Onteora Scout Reservation:
|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.
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
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.
OTHER HIKING OPPORTUNITIES INCLUDE:
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.
NOTIFICATION AND SUPERVISION
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
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!
WILDLIFE 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
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
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
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
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
TRAIL END -- At Keuka Campsite, turns left (west) off the road and
return to the Long House Dining Facility parade field and to the
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.