Sunday, June 12, 2016

Bluestone Wild Forest, NY - Onteora Lake Trails

Bluestone Wild Forest - NY State DEC

GPS Coordinates 41.98409, -74.08297
Parking lot holds about 14 cars and was almost full at 8 AM.  Upon completion of the hike around 1 PM, people were hovering for a spot.

Bluestone Wild Forest Map - NY State DEC
Catskill Trails Map #146 Inset (2016 edition) - NYNJ Trail Conference

HIKE DISTANCE:  7.6 miles

The trail starts right from the parking lot.
A couple of side trails lead to the Onteora Lake.
There are never any great views of the lake but that is OK because it's already crowded at 8 AM and there is a better lake later in the hike.
The hiking trail leaves to the left here.  There is no sign but...
... a short way in the yellow trail markers start.
A few paths on the right lead to the lake for more quick views.
The trail begins in earnest at the trail register.
I was the first to sign in for the day so the rest of the parking lot was there for the lake, not for hiking.
At the first fork, yellow goes both ways.  Left would be our return route.  We went right.
The yellow trail now goes through a most gorgeous hemlock forest.
I can hike in a hemlock forest all day long.
Apparently so can Shawnee because she was leading the way where she is normally right behind me.
A little bit of a scramble down and that was the hardest part of this hike.  These trails are also used by mountain bikers and they made a detour around this section but Shawnee was able to handle it with a little help.
A huge slab of bluestone.
Mountain laurel in bloom.
Coming up on Pickerel Pond.
This pond is nice and peaceful unlike Onteora Lake but the yellow loop appears to be the most popular so I think later in the day it might be busier here.
This was the cutest thing...
A little baby turtle on a little baby island with a little baby tree.
Heading back into the woods from Pickerel Pond.
All of a sudden you round a bend to find an old upside down car.
At this sign at about 2.6 miles, keeping left completes the yellow loop but we turned right on to red.
Wilderness camping off of the red trail.
At 3 miles the red trail forks.  Left would be our return route; we stayed right.
At 3.3 miles we left red to do the blue lollipop loop.
Lots of evidence of bluestone mining along with trail with massive piles of mine tailings.
A particularly scenic part of this trail follows the edge of a steep cliff.
Continuing right on red at 4.75 miles.
At the top of the red trail we found a nice break spot where Shawnee power napped...
... while I tried to nab that elusive downy who was chirping with a full beak.
Continuing on the red trail.
At 6 miles, keeping right at the point where the red trail split earlier in the hike.  Now retracing red back to yellow.
Coming off of the red trail at the Forest Preserve Parking sign from earlier (this is looking back at the red trail) at 6.5 miles.  Turn right here to complete yellow.
At 6.7 miles, left is where we started on yellow, right is back to the parking lot.
The trail register at the end.  Our entry is the first of the day where it says "1 + 1 dog" - I always include Shawnee.  The 4 after us were mountain bikers who passed us.  As you can see, for the most part, people do the yellow loop and then later in the day so if you want solitude, start early and hike yellow first.
Eastern Kingbird
Heading back along Onteora Lake.
Still new leaves opening up just 2 hours north of the NY Metro area where trees have been in full bloom for a while now.  However, it was also 15 degrees cooler - 65 all day versus the 80 degrees when we left at 6 AM.
Back at the parking lot.


  1. This looks like a nice hike- not too strenuous 😀

    1. I find that I don't have to worry about there being any parts too difficult for Shawnee when we are on trails that also allow mountain biking and she loves them because there are detours around blow downs and ramps! Perfect for old dogs.


  2. I've been missing several posts, kept forgetting whom I was following. I found you again - thank you for your descriptions of your hikes! We hike a lot as well, but mainly stick to 3 - 4 parks, Del Water Gap, some AT, and Harriman being the main one. Anyway, I'm happy to see that Shawnee is well! All the very best,

    1. Thank you! Glad you found us again!

      Daniela and Shawnee

  3. This seems like just the hike we'd enjoy/need doing after an earlier hike that might have been proven more strenuous than we intended. As you said: "perfect for old dogs". I'd add: "perfect for old dogs....of all species". :) P.S. Hugs to Shawnee as always.


    1. Ha ha ha! I thought the exact same thing as I was typing that, LOL.