Hike Dover's Stone Church
New York › Dover Stone Church Trailhead
Added by Shaun O'Neill
5+ miles of year round hiking trailsTo the church and back is 1.2 milesElevation Gain: 180 feetKid and dog friendly creek side trailA gorgeous explorable cave with a waterfall in itIncredible ice formations in winter
Dover Stone Church has been a beautiful and popular destination in the Hudson Valley for some time, and recently the park purchased a new parcel of land and added three trails through the nearby woods. But the gem of the park is, and always will be, the impressive cave with the creek and waterfall flowing through it.
There is no designated parking lot for the park, and you definitely cannot park at the trailhead, but there are any number of options for public parking. Personally I park at the elementary school just a little bit south and across the street from the trail. The beginning of the trail is fairly easy to miss, though it does have one of the blue and gold landmark signs at the main road. Follow the dirt road between the houses and you'll come to a large sign that designates the beginning of the trail.
Head down the first set of stairs and cross the open field between two rows of trees, so that you can go back up another set of stairs. If you're doing this in winter and there's plenty of fresh snow, snow shoes can be a huge help through this area. After the stairs you'll head along the creek, pass an informational board about the history of the Dover Stone Church, and cross the stream on a well built foot bridge. This is where your time in the park becomes a choose your own adventure.
Just past the bridge is where the three new trails break off of the original path that ends at the cave, marked as Red, Yellow, and Blue. Blue is a 1.5 mile round trip up back, the most challenging of the three trails. Not difficult by any means, but a slight and steady uphill that ends with an open rock which is home to gnarly dwarf pines and farmland views. Yellow is a 1 mile loop that actually shares some length of trail with Blue. You can take Blue to the end, begin your way back, and then loop around Yellow for some extra mileage which is my personal favorite. Yellow winds through the woods and teases you with light through the trees that might open up to views but at this time none do. Red is a very level 1 mile loop that has one small look out with a view of... McDonald's. Keep in mind that these trails are new (as of July 2015) and while they are extremely well marked they're still not very worn so just keep an eye on the markers and you'll be good to go!
As nice an addition as the new trails are, the real payoff is the Stone Church itself. The stone path following the creek is beautiful enough on its own, but strolling straight into the mouth of the cave and rock hopping your way to the waterfall in the back truly a glorious experience. Watch your footing in winter obviously because ice can build up but the moving water usually keeps it to a minimum. Unfortunately in summer there's not usually enough water to swim, but the temperature difference in the cave is a refreshing change of pace. If you go during peak times be prepared to share the cave with plenty of others but it's worth waiting your turn. This short hike with an amazing payoff is a great place to bring kids and new hikers to get them truly excited about the beautiful places they can find with a little bit of effort.
- Camera (Tripod suggested for those sweet long exposure water shots)
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We did the trail yesterday, and it's a great easy hike for an awesome payout. The actual cavern and waterfall are really cool to see. Not a difficult hike by an means, but definitely worth the effort to get there. Glad I found your write up here!
I came here yesterday with some friends and it was really cool. The Trail Head was a little hard to find but it was just north of the Elementary school across the street with the traffic light. (my GPS wasn't very accurate). Defiantly would go again and suggest exploring around. My friends and I hiked around to the back of the cave as well and there are some neat private waterfalls back there too. NOTE: the cave with the waterfall is not on any of the marked trails, just follow the path next to the stream! (We were a little confused at first)
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