Written by Daniel Chazin, Poughkeepsie Journal, link to original post
This 129-acre preserve on the Hudson River in Philipstown is on private land, but an agreement with the landowner allows public access to the four-mile trail network. The trails are maintained by volunteers of the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference, who recently built a new trail to carry hikers away from the residential area and connect with the existing trails. The trail is open, and improvements to it will be made through September. The hike described here is a figure-eight loop that includes the new trail segment and offers spectacular views across the Hudson River.
Location: 1.8 miles north of the Bear Mountain Bridge (2.6 miles south of the intersection with Route 403 in Garrison), turn westward onto Mystery Point Road off Route 9D. A small parking area is on the left.
Time: 2.5 hours
Difficulty: Easy to moderate
Length: Four miles
From the kiosk at the end of the parking area, head south on the white trail. Almost immediately, a blue trail begins on the right. This will be your return route, but for now continue ahead on the white trail, which parallels Route 9D for about a quarter mile, then bears right, away from the road. After passing a connection to the blue trail, the white trail descends rather steeply to cross a stream in a ravine. It turns right and briefly parallels the stream, then bears left and climbs out of the ravine.
The white trail now begins a gradual descent toward the Hudson River, running close to the southern boundary of the preserve. About a mile from the start, the white trail ends at a dirt road. Turn right and proceed north on the road, passing the Manitou Marsh to the left and yellow and red trails to the right.
After passing a brick house to the right and abandoned wooden and brick buildings to the left, you’ll come to a T-intersection with another dirt road. Turn left and cross the railroad tracks on a wide stone-arch bridge. This is an active railroad, and you may see Metro-North or Amtrak passenger trains on their way to Poughkeepsie, Albany or New York.
On the other side of the bridge, turn left onto the blue-blazed River Trail, which parallels the railroad for a short distance, then turns right and crosses a woods road. The trail climbs over a shallow ridge and descends to the river, where it turns left and heads south, following a narrow footpath along a bluff overlooking the river. Use caution, as there are steep drop-offs to the right, and in one place the trail has been rerouted inland to avoid a dangerously eroded section. Soon you’ll reach a spectacular viewpoint, with Sugarloaf Hill to the north and the West Point Military Academy visible across the river.
After following closely along the river for about a quarter of a mile, the trail bears left and heads inland. At a junction with a red-blazed carriage road, turn right and continue to head south on the blue trail, which now runs slightly inland, with views of the river through the trees.
In another quarter mile, follow the blue blazes as they turn sharply left and head north. Soon, the trail bears right and begins to run close to the Metro-North rail line. It then bears left and reaches a carriage road. To the left, the carriage road is blazed red, but you should turn right and continue to follow the blue blazes, which head north along the road.
When you reach a T-intersection, turn right and continue to follow the blue trail until its end at the bridge over the railroad tracks. Turn right, cross the bridge, then immediately turn right and proceed south on the dirt road that parallels the tracks. When you reach the trailhead for the yellow trail, turn left and follow this trail steeply uphill on a rocky footpath. The yellow trail soon levels off and proceeds through an evergreen grove that was devastated by Superstorm Sandy, then reaches an intersection with a blue trail.
Turn right onto the blue trail, which soon descends into a ravine (the same ravine you crossed earlier on the white trail), climbs out of the ravine, then bears left and follows the top of the bank above the ravine. After awhile, the blue trail begins to parallel the entrance road, and it ends at a junction with the white trail. Turn left and follow the white trail a short distance back to the parking area where the hike began.