An easy hike on well-worn paths makes a visit to The Stone Church in Dover Plains a fantastic choice for an outing. Along with the cave, there are three hiking trails that offer woods and mountaintop views.

It’s so important to have a day to rest and recreate. Getting out in nature can be a type of “virtuous rest” that rejuvenates us. I wrote about that here.

My day to step away from my work and enjoy art, creation, or whatever is Friday. On this particular Friday, I chose to go for a hike in Dover Plains, New York to see “The Stone Church.” The Stone Church is a metamorphic rock formation that has a brook running down and through it. It is part of a preserve and is nestled into a ravine whose walls rise 300 feet above the cave.

The cave’s name is inspired by its Gothic (pointed) arch opening and within it is a large stone that is called “The Pulpit.” The trail is well-marked with stable stepping stones.

The location details can be found at Dutchess Tourism. Note that parking is found in the downtown street area with a quick walk across Hwy 22 to the well-maintained footpaths.

With a start like this, you know you are in for a treat.

We Begin the Walk to the Stone Church

The sky was a mix of bright winter blue with scarcely a cloud in the sky. What was so beneficial for me was the lack of foot traffic. Besides two people I met on the way out, I had the area to myself. I used this hike and this time in creation to give thanks to God for the beauty of creation and to think about various aspects of my life.

“The first reference to the Dover Stone Church comes from legend dating back to the mid- 1600’s when Pequot sachem Sassacus who, with his warriors, hid in the cave to escape capture and death by the British Army.” Source

Once you are in the preserve, you can depend on adequate signage, cared-for trails, and the beauty of creation. As I entered the preserve I easily followed the footpath, a mix of dirt and small gravel until I came to a small wooden bridge. At this point, I could hear the sound of moving water, and an interesting coolness developed as I moved into the shade of the ravine.

After crossing the wooden bridge you will see a wooden sign directing you to the three hiking trails that are up the ravine and an arrow directing you toward the cave. Follow the path that is on the left side of the brook. You will notice a wooden cross sign that directs you to cross over the brook via a wooden bridge. The other side is dangerously slippery due to the accumulation of algae.

The Cave/Entrance of The Stone Church

It took me less than 20 minutes to arrive at the opening of the cave. The water level was low so I was able to carefully move from stone to stone to a dry sitting area in the middle of the cave.

Besides the beautiful cave and its solitary nature, I then took a peaceful hike to the lookout point (the blue trail).

The Look-Out

The primary sounds I heard while on the blue trail were my feet rustling the leaves as I walked, the squirrels jumping to and fro, and the chilly wind in the trees.

A friend of mine who helps maintain sections of the Appalachian Trail explained to me that while hiking on a marked trail you should be able to stand at one blaze (trail marker usually fastened to a tree) and see the next one. There’s something good about knowing someone has walked the trail before you and has prepared the way.

Location

For address and map and parking help, please click here.

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