From the parking area, proceed east for about 200 feet along the south side of Greenwood Lake Turnpike. Just after crossing the highway bridge over Hewitt Brook, turn right onto the Highlands Trail (blazed with teal diamonds), which heads south into the woods and climbs to the top of a hill. Just beyond the crest, the trail joins a woods road which comes in from the left, and the trail...
From the parking area, proceed east for about 200 feet along the south side of Greenwood Lake Turnpike. Just after crossing the highway bridge over Hewitt Brook, turn right onto the Highlands Trail (blazed with teal diamonds), which heads south into the woods and climbs to the top of a hill. Just beyond the crest, the trail joins a woods road which comes in from the left, and the trail descends along the road. When the road bends sharply to the right, follow the teal diamond blazes, which turn left, leaving the road, and continue to descend on a footpath.
After crossing a small stream on rocks, the trail climbs an embankment and reaches the abandoned railroad grade of the New York and Greenwood Lake Railroad. Built in 1876 primarily to serve the recreational destination of Greenwood Lake, this portion of the railroad was abandoned in 1935. The trail turns left and follows the railroad grade, dipping to cross a gas pipeline (when the pipeline was constructed, a section of the railroad embankment was removed). To the left, through the trees, you can see the Monksville Reservoir.
In 0.2 mile, follow the Highlands Trail as it turns right, leaving the railroad grade, and re-enters the woods on a footpath. The trail climbs gradually, passing several interesting glacial erratics (large boulders transported by glaciers), then descends over rocks to cross a stream in a hollow. The trail then climbs steeply up a rock ledge, descends slightly into another hollow, and climbs once more to reach a junction with a woods road Turn left, continuing to follow the teal-diamond-blazed Highlands Trail, which continues to climb steadily, then descends briefly to another junction with a woods road. The trail now climbs gradually, levels off, then descends to cross power lines.
Just beyond the power lines, the green-blazed Burnt Meadow Loop joins from the right. Continue ahead, now following both green and teal diamond blazes. The trail now climbs along the crest of the ridge, soon reaching a rock outcrop with a view over the mountains to the east, and views through the trees of the Monksville Reservoir (when there are no leaves on the trees).
Beyond the rock outcrop, the trail levels off. After climbing a little, it reaches a junction with the green-on-black-blazed Burnt Meadow Spur, which begins on the right and descends for 0.2 mile to Burnt Meadow Road, opposite Camp Shiloh.
After climbing more steeply, the trail comes out on a large rock outcrop which affords a spectacular view over the Monksville Reservoir, with the dam of the reservoir ahead, and the bridge that carries Greenwood Lake Turnpike over the reservoir on the left. This is the only point from which you can see the entire horseshoe-shaped reservoir. You'll want to stop here to take a break and enjoy the view.
The trail now curves to the right and continues to climb to the summit of Horse Pond Mountain (elevation 955 feet), marked by a grassy area and an interesting balanced boulder. There are limited west-facing views from the summit.
The trail bears left and descends from the summit, then climbs slightly to reach a rock outcrop. Here, at a pine tree, the two trails diverge. Turn right and follow the green-blazed Burnt Meadow Trail, which descends very steeply over lichen-covered rocks. The grade soon moderates, and after continuing to descend on switchbacks, the trail turns left onto a woods road. Almost immediately, it turns left onto a footpath (to bypass a wet section of the road), but soon rejoins the road. In another 100 feet, the trail turns right, leaving the road, and descends on a footpath, then turns right onto another woods road.
In 200 feet, the trail turns left, leaving the second woods road, and descends to cross a stream on stepping stones. After a short climb, it briefly turns left to parallel the stream, then turns right and heads west to reach Burnt Meadow Road.
The trail crosses the road at a kiosk and begins to climb gradually. After reaching the crest of the rise, the trail descends gently to reach a junction with the blue-blazed Tapawingo Trail, which joins from the left. Continue ahead on the joint green/blue trail, descending gently. After crossing a woods road, the blue-blazed Tapawingo Trail leaves to the right. Bear left at the junction to continue along the green-blazed Burnt Meadow Loop, which descends to cross Hewitt Brook on rocks. This crossing can be difficult if the water is high.
On the other side, the trail climbs away from the stream and bears right to follow the contour of the hill. After crossing a small stream, the trail begins a rather steep climb to a rock ledge with a limited east-facing view over Horse Pond Mountain. Here, the Burnt Meadow Trail reaches a second junction with the blue-blazed Tapawingo Trail.
Turn right and follow the joint green/blue trail, which continues to climb. Soon, you’ll pass on the right a large glacial erratic formed of puddingstone - a type of rock not characteristic of this area. The trail now descends to a valley, climbs over a slight rise and soon levels off.
After passing a huge boulder on the left, the joint green/blue trail enters a pine grove and begins to descend. It descends steadily until it reaches a T-intersection. Here, it turns right for 50 feet to reach a junction where the trails diverge. Turn left and follow the green-blazed Burnt Meadow Loop, which descends to cross two branches of Hewitt Brook on rocks (this crossing, too, can be tricky during wet seasons).
The trail continues along a dirt road under power lines out to Burnt Meadow Road, passing to the right of a transformer station. It crosses the road diagonally to the right, reenters the woods and climbs to reach a junction with the teal-diamond-blazed Highlands Trail. Turn left, cross under the power lines, and retrace your steps to the parking area on Greenwood Lake Turnpike where the hike began.Publication: Submitted by Daniel Chazin on 04/06/2007 updated/verified on 04/16/2023
This lollipop-loop hike climbs to the summit of Horse Pond Mountain, with panoramic views over the Monksville Reservoir.
Whether you are going for a day hike or backpacking overnight, it is good practice to carry what we call The Hiking Essentials. These essentials will help you enjoy your outing more and will provide basic safety gear if needed. There may also be more essentials, depending on the season and your needs.
Hiking Shoes or Boots
Water - Two quarts per person is recommended in every season. Keep in mind that fluid loss is heightened in winter as well as summer. Don't put yourself in the position of having to end your hike early because you have run out of water.
Map - Know where you are and where you are going. Many of our hiking areas feature interconnecting network of trails. Use a waterproof/tear-resistant Tyvek Trail Conference map if available or enclose your map in a Ziplock plastic bag. If you have a mobile device, download Avenza’s free PDF Maps app and grab some GPS-enhanced Trail Conference maps (a backup Tyvek or paper version of the map is good to have just in case your batteries die or you don't have service). Check out some map-reading basics here.
Food - Snacks/lunch will keep you going as you burn energy walking or climbing. Nuts, seeds, and chocolate are favorites on the trail.
Sunscreen and insect repellent
Rain Gear and Extra Clothing - Rain happens. So does cold. Be prepared for changing weather. Avoid cotton--it traps water against your skin and is slow to dry. If you are wearing wet cotton and must return to your starting point, you risk getting chills that may lead to a dangerous hypothermia. Choose synthetic shirts, sweaters and/or vests and dress in layers for easy on and off.
Compass - A simple compass is all you need to orient you and your map to magnetic north.
Light - A flashlight or small, lightweight headlamp will be welcome gear if you find yourself still on the trail when darkness falls. Check the batteries before you start out and have extras in your pack.
First Aid Kit - Keep it simple, compact, and weatherproof. Know how to use the basic components.
Firestarter and Matches - In an emergency, you may need to keep yourself or someone else warm until help arrives. A firestarter (this could be as simple as leftover birthday candles that are kept inside a waterproof container) and matches (again, make sure to keep them in a waterproof container) could save a life.
Knife or Multi-tool - You may need to cut a piece of moleskin to put over a blister, repair a piece of broken equipment, or solve some other unexpected problem.
Emergency Numbers - Know the emergency numbers for the area you're going to and realize that in many locations--especially mountainous ones, your phone will not get reception.
Common Sense - Pay attention to your environment, your energy, and the condition of your companions. Has the weather turned rainy? Is daylight fading? Did you drink all your water? Did your companion fail to bring rain gear? Are you getting tired? Keep in mind that until you turn around you are (typically) only half-way to completing your hike--you must still get back to where you started from! (Exceptions are loop hikes.)
Check the weather forecast before you head out. Know the rules and regulations of the area.
The Leave No Trace Seven Principles
Plan Ahead and Prepare
- Know the regulations and special concerns for the area you'll visit.
- Prepare for extreme weather, hazards, and emergencies.
- Schedule your trip to avoid times of high use.
- Visit in small groups when possible. Consider splitting larger groups into smaller groups.
- Repackage food to minimize waste.
- Use a map and compass to eliminate the use of marking paint, rock cairns or flagging.
Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
- Durable surfaces include established trails and campsites, rock, gravel, dry grasses or snow.
- Protect riparian areas by camping at least 200 feet from lakes and streams.
- Good campsites are found, not made. Altering a site is not necessary.
- In popular areas:
- Concentrate use on existing trails and campsites.
- Walk single file in the middle of the trail, even when wet or muddy.
- Keep campsites small. Focus activity in areas where vegetation is absent.
- In pristine areas:
- Disperse use to prevent the creation of campsites and trails.
- Avoid places where impacts are just beginning.
- Pack it in, pack it out. Inspect your campsite and rest areas for trash or spilled foods. Pack out all trash, leftover food and litter.
- Deposit solid human waste in catholes dug 6 to 8 inches deep, at least 200 feet from water, camp and trails. Cover and disguise the cathole when finished.
- Pack out toilet paper and hygiene products.
- To wash yourself or your dishes, carry water 200 feet away from streams or lakes and use small amounts of biodegradable soap. Scatter strained dishwater.
- Preserve the past: examine, but do not touch cultural or historic structures and artifacts.
- Leave rocks, plants and other natural objects as you find them.
- Avoid introducing or transporting non-native species.
- Do not build structures, furniture, or dig trenches.
- Campfires can cause lasting impacts to the backcountry. Use a lightweight stove for cooking and enjoy a candle lantern for light.
- Where fires are permitted, use established fire rings, fire pans, or mound fires.
- Keep fires small. Only use sticks from the ground that can be broken by hand.
- Burn all wood and coals to ash, put out campfires completely, then scatter cool ashes.
- Observe wildlife from a distance. Do not follow or approach them.
- Never feed animals. Feeding wildlife damages their health, alters natural behaviors, and exposes them to predators and other dangers.
- Protect wildlife and your food by storing rations and trash securely.
- Control pets at all times, or leave them at home.
- Avoid wildlife during sensitive times: mating, nesting, raising young, or winter.
Be Considerate of Other Visitors
- Respect other visitors and protect the quality of their experience.
- Be courteous. Yield to other users on the trail.
- Step to the downhill side of the trail when encountering pack stock.
- Take breaks and camp away from trails and other visitors.
- Let nature's sounds prevail. Avoid loud voices and noises.
The Trail Conference is a 2015 Leave No Trace partner.
(c) Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics: www.LNT.org.