, which made for a very proud father, one of those moments when I knew my lessons and adventures have had an impact.
For us, this was the turnaround point, but the trail supposedly continues to connect with the Watergrass Sanctuary and leads down to Route 9. I once attempted to hike in from Route 9, but could not find the trailhead.
The hike is basically uphill on the way in, and downhill on the way out, so the return to the car is a lot quicker.
HISTORY: Years ago this farm was called Cedar Ridge. It has been in the Saunders family for a few generations. The farm itself is still privately owned, but the Open Space Institute and the Hudson Highlands Land Trust have owned a conservation easement on the property since 1997.
MAP & ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: I found out about this trail in the 22 Hikes booklet mentioned in the chapter on Arden Point. We visited in November of 2010 which was a perfect time to visit. Spring may be too muddy, and I can image the sun-beaten fields in summer could be pretty uncomfortable. Plus, the late fall offers some of the best views since the leaves have thinned considerably, and the sculptures are still in place. For more info on the sculpture exhibit, visit the Collaborative Concepts website at www.collaborativeconcepts.org. Because of the cows, I would not bring the dog.