Joppenbergh is a 500-foot mountain nestled in Rosendale Village that has a unique and wonderful history. The ascent starts from the parking lot off of Hardenburgh Lane and Willow Kiln Park, where you'll see the remains of large cement manufacturing kilns built into the mountain side. This was the site of the D & H (Delaware & Hudson) Canal in the mid-1800s. The discovery of a several-mile long dolostone (a type of limestone) bed during its excavation brought about the foundation of the Rosendale Natural Cement Industry and the formation of 15 giant cement mills throughout the area.
Follow the arrows up a short hill and above the ovens to a kiosk that displays a map of the mountain. Head northeast up the Joppenbergh Trail as it begins to ascend. While there aren’t typical markers on trees, the path is well established and regularly used by mountain bikers. As the trail turns to the west and up the mountain, you will traverse the former site of several ski jumping competitions that took place during the 1930s and 1940s. Several Olympic skiers competed here in competitions that would extend into the summers with slopes made of straw and pine needles covered by borax.
The trail crosses under power lines twice before reaching the summit. At the top, walk south along the ridge through northern hardwoods and catch a glimpse of the Catskill Mountains rising to the west. The trail will drop slightly in elevation as you approach a viewpoint that opens into the Rondout Creek valley. Imagine a time when canal boats brought this precious cement out to the Hudson River and all the way south to New York City to build prominent infrastructures like the Brooklyn Bridge and the base of the Statue of Liberty.
From here, you’ll also get a bird’s-eye view of the Rosendale Trestle, a 940-foot continuous truss bridge constructed 150-feet above the land in 1870. While the line was closed to trains in 1977, it was reopened as a pedestrian walkway for the Wallkhill Valley Rail Trail in 2009 to connect New Paltz and Kingston. From this lookout there is a very steep path down the west side of Joppenbergh to the trail, but most people prefer to access it from the nearby Binnewater Kiln parking lot.
Descend down the mountain to the east to complete the loop. Arrows and signs clearly mark the way back to your starting point.
While the spelling of the mountain’s name is disputed (Joppenberg, Joppenburgh), it has also been called Jacob’s Nose, Jacob’s Mount, and, in an early 18th-century deed, Josenbright. The mountain’s surface is composed of unconsolidated glacial outwash and till that create topography with sink holes, disappearing streams, caves, and springs. While this is a popular escape for local residents, the rich history of this location provides a great outdoor opportunity for anyone visiting the area.