Newburgh New York - Don't you love getting your 'sweat-on' in the great outdoors? Well, a short drive from the city you'll find plenty of chances to do just that...
Storm King State Park: is the result of continents crashing into each other over billions of years.
Storm King Mountain, located about 5 miles south of downtown Newburgh New York, is part of the Appalachian Mountain chain.
It's granite mass rises approximately 1375 feet in the air.
Eons of erosion and a few ice ages cut the Hudson Highlands down to size, but geologists estimate that these mountain peaks once reached as high as the Alps or even the Himalayas.
The Native American's called the mountain Pasquaskeck, a large, prominent female formation. The Dutch settlers called it Boterburge, which basically means a lump of butter.
By the mid 1800s, it finally got the name Storm King. A local writer set it down, probably referring to the weather systems that often collide here.
In the 1960s, utility company Consolidated Edison (ConEd) tried to blast away part of the mountain to create a massive hydro-electric power plant. The project would've permanently scarred the face of the mountain.
But local activists organized to fight the project, calling themselves Scenic Hudson Preservation Foundation. They won, and Scenic Hudson has since gone on to be a major player in conservation efforts in the Hudson Valley.
As far as the hiking goes...
Park of Route 9W at the "Freedom Road" historical marker sign. If you're heading south from Newburgh New York, you have to pass this parking spot, get off the next exit and turn around. No left turns.
Once you've parked, get on the orange trail. After a short climb up some fat rocks and passing two stone pillars the orange trail ends. Stay right on the yellow/blue trail. This takes you to the top of Butter Hill, which is actually the highest point of the hike. Heady views all along this.
Watch HD Video of this hike near Newburgh New York...
Continue on the Stillman Trail (Yellow/Blue). You'll meander through laurels and mossy, flat woodlands.
You then reach the north end of the mountain - and those huge pay off views. There's a few places to turn off, but keep going. The last view point is the best.
The Hudson is absolutely grand at Cornwall Bay; over a mile and a half wide. Motor boats and wind surfers are just specks from this distance.
Bannerman's Island, with it's decaying castle ruins, sticks out of the water like a stubborn clump of weeds. And to the right are the rocky slopes of Breakneck Ridge.
The Newburgh New York waterfront, Newburgh-Beacon Bridge, along with the town of Beacon and it's namesake mountain (with the radio tower) are visible to the north.
On a clear day, you can see the Catskill Mountains over 50 miles away.
When you're good and ready to leave this heavenly site, continue on the yellow/blue trail until you reach the white trail. The white trail takes you back to the parking lot.
Resource: For more details, Mike Todd has written an excellent trail guide for Storm King here.
Stewart State Forest: Mountain bikers, welcome to the “holy land.” Possibly one of the best riding areas in the entire North East.
The 6,700 acre property was set aside as a buffer zone for an expanded Stewart Airport just west of downtown Newburgh New York
The idea was to insulate the noise coming from what was then expected to become NYC’s fourth major airport.
Long story short, the airport didn't live up to its expectations. Now we have a huge protected area – 8x the size of Manhattan’s Central Park!
Today, Stewart State Forest is managed by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. It's adored by naturalists (and hunters) for its wildlife diversity.
Amphibians in the wetlands, scores of bird species, fox, trophy deer, and even black bear all call this place home.
But it's best known for it's extensive network of mountain bike trails.
There are over 50 miles of them - some wide, gravelly open roads in the countryside. Others, in endless supply, are screaming fast, highly technical single tracks for experts. (Like the one in the video below. Video credit: XBonze09)
The terrain is mostly flat to rolling - a mix of forests, abandoned farm fields, orchards, and wetlands - with enough hills to keep it interesting.
I suggest packing a lunch, a GPS, and making a day of it. The place is so vast - you can do a 30+ mile ride in one day and not double back on yourself.
Go out with some riders who know the area to find the sweet spots.
Check out the forums at HudsonValleyMTB.com or google the "Fats in the Cats Bicycle Club." See if you can meet up with anyone.
Also, stop by Dark Horse Cycles in nearby Montgomery NY. Owner George Zubalsky and his crew have named many of the trails at 'the zone' and run several races throughout the year. They also sell a laminated trail-map.
Believe me, once you go, you’ll want to go back again and again. There’s so much to explore. One rider comments, "I've been going for 15 years, and every year I find new trails."
*Hunting is permitted in season (late Autumn/Winter) and closed to non-hunting activity for safety reasons.
Photo Courtesy: Pierce Martin
There's a few places to launch your 'yak in Newburgh New York.
One option is to begin at the boat launch near Gully's Restaurant on the north end of the waterfront (via Washington St.).
From this point I would head north and take it to the Newburgh-Beacon Bridge.
However, if you want to explore Bannerman's Castle and Moodna Creek, drive a few miles south on Rt. 9W to Plum Point. Turn onto Plum Point Lane near the Sportsplex. (See it on a map here.)
Plum Point/Sloop Hill Unique Area: This small park sits at the mouth of Moodna Creek in New Windsor, NY. It's been set aside as a 'unique' area because Plum Point is the site of Orange County's first European settlement circa 1685.
There's a pleasant crescent-shaped beach that looks out at the wide expanse of Cornwall Bay. I was there last on a hot July day and there were some families swimming, sunning, and sitting out on the picnic tables.
Launch from the beach. Then, go to your right (south) until you reach the Metro North Rail-Bridge.
Go under the bridge and begin paddling up Moodna Creek. I've read somewhere that the name is a translation from Murderer's Creek. Apparently, some Indians slayed a bunch of European settlers here.
Once in the creek you're confronted with a choice: left of the marshy island, or left.
If you go left, you've got a nice little 15 minute paddle ahead of you, up a narrowing channel. But it's blocked by a stone barrier, so you'll have to turn around.
Stay to the right and take the creek as far up as you can. Once you get to the bridge at route 9w, it starts to get shallow and rapid as the water rushes against you. I wasn't able to get much further than that.
To extend the paddle, turn around and make your way
out of the creek and back to the Hudson River. Pass under the
rail-bridge again and make a straight shot to Bannerman's Castle - a former military arsenal on Pollepel Island.
It's been largely destroyed by time and fire, but is now a protected State land. You can get off on the island, but just be careful, there's lots of poison ivy.
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