A beautiful lake spreads before me. Thousands of flowering water lilies dot the surface. Woods surround the lake, providing shelter from the warm summer day. A lone kayaker paddles slowly by. I sit on the bench and take in this incredibly beautiful scene.
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Shuapeneak Ridge has several interconnected trails. The trails are marked by small colored circles fixed to trees. Keep an eye for them, as I have missed them for connecting trails a couple of times. The markers are arranged in different patterns along the way. If you don’t know what the patterns mean, be sure to read my Guide to Trail Markers before setting out. Other useful hiking resources include:
Shaupeneak Ridge Trails Essentials
- Trailheads: There are two parking areas – the Upper Parking Lot at the top of the ridge and the Lower Parking Lot at the bottom of the ridge. Both parking lots are quite small, which keeps the trails quite empty. Neither parking lot has restroom facilities.
- Fee: Free
- Open: Year-round. Gates open every day at 8:30 a.m. Closing hours vary according to the season:
- November 1 – March 13 @ 6:00 p.m.
- March 14 – Memorial Day @ 7:30 p.m.
- Memorial Day – Labor Day @ 8:30 p.m.
- Labor Day – October 31@ 7:30 p.m.
- Trailheads: Shaupeneak Ridge Upper Parking Lot and Shaupeneak Ridge Lower Parking Lot
- Dogs on a leash are allowed. TIP for dog owners/ parents: Learn how to make your dog eco-friendly by reducing his/ her carbon pawprint
Shaupeneak Ridge Trails Map
Shaupeneak Ridge Trails Description
There are several trails. The white trail climbs from the lower parking lot to the top of the ridge. About 15 minutes from the lower parking lot, there is a short spur (purple) trail to a waterfall. The rest of the trails are connected loops around the top of the ridge.
It is worth going at least twice. Once to climb the white trail and see the waterfall (and do the red trail, with the overlook). The second (and subsequent) time(s) to hike more of the other trails on the top of the ridge. The blue trail circles around a very pretty large pond half-covered in water lilies. There is access to put kayaks into the pond. Swimming is not permitted. The upper section is also popular for mountain biking.
White and Purple Trails
- White Trail: out-and-back trail 1.63 miles/ 2.62 km each way.
- Purple Trail: out-and-back spur trail 0.1 miles/ 160 m each way.
- Elevation change: 656 feet/ 200 m
- Total Time: 40-50 minutes each way
- Difficulty: Moderate
- Trailhead: Shaupeneak Ridge Lower Parking Lot
- Highlights: Waterfalls, moss- and lichen-covered rocks, ferns
- Recommended footwear: You’ll need hiking boots or shoes for this one, as it is quite steep
The trail starts flat for about five minutes before starting a slight incline.
We saw a bright orange Eastern Spotted Newt salamander on this part of the trail.
After about another ten minutes or so, there is a small side trail off to the right. This is the purple trail.
It goes to a waterfall, less than five minutes away from the main white trail. The waterfall has little water, but creates a curtain cascading over a wide ledge, falling onto moss- and lichen-covered rocks descending down the hill. It’s a magical spot, though there isn’t much space to hang out in.
The main trail is then a steep uphill climb. There is another tiny waterfall just off the right after about five minutes.
There is a lovely glen filled with mossy rocks and ferns just above this second waterfall.
Five minutes later the trail flattens out. This is the middle of ridge and it remains flat for about seven minutes. You will cross a small log bridge, which can be a little slippery.
The trail then starts to climb again and is steep for a short while, before continuing uphill, but at a less steep incline, for another 15 minutes or so. It then flattens out (kind of) for another ten minutes before reaching the red trail. There is a sign indicating the end of the white trail. See Red Trail description if you wish to continue on.
- Distance: Loop trail (connected by part of the blue trail) 1.22 miles/ 1.96km
- Elevation change: 262 feet/ 80m
- Total Time: approx. 50 minutes
- Difficulty: Easy
- Trailhead: Shaupeneak Ridge Upper Parking Lot
- Highlights: Overlook with views of the Hudson River, fern gullies, pond
- Recommended footwear: Hiking sandals or hiking shoes/ boots
If you hit the red trail from the white trail (meaning you started at the lower parking lot), you can turn left or right. About 30 seconds away to the right is the overlook, so even if you just want to return along the white trail, at least go to the overlook and enjoy the view.
We took the left turn.
The trail dips into gullies and at one point crosses a small plank bridge over ferns.
After about twenty minutes, the trail emerges from the woods at a road.
Cross the road and you are in the Upper Parking Lot.
From there, you need to take the blue trail. To do the red trail loop, take the blue trail to the right – this skirts around one edge of Louisa Pond. There are glimpses of the with water lily-filled pond through the trees. The trail goes through light woods.
After about fifteen minutes, you reach the other side of red trail. Watch out for markers. It is well signed from the other direction, but easy to miss this way.
If you get near the road where it takes a sharp turn to right, you have gone too far. The red trail soon crosses the road again and heads back into the woods.
The trail has up and down sections (nothing too steep or too much altitude change), through more fern gullies and woods.
Just before you get to the white trail, there is a lookout over the Hudson River.
You should get to the white trail about thirty minutes after leaving the upper parking lot.
From there, you can take the white trail down to the lower parking lot or keep going for another twenty minutes or so to the upper parking lot.
- Distance: 1.18 miles/ 1.9km
- Elevation change: 262 feet/ 80m
- Total Time: Approx. 55 minutes
- Difficulty: Easy
- Trailhead: Shaupeneak Ridge Upper Parking Lot
- Highlights: Views of Louise Pond
- Recommended footwear: It’s an easy trail, so hiking sandals, walking sandals or hiking shoes/ boots
The trail begins at the Upper Parking Lot and circles the large Louisa Pond. To go in a clockwise direction, take the main trail that goes straight ahead from the end of the upper parking lot.
The small trail off to the right just before this is the start of the trail in a counter-clockwise direction. If you want to connect with the red trail without completing most of the blue trail, take the counter-clockwise direction. See Red Trail for details.
I took the trail clockwise. The trail starts wide and flat, with the pond visible through the trees.
This end of the pond is full of reeds and beautiful water lilies in summer. After a minute or so, there are two benches with a clearing so you have wonderful views of the pond.
Another short walk along, there is a small path off the right. There is another nice view of the pond.
A short scramble takes you down to the edge of the pond, so you can see the lilies up close.
About 400 feet/ 120 m from the start of the trail is another path, labeled as a place to put in kayaks
that goes down to the water’s edge, providing lovely views of the pond.
The path goes through the woods. There is a yellow path off to the left. This has several educational stations along the path with small boards with information about the forest – good for kids.
The finish of the yellow trail is not too far from the end of this side of the pond. At the end, there is another short path off the right that goes down to the pond’s edge.
This a beautiful spot, with a perfect reflection when we were there – ferns, fallen trunk trees, water lilies and lovely views of the lake. There is no real place to sit and hang out, but it’s worth spending a little time here.
The main path goes right down to the edge of the pond, then heads back uphill (not much of a climb) and into the woods as it goes around the far edge of the pond. For this section, you can’t really see the pond, but it is a lovely walk in the woods. You will pass the start of the orange trail (easy to miss – I did).
The path passes some fallen stone walls, and crosses a lovely little plank bridge, and through fern gullies. Then you reach the other end of the orange trail (this one I DID see)
and soon after, the green trail.
You are around the far edge of the pond at this point. Then you come to the road (off to your left – you don’t cross it) and then very soon after, the red trail (see above).
The blue trail continues along the final edge of the pond. There are tantalizing glimpses of the lilies through the trees. The trail ends back at the upper parking lot.
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There are more great hikes to do in the Hudson Valley:
- Best Hikes in the Hudson Valley: A compilation of some of the best hikes in the Hudson River Valley
- Poets’ Walk: A beautiful nature walk through meadows and woods with great views of the Hudson River and the Kingston-Rhinecliff Bridge
- Black Creek Preserve: Several connected trails over a suspension bridge and to direct access to the Hudson River
- Bonticou Crag and Northeast Trail: Part of Mohonk Preserve, includes a cool rock scramble, great views over the Hudson Valley and the Catskill Mountains
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