SYNOPSIS: Highlights include a stone chamber near the entrance of the preserve, a natural amphitheater, a vernal pool, a trail that follows alongside a marsh and a second that runs along a ridge. Twin Hill sits just north of Patterson’s Clough Preserve and the far end offer views of Ice Pond.
APPROXIMATE TIME: 40 minutes to hike the loop described, but you could easily spend two hours exploring the rest of the trails.
DIFFICULTY: Easy to Moderate.
DIRECTIONS: From Route 84 exit 19, take Route 312 east for about 1.5 miles. At the traffic light, make a left onto Farm-to-Market Road and head north. At 1.1 miles, just past the wood-panel fence, make a left onto the small one-lane dirt road. There is a sign at the entrance to the road, but it will feel like you are pulling into a private road or someone’s driveway.
Almost immediately, you will go over a small bridge. Shortly after the bridge, as the road turns to the right, there is a pull-off on the left for the preserve. You will know immediately if you are in the right spot, because you should see one of the locally-famous “stone chambers” on the right side of the parking area, though technically the stone chamber is not on preserve property.
THE HIKE: As you leave the parking area to start the hike, there is a swampy area on your left and higher ground on your right. A few hundred feet in, near the edge of the swamp, you will come to the first Y intersection where the trail divides into two appropriately named routes: The path to the left is called the Marsh Trail, and takes you along the edge of the marsh. The path to the right is called the Ridge Trail, and takes you up along the crest of a ridge. (Eventually, the trails merge back into one and continue towards Ice Pond.) From this point, our hike consisted of a counter-clockwise loop, taking the Ridge Trail out and the Marsh Trail back.
We headed right – and up – the Ridge Trail. It’s a cool little path that follows the rising crest of the ridge, but watch small children because the drop-off on the right side is pretty steep. As you get further up the hill, the ridge flattens out and the woods open up with less underbrush.
You will cross over a stone wall and come to another Y intersection. At this point, we got a little lost. The official trail goes to the left but we had stayed to the right, heading a little further uphill. I had been expecting to reach a cleared strip of land for a power line right-of-way, and we did reach it – only considerably higher up the hill than where we should have come out. Nonetheless, our mistake was rewarded with a really nice view of the marsh. There were also a good number of evergreen trees in this area.
We headed downhill on a very steep trail on the right-of-way, and met up with the trail we should have been on all along if we had gone left at the second Y intersection.
With our first mistake fixed, we were still a little confused because we should have been at the point where the Marsh Trail and the Ridge Trail merged back together, but we couldn’t find the Marsh Trail at first because it was late summer and the path was pretty overgrown with tall grass.
There are some nice marsh views on the way back – cattails, dead trees still standing in the marsh devoid of bark and grayed from the elements, and lots of wildlife.
In short order we made it back to the first Y intersection and headed back to the car, taking a peek inside the stone chamber before heading home for dinner.
HISTORY: The 33 acres that make up the Twin Hill Preserve was donated to the Putnam County Land Trust in 1996 by Muriel and David Tishler.
MAP &ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Our last visit was in May of 2010, but we have visited a few times. Pets are allowed if leashed and cleaned up after. For more info and a printable map, visit www.pclt.net.
There are plenty of mosquitos in the late spring and summer so wear bug spray. On the plus side, that same time of year provides abundant fern growth which is very pretty. But like many hikes in Putnam County, I think autumn is my favorite time to hike Twin Hill. One of my favorite memories with my kids is sitting in the back of a pickup truck outside the stone chamber eating lunch after a fall hike.