Hudson Valley’s Puddingstone Mountain

December 25, 2009

Different geologically from nearby mountain areas of the Hudson Highlands is Schunemunk, the puddingstone mountain.

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At 1664 feet, the peak of Schunemunk is Orange County’s highest point.  Located in Woodbury, Cornwall and Blooming Grove, the mountain provides a welcome respite from the pressures of suburbia.  The northern part is a state park on land assembled by Star Expansion Industries, the Ogden Foundation, and the Storm King Art Center, purchased in 1996 by the Open Space Institute, and then acquired by New York State in 2004.

It’s a wonderful hiking destination.  A very strenuous initial climb of 1500 feet rewards the hiker with miles of ridge walking with panoramic views.  The mountain has 25 miles of hiking trails through varied woodland, with scrub pitch pines growing along a pair of ridges separated by a small valley.  On the eastern ridge are the Megaliths, a group of huge blocks that have split off from the underlying rock, a good picnic spot.

Under your feet is the Devonian quartz-pebble conglomerate “puddingstone”, large nuggets of white quartz and pink sandstone embedded in a reddish matrix, formed from sedimentary deposits of rock and sand washed down the slopes of the ancient coastal Taconian mountains (whose nearby vestiges are the Ramapos) when they were “real mountains”, rising perhaps 20,000 feet above the ancient Silurian sea.

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To get to Schunemunk, head north on Route 32 past Woodbury Common. After 7 miles (in the hamlet of Mountainville), take a left onto Pleasant Hill Road, then left on Taylor Road.  After crossing the Thruway, you will see the trailhead parking area on the right.  Three trails start just across the road.  See a Trail Conference map for a loop hike of 9-10 miles (www.NYNJTC.org).

The Hudson Valley offers a multitude of outdoor activities to its residents. Photos by Jerry White of The Staging Prince.

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