East Mountain to Round Hill Loop

A beaver dam among beaver ponds framed by arching trees above the water along the School Mountain Road Trail. Clarence Fahnestock State Park, New York

Distance: 7.3 miles

Type: Lollipop loop

Difficulty: Moderate

The East Mountain to Round Hill Loop is a beautiful 7.3 mile hike found within Clarence Fahnestock State Park in New York. The loop meanders over one small mountain and then traverses to another before closing the loop, consistently wandering through the old deciduous forest that’s a staple of the region.

East Mountain to Round Hill Loop Description

The trail begins along an old dirt road that wanders through the tranquil forest before crossing a small bridge with a beaver pond on the right. At another small metal bridge the trail narrows into a more traditional hiking trail where the road noise fades away as you head deeper into the woods. A small rushing creek accompanies you on the right side of the trail here. Just beyond you’ll pass an old driveway entrance on the left, descending just after to cross the creek with an old abutment wall on the left. More beaver ponds lie just ahead creating a remarkably peaceful and calming landscape as the old road/trail continues straight toward another creek crossing. From here, the trail narrows just past a junction with the yellow trail as the sounds of water and birds fill the soundscape.

From here the trail begins a quick ascent before levelling out and then crossing the creek once again. It then veers left away from the green trail to continue left along the creek and onto the Red Trail where it will cross the creek yet again. At this point, the trail finally begins ascending up East Mountain after passing through a small meadow.

A small creek winding through a lush green forest along the School Mountain Road Trail. Clarence Fahnestock State Park, New York

A steady ascent brings you up an old abutment wall where you’ll need to look for a steep left turn upward. It then switchbacks to continue up until the trail reaches the summit overlooking a westward view toward the Hudson Highlands. From here, it descends through denser brush where pleasant breezes accompany you as you begin a gradual descent deeper into the forest. Follow the trail over a small creek crossing where you’ll then make a slight ascent upward to continue along old stone walls.

After a short distance beyond you’ll come upon an old schoolhouse on your left, still standing after being deserted for numerous decades. You may even think after looking at it that it could be haunted, but that’s for you to decide.

Follow the trail beyond where it’ll cross another creek at the white trail, where you’ll want to pick up the yellow trail on your left. The loop ascends steeply along rocky creeks from here where it will soon enough become relatively level. You’ll continue easily through the forest as you cross a sluggish creek, followed by another short ascent where you’ll connect with the blue trail at another junction. Follow the blue trail to the right and enjoy some easy walking through the calm and relaxing forest to head up some short ascents as you approach the top of the mountain.

A hiker standing in the green summer forest at the base of the East Mountain Loop Trail. Clarence Fahnestock State Park, New York

You’ll begin descending quickly where you’ll see some expansive views ahead through some of the shorter trees along the trail. Just beyond, the trail straddles a small rocky mound before it drops off of the mound and back into a tall quiet forest. You’ll continue downward at an easy pace where it drops again at a junction with the green trail before it makes one last climb upward.

At this point, the trail switchbacks up and back and forth over a rock slab where you’ll reach a grassy forest on top. The road noise here becomes audible again, but it’s a small price to pay for the grand views of the surrounding terrain. A steep drop follows bringing you back into a denser forest once again, where you’ll then enjoy an easy descent through more of the peaceful forest. You’ll also be able to enjoy glimpses of the highways below as you drop down from a granite outcropping.

A thick growth of ferns lining the Fahnestock Trail on the forest floor. Clarence Fahnestock State Park, New York

The descent picks up a steep pace where you’ll reach a meadow of ferns toward the bottom, rejoining the creek on your left. A peaceful calm permeates the environment through this point where the road noise is easily drowned out. Rejoin the white trail at this point and head out to your left to reach the parking lot.

Getting There

From Cold Spring, head east on Highway 301 for 2.5 miles, turning left onto Highway 9. After only 0.3 miles, look for a right turn and follow that a short distance to the parking area.

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