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Location: Stone Church, Dover Plains, Dutchess county
WaterfallWaterfalls and dam spillwaysDog friendlyDog frienldy, bring a leashWalkRequires excessive walkingUnderground exploration manmade or natural such as caves, mines or tunnels</span></a><a class=boxpopup3 href=Woodland TrailsWoodland Trails

The Dover “Stone Church” is a geological formation of metaphoric rock on the Stone Church Brook, a tributary of the Ten Mile River, and is located on the Taconic Ridge in the northwest corner of the town of Dover. Because the formation is similar in size and shape to a church’s cathedral and stained glass window, tourists and naturalists have been drawn to this site for more than 200 years. The Dover Stone Church is a remarkable rock grotto with a hidden natural cleft in the mountain through which Stone Church Creek flows. There are two 20-foot high waterfalls in the first chamber, and the grotto runs about 30 feet tall by 80 feet deep here.

Dover Stone Church is a cavern shaped as a church steeple or stained glass window. Inside the cavern is two waterfalls, one above the other. The second, taller waterfall is hidden deeper inside the cavern. There was once a crudely constructed ladder that one could climb to get a better look but the town removed it for safety reasons. In the mid 1900’s the cavern was a popular tourist attraction that drew painters and explorers from far around. Its popularity dwindled and eventually became privately owned and cut off completely from the public. Now it is once again owned by the town and open to the public. It’s about a ¾ mile easy walk through grasslands and forest accessed just off route 22 between two houses. There is a blue historic marker at the entrance. You can park in the school parking lot a short distance away. There is no parking at the site. I visited Stone Church the day after a very heavy rain fall. The cavern was completely under rushing water. I took off my shoes and wandered in. Crayfish attacked my feet as I stood taking pictures. I was unable to get back to the second waterfall.

The trail to the cavern is quite remarkable. Once you duck in off the main road between two houses, climb down several stairs, traverse through a manicured trail lined with evenly planted trees then cross over a foot bridge, you feel like you’re entering into a magical secret world. The trail follows the stream up through the woods and before you know it, you are staring at the oddly shaped cavern. The very same cavern where the Pequot Indian Chief Sassacus took refuge during the Pequot War around 1637 just before he was killed by the Mohawk Indians. Sassacus was losing the war and was trying to reach Albany to enlist the help the Mohawk in that area. Instead they killed him and sent his scalp back to Hartford as a symbolic offering of Mohawk friendship with the Connecticut Colony.

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