Schunemunk Mountain is the highest point in Orange County, New York and reaches 1,664 feet. It is part of Shunemunk State Park, a name of Algonquin origin meaning "excellent fireplace” and a small part of the Appalachian Mountain range extending from Maine to Georgia. The white-blazed Trestle Trail is a 1.7-mile climb to the western ridge of the mountain with views that reach north to SkyTop Tower (in the Mohonk Preserve) and the Catskills. From this summit, you can continue on a looped path for approximately 8 to 12 miles that traverses the entire mountain top with vistas in almost every direction.
Parking at the trailhead is off of Otterkill Road and located directly under the long and scenic Metro North train trestle that spans the valley. (The closest train station is Salisbury Mills-Cornwall to the north, which is serviced by New Jersey Transit trains.) From here, you will begin a steep ascent along the northern face of the mountain. Your first intersection will be with the Otterkill Trail (red blazes), which runs adjacent to the railroad tracks. The Trestle Trail continues uphill, to the right, over steep and rocky terrain.
You approach your first lookout point after gaining a few hundred feet in elevation. Here there is an artistic, handcrafted wooden bench in a small, cleared area where you can rest and catch your breath. The trees here will block most of the views looking down into the valley, but you can still see the dark contrast of the mighty Catskill Mountains breaching the horizon. After this point, you’ll have one more vista until you reach some of the other trails at the top of the ridge.
Upon reaching approximately 1,400 feet you will intersect the red-blazed trail, followed by the Western Ridge Trail. Take the orange-blazed Western Ridge Trail left and to the south on this path that doubles as an entry point to the aqua-blazed Long Path. The Long Path is an approximately 350-mile trail that begins at the George Washington Bridge and ends in the Albany area of New York. You can keep following this trail for a few miles until it connects with the yellow-blazed Jessup Trail, or you can take a short cut on the blue Ridge-to-Ridge Trail through Barton Swamp and a damp microclimate that’s a contrast from the pitch pines and blueberry heaths at the rocky summits.
Make your way north along the Jessup Trail and look for the signs to the megaliths just a tenth of a mile away. Sometimes the overgrown trees and faded paint on the rock floor make this trailhead hard to find. These enormous blocks of fissured bedrock cracked and lifted at the summit, creating unusual platforms and crevices. Don’t miss this highlight of the park! Also notable are the remains of a compacted seabed that form a stark purple conglomerate rock face. 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.
Return along the yellow Jessup Trail and make your descent back down the Trestle Trail or remain on the Jessup Trail, which leads down the Baby Brook and the red Otterkill Trail, leading north back to your starting point.