Without a doubt, the most rugged trail in Westchester County is the Camp Smith Trail, which rewards a hiker with many panoramic views along its route.
The blue-blazed Camp Smith Trail starts behind historic Bear Mountain Bridge toll house, 0.7 mile north of the entrance to Camp Smith on Bear Mountain Road, Route 6/202. At first, the trail parallels the road, climbing steadily. It drops steeply through a rock field and turns left before reaching a massive cliff. Staying within sight and sound of the road, it works its way gradually uphill, crossing small ridges. At 0.6 mile, it begins a serious ascent of Manitou Mountain, soon climbing very steeply on a series of rock steps. It turns left to reach a viewpoint to the south. Turning right, it crosses the top of an open rock face.
The Camp Smith Trail drops slightly and resumes its steady ascent of Manitou Mountain. It passes through a gully as it approaches viewpoints on the brow of the mountain. Two pines beckon hikers to sit and savor the view of Iona Island at 0.9 mile. The trail turns away from the river and then left again toward a rock outcropping with views. It then turns right and away from the views to begin its descent. The rock steps, switchbacks, and sidehill construction make it possible to safely descend the extremely steep talus slope.
At 1.2 miles, the Camp Smith Trail reaches the bottom of the slope, crosses a flat area, turns gradually left, and arrives at a small rock outcropping with a view. From the viewpoint, the trail leads inland and then turns once again towards the river for another view to the west. Leaving the view, the trail continues the gradual descent, crossing intermittent brooks. At 1.9 miles, it reaches a parking area on Route 6/202 at a large bend in the road, 2.2 miles north of the entrance to Camp Smith.
Continuing north to Anthony's Nose, the trail crosses Broccy Creek and heads gradually uphill, paralleling the road. After turning away from the road, it joins and leaves woods roads and crosses streams. Rising out of a ravine, the trail turns right at 2.4 miles, onto a rock outcropping with views of the Hudson River, Iona Island, and Bear Mountain-Harriman State Park. Paralleling the river high over the road, the trail first drops slightly then begins to climb steeply.
At 2.7 miles, another rock outcropping with a view offers an excuse to stop before tackling the remaining unrelenting assault up Anthony's Nose. Along the last 0.4 mile, there are both seasonal and year-round views from open rock slabs. The trail drops down off the summit to join a woods road. Follow it straight ahead to panoramic views of the Hudson River, the Bear Mountain Bridge, and Bear Mountain-Harriman State Park. A right turn takes hikers to the Appalachian Trail, where the Camp Smith Trail ends at 3.7 miles. Follow the white blazes to the left and descend steeply for 0.6 mile to Route 9D.Â
Camp Smith (military reservation) is about 50 feet to the right of the trail in most places on the way to the Nose. It is heavily used by the military and may include live gunfire. For your safety, you must stay on the marked trail. Many places to the left of the trail there are steep cliffs that drop down to the Bear Mountain Road. For your safety and the motorists below, please stay on the trail lest you dislodge rocks onto the cars.
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