The Long Path, aqua-blazed, is an approximately 350-mile trail that begins at the George Washington Bridge and ends in the Albany area of New York. This portion of the trail begins in Gonzaga Park in Highland Mills and traverses Schunemunk State Park. It is approximately 10 miles long and takes you over a beautiful ridge with incredible view that gets higher and higher until reaching Schunemunk Mountain and High Knob.
This route is best completed one-way with two vehicles. Gonzaga has a large parking area with interesting stone structures and walls. Here, at the end of the road, there is a road gate with yellow markers indicating the start of the trail. Travel down this paved path for about a tenth of a mile until the trail leads uphill and into the woods on the north side of the road. There are three markers here: the Long Path (round aqua), the Hudson Highland Trails (white diamond), and the square yellow. (This trailhead is also accessible from Seven Springs Road, which may be more convenient.)
Within a short distance you will reach a lookout that spans the valley to the west. There are several of these vistas as you gain elevation over the ridge. Follow the aqua and yellow trail markers, which at times split for a short distance before rejoining. You will pass by several unmarked trails that intersect this main path.
You’ll continue into the Earl Reservoir Park as you traverse pine trees and blueberry heaths. There is a tall radio tower as you approach the southern boundary of Schunemunk State Park. At this point, the DEC map will help navigate you about the various trails that cover this double-ridged mountain.
Schunemunk is the highest point in Orange County, New York, and reaches 1,664 feet in a small part of the Appalachian Mountain range extending from Maine to Georgia. There are a number of unusual geological features that grace this park that are dissimilar from Storm King and the Hudson Highlands to the east. The megaliths atop this mountain are the most popular destination for hikers and a natural midpoint for many of the trails. They are enormous blocks of fissured bedrock that cracked and lifted at the summit, creating unusual platforms and crevices. They can be reached by extending your route on the Jessup Trail (yellow) and looking for the megalith sign (white-blazed and a tenth of a mile long).
The remains of a compacted seabed form a striking purple conglomerate rock face that will cover this high point of the trail. Some of the round, sedimentary rocks are more than 8 inches in diameter and embedded within a matrix of white quartz and pink sandstone similar to that of Minnewaska State Park and the Shawangunk Ridge. Large boulders left by the receding glaciers over 14,000 years ago are scattered all over this rock face.
Return to the Long Path (aqua), Western Ridge (orange), and Jessup (yellow) intersection and begin your descent to the east, which has a few more climbs as you summit High Knob. Here, there are views to the east over the Black Rock Forest and across the Hudson River Valley to the Hudson Highlands. You’ll make a quick descent with views of housing developments encroaching the southern area of the park. Continue through the woods until you meet the Metro North railroad tracks. BE CAREFUL WHEN CROSSING THE TRACKS! The electric trains move quickly and can be very hard to hear if approaching against the wind. Follow the trail along the wooded edge and down under the train trestle that goes over Route 32. There is a parking area on the east side of the road about a half-mile to the south.