Mineral Springs Falls
Location: South of Mountainville; in the southwest corner of Black Rock Forest; town of Cornwall; Orange County; New York
Directions: The forest’s main entrance is located off of Rt-9W just west of Storm King State Forest. Turn south onto Reservoir Rd to get to the main entrance. To start closer to the falls, further west of Reservoir Rd, from Rt-9W head south on Angola Rd and take that for about 2 miles. Veer left onto Mineral Springs Rd and follow that for 1.3 miles until you reach Old Mineral Springs Rd. There will be a small parking area at the trailhead about 0.1 miles down.
Parking: Parking off of Old Mineral Springs Rd, which had room for about 6-8 cars, was closed as of 2021, but plans have been announced to re-open it in the spring of 2022. This is the closest parking area to the falls, but also gets packed. If you want to just see the falls, this may be the best starting point for you if you can get a spot, as the hike to the falls is about a half mile. Map
If you have a full day to hike some great trails, head to the forest entrance at the north end. There’s parking for over 40 cars. From here, the falls is about 5.5 miles southeast. Map
A third option is a small lot at the south end of Mine Hill Road, located about half-way between the previously mentioned entrances. The hike to the falls from here is about 3 miles, but the trail directions are a bit confusing as you will need to hop from one colored trail to another at random points. Map
Information / Accessibility / Accommodations
Number of falls: 1
Size/Types: About a 60 ft tall cascade (in three segments). The bottom is a 40 ft tall cascade that fans out and bulges in the middle, which often splits the bottom half of the cascade into two parts. Above this are two more drops, each about 10 ft tall. Not all segments can be seen at once, but you can get a glimpse of all of them at varying distances by walking up the trail.
Best time to visit: Spring through early Fall. Hunting is allowed in this forest, and the hiking trails are usually closed Mid-November to the beginning of December. Check blackrockforest.org for details on closings.
Flow: Moderate. It can get a little dry at times, especially in late summer, but it’s usually flowing.
Waterway: The network of dozens of ponds in this range mostly feed small streams that head right down into the adjacent Hudson. Sutherland Pond heads in the opposite direction, feeding Mineral Spring Brook, which flows past the falls and west about 3 miles to Woodbury Creek. Woodbury Creek heads north a few miles to Mountainville where it flows into Moodna Creek as Moodna rounds a bend. Moodna Creek reaches the Hudson a few miles north at the village of Cornwall-on-the-Hudson. The Hudson flows south to New York City and the Atlantic Ocean.
Time: If you were able to park in the west lot at Old Mineral Springs Rd, that trail will take about a half hour. If you are coming from the North, you are looking at about 3 hours. You could spend a whole day hiking all the trails.
Seasons/Hours: Dawn until dusk. The forest may be closed to the public in deer hunting season (late fall).
Admission: Free. You can make donations to the organization that owns the forest.
Handicap Accessibility: No special accommodations have been made. The trails are uneven, rocky, and have moderate gradients.
Pets: Dogs are allowed, but there is a strict leash policy.
Fishing: Only allowed in Sutherland Pond and Mineral Spring Brook.
Accommodations: Miles of trails; birding; opportunities for study; public events; lean-tos; restrooms (although scarce); summer science camp; Education Center; Science Center; Lodge; the Hudson Highlands Nature Museum is just north of the Forest.
Note: at least one guidebook refers to this location as “Mineral Spring Falls” (without the S). I have verified the correct name includes the s.
Black Rock Forest is a 3,920-acre, privately-owned preserve and biological field station. It’s located in the Hudson Highlands region near Cornwall-on-the-Hudson and adjacent to Storm King State Park. Dominated by deciduous maples and oaks, it features miles of trails (many of which are old logging roads) that wind around hilly terrain (the Highlands Province of the Appalachian Mountains) and cross small seasonal creeks that drain from the many ponds filling the valleys. Mineral Spring Brook is one of the few perennial streams in the forest, and it features this one waterfall, easily accessible from the main scenic trail. The 60 ft cascade at the south end of the forest is a simple hike from the western lot, while those seeking more adventure may want to start from the further northern end to take advantage of the moderately challenging trails, many of which traverse hilltops for breathtaking views. Surrounding the area of the falls is a patch of old growth hemlock, a rarity in this region.
The forest, run by the Black Rock Forest Consortium, caters to research and education and has the infrastructure to support these programs. It’s possible you may encounter some facilities, equipment, and personnel along the way. School and scout programs can take larger hiking trips, but private groups need to register before visits. Older buildings from previous ownership, as well as newly constructed buildings are primarily dedicated for education and research and are green buildings, utilizing clever construction techniques and (often retrofitted) technology to showcase this environmental strategy.
There are also some magnetite mineral deposits in certain areas that may interfere with compass function. Keep that in mind as you navigate.
Deer hunting is allowed in the forest for Consortium members only, and during this time (late fall), trails are likely closed to visitors.
Hiking / Walking Trails
Difficulty: Moderate. The Forest Trails. If you are taking the short path from Old Mineral Springs Rd, there is a moderate incline over a dirt path with exposed stones and roots. If you are coming the long way from the main entrance, it’s more of the same for much longer.
Markings: Teal diamond markers for the Highland Trail. This trail overlaps with the White squares of the Scenic Trail.
Distance: From the West at Old Mineral Springs Rd: about a half mile.
From the North at the Forest main entrance off of Reservoir Rd: about 6 miles, give or take.
Description: I’m going to cover the trail coming from the west at Old Mineral Springs Rd. If this trail is not accessible, walking the 6 miles from the main forest entrance in the north is an alternative, but too complex to cover thoroughly and safely here.
Park on the side of the Old Mineral Springs Rd in the designated area (look for signs). The trailhead has a green steel gate and green signs with a teal diamond marker nailed to a tree and 3 white squares painted below it. Mineral Spring Brook will be on your right. Shortly up the trail will be a kiosk with forest information and a map. Snap a photo of the map if you plan on exploring beyond the falls and need it. About 1/4 of a mile in, the white blazed trail will head left. The falls is on your right and there’s a foot-blazed trail leading down to the base of the falls. Back-track to the main trail and follow it uphill, past some erosion and wildlife control areas and you should pass the smaller drops of the falls on your right. You can head back to your car or continue to see what else the forest has to offer.
Mineral Springs Falls Interactive Map
In the 1800s logging and mining were the predominant uses of this land, with some records of farmsteads on the property. The springs and the waterfall, thought to be therapeutic, were used for bathing and attracted some tourism from nearby Cornwall-on-the-Hudson.
Dr. Ernest G. Stillman (a medical doctor from an affluent family) purchased the land in 1928, establishing it as a research forest. He also purchased and has donated land to the parks commission to help establish the adjacent Storm King State Park. Research conducted in the newly established forest focused on forestry and silviculture. Calvin W. Stillman, Ernest’s son, who was involved in many of the early studies, became the first professor of Environmental Science at Rutgers University.
Upon Ernest Stillman’s death in 1949, the forest was willed to Harvard University, his alma mater. Harvard continued the research objectives of the forest and even began opening more publically-accessible trails.
In the 1960s, Consolidated Edison announced plans to construct a pumped-storage hydroelectric plant at Storm King Mountain, which would flood a considerable portion of the forest. This kicked off a large environmentalist movement, one of the first in the nation’s history, which would span nearly 20 years. A settlement with Con Edison was reached in 1980, putting an end to the planned plant.
In 1989 the forest was purchased from Harvard University by William T. Golden, a financier, philanthropist, and science enthusiast and the Black Rock Forest Consortium was formed to maintain it. It continues to operate as a research field station.
Mineral Springs Falls Media
Contributor Photos & Art
At this time I have not been able to get out to this site and photograph yet. In the meantime, those with suitable photos or original works of art, who would like to be featured here, please contact me. Photos, paintings, and illustrations would be subject to quality review, and not all will be accepted. Your work can be accompanied by a link to your site/store/insta.