Located in what was once the hunting ground of the Nochpeem, a member tribe of the Wappinger Confederacy, California Hill was included in Lot No. 5 of the Philipse Patent. California Hill, or Shaw’s Hill as it was then known, was obtained through fraudulent means from the Nochpeem tribe. This dubious ownership was later passed to the Loyalists Mary Philipse Morris and her husband Colonel Roger Morris of the British Army. In 1779 the New York Legislature passed an “Act of Attainder” allowing for the seizure of property from the Loyalists active during the War of Independence. On this hike you will see the ruins of two farms that date from those times, the Shaw/Rundle Farm and the Munger/Travis Farm. Both of these were occupied until the middle of the twentieth century.
After Lot No. 5 was seized by the Commissioners of Forfeiture in 1780, Robert Shaw, a patriot who had served in Colonel Ludington’s 7th Regiment of the Dutchess County Militia, purchased his 190-acre farm. You can see the ruins of the farm house, the old barn, and the well on the way to the top of California Hill. The road was originally called “Shaw Street” but is now officially “California Hill Road.”
The patriot Colonel Munger lived on the other farm. The house is located on the eastern ridge of the hill on the west side of “Munger Road.” It is believed that Sybil Ludington rode her horse up Munger Road on her April 26, 1777 night-time ride to call out the militia to repel the invading British forces from Danbury to Ridgefield.
This is a moderately difficult hike of about two and a half hours walking time. The old roads are rather eroded in places. There is a cross country (no path) section that is fairly easy. Total elevation change from the parking lot to the top of the hill is about 600 feet.
The members of the Kent CAC wish to thank Tom Maxson and Highlands Preservation, Inc. for the historical information that makes this hike so much more interesting than a simple wander through the beautiful Kent countryside.
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