One of the most fascinating natural attractions in the Hudson Valley is the Stone Church. The trip is long and tiring, but it’s well worth it. The trail starts off going along a wooded path. The trees are young, but they grow to provide welcome shade to tourists. You can cross a wooden bridge across the brook that flanks the trail.
There is a wonderful pond and several trails in a little field. It used to be possible to go down the gorge and past the cave to some wonderful views of the water coming down the slopes above the Church, but these trails no longer lead along the top of the valley.
In the 17th century, Native Americans used Stone Church as a hiding place. It was being used for weddings by the 19th century.
According to local lore, the Church was once used by Pequot sachem Sassacus as a hiding place. In 1636, the Pequot, a Native American tribe that had occupied much of what is now Connecticut, fought a coalition of British and Mohegan. After the Mystic Massacre and Pequot War, the remaining Pequot took refuge in New York with Sassacus.
Although there is no proof that Sassacus sought sanctuary in the Church, the legend persists in the local community and is widely believed. Sassacus continued his advance into New York before being murdered by the Mohawk and having his scalp delivered back to Connecticut as a gesture of good faith to the British.
Since the Harlem Line of the New York Central Railroad was built through Dover Plains in the late 1800s and early 1900s, the Stone Church has seen an influx of visitors from all over the world.
What Makes Stone Church Appealing?
The Stone Church itself is the primary draw. On the way to the cave, you can enjoy the creek’s beautiful cascades and relax on the nearby rocks. If you’re lucky, you might even discover a pineapple at the cave’s mouth. Apparently, when pineapples are submerged in water, they become extremely soft and rotten, exploding in your hand and drifting off down the creek.
Moreover, this place is stocked with rocks that can be traversed on foot to access more levels of the Church. Icicles form on the walls throughout the winter, giving the building an entirely new appearance. The Stone Church isn’t very large; however, it is a beautiful sight to behold and a pleasant place to rest after a stroll through the woods.
The significance of the Stone Church’s moniker becomes immediately apparent as you approach the building’s front door. The brook has eroded the stone into a steeple-like triangular archway. The Church is bathed in beautiful, dazzling light as sunlight filters in through a crack in the cave roof and dances on the water. The waterfall in the back of the cave is roughly 30 feet high, yet you can see only a small amount from the cave front due to the rock that serves as a pulpit.
The Look of Stone Church
The metamorphic rock cavern at Stone Church is shaped like a church’s cathedral window, and it features a waterfall that cascades through the cave’s interior. The Stone Church Brook enters the cave and exits downstream. Dover Plains residents can find the entry just off Route 22 down by the traffic signal.
Nearby Attractions You Can Enjoy on Your Trip
If you are done with your tour pretty early than expected, try to visit the following nearby attractions:
1. Cruise Along the Hudson
The Dutch Apple II, 90-minute Albany, New York cruise will take you down the majestic Hudson River. Pay close attention as an expert discusses the region and river’s history, including the development of various industries. Discover the boat’s interior, inspired by the classic Hudson River Dayliners, and take in the scenery as you watch freighters, barges, and tugboats pass you by. Don’t forget to bring a camera or binoculars so you can take some pictures of the eagles and other species that call this area home.
2. Bronx Zoo
You may see a wide variety of animals without leaving New York City with a visit to the Bronx Zoo. Explore the zoo to see the JungleWorld, Congo Gorilla Forest, and the Butterfly Garden, among other exhibits.
Contrary to popular belief, the Bronx zoo is not an artificial structure but a natural cave-like rock formation with a waterfall inside. It’s a short hike to an impressive natural landmark. The level of recognition for this location deserves to be higher than it currently is.
How to Reach Stone Church?
Get to the city of Dover from Brewster by taking Route 22 up north. You can leave your vehicle at Dover Elementary School, located on the east side of the route, as long as classes are not in session. Turn left and head north half a block. The right-of-way begins at a tiny dirt road that seems like the entrance to someone’s driveway; however, after traveling about 150 feet, you emerge from the woods onto a wide-open field.
Take the easement from Route 22 to the field’s edge. The route drops steeply for a little distance before crossing the meadow and heading directly into a large tree. The trail continues beneath the trees once you reach the massive tree at the far end of the meadow.
You’ll reach a fork in the road. Once you do, bear left. The trail draws you further to the water’s edge of Stone Church Brook and then crosses a bridge across the brook to a grassy area with small ponds.
After you’ve passed the bridge, keep to the right and follow the stream up the hill. The terrain will get rocky as you make your way deeper down the valley. The stones are damp and coated with moss or algae in many places. The high humidity and lush vegetation create a rainforest-like ambiance in the ravine during the summer months. The gorge’s walls will begin to rise steeply, marking the approach of the Stone Church.
The Stone Church is a popular destination in New York. Since it was located on private land, it had been a challenging spot to visit. However, things have changed now. The municipality of Dover purchased the land, making it easier for tourists to explore this beautiful location. Go and have a blast!