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Remote Cliff Forest
Years ago, a trip to Ferncliff Forest provided the final attraction: a fantastic fire house in the heart of the forest, where all the stairs were taken off. I probably still wouldn't know without your panel discussions that a cute new fire station was constructed where the old plague of a death trap once stood.
As far as I know, the old lighthouse didn't get far enough over the crowns to see in all directions. It is so far above the crowns that you can see a million leagues (that's a coarse estimate) in all directions. It is also easy to see the new lighthouse when you drive eastwards over the Kingston-Rhinecliff Bridge.
It must be one of the best sunsets in the Hudson Valley, with the Catskills, the Hudson River and the Kingston-Rhinecliff Bridge, all of which are facing westwards (see the Ferncliff screen at the top of this New York Times editorial for confirmation). If you have never been to the new lighthouse in Ferncliff Forest, you must add this place to your itinerary.
Updatefrom May 2012** In the Trailguide below I list some of the unorthodox trails at Ferncliff Forest. During a recent trip, however, I noticed that the marking of the trails had been considerably enhanced. There is also a new Ferncliff Forest homepage with some good information about the reserve. The place has made some amazing enhancements in recent years - if you have never been, or even if you have, it's visiting Ferncliff.
Thanx to Ed Fetzer, member of the executive committee at Fern cliff Forest, for contacting me with a new remote cliff-trailmap. He also reported that the paths themselves were recently signposted. A lot of hard work and hard work was put into these enhancements - thanks to Ed and all the guys who made Remote Cliff such a great goal.
Update October 21, 2014** According to this statement by alarm wanderer Katelin, there is a building at Ferncliff that is preventing you from finishing the cycle described below. At the moment, it seems like you'd be well advised to just meet the turret and then follow your footsteps back to your vehicle.
When visiting Ferncliff and find that the cycle is passed again, please write a note on this page so I can do that. You will need this card if you want to go one of the paths behind the lighthouse. It' simple to find, but afterwards the marks can become a bit out-of-the-ordinary.
On the next stop, Southond. Notice: If you see on your chart that the South Pound Trail (on which you are now) is highlighted in red, this means "white within a green triangle". It will take you about five and a half hours to get to South Poond, with a hut right in front of you. When you' re here in this hot climate, the little ones will make a club out of the fish.
You will see that the car has a label with the inscription "TOWER" pointing to the right. It can be a little deceptive, as there is a large path to the right of the hut that you do not want to enter. Behind the hut one looks further down the glade, to the right of the lake, where one sees a timber extension.
This extension also has a "TOWER" plate that points to a path directly to the right of the extension. That'?s the North Pond Trail, and that'?s where you're going. Jump onto the North Pond Track and drive a few minute and follow the signs.
You will soon come to a crossroads (marked with an "R" on the map), and you want to turn off onto the East tower trails on the south. You will see another shield for the lighthouse that will let you know that you are still on the right track. Follow the East tower trails uphill for less than ten mins and you will see another landing stage on the right.
Approximately two mins after the extension you will see a small path leading up a bench to your lefthand side and up to the foot of the turret. The only path I remained on was the path leading to the top of the steeple. To watch the sunset behind the Catskills from this lighthouse must be fantastic.
Or, stay with me, continue into the rugged and woolly forest and make a 2. 2 mile-cycle. You stay with me, let's rock on and roll down the control trail and see what happens. Coming from the bottom of the top of the tower, look where the East tower trail enters the glade, as you came in (from the right when you stand on the first level of the top of the top with your back to the steps).
On your lefthand side you can see where the West Tower Trail falls back into the forest. Jump onto the West Tower Trail. There may be a yellowness mark marked "Sunny Trail", although there is no indication of a Sunday Trail on the area. Only a few mins after the "Sunny Trail" mark, you will see a pole with the letters "N" on the left-hand side.
You' ll probably find the track marker's getting weirder. You will reach the well-marked border of the nature reserve less than five min. after you have passed the "N", where you have to turn off to the right to remain on the path and in the nature reserve. Turn lefthand onto the Circle Trail.
Circle Trail is labeled with red-yellow Superman-logo. Recollect, at any junction from here until you can see the pool again (which took me about 15 mins from the sanctuary boundary), always vote Superman. Circle Trail ends at the back of the lake (not directly on the bank, but you can see the rushes ahead).
A right turn takes you onto the Scout Trail for a slightly longer lap, which we will now do when you are ready. Cross the small walkway to take a promenade along the path. Drive over a small glade, with the lake on your lefthand side.
There is a meandering path around this chilly, cabin-like extension, which is equipped with its own fireplace made of stones. Immediately after the shed turn off to the lefthand side at the crossroads and take the path around the lake. Maybe you find the path a little swampy at this point, but you should be able to jump around without getting too slushy.
You are back in the old hut next to the lake. Supercoole Google Earth overpass of the hiking route: Map of the hiking trail on Google Terrain: Further photos of Ferncliff Forest from the Picasa albums of the hike: