Onteora Scout Reservation:
1989 Trail Guide

This guide is interesting in that it shows no mention of the Green Trail from the 1986 guide. Maybe people did have trouble following green markers! It's also interesting as it shows how much of the camp had been closed by that point in time, and what pieces of the property had been sold off.

1989 Hiking Trail Guide

Onteora has an extensive trail system to boast about. Being a part of the Catskill Forest Preserve has its advantages. Take a hike to the New York State Fish Hatchery; Beaver Kill State Campsite; Mongaup Pond State Campsite; Alder Lake State Land; or just see the sights of Onteora. Five or ten miles hike to qualify your Scouts for the Hiking Skill Award or merit badge can be arranged with your program commissioner.

In 1989 the hiking program has been revised and now includes four major trails and all have been remarked so that they may easily be followed. In order to pick the right trail for your troop, consult with your program commissioner. He can help you plan for a trip of your own or act as a guide.

All of Onteora's trails now start at the hiking stump at the Long House Dining Hall.

The Red Trail encircles a larger section of the camp and goes around to the other side of the lake. This is a good trail for any Scouts going for the Hiking Skill Award.

The Orange Trail heads north to the caves, a favorite hike among many Scouters.

The Blue Trail heads north up Old Hunter Road to Tom Quick Pond, Beaver Kill and Lew Beach.

The Yellow Trail heads east, and is a very popular hike, which ends at the State Fish Hatchery. The trail follows the Old Hunter Road, a historic route which provides access to small, isolated rural settlements. Many old houses and an old cemetery are part of this trail.

The Alder Lake Trail starts at the Blauvelt Health Center and passes many scenic sights before getting to this former Nassau County Council camp. This is a twenty mile hike; prior arrangements must be made with the forest ranger and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation through your program commissioner.


STAR HIKES: For all interested troops, patrols, leaders. staff and Scouts, star hikes can be arranged. Star hikes are a general orientation to the summertime night skies over our latitude. Star Hikes are held at the main parade field, along the yellow and red trail. Astrology, Mythology. and history are also discussed in addition to an orientation to the stars, constellations, zodiac, and planets. Please refer to the star hike section of the hiking guide for more information.


Before leaving camp on the Blue, Orange, or Alder Lake Trails, you must present a roster and hike plan with estimated time of return to your program commissioner. You must also have a 21 year old leader with you. Portable citizen band radio units will be provided to all units hiking the Blue Trail to Tom Quick Pond, or the Orange Trail to the caves, or the Red Trail to the Al Nassau Program Area.

Your program commissioner will provide maps to your unit upon request. When available, program staff can be scheduled to accompany patrols or troops. Please contact your program commissioner for more details.

Many of the trails cross the New York State Catskill Forest. Preserve. New York State Regulations governing the use of the State Forest Preserve must be followed; please contact your program commissioner for details. Nassau County Council has also retained hiking rights on former camp property which is now privately owned. This land is posted, please stay on the trail!


Onteora and the Catskill Forest Preserve are blessed with a wide variety of wild creatures. Animals may be dangerous if cornered or threatened. Under no circumstances should anyone touch or disturb snakes or other animals.

If you have any problems, please see your program commissioner. Happy Hiking!


Points of Interest: Dan Beard Program Shelter; Joseph Shields Memorial Campfire Ring; Orchard Lake Dam: Blauvelt Health Center; Al Nassau Program Area; Council House Storage Facility; Haunted Forest

This entire trail is within the borders of the camp and is designed to be for beginners. The trail follows along many different topographical features including logging roads, wooded areas, over streams and climbs a ravine. It is a loop and these trail's starts and ends at the "Hiking Stump."

Start: The trail starts at the "Hiking Stump" at the Long House Dining Facility. The Long House was built in a snow storm in the late fall of 1958. This food service facility serves the entire camp, although it originally served Tribes Camp. Head west across the Long House Parade Field to the trail head. The trail goes through a succession forest, containing hemlock, beech, and birch trees. You will cross a bridge lashed together as a pioneering project by fellow Scouts.

DAN BEARD PROGRAM SHELTER -- The trail will pass the Dan Beard Program Shelter. This area was named after "Uncle" Dan Beard, an early founder of the Boy Scouts of America who promoted conservation and outdoor skills.

At the shelter turn right onto the road. The field (on left) the foundation of a house and a root cellar was located. At the end of the orchard (near the main road), there are some blueberry bushes and roses which the inhabitants of the old farm house planted many years ago.

JAMES E. WEST PROGRAM SHELTER & CAMP WATER TANK - Follow the road east to the top of the hill (Elevation 2208 feet above sea level) to the right you will see the James E. West Program Shelter and the 65,000 gallon water tank which supplies the whole camp. It draws its water from the wells which are located at the foot of the hill near the stream. The wells are 240 feet deep and will produce 280 gallons of water a minute. The National Engineering Service of the Boy Scouts of America estimates that it takes 50 gallons of water a day to keep a boy in camp; it can be understood that this facility must be handled with care. At this point, the trail turns left (north) down towards the Otter Program Area (ecology and conservation).

CHIEF'S CAMP - At the head of the road. the Red Trail turns to the left with the Orange Trail. and heads towards the area formerly know as Chiefs Camp. From 1960 through 1977, Onteora Scout Reservation operated two camps, Tribes Camp and Chiefs Camp. All campsites in Chiefs Camp are named after Native American leaders, such as Little Calf, Hiawatha, and Black Beaver. The trail crosses a stream, and rejoins the Chiefs Camp Road leading to the Council House Storage Facility.

COUNCIL HOUSE FACILITY - Follow the trail up the road until you come to the Council House. This is the newer of the Onteora Dining Halls. It was opened in 1960 and in 1976 became the craft lodge. Today it is used for storage. An official United States bench mark (Elevation 2186 feet above sea level) is located at the southwest side of the building.

At this point. the trail turns right (east) towards the site of the Council House shower (now demolished).

THROUGH THE WOODS: This is a new sector of the Red Trail. Care must be used in this area, which contains rock ledges and significant changes in elevation. This area was logged in the late 1970's as part of an organized timber management program. The trail will come out near Marshall Lesser campsite and the Al Nassau Program Area.

MARSHALL LESSER AND AL NASSAU PROGRAM AREA - This area was a logging area for the Reserif Lumber Company in the late 19th century. What is now the At Nassau area of the camp, was then a small town consisting of five houses, a logging camp, and a mill. The foundations of the houses and the mill can still be seen in the field. During the "Roaring 1920's" the area was the property of the New York Trout and Skeet Club. Many people came to the area from New York City to fish and vacation. The remnants of the club's fireplace can be seen at the eastern edges of the field, and can be used to cook a hiking lunch. The field was also used as a skeet range.

This area was designated as the third camp area for the reservation, called Buckskin Camp. This section of Onteora was used for the Buckskin Camp Program, where troops cooked all three meals using the patrol cooking method. The trait turns here. Walk along the road at southwest corner of the field.

PROJECT C.O.P.E. AREA - The dirt road swings south and follows along the west side of the stream; this area has been repeatedly flooded by beavers since 1969. You will pass the former sight of the Catholic chapel on the left, continue along this road. You will pass the Project C.O.P.E. area, which is an area of physical challenges designed to build a Scout's self confidence, leadership, and team building skills. Follow the road to the main camp road and turn left (east).

PARADE FIELD - The Red Trail crosses the main parade field. When the New York Trout Club owned the camp. the club's manor house was located to the North of the existing flagpole. The site of the Tuttle House, occupied by Leland Tuttle, who was the club's caretaker was located to the Northeast. In the 1960's and 1970ís, reservation retreats on Visitors' Day were held here, accompanied by a salute from a black powder musket. Order of the Arrow call-out were also held here. Follow the trail to the old Buckskin Council Fire Ring area.

BUCKSKIN COUNCIL FIRE RING - The Red Trail passes through the Buckskin Council Fire Ring, which was the main campfire area for both Tribes and Chiefs Camps. Visitors' Day campfires were held after the reservation wide flag retreat. This area is the trail head to the area on the east side of Orchard Lake.

Other Side of Orchard Lake - The trail swings south and follows along the east side of the lake. This is an excellent wildlife area. If you walks quietly and slowly, you may see some deer, beaver, chipmunks, or maybe a raccoon. The trial continues around to the Orchard Lake Dam.

Orchard Lake Dam -- (Elevation -- 2061 feet above sea level) DO NOT CROSS OVER THE DAM! This old stone dam and its machinery controls the level of water in the lake and is regulated by the camp ranger to insure adequate waters for swimming and boating as well as draining of the top water from time to time to keep the lake clean. This becomes quite difficult in late summer, due to little rain, and must be carefully controlled. The trail crosses Sprague Brook below the dam and turns right (north) at the old camp road.

OLD CAMP ROAD -- The Red Trail follows the old camp road, which was build by the New York Trout and Skeet Club to provide access to the club's manor house. Follow the road to old Tribes Camp waterfront area (F. Dock). At this point, the Red Trail turns left (west) up "Cardiac Hill" to the Joseph Shields Memorial Ring.

"CARDIAC HILL" -- This trail goes up "Cardiac Hill" through the Joseph Shields Memorial Campfire Ring, which was used from 1977 to 1983. The trail continues up the hill to the loop road. At the road, turn right (north) and follow the road to Keuka Campsite.

TRAIL END -- At Keuka Campsite, turns left (west) off the road and return to the Long House Dining Facility parade field and to the "Hiking Stump."


Points of Interest -- Lynx Loop Road, Niche Rocks, Old Hunter Road, side hike to caves, Tom Quick's Pond. Beaver Kill Road, Lew Beach, covered bridge, Beaver Kill State Campsite

The Blue Trail may be taken to either Beaver Kill or Lew Beach by turning right at Beaver Kill Road for Lew Beach or left there for Beaver Kill. Because this trail goes off camp property, a 21 year old is required to accompany a group of 10 hikers.

START -- The trail starts at the Long House Dining Facility and the "Hiking Stump." Go north on the main road to the camp water tank and turn left (west). Follow the road to the old Lynx Loop Road and turn right (north). Follow the trail around the Lynx Loop to Old Hunter Road. Turn left on Old Hunter Road and follow the trail up Rattle Hill. The Orange Trail meets the Blue Trail on Old Hunter Road and follows it to the top of Rattle Hill.

RATTLE HILL -- At the top of Rattle Hill (Elevation -- 2,400 feet above sea level) is the intersection of the Orange Trail to the caves. In the early days of Onteora Scout Reservation. an outpost lean-to was constructed to provide an area for patrol camping.

TOM QUICK'S POND -- Continue straight ahead on Old Hunter Road for about 1 mile from the top of Rattle Hill, you will see Tom Quick's Pond on your left. This was constructed by Tom Quick, the man who logged most of the country around here and has been a great assistance in blazing many of our original trails. You are now on the Catskill Forest Preserve. All State Regulations govern use of the preserve. Be careful of the dam because it is broken.  

2001 update: There is a dispute over the use of the trail past this point. Until the owner of the surrounding land and the State work it out, hikers are advised to use the new State trail towards Frick Pond and then on to Alder Lake.

BEAVER KILL ROAD --- Further down Old Hunter Road it comes out on a paved road which runs left to Beaver Kill and right to Lew Beach.

BEAVER KILL -- Go left at Beaver Kill Road for about a hundred yards before turning right into the woods. You will shortly come out into a large meadow. Finally, Beaver Kill Road forks at a sign indicating Beaver Kill State Park. With Beaver Kill Road going to the left and the state park to the right, continue down the road for about a quarter mile over the covered bridge to the campsite.

LEW BEACH -- If you go about a half mile (right) from the Beaver Kill, Old Hunter Road turnoff. You come upon the town of Lew Beach.

TRAIL END -- Return to camp following the Blue Trail along the route used previously.


Bring the Following -- Flashlights, long pants and thick rope

Points of Interest -- Hiking Stump, U.S. Geology Survey Bench Marker, Rattle Hill, Blue Trail, Rock Formations, Smaller Caves, Larger Caves

Begin -- From the Long House Parade Field at the "Hiking Stump." Take the main road past James E. West Program Shelter and the Buckskin Craft Lodge (north). The trail turns left at the bend in the main road to old Chiefs Camp. Follow the trail past the Council House Storage Facility, which served as a dining hall from 1962 through 1975. A United States Geology Survey Bench Marker is located on the southwest side of the building. Follow the trail past the storage facility to the old Lynx Loop Road.

OLD HUNTER ROAD -- The Orange Trail and the Blue Trail meet at the old Lynx Loop Road, and proceeds north up the Old Hunter Road. This Road was built by John Hunter in 1815 and opened the area for settlement. The Orange Trail and Blue Trail will run together to the top of Rattle Hill.

RATTLE HILL -- It then emerges at the top of Rattle Hill (Elevation 2,400 feet above sea level). The Blue Trail continues north to Beaver Kill. The Orange Trail turns to the right (east) towards the caves. After a while you will see a large rock formation on your left.

THE TOP OF THE CLIFF -- The trail turns and you climb to the top of the cliff. Soon you will see the first cave.

CAVES --- All other small caves you must find by yourself. This is all part of the adventure of finding caves. Most small caves are between the top and the bottom of the rock hill as you continue on the trail.

ON THE TOP OF THE HILL -- Continue on trail along cliff with small cave on right. Finally the cliff will disappear on your right.

LOGGING ROAD -- Soon you will come to an old logging road. Make a right and follow the road for a very short distance. Then turn left and head up onto another rock hill.

TRAIL END  -- Return to camp following the Orange Trail along the route used previously.

NOTE -- This hike REQUIRES adult and/or camp staff leadership!


POINTS OF INTEREST -- Mongaup Pond State Campsite (side hike), Mongaup Creek Waterfalls (side hike), Catskill State Fish Hatchery, Old Hunter Road, Old Cemetery, Onteora Parking Lot

BEGINS -- Start at the Long House Hiking Stump. Follow the main road to the Buckskin Craft Lodge (marked with yellow markers). Then you go off on the right to the Navajo Loop Road. Again, see marker on trees indicating this is the Yellow Trail. From here on, be careful to follow only the yellow markers. The trail turns left before Navajo campsite towards the Power Line Trail.

POWER LINE TRAIL -- The Yellow Trail parallels the Power Line Trail, which is the route for the power and telephone lines for the camp. The Power Line Trail requires extensive repair due to erosion -please follow the Yellow Trail to the right (downhill). Follow the trail to the Lake Road.

KENNETH HEIM MEMORIAL CAMPFIRE RING -- The Yellow Trail turns left (north) at the Lake Road at the Kenneth Heim Memorial Campfire Ring, which is named for the first reservation director of Onteora Scout Reservation. Camp-wide campfires and the Order of the Arrow call-out ceremonies are held in this area. Go north on the lake road to the Main Road and then go right (east).

PARADE FIELD -- The Yellow Trail crosses the main parade field. When the N.Y. Trout and Skeet Club owned the camp, the club's manor house was located to the North of the flagpole. Follow the trait through the Buckskin Council Fire Ring, the reservation campfire area. The trail goes southeast to the end of the parking area.

UP THE HILL -- Continue up the trail from the parking area, located at the southeast corner. Follow the trail for 3/10 of a mile. Soon you will come to a dirt road. This road is the Old Hunter Road.

OLD HUNTER ROAD -- This part of the trail is part of the Old Hunter Road which was built in 1815 by John Hunter and opened the area to settlement. The road will go directly to the New York State Fish Hatchery.

OLD CEMETERY -- There appears on the right an old cemetery. The oldest stone is dated 1855. It is interesting to note the epitaphs carved on some of the older stones.

NEW YORK STATE CATSKILL FISH HATCHERY -- The large building is the New York State Fish Hatchery. The entrance is just past the building. Here 1/2 million trout are raised under controlled conditions to stock the rivers and streams of the Catskills. Scouts are asked to be, at all times, good Scouts and not disturb or touch the fish or any equipment as this would upset there controlled breeding process. The Scouts could also feed the fish. An artesian well is used to pump the water into the Hatchery.

RETURN TRIP -- Follow the Old Hunter Road back approximately 2 1/2 miles.

TRAIL ENDS -- Half mile from the top of the mountain the Old Hunter Road turns left. At this point continue straight onto a trail which, in 3/10 mile, takes you into the Onteora parking lot. Follow the Yellow Trail markers back past the Long Island Trading Post, Navajo Campsite and the Buckskin Craft Lodge to the Long House Hiking Stump.

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