Cape Ann: Stage Fort Park/Headlands/Halibut Point

Every year for about the past 10 years, Jackie and I always go to Cape Ann, MA. It’s been a tradition of ours, and this is the first year we haven’t gone. Until yesterday. We took the 3.5 hour drive north to spend the day there. While not really hiking, we sure did a lot of walking. It might not be difficult, but there is no need for climbing mountains to see amazing views, just a simple walk and you are there.

We started the morning off in Gloucester. It was a brisk 35 degrees, and we expected it to be cold all day. Luckily, we wore our Icebreaker merino wool base layer. Boy did these shirts do the trick. They kept us surprisingly warm with just a light jacket over them. Anyways, starting in Gloucester, we parked on Stacey Boulevard, and walked along the waterfront, passing the famous Gorton’s fisherman, and heading towards Stage Fort Park. Once you get to the beginning of the park, the pavement stops and it’s dirt and grass the rest of the way. You walk up a little hill, head left, and you are at the spot where the cannons fired on the British. There’s a bench on the rocks, and just beautiful views of the harbor, the ocean, and the town. Heading back the way you came, going left brings you up a staircase made in the rocks, climb up and follow a foot path. Normally, you would have to walk back down to get to the beach, but it was low tide so we made it adventurous and climbed down the rocks to the beach. Cross the beach, up another set of stairs built into the rocks, and follow the footpath along the coastline. There are no marked trails, you basically have to follow the beaten path forged by many others before you. I guess there is no right or wrong way to go, eventually you can make it back into the main park. You can just loop back around after climbing the huge boulders, and walk back to the car. All said and done, it was only two miles, not a bad way to start the morning.

After Stage Fort Park, we drove over to Rockport. Stopped and walked on a beach. I won’t bore you with the details of that, it was just walking. On a beach. We then parked our car on Mt. Pleasant St, walked up Atlantic Ave to the start of the Headlands. There is just a sign that says Public Footpath. It is a narrow paved path until you reach the Headlands, where it opens up to beautiful views of Rockport, Bearskin Neck, and the coastline. There are benches to sit and enjoy the views, and if you walk around eventually you will find the footpaths on the other side that lead out to Old Garden Road, which you will continue to walk down, passing Old Garden Beach, and you will find another footpath, the Old Garden Footpath. Turn left to go down this path, between 2 houses, and the follow the path along the coastline walking behind all the houses, being jealous of all the amazing views these people have. When you reach the end, you come out on Marmion Way. Then you can walk back to your car, either by going back through the footpaths, or walking through the neighborhoods. We always go back through the neighborhoods, we love looking at the houses.

Lastly, after walking through Bearskin Neck, and then driving around for a bit, we headed to Halibut Point State Park. Usually you have to pay to park here, but I guess during the offseason it’s not required. You start walking down a wide path under a canopy of trees, and come out to a clearing ahead with the old granite quarry, and the ocean directly behind it. If you go left, there is the visitor center, where they have maps of the park. We skip this, we’ve done it before. We just like to walk around on our own. You follow footpaths and gravel paved paths to go around the park. We went down a new section where you walk through footpaths cut from the brush that head down to the rocks. After getting down to the rocks, we walked across them along the water to an area we call mini Stonehenge. It is just piles of granite blocks that people build into whatever they want, making cool looking structures. We then walk down to the rocks in this one part and sit for a while. This location means a lot to us because it is where I proposed to Jackie over 8 years ago. After sitting for a few minutes, and arguing about which rock I did it on, we got up, walked to the top of the hill to the lookout, where we looked out to the ocean, and the shorelines of New Hampshire and Maine, walked down, and completed the loop heading back to the car.

There are some hikes we would like to do that we haven’t done in a few years, like Ravenswood and Dogtown, but when you only have a few hours, it’s best to keep it simple and just take in the gorgeous views.

View two of the hikes here and here


Fahnestock: Charcoal Burners to Wiccopee Trail to Clove Creek Trail to Fahnestock Trail

Today’s hike was spent enjoying another beautiful fall day. In my quest to hike every trail in Fahnestock, I knocked another two off the list. Only a few left to go.

Parking on Route 301 on the westbound side is the start of the trail for Charcoal Burners. Follow the Red blazed trail all the way to the end. It’s a fairly narrow, level trail, until you reach Beaver Pond. Once you go past Beaver Pond you begin to ascend to the top of the hill. Once at the top of the hill there’s a nice opening where you can look out to the surrounding hills. Continuing on you come to the end of Charcoal Burners and join up with the blue Wiccopee Trail.

When you join up with the Wiccopee Trail, it is mostly a downhill trail. If you look at the pictures below you will see Jackie posing up on a rock. It was right after this picture that she slipped and fell on her ass. No hiking trip is complete without Jackie falling at some point.

On the Wiccopee Trail you come to the white blazed Clove Creek Trail. This trail is much like the others, just a simple walk through the woods. We then joined up with the blue Fahnestock Trail. There were a few points on this trail that were hard to follow, due to the fallen leaves and some missing trail markers. We found our way thanks to a freaky flock of birds that seemed to number in the thousands. They kept flying to the next point, and as we approached they would take off in a thunderous roar of flapping wings. We finally went in another direction and eventually met back up with the Charcoal Burners Trail.

While not challenging, this was just one of those perfect hikes. Beautiful weather, quiet, relaxing, and good company. All combined, those make for a great hike.

See the map of our hike here

Fahnestock: Old Mine Railbed to Charcoal Burners to Three Lakes Trail

What started as a morning being completely exhausted turned into an amazing day hiking. We were sitting around eating breakfast, trying to decide what to do with our afternoon.  It looked like it was shaping up to be a beautiful fall day, so we didn’t want to be cooped up in the house, and we didn’t want to spend it doing yard work. Yuck. So, what other option is there? Taking a hike, of course! Asking Robby if he would want to go hiking with us, his eyes lit up and he said “Now?!” Yes, now! We quickly got ready and had to figure out where to go. Since Robby has only done a couple of hikes in his young life, we didn’t want to do anything too long. One of our go to hikes has been Charcoal Burners to Old Mine Railbed to Three Lakes Trail in Fahnestock. The loop we typically do is about 4.5 miles, so that’s too long, but luckily there’s so many possible variations, we managed to tweak it so it could be about 2 miles. Using my Avenza map app, I was able to calculate how far the hike would be before starting it. This time around we would do Old Mine Railbed to Charcoal Burners to Three Lakes Trail. The plan sounded good we so we set out.


To start at the yellow blazed Old Mine Railbed Trail, go down Dennytown Road and turn onto Sunken Mine Road, which is a treat to drive or walk anytime. There is a little parking area opposite of the trailhead. When you start on the trail, you are walking along the eastern shore of the John Allen Pond. A heavily wooded section, you are greeted with beautiful colors from the changing leaves this time of the year. A lot of trees have lost their leaves at this point, so you get glimpses of the pond through the trees. You ascend slightly, climbing up some rocks. This was the most difficult part of the trail for Robby, as was coming down because you are walking over lots of rocks, but he was pretty confident of himself, constantly reminding us that “I’m a very good hiker”.

After you descend the little hill, you can take a little side path through the rocks to walk out to the water. This is a nice place for contemplation or a snack break.

Walking back onto the trail, you walk along the mysterious property of the Orentreich Foundation with the tower amid the open fields. After this you come to a 90 degree right turn, and continue along the Old Mine Railbed.

This part of the Old Mine Railbed is a wide trail, that is flat and very easy to walk. Robby was enjoying picking up acorns and “planting trees” . Enjoying it a little too much. He had to stop every two feet. Finally, he just picked up a stick and used it as his pointer to point us in the direction of all the trail markers he found. A little bit of excitement occurred as I was about 1 inch from stepping on a snake, and both I and the snake fled in separate directions. Robby enjoyed looking at the snake though. About halfway through this part of the trail, you come to the intersection with the Charcoal Burners trail. It is here where we turned right and began following the red blazes.

Back to a narrower trail, you go slightly downhill, while crossing over a small stream where you might be lucky like we were to see a frog swimming through the water. A slightly tricky part of the trail is a zigzag where some trail markers seem to be missing, making it hard to see where the trail is. If you find it, you will see some rock formations that some people built, including an arrow pointing the way made out of rocks. You are only on the Charcoal Burners Trail in this section for only about a quarter of a mile, as it terminates when it meets up with the blue blazed Three Lakes Trail.

Turning right onto the Three Lakes Trail, you wander through the remnants of the John Allen Homestead, with the footprint of the cellar visible, and bricks in the ground. As you head up towards the lake, the trees start to clear, thanks to the handiwork of the beavers, who have cut a lot down. You walk along the lake, with the beaver huts visible in few different locations. You then come up to the dam which has been breached, this time of year the waterfall has slowed to a trickle. Crossing over the now little stream, you head up a hill, where you arrive back at Sunken Mine Road. Turning right will bring you back to the car.

Overall the hike was 2.2 miles. Robby kept up really well, and was able to traverse most of the terrain easily. We now know that we can take him on more hikes. Most importantly, he is learning to appreciate the outdoors. His enthusiasm for spotting things in nature, his stopping to explore, allows us appreciate our surroundings even more. Things we miss, or just take for granted, excites him so much, it gets us excited.  It also gets him off the couch, away from the TV or tablet, and out of the house, which I don’t think enough kids do these days. Hopefully the seed has been sown, and one day he can bring his kids on hikes.


See the map of the hike here

Hudson Highlands: Breakneck Ridge

Breakneck Ridge. Named after all the broken legs that have occurred climbing to its peak. The crown jewel of hiking in the Hudson Valley. Home to upwards of 1,700 visitors on its busiest days. That last little tidbit is the main reason why we have stayed away for so long. Going hiking should be peaceful, a way to escape the crowds. But if you come here on a weekend during the summer, that is what you will encounter. We’ve been pushing this hike off for a couple of reasons, one is the crowds, and two is just making sure we were actually able to complete what is a difficult hike. Starting January 1, 2018, Breakneck Ridge will be closed, for at least a year. I’m not waiting until 2019 to hike this thing, let’s do it now. So we did.

We timed our visit perfectly. An abnormally hot day in the fall on a Tuesday. We beat the crowds, still ran into more people than we like, but we survived. After travelling north on Route 9D, as soon as you exit the tunnel which travels under the mountain you are about to climb, we pulled over and parked on the right side shoulder, just before the Entering Dutchess County sign. Cross the street to hit the trailhead. There is a parking lot on the southbound side as well. When you reach the trailhead, there are signs warning you of the difficult trail ahead, ascending 1,250 feet in 3/4 of a mile. Bring it on. You start climbing up, and immediately are rewarded with views of Storm King Mountain and the Hudson River. Take in the views now, because in a minute you are going rock climbing. You scramble up the rocks, and then it gets tricky.  You have to constantly check for footholds and hand holds, and it’s a pretty steep climb. Jackie had some difficulty. Normally, she’s very flexible. But when it comes to lifting her leg up a foot to climb a rock, suddenly she can’t do it. I thought I would have to leave her behind. Luckily, there are spots here and there where you can rest. There was a small group ahead of us, and we had to keep stopping to wait for them to climb farther. It allowed us to stop, catch a breather, and look out over the Hudson. I can only imagine what it would be like if there were 100 people ahead of us and behind us. Nevertheless, you reach the first scenic overlook.

The first scenic lookout is a nice place to stop and sit. The American flag, views of the Hudson River, Bull Hill,  Storm King Mountain, Bannerman Island… It doesn’t get much better than that. You could sit there all day. But you need to get down eventually, and the recommended route is forward, so forward we went. Again, it’s more rock climbing. When ascending, you are given the option to take the easy ascent or the hard one. We chose the hard one. It was challenging, but not much more difficult than the first climb. Unless you are Jackie. Because then you will slide down a rock on your stomach headed for a cliff. She had a look of fear, I had a look of amusement.

The group we were trailing stopped and enjoyed the views from the second lookout, so we took that opportunity to pass them and leave them behind. The trail here somewhat levels out for a bit, and is just a little walk through the woods. That’s short-lived as you approach another climb to get to the third lookout. Again, you are given a choice to take the easy or hard way. Hard way it was. After the third lookout, you head towards the summit. The fourth area is the summit, which is still very nice, but doesn’t have the grand views of the rest. It is here you have some options. You can go left on the red trail which is the Breakneck Bypass trail to head down, or continue on the white Breakneck trail, which will eventually take you to the Mt. Beacon fire tower. We stayed on the white trail, which joins up with the blue Notch trail. This part of the trail is heavily wooded, and didn’t seem to be as heavily trafficked.

Arriving at a junction with the yellow trail, you can still continue on the white Breakneck trail, or go left to the yellow Wilkinson Trail. We went left, which will take you back to Route 9D. This also is a nice long walk through the woods, and then another ascent up Sugarloaf Mountain. Another steep descent with lots of loose rock makes it tricky, but it ends with a nice fairly wide trail that steadily descends back to the road.

This hike was a blast. With all the rock climbing, this hike is definitely a full body workout. My legs were used for climbing, my arms for pulling Jackie up because she had trouble. It was difficult, but not impossible. Despite our apprehensions, we would definitely do it again when it reopens, although we would probably stick to the quieter times of the week and year. I would like to try to make it to the Mt. Beacon fire tower via this trail. Looking forward to many more future hikes here.

Fahnestock: Catfish Loop

After a few weeks of no hiking due to life things, I managed to get back out on the trails this morning. Jackie was away on a business trip, Robby with the grandparents, so I invited the next best thing, my buddy Josh. We had a little bit of a time constraint, so I figured let’s do the Catfish Loop in Fahnestock. It’s nice, it’s moderately easy, and doable in 2.5 hours or so.


Parking on Dennytown Rd is usually spacious, but for some reason there were about 20 cars parked there around 7:30AM, and it seemed like a large group camping across the street. I managed to squeeze into a space, and away we went. The Catfish Loop Trail begins with 3 trails joining up. There’s the beginning/end of the Catfish Loop and the Appalachian Trail. We went left up the Catfish. It’s a heavily wooded trail that goes gradually up. This time of year leaves have begun falling, so at times it is a little difficult to follow the trail. About a mile or so in you meet up again with the Appalachian Trail, then another half mile you cross the Moneyhole Mountain Trail (read about that hike here). We didn’t deviate from the Catfish this time, we stayed on it for the whole trip. Not long after that junction is the only view on this trail. You arrive to these large boulders that you have to walk in between to continue on the trail, but if you stop and look straight across, you can see across the Hudson to Storm King Mountain, that is if there isn’t fog or a cloud obstructing your view. I climbed one of the boulders to get a better view; it wasn’t much better though.

This was also a nice spot to stop and have a beer. Because that’s what you should do at 9 in the morning while hiking before you eat breakfast or even had your coffee. Beer.


After our little beer break, we continued along. I told Josh it was downhill the rest of the way, and boy was that a lie. It started downhill, but then you come to the “steepest” climb of the trail. I say “steepest” because it isn’t that bad, but when you haven’t hiked for a few weeks and just drank beer on an empty stomach, it’s a little difficult. We survived and chugged along, following the trail which goes along the property of the Taconic Outdoor Education Center, which is an education center outdoors in the Taconic region. We then crossed the junction with the Moneyhole Mountain Trail, and I knew we were close to the finish line. Off in the distance, we heard what sounded like creepy children singing, and smelled campfire. As we got closer, it smelled more of incense than campfire, and it wasn’t children, but a bunch of women. Chanting. In a strange language. Holy shit, we just stumbled into a gaggle of witches, or herd, or flock, not sure what it’s called. That explained all the cars. Moving right along, we got back to the car before we were turned into frogs or thrown into some stew.

Catfish Loop is a nice hike. It contains easy parts, with some moderate climbing sprinkled here and there. While lacking amazing views, it more than makes up for it in tranquil surroundings. This is the hike for you if you are looking for a nice quiet adventure. That is until you reach the camp of creepy as shit witches.

Michael Ciaiola Conservation Area

After dropping the little one off at his first day of preschool, we drove over to Patterson, NY to the Michael Ciaiola Conservation Area. This hike has popped up on my AllTrails app periodically, and we have passed it when driving to Connecticut. On AllTrails, it is rated as hard and a 5.4 mile loop. Seems promising, huh?

Parking at the lot on Haviland Hollow Rd, we were the only car there at about 10AM. There’s a sign welcoming you to the area, with various warnings about ticks, hunting, etc. The trail map holder was empty, and it said to take a picture of the trails on the board. I started up the AllTrails app to start recording and we began.


We started by following the red blazes, and only about 5 minutes in we got “lost”. Suddenly, we came upon green blazes. Not sure where they led, we started following them, and about another couple of minutes we realized that this wasn’t right, and turned around. Between AllTrails and the picture of the trails, we concluded we weren’t on the right trails at all. It turns out we ventured into the Great Hollow Preserve. But hey! I found a cool stone marking the NY/CT border. OK, let’s go back and find where the correct trail is.

Finally,  we found the red trail blazes off to the side. They were not clearly marked on the main trail. And they weren’t just red blazes, but red with white triangles, which was totally different then the solid red blazes we started following. This was just the beginning of the confusing times we had during the hike. After going on the trail for a bit, you come to an old campsite. A little shelter and an open area with a fire pit in the center lead you to the highlight of this hike. The gorge and waterfall are really nice, and makes for an excellent relaxing spot. Moving along, you follow the stream and come to a very sketchy bridge that takes you over the stream. After not falling to our deaths we continued along to the orange trail, or maybe red, or yellow, I’m not really sure, because there was so many different colors going all over the place we were confused. We just followed what AllTrails was telling us to do, and even that didn’t seem to sync up right with the actual trails.

After crossing the stream, you head up the hill to the top. This is the hardest part, but still not all that hard. It isn’t steep, just a steady incline. Once at the top, you have a nice view. Moving along, you follow the trail to another color trail for a bit, and then maybe another color. Eventually, you are on the orange trail, which is named the George C Cain Trail in honor of a local New York City firefighter who perished in the September 11 attacks. When you reach the summit of this hill, there’s a clearing with two tree stumps made into chairs, which I did take a picture of, but Jackie was sitting down on one and looked like she was going to the bathroom so she made me delete it. There is also a memorial for George Cain that you can look at while gazing upon the views behind it. Working your way back down, there’s more multicolored trail markers going in different directions and we still weren’t sure which was the right way to go, but we eventually made it back to the sketchy bridge, traveled back to the waterfalls and gorge, and then finally back to the parking lot, which had about 5 cars total in it.

This was not one of our favorite hikes. The confusing trail markers and trail map designed by a 10-year-old weren’t much help. If we were to do this again, it would be just to take the 20 minutes to walk to the waterfalls and gorge and then turn around. In my opinion, there are too many trails in a small area, with too many offshoots and connectors, it felt like we were just passing the same trail markers over and over. If I didn’t have AllTrails, I would have thought we were walking in circles. I’d only recommend this hike to others to see if they share the same thoughts as us. Maybe we are just stupid. Oh well, we’re ready to take our next hike!

Constitution Marsh

We had the day off today with Robby and wanted to do a little hike so we trekked on over to Constitution Marsh in Philipstown, NY. It’s an easy 1.2 mile out and back trail, good for a lazy day, or a hike with young children. Parking is at Warren Landing Rd and Indian Brook Rd. A word of warning, there are only 8 parking spaces available, and if you park along the streets, you will be towed.

After parking, you walk down a gravel road that has private houses along it. At the bottom, you arrive at the visitor center. Going right brings you onto the start of the trail. After crossing a little bridge, you walk through the woods. It is fairly level at first. It then goes up rather steeply, with rock steps to the top of the hill. You have views through the trees of the Hudson River. There’s a nice little wooden bench at the top to sit and take in the limited views. You descend down the hill and arrive at the boardwalk.

The boardwalk takes you though the marsh. Walking amongst the cattails, there are signs talking about the different inhabitants of the marsh. There are beautiful views of West Point across the river and Storm King Mountain.

Overall, a nice quick walk. It was very easy for Robby to do, he had fun, and so did we. Not having taken a hike in a couple of weeks, it was nice just to get out and do something. We will gladly go back.

Hudson Highlands: Bull Hill

I was using Alltrails last night trying to figure out what hike we could do this morning. I was looking for something that would be in the 3-5 mile range, and wasn’t too far away as we had to be home by a certain time. Stumbling across the Cornish Estate Loop, I looked through the pictures, and there were some nice ruins. I’m a sucker for ruins. It was only 5.3 miles, so it seemed perfect. We got way more than we expected.

The Hudson Highlands State Park is known for Breakneck Ridge, by far the most popular hiking destination in the Hudson Valley. We haven’t hiked it yet, but know that it gets pretty busy. We arrived at the trailhead for the Washburn Trail around 8:45AM on Route 9D in Cold Spring, noticing there were already a few cars there. There are signs for the Bull Hill Loop, Cornish Trail, and the Washburn Trail. We went right for the white blazed Washburn Trail. The trail starts out well manicured, with a gradual ascent. We bumped into a deer 3 minutes in, a foot off the trail. The trail starts to get a bit rockier, still moving up. You enter a clearing then continue right. This is where it starts to get tough, but rewarding. You walk along the ridge, and through the trees you get glimpses of the Hudson River. It becomes a steep, rocky climb, while challenging, but not overly difficult. The first viewpoint looks out over Cold Spring and the Hudson, with West Point in the background. Continuing upward, you reach the summit of Bull Hill. The views are absolutely gorgeous.

Leaving the summit, you start working your way down which is very easy. You meet up with the blue blazed Notch Trail, continuing north then west. Another junction is less than a mile away, so we headed south on the red blazed Brook Trail. You are on this trail very briefly, when you meet up with the blue blazed Cornish Trail. The 1.4 mile Cornish Trail is very easy. You are still descending but very gradually. Walking through the woods you start to notice some old foundations and stone structures. There is a garage that has just the skeletal remains of the roof, and right past that is the old Cornish estate. Like I said above, I’m a sucker for ruins. These did not disappoint. Jackie and I were able to imagine what a beautiful home it once was. Stone walls still stand, three-story chimneys rise up all over. It was fantastic, and we enjoyed spending some time exploring through them. Finally, we continued to the end, which was by far the easiest, you walk down the paved driveway of the estate.

Picking this hike, I didn’t know we were in for some amazing views. I would have been happy with just the ruins, so the views blew me away. This so far might have been our favorite hike. We loved almost everything about it. The one downside is the amount of people who go through here. We ran into a bunch of large groups of people, more than we have seen on probably all of our hikes through Fahnestock. When we got back to the car, there had to be hundreds of cars along Route 9D. In the future, I would probably try to stay away from these trails on the weekend, but if I had to, I would still go early like we did today. Maybe earlier.

Click here for pictures of what the Cornish Estate used to look like.

Visit Alltrails to see the recording of our hike

An Evening in Fahnestock

It was Sunday. I got a text from my friend Josh. He wanted to know if I wanted to take a hike Tuesday evening. Sure, I usually don’t do anything Tuesday evenings, and I haven’t done an evening hike yet. Josh was fresh off a trip to the Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, Zion National, basically a bunch of places that made me jealous. With limited time, I figured we could do part of the hike that Jackie and I had done not too long ago. The view is out to the west, and maybe we can get a nice sunset in.

Parking at the Hubbard Lodge, we walked around the lodge past the butterfly garden for a quick walk through the woods to meet up with the white/blue blazed School Mountain Road/ Fahnestock Trail. Passing over a couple of steel plate bridges, you come up to the junction with the Hubbard Loop. Jackie and I didn’t do this part the last time, so Josh and I took it.

Passing through the stone pillars, you follow the yellow blazed Hubbard Loop. The trail is easy to travel over. It’s fairly wide and level, passing through stone walls. Remnants of the Hubbard estate are evident all around, from the stone walls, a root cellar, miscellaneous pots and pans strewn around.

Getting back onto School Mountain Road, you come up to another newish trail, the Round Hill Bypass trail. There is a Round Hill bypass trailhead on Route 301, but they extended it to meet up with School Mountain Road. Being pressed for time, we took the bypass. It’s a gradual ascent up to the bottom of Round Hill.

Finally, you come up to Round Hill, taking the blue blazed Fahnestock Trail up to the summit. At the top, you get wonderful views of the West, across the Hudson to West Point. The sun was just beginning to set, so we hung out for about 10 minutes, then began our descent. The lower we got, the darker it got. It was getting tough to see, but we managed to find our way back.

I never really thought about taking an evening hike before, but I have a feeling there will be some more of these in our future.

See the recording of our hike here

Fahnestock: Catfish Loop to Moneyhole Mountain to Chimney Top Trail

Today felt like a fall day. About 60 degrees, overcast. Not typical July weather. But it was a good day for a hike. It was cool, albeit a little muggy. The chance of rain didn’t stop us either. Looking for trails Jackie and I have not yet done in Fahnestock, we decided on the southwest corner that contains the Moneyhole Mountain Trail and Chimney Top Trail. Driving down Dennytown Road, just past Sunken Mine Road, on the left you come to a clearing where you can park. The Appalachian Trail runs through here, and that is where we started.

Crossing the street, you see the trailhead for the Catfish Loop. The first few steps of the trail are technically the Appalachian Trail, but then you come to a junction where you have a few options. Going straight keeps you on the AT, to the left starts the Catfish Loop, and to the right is also the Catfish Loop. We went right this time. We’ve done the whole Catfish Loop previously, and since we wanted to do the Moneyhole Mountain trail, we went right which eventually leads up to the Moneyhole trail. Crossing over a rock wall, you follow the red blazed Catfish Loop west. It’s a slight incline, with narrow, rocky paths, and continues that way until you reach the top where it opens to a clearing and comes to the yellow blazed Moneyhole Mountain Trail.

When you arrive at the junction, head south on the yellow trail. Walking along here was fairly level, and wider paths. This part was a nice leisurely stroll, which is surrounded on both sides by what to us looked like blueberry bushes. See the picture below and let us know if you think it’s safe to eat. We did come across some bear scat, and what appeared to be a paw print, so we remained on high alert. Fortunately and unfortunately we didn’t come across anything. Looks like a bear horn might be in order soon.

You then come to another junction that crosses with the Catfish Loop. Stay with the yellow trail. Walking along, we noticed something pretty cool. It is heavily wooded, and then comes to a rock wall. Once at the wall it turns almost into a pine forest. It felt like a totally different trail.

Finally, you reach the white blazed Chimney Top Trail. From here, it’s a half mile hike to top. Arriving at the top, you walk into a clearing with a chimney just standing by itself. The chimney is a supposedly the remnants of an old estate that burned down in the 1960’s. Looking out to the west, you can see Storm King Mountain across the Hudson. We spent a few minutes here just relaxing, enjoying the view. afterwards, we headed back down the way we came to head home. We joined back up with the yellow trail until we came back to the Catfish Loop junction.

When we got to the Catfish Loop junction, we went right to take us back to the car. The trail returns to being narrow and rocky, going mostly downhill. In about a mile and a half, you reach the junction with the AT and the Catfish Loop that we started on, so we headed back out to the road. Another fun hike was in the books.

See our recording of the hike here