Orange County, New York


Take the Palisades Interstate Parkway to the Bear Mountain Traffic Circle; take Route 9W north. As the route climbs uphill you can stop along the shoulder and look below over the United States Military Academy at West Point. You continue to climb and then start around a big curve. There is a large parking turnout (about a mile before the street exit for Black Rock Forest) on the right at the height of land on Butter Hill, just before the highway descends toward Cornwall. There is an historical marker noting that this was the route used by the returning hostages from the Iran Crisis.


The view from Storm King Mountain is a good one because here is a place where one can best appreciate the enormous pressures involved when some of the southward-advancing ice sheet jammed into the gorge.  The depth of gouging was not known until 1909 when test borings made for the Catsill aqueduct found the bedrock valley to be nearly 1000 feet below water level, or 1160 feet below the preglacial channel.  The present channel is only about 80 feet deep, so the sediment fill in places, exceeds 900 feet.  The aqueduct tunnels through the Storm King gneiss under the river from a point north of the mountain to the end of Breakneck Ridge, where there are two pumping stations.    (Van Diver 1985:67-68)


One of the most avid supporters of the preservation of the Highlands was Dr. Edward Partridge, a prominent New York City obstetrician at the Nursery and Child's Hospital. He lived in Cornwall. He purchased a large land tract on Storm King and built a beautiful estate there. He was a friend of the photographer, hiker, and Highlands conservationist, William Thompson Howell, and of Mr. and Mrs. E. H. Harriman. He organized his rich friends and in 1907 helped form the Association for the Protection of the Highlands of the Hudson. (Dunwell 1991:146-147)

Old Storm King Highway (1919-1922) is 200 feet above the river and goes across the face of Storm King Mountain.

New Deal's Storm King Highway (1940) was built around the back of Storm King by the Civilian Conservation Corps (this road is now part of State Route 9W).

In 1962 Con Ed announced a proposal to build a pumped storage generating plat at Storm King. The proposal launched one of the major environmental battles of this century, which in turn contributed to a rebirth of interest in the Hudson. Carl Carmer and others formed the Scenic Hudson Preservation Conference (today known as Scenic Hudson) to oppose Con Ed, appealing to the aesthetic tradition established by 19th century romantic painters. (Stanne, et. al.1996:136-138)

They protested against construction of a pumped storage facility at Storm King Mountain. It is one of  the very few places where the main chain of the Appalachians is broken by a river and this at sea level.  Here we have not simply a river, but an estuary with the tides of the Atlantic literally cutting through the mountains. (Adams 1981:163-164)


Heinbach, Ellen B and Gale G. Kohlhagen. 1990. Hippocrene U.S.A., Guide to West Point and the Hudson Valley. New York: Hippocrene Books.

Mulligan, Tim. 1985. The Hudson River Valley: A History and Guide. New York: Random House.

Stanne, Stephen P., Roger G. Panetta and Brian E. Forist.  1996. The Hudson : An illustrated Guide to the Living River. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press.


As of 3/2000, Storm King Trails closed for awhile because they found unexploded ordinance during a recent fire.

There is a short-cut up Storm King that skips Butter Hill by going along the clove between Storm King and Crow's Nest and then up Storm King.  

Go over the dump area descending and then ascending up the clove. The trail is unmarked but fairly clear and takes you up the mountain. Nearer the top it winds back and forth up the mountain.  You can pick up the blue triangle trail.  It goes in a horseshoe bend.  Pick up the blue triangle & yellow square trail. It goes through a narrow valley, later up a slightly steep area, and then levels off going east to the outlook.  Pick up the white trail and it returns you to the blue and then the unmarked trail leading back to the parking lot.  

57.2 Newburgh Beacon Bridge

The bridge unites Newburgh (west side) with Beacon (east side).  

56.3 Fishkill and Beacon/North Mount Beacon (1531 feet)

56.0 Newburgh (west side)/South Mount Beacon (1635 feet) (east side)

55.0 Fishkill Bay & Creek

54.5 New Windsor Cantonement

American troops stayed here several times, most memorably following the end of  the Revolutionary War.  Here Washington put a stop to an attempt to make him the monarch of the United States by refusing to support a plot to back him as king.

53.3 Sloop Hill & Plum Point

53.2 Moodna Creek

52.8 Pollepel Island or Bannerman's Island The Dutch named the island Potlepels Eylant,

Dutch for Potladle Island. (6.5 acres)

The Native Americans believed the island was haunted. Dutch sailors feared goblins because they supposed whipped up squalls.

General Clinton fortified the Island in 1777 along with Constitution Island to the south. Installed here was a chevaux-de-frise - a kind of underwater fence of sharpened logs -- between the island and Plum Point, on the western shore.

In the 1850s it was home to a solitary house that looked like a wren's nest. It was inhabited by a fisherman with an insane wife who thought herself to be the Queen of England.

Francis Bannerman bought the island to house his arsenal of secondhand military supplies, arms captured in the Spanish-American War. He was the one who built the present day replica of a Scottish Castle. He had a military supply business until the US government made it illegal for citizens to sell arms to foreign governments. (McMartin & Pick: 55)

Bannerman Castle is located on Pollopel island, 6 3/4 acres of mostly rock in the Hudson river near Cornwall-on-Hudson, New York. It was built by Frank Bannerman VI, not as a home, but as a place to store items such as weapons and ammunition that he purchased at government auctions. Frank Bannerman personally designed the island's buildings, docks, turrets, garden walls and moat in the style of old Scottish castles.

In 1920 a powder house exploded injuring three people and catapulting a 25 foot long piece of stone wall onto the eastern shore of the Hudson River.

In 1967, the family sold Bannerman Castle to New York State, which had plans to open the Island as a park, and for a short time in 1968 they ran tours of the island. But the night of August 8, 1969, a fire of unknown origin destroyed all of the buildings.

There is now a group called the Bannerman Castle Trust, an organization dedicated to stabilizing the ruins of Bannerman Castle and opening the island to the public.

Sugarloaf Mountain (900 feet)

52.3 Cornwall-on-Hudson Village

The Clermont made a landing at Cornwall on the Hudson in 1810.

Museum of the Hudson Highlands

The museum's purpose is to study the natural and cultural history of the Hudson Valley, and it's located in a handsome, rustic stone-an-wood building that is surrounded by a forest. There's even a stream flowing beneath the galleries. Set up in 1959. It has self-guiding nature trails through 70 acres of deciduous forest.

51.55 Dutchess County

51.55 Catskill Aqueduct

This vast conduit brought water 125 miles from several Catskill region watersheds to New York City. The Catskill System included the Ashokan Reservoir and Catskill Aqueduct and was completed in 1915.

51.5 Storm King Mt. (1,340 feet) (west side)/Breakneck Mt. (1,213 feet) (east side)

51.0 Storm King Valley Clove (west side)

This clove runs between Storm King Mt. on the north and Crow's Nest on the south.

50.5 Mount Taurus or Bull Hill (1420 feet) (east side)

49.5 Cold Spring Village (east side)

Nineteenth century iron production was concentrated in the Cold Spring area. Stanne 118

Main Street slopes down to the water and loops around the bandstand at the river's edge. Small shops and restaurants line the street, and several bed-and-breakfast inns offer accommodations to overnight visitors. Essentially a weekend town, The real draw is nearby Boscobel, a restored Federal mansion located only minutes from Main Street There are at least twenty stores calling themselves antique shops. At the foot of Main Street is the Depot, a great place to eat. (Heinbach 225-226)

West Point Foundry was established by Gouverneur Kemble, it forged the famous Parrott gun of Civil War times. So vital were these guns to the North that cadets from West Point were dispatched to guard the Foundry in the summer of 1863 when threats were made against it by Southern sympathizers. (Heinbach 229)

Foundry School Museum was built in 1830 as a school for foundry worker's children; it features a 19th century classroom setting with benches, slates, old books and even a dunce cap. One room is devoted to the history of the Foundry and the items forged there. A model of the famous Civil War Parrott gun designed by West Point graduate Robert Parrott (Class of 1824) is on view along with a fragment of an actual gun barrel. 63 Chestnut Street (Heinbach 230)

49.5 Crow's Nest Mountain (west side)

49.0 Philipstown

49.0 Foundry Cove (1817-84 West Pt. foundry) (east side)

The Parrot rifle guns were made here.  Abraham Lincoln came to see them test fired at Storm King Mountain.  

48.9 Washington Valley (west side)

48.65 Boscobel mansion (west side)

Garrison, New York.  Boscobel means beautiful woods in Italian.  States Morris Dyckman a Loyalist during the Rev War He left and went to Britain.   He later returned to the us and in 1794 he married. He went back to Britain; came back again.  He never actually saw Boscobel finished; he died in 1806.  1808 finished by his wife

Lila Acheson Wallace of Readers Digest saved the place from demolition. (Heinbach 226-228)

48.6 Trophy Point & Battle Monument at West Point (west side)

This is the West Point monument to those regular army personnel who lost their lives in support of the union during the Civil War.  

48.5 Constitution Island (east side)

It is part of USMA and a National Registered Landmark. The eastern anchoring point of the Great Chain across the Hudson River.  For a time it was home to Joseph Plumb Martin (AKA Pvt. Yankee Doodle).  This island was fortified during the Revolutionary War.  Later, the Warner sisters lived here.  The seventeen room Warner House and ruins of Revolutionary War fortifications are the points of interest.

The Warner House was the home of the Warner family from 1836 to 1915. Susan and Anna Warner were well known writers in the nineteenth century. Susan wrote "The Wide, Wide World" in 1850. Anna is best known for writing the words to the hymn "Jesus Loves Me." The sisters taught Bible classes to West Point cadets for forty years. They are buried, along with Gen. George Armstrong Custer,  in the West Point cemetery.   

48.5 Site of chain across river 1778-1779

A heavy iron-links chain was suspended over the Hudson River via wood floats.

48.4 Indian Brook (east side)

This brook flows past Constitution Island into the Hudson River.

48.4 Cat Hill (800 feet) (east side)

48.35 Dick's Castle (east side)

Mrs. Dick was a daughter of Stuyvesant Fish. Dick's Castle was started in 1903 and situated on a mountain top in Garrison. Its design was inspired by Granada's moorish palace, the Alhambra. In 1907 a stock market crash brought the work to a halt. The castle remained incomplete through the deaths of the Dick's in the 1930s. (Dunwell 1991:130)

48.25 Saint Basil's Academy (east side)

48.2 Gees Point lighthouse (west side)

47.35 West Point Military Academy (west side)

46.4 Castle Rock (east side)

46.25 Highland Falls Village (west side)

46.2 Buttermilk Falls

45.7 Beverly Dock (Benedict Arnold home) (east side)

At one time, Benedict Arnold was the commandant of  West Point.  After his treachery was discovered with the capture of  Major John Andre in Tarrytown, Arnold escaped from the Americans from his house located here via a row boat that rowed him to a British vessel anchored in the Hudson River.

André was part of American General Benedict Arnold's treasonous plot to surrender the strategic American fortification at West Point to the British. Arnold delivered key information about West Point's weaknesses to General Clinton through André, meeting him on the banks of the Hudson River.  André was captured on September 23, 1780.

Arnold learned that his treason was discovered and escaped downriver to the "Vulture" at the same time that Washington was arriving unexpectedly at West Point -- and all on the very day that the fortress was to have been surrendered to the British.

André was convicted as a spy, and ordered to be hanged. Many on General George Washington's staff felt great sympathy for the condemned man, visiting him frequently during his brief imprisonment. André was executed on October 2, 1780.

45.5 Sugarloaf Hill (east side)

44.4 Canada Hill

43.4 Manitou (east side)

42.75 Fort Montgomery village (west side)

The village just south and adjacent to West Point.  

42.65 Popolopen Torne (west side)

42.65 Putnam/Orange County line (east side)

42.65 site of Fort Montgomery (west side)

42.6 Popolopen Creek (west side)

42.6 Orange County (west side)

42.5 Bear Mountain Bridge

Constructed in 1924.

42.4 Anthony's Nose (east side)

Heading north, the Appalachian Trail travels over the Bear Mountain Bridge and up this Mountain.  The top of the mountain has beautiful view overlooking the bridge and Bear Mountain.  

42.4 Hessian Lake (west side)

Named for the dead body of a Hessian soldier found here after the battle for Fort Clinton.

42.4 Site of Fort Clinton (west side)

This fort, in the North American zoo area of  Bear Mountain State Park, was lost to the British in the Revolutionary War.

42.4 Bear Mountain (west side)

42.0 Chevaux-de-Frise across river

41.6 Doodletown (west side)

General Anthony Wayne's troops came through here on their way to their successful attack on Stony Point.  

41.5 Iona Island (west side)

Iona Island was the site where following World War II part of the naval fleet was moth-balled for awhile.  The navy was stationed on the island.  Now the island is available for nature study.  

Dr. Patrick L. Cooney

Acer pensylvanicum (goosefoot maple)
Acer platanoides (Norway maple)
Acer rubrum (red maple)
Acer saccharum (sugar maple)
Ailanthus altissima (tree of heaven)
Betula lenta (black birch)
Betula papyrifera (paper birch)
Betula populifolia (gray birch)
Carya glabra (pignut hickory)
Fraxinus americana (white ash)
Juniperus virginiana (red cedar)
Liriodendron tulipifera (tulip tree)
Ostrya virginiana (hop hornbeam)
Pinus rigida (pitch pine)
Platanus occidentalis (American sycamore)
Populus deltoides (cottonwood)
Prunus serotina (black cherry)
Quercus alba (white oak)
Quercus prinus (chestnut oak)
Quercus rubra (red oak)
Quercus velutina (black oak)
Rhus copallina (winged sumac)
Sassafras albidum (sassafras)
Tilia americana (American basswood)
Tsuga canadensis (eastern hemlock)

Amelanchier arborea (shadbush)
Aronia melanocarpa (black chokeberry)
Berberis thunbergii (Japanese barberry)
Chimaphila maculata (spotted wintergreen)
Comptonia peregrina (sweetfern)
Epigaea repens (trailing arbutus)
Gaylussacia baccata (black huckleberry)
Hamamelis virginiana (witch hazel) 11/1/98
Kalmia latifolia (mountain laurel)
Ligustrum sp. (privet)
Quercus ilicifolia (scrub oak)
Rosa carolina (Carolina rose)
Rosa multiflora (multiflora rose)
Rubus occidentalis (black raspberry)
Rubus phoenicolasius (wineberry raspberry)
Spiraea alba v latifolia (meadowsweet)
Vaccinium pallidum (hillside blueberry)
Vaccinium stamineum (deerberry)
Viburnum acerifolium (maple-leaf viburnum)
Viburnum prunifolium (blackhaw viburnum)
Viburnum rafinesquianum var. rafinesquianum (downy arrowwood viburnum)

Parthenocissus quinquefolia (Virginia creeper)
Toxicodendron radicans (poison ivy)
Vitis aestivalis (summer grape)

Achillea millefolium (yarrow) 8/20/96
Alliaria petiolata (garlic mustard)
Ambrosia vulgaris (common ragweed) 8/20/96
Antennaria plantaginifolia (plantain-leaved pussytoes)
Arctium lappa (great burdock) 11/7/98 8/20/96
Arenaria groenlandica (little mountain sandwort)
Arenaria stricta (rock sandwort)
Aster cordifolius (heart-leaved aster) 11/07/98
Aster divaricatus (white wood aster) 11/07/98
Aster lateriflorus? (aster)
Aster sagittifolius (arrow-leaved aster) 11/1/98
Aster sp. (aster)
Aster undulatus (aster) 11/07/98
Aureolaria pedicularia (fern-leaved false foxglove) 8/20/96
Centaurea jacea (brown knapweed) 8/20/96
Centaurea maculosa (spotted knapweed) 11/07/98
Cerastium arvense (field chickweed)?
Chelidonium majus (celandine)
Cichorium intybus (chicory) 8/20/96
Conyza canadensis (horseweed) 8/20/96
Corydalis sempervirens (pale corydalis) 8/20/96
Desmodium sp. (tick trefoil)
Dicentra cucullaria (Dutchman's breeches)
Erechtites hieraciifolia (pilewort) 8/20/96
Euphorbia cyparissias (cypress spurge)
Euthamia graminifolia (flat-topped goldenrod)
Geranium robertianum (herb Robert geranium) 11/07/98
Helianthus spp. (sunflowers) 8/20/96
Hieracium paniculatum? (hawkweed)
Hypericum gentianoides (orange grass) 8/20/96
Krigia sp. (Cynthia )
Lespedeza sp. (bush clover)
Linaria vulgaris (butter-and-eggs) 11/07/98
Lysimachia quadrifolia (whorled loosestrife)
Maianthemum canadense (Canada mayflower) 8/20/96
Melampyrum lineare (cowwheat) 8/20/96
Monotropa uniflora (Indian pipe)
Oenothera biennis (common evening primrose) 8/20/96
Oxalis stricta (yellow wood sorrel)
Plantago major (common plantain) 8/20/96
Polygonum arenastrum (dooryard knotweed) 8/20/96
Polygonum cespitosum (cespitose knotweed) 8/20/96
Polygonum hydropiper (mild water pepper knotweed) 8/20/96
Prenanthes sp. (lettuce)
Prunella vulgaris (self-heal) 8/20/96
Rumex acetosella (sheep sorrel dock)
Satureja vulgaris (wild basil) 8/20/96
Saxifraga virginiensis (early saxifrage)
Silene vulgaris (bladder campion)
Solidago bicolor (silverrod goldenrod) 8/20/96
Solidago caesia (bluestem goldenrod) 11/07/98
Solidago odora (sweet goldenrod) 8/20/96

Rushes and Sedges:
Carex laxiflora type (sack sedge)
Juncus tenuis (path rush)

Andropogon gerardii (big bluestem grass)
Bromus inermis (smooth brome grass)
Dactylis glomerata (orchard grass)
Deschampsia flexuosa (hairgrass)
Elymus hystrix (bottlebrush grass)
Muhlenbergia sobolifera (muhly grass)
Panicum sp. (panic grass)
Phleum pratense (timothy grass)
Poa compressa (Canada bluegrass)
Schizachyrium scoparium (little blue stem grass)

Ferns and Fern Allies:
Dennstaedtia punctilobula (hay-scented fern)
Dryopteris intermedia (intermediate wood fern)
Dryopteris marginalis (marginal wood fern)
Polypodium virginianum (rock cap fern)
Polystichum acrostichoides (Christmas fern)

rock tripe lichen