Fahnestock: School Mountain Road to East Mountain Loop Trail to Fahnestock Trail

Despite the looming threat of rain and thunderstorms, we ventured out today to explore the northwestern part of Fahnestock State Park. Worst case scenario, we would have to throw on our rain gear. Luckily, it turned out to be a nice, albeit, humid and buggy day. Items that saved us today, lots of water, and Badger Anti-Bug Spray. That stuff is amazing. After a few  applications of the spray, the mosquitoes left us alone.

We parked the car at the Hubbard Lodge, and proceeded to look for the start of the trail. We walked around the lodge and didn’t see anything, so we ended up walking down the road and finding the trail markers. The trail starts off with the white blazed School Mountain Trail and blue blazed Fahnestock Trail. The trail is fairly straight, wide and level in the beginning. You walk over a few metal bridges that go over some creeks. We then approached two stone columns that lead to the yellow blazed Hubbard Loop. Jackie and I opted not to do that today, so we continued on the white blazed School Mountain trail. Walking over two metal I-beams across a stream, you continue along for a bit and come to a junction with the red blazed East Mountain Loop. That is the trail we decided to go with.

The 1.5 mile East Mountain Loop Trail starts out easy enough, then goes into an ascent up the mountain. While not steep, it’s a constant gradual climb. It was kicking our asses, and burning my calves. Stopping every few minutes for water, and to catch our breath, we eventually made it to the top. Sadly, the views were obstructed by foliage. I think the best time for this hike would be in the early spring or late fall. Continuing along, we passed by several snakes within a two-minute time span. Little known fact about me, snakes freak the shit out of me. If you are ever hiking and hear someone cursing and running in the opposite direction, it’s probably me coming across a snake. The descent down East Mountain is really nice though, the landscape strewn with rock walls everywhere you look. Abandoned farm equipment is scattered as well. At the end of the trail, where it meets up with the School Mountain Trail and Fahnestock Trail, there is a lovely abandoned house. It was fun taking a few minutes to explore the outside. As tempting as it was for me to go inside, something told me that the house wasn’t in the best of shape.

At the junction you can go north on the white School Mountain trail, or east on the yellow blazed Perkins trail, which we followed until it meets up with the blue blazed Fahnestock Trail. The Fahnestock trail going south takes you to Round Hill, so named for its rectangular shape. You begin an ascent up a hill and come up to the first viewpoint. Again, like East Mountain, the view is largely disrupted by the foliage. Descending down, you then come up to Round Hill. You ascend back up a hill to reach the top. Once there, you are rewarded with spectacular views. Again, slightly obstructed from the trees, but we were able to see West Point across the Hudson River . We sat on a nice rock clearing and relaxed for about 10 minutes, taking in the scenery and tranquility of the day. We then started the rather steep descent. Getting to the bottom you walk parallel to a stream, where there happened to be a duck that seemed pretty freaked out about us walking by, and feverishly worked his way upstream. Finally, we came back to the junction with School Mountain Road, crossed back over the I-beam bridge, and back to the car.

What a great hike. At 7.4 miles, while not the longest we’ve done, it was definitely tougher on us. I would definitely try this one again, either late fall or early spring, and try to take full advantage of the views.

See our recording of the hike here

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