Pets allowed
Allowed with Restrictions
Elevation Gain
?
Trail type
Loop
Distance
4.00 mi (6.44 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

Taconic State Park is located in Columbia and Dutchess Counties of New York next to the Massachusetts and Connecticut borders. There are a number of advenure opportunities in this 16-mile stretch of the Taconic Mountains including hiking, biking, snowshoesing, cross-country skiing, camping, bicycling, swimming, and seasonal hunting. The hike to Sunset Rock (1,788-feet) is a 4-mile journey that gains 1,100-feet in elevation. This trek begins along side a beautiful and calm creek under the tree cover of pines and northern hardwoods. It climbs up a narrow valley and reaches a mid-point with views overlooking the Hudson Valley to the west and the eastern edge of the Catskills. Plan your day to combine this trek with a short hike down a wide dirt road to Bash Bish State Park and Bash Bish Falls, Massachusetts' most famous waterfall. These two adventures share the same New York parking area, and you will want to plan your visit to the falls outside of peak visiting hours because it gets very busy here. Dogs are permitted on a leash under 6-feet and camping is prohibited. 

Begin at the parking lot on Route 344 that lies a short distance west of the Copake Falls Camping area. Walk west on the side of the main road and over to the stone bridge. You will see a road sign indicating a hiking trail and the blue blazed Cedar Brook Trail leading north and past a gate into the woods. The path leads along Cedar Creek, sometimes hopping from one side to the other, and continues for about a mile over a shallow 12-percent grade dipping and rising along the bank.

This area can be dark in the peak of summer with all of the leaves overhead. The trail makes one final crossing over the stream and leads due north up a steep bank. This section of the trail climbs over 200-feet in just an eigth of a mile. At the top of the hill there is an intersection with the white-blazed South Taconic Trail. Take this path right and to the east over moderately level ground. There may be a sign here indicating the direction to Sunset Rock. As the trail begins to wrap to the north, you will embark on a steep climb that continues for approximately a half-mile and gains almost 400-feet in elevation.

The path will level off at small opening where there is another trail intersection. A sign stands in the middle indicating the Sunset Rock Trail that leads to the left and west onto a trail surrounded by low tree cover and brush. This path makes a slight descent and after about 600-feet emerges to a large rounded rock and expansive views. You may recognize some notable peaks in the Catskills from here including Overlook Mountain, Indian Head, Round Top, and Slide Mountain. It is slightly ironic that this point is called “Sunset Rock” when the park closes at sunset; however, there seems to be some flexibility of the timing. Be aware that your return trek is about 2.5-miles long.

Once you have taken in the views, go back to the South Taconic Trail intersection. If you are feeling more ambitious, you can extend this adventure another mile north to Prospect Hill (1,909-feet) for even better views. Otherwise, take a right and proceed back down the mountain to the south in the direction you came from. Upon returning to the intersection with the Cedar Brook Trail, continue straight on the South Taconic Trail following the white blazes that will take you on a short looped path back to your start point. This path is a much more gradual ascent the steep hill that came up from the creek. Almost a mile south of the Cedar Brook Trail, you will come to some public works buildings. The path will make a right down the hill to the west. Within a quarter-mile you will reach the edge of the Copake Falls Campground. Look for a sharp turn that follows a wide path over a half-mile and an approximately 150-foot descent back to Route 344. The trailhead where you began is across the road bridge, and the parking area is within sight.

Taconic State Park

Taconic State Park is part of a 14,400-acre area that is one of the largest contiguous forests between Virginia and Maine.  Some of the prominent peaks include Brace Mountain, Alander Mountain, and Mount Fray. Other nearby recreational opportunities include the 15.7-mile South Taconic Trail and the 15-mile Harlem Valley Rail Trail, both of which pass through the park. There is also the Copake Iron Works Museum that tells the mining history of this region since the days of the American Revolution. The Northern Taconic map and Southern Taconic map, produced by NYS OPRHP, display some of these points of interest. Copake Falls offers an excellent place to camp in the summer months with large fields, tent platforms, cabins and RV hookups: There are 45 tent sites, 25 tent platforms, 36 trailer sites and three cabin areas for a total of 106 campsites and 18 cabins at this site. Nearby preservation areas include the Mount Everett State Reservation, Mount Washington State Forest, Mount Riga State Park, and the Appalachian Trail corridor. The Catamount Ski Area is also about 13-miles to the north on the state line.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Spring
Summer
Fall

Congestion

Low

Parking Pass

Not Required

Pros

Scenic destination. Scenic stream bed.

Cons

Trail can be very wet and buggy.

Trailhead Elevation

740.00 ft (225.55 m)

Net Elevation Gain

1,100.00 ft (335.28 m)

Features

Bird watching
Wildlife
Big vistas

Location

Field Guide

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