Ulster County, NY
From New Paltz, take Route 299 west 5.5 miles. Turn north (right) on US 44; go 1.4 miles to Trapps Bridge, where US 44 passes underneath the old carriage road. Park on the south (left) side of the road.
takes you along the brink of the escarpment, 1000 feet above the floor of the Great Valley and out to a sharp promontory of rock, Gertrude's Nose. Great views from Gertrude's Nose.
Walk southwest (over the bridge and to the left) along the carriage road about 1 mile.
Go south (left) on the blue-blazed trail, passing through a forest that began to grow up in the mid-19th century, when farms here were abandoned for richer lands in the West.
As you ascend toward Millbrook Mountain, the soils become increasingly dry, resulting in distinctly different types of forest. The soil covering the hard conglomerate on the Shawangunks is very thin.
Upland forest dominated by sugar maples and eastern hemlocks.
Then into second-growth woodland of mixed hardwoods, where sugar maples, red maples, oaks, ashes, beeches, and hickories make up the canopy. There is also a thick shrub layer of lowbush blueberry and black huckleberry.
At about a mile, a red-blazed trail comes in from the southeast. Continue to the blue trail.
Here is an abandoned farm site, marked by an old springhouse and the remnants of stone buildings.
Climbing the mountain red oaks and chestnut oaks predominate; then the red oaks give way to pitch pines mixed with chestnut oak.
Over the next half-mile, the trail rises 300 feet and ends at a red-blazed trail running southeast-to-northwest.
Turn southeast (left) along the Red Trail, climbing another 200 feet to the top of Millbrook Mountain. The mountain ends in an escarpment that plummets 350 feet to the jumble of rocks below. This is one of the highest sheer drops east of the Mississippi.
At the base of the cliff lie huge chunks of conglomerate, many the size of a school bus. As at the Rock Rift Crevices, the softer shale underneath the ridge has eroded away, causing the rock to break under its own weight.
Turn southwest (right), again following the lip of the escarpment.
On top of Millbrook Mountain, conditions are very dry.
Frequent fires help keep the forest from becoming too shaded.
Acer pensylvanicum (goose-foot maple)
Acer rubrum (red maple)
Betula lenta (black birch)
Pinus rigida (pitch pine)
Quercus prinus (chestnut oak)
Tsuga canadensis (hemlock)
Gaylussacia baccata (black huckleberry)
Hamamelis virginiana (witch hazel)
Kalmia latifolia (mountain laurel)
Quercus ilicifolia (scrub oak)