Sloan Gorge Preserve

A super-short but super-fun hike through hemlock woods that descends into a rocky gorge with dramatic cliffs and a wonderful chimney/rock-passage to climb through.

Hike Length: 1.6 miles (2.57 km)

Total Ascent: 62ft (19m)

Intensity: Easy Catskills Hike

Route Type: Loop

Includes: Blazed Trail, Stream Crossing

Parent Overlook

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The Chimney (looking back out)

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 Two connected loops, one very short to the quarry, the longer one runs through the gorge.

Hiking Trail Description

Sloan Gorge Preserve offers an absolutely delightful, short, and family-friendly nature walk.

The parking lot here is tiny. It fits only 3-4 cars. When it’s full, people park along the side of the road. If you need to do this, park as close to the trailhead as you can, and away from the nearby homes.

Sloan Gorge Preserve is managed by the Woodstock Land Conservancy who describe it as…

“a treasure trove of mixed hardwood and coniferous forests, vernal pools, a seasonal stream, and bluestone quarries, and has the first interpretive “geology trail” in the area. It is home to bear, fox, deer, raccoon, possum, porcupines, and a wide variety of birds and woodland flora.”

This is a place I love to revisit in different seasons. It’s so short and so packed with fun nooks and crannies. It’s a great place to bring families.

Sloan Gorge Preserve Trail Guide

The iron gateway below — trusses that came from what is reputed to be one of the oldest wrought-iron bridges in New York State — marks the beginning and end of the Sloan Gorge hiking trails.

iron entrance
Preserve Entrance

Not far from the gate, you come to the first intersection. The Quarry trail is very short and makes for a nice bonus at the end of the gorge hike — though the trail system here prefers you to start with the quarry and then go down into the gorge.

It doesn’t really matter, as both loops connect, and you can do them in any order.

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On this day, I turned right and headed down the Gorge Loop Trail

trail signs
Turn right for the main loop through the gorge

Hemlock Woods

Follow the yellow blazes. The first half of the gorge loop passes through a long, beautiful hemlock stand. Hemlock trees love water, and this is a great location for them.

There are many old stone fences, too.

stone fence in woods
Stone fence

On the left side of the trail, you’ll be walking below plenty of rock drama.

rock outcrop
Rock overhang

The trail rises up a little way via this scramble, and an incline, into a long winding section through peaceful hemlock woods…

rock scramble
Scramble up this rock scramble

cliff face
Easy incline by a small cliff

Before descending into the gorge, you‘ll pass a slightly sketchy section with large rock outcropppings on the right and a steep slope on the left.

rocky pass
Rock drama

The Gorge

The trail descends into a gorge proper via a short switchback. Follow the yellow blazes along the right side of the water’s edge, passing along the base of these ragged cliffs.

Dramatic cliffs

stream and rock
The Gorge

One note here for warmer months: bring your bug spray. With all this standing water, there are plenty of mosquitos even in April.

The Chimney

Less than half way along the gorge, you’ll come to The Chimney.

This is a spur so you can either visit The Chimney and then return to the yellow trail, which carries on along the water’s edge, or you can climb through two short passages as a mini-bushwhack before returning to the yellow trail on the other side.

The Chimney (approach)

The Chimney (entrance)

The Chimney (looking back out)

chimney interior
The Chimney (interior)

The Chimney (interior, looking backwards again)

In the above photo, the view is looking back toward the entrance. But to the left and behind this vantage point, is a low lemon-squeeze. Carefully climb down through it, watching your head, to enter the second passage.

The view below (from inside the second passage) is again looking backwards from the far end. (So when you enter the passage, the tumble of roots you see on the right below will be on your left.)

The Chimney (second passage)

Climb up through the back of the second passage and down to the left to return to the yellow trail.

forest cliff face
Wear red in nature, you’ll look awesome

From here, the trail winds back and forth across the gorge, parts of which are wide and open, parts of which are narrower. Lots of variety, never boring.

Eventually, the trail winds back up out of the gorge, into the woods, and you will arrive at a well-marked junction. The parking area is to the left.

The Bluestone Quarry

You can start the bluestone quarry loop by either walking straight ahead or by turning right, past a small plaque that reads: “This property has been donated to the Woodstock Land Conservancy by Allan Edward Sloan, a Woodstock artist (1902-1999) to preserve a piece of this beautiful mountainside in its natural state for the enjoyment of all natural creatures. Dedicated September 8, 2001.“

The quarry loop is super short, taking only 4-5 minutes to complete but it’s pretty dramatic, and a completely different landscape from the gorge and the hemlock woods.

quarry wall
Quarry face

quarry interior
Quarry trail

Whichever direction you walk, you’ll come back to the second junction. The walk to the parking area from here takes only two or three minutes.

hemlock woods
Trail back to the parking area

Similar Hikes

You will also love the short, delightful Ashokan Quarry Trail and Israel Wittman Sanctuary.

This is a short hike — but, really, it’s more of a nature walk. It’s not a scenic hike but it’s so varied and entertaining I’ve added it to the list of best Catskills hikes.

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The parent mountain for this hike is Overlook.

If you do this hike, LMK how it went…

2 responses to “Sloan Gorge Preserve

  1. Did this today! Short but sweet. The gorge, cliffs, and rock chimney made it interesting and fun.

Your comments are welcome here…

Trailhead Info for this Hike

Very small lot with enough space for only 4 cars. When it’s full, people park by the side of the road, which is pretty quiet. Park away from homes.

Google Maps Location: 42.070485, -74.068624

The map below shows the exact topographic location of the trailhead

Cell Service

Spotty in the gorge and quarry but okay signal higher up and at the trailhead. My network is Verizon. YMMV.