Harriman, The Timp — Oct. 30, 2010


  • Map: Harriman Park — North Half, NY/NJ TC
  • Trails: 1777, Timp-Torne, Ramapo-Dunderberg
  • Type: Modified out-and-back
  • Distance: a few miles; time: about two hours

Getting There

Park at the hiker’s lot on US 9W, less than a mile north of where Cty Rte 118 comes out.  The lot is on the right if you are going north, and there are no signs indicating this is a trailhead lot, but it’s pretty big as these things go, although I think there’s an abandoned truck or car there for keeps.  To get to the trailhead for the 1777, carefully cross 9W and head north for a little bit and you can see the red plastic blazes with 1777 on them.

The Hike

I like the Timp, which is a peak within Harriman that provides a tremendous bang for the buck.  By that I mean, with a little exertion, you can be at the top of this cliff in under an hour with a great view, and (depending on the weather and crowds) find a great spot to sit and contemplate your existence.  For history nuts like me, it’s also a chance to traipse through a path that those British lobsterbacks did in 1777, on their way to capture Forts Montgomery and Clinton on the Hudson.  When you first hit the trail, there’s a nice little sign board describing the history of this trail (as well as the 1779 trail, which is not part of this hike):

Historical 1777 Trail

This hike only goes over a small bit of the historic trail, so the first goal is to reach the blue-blazed Timp-Torne trail, so named because it runs over two major peaks in the park, the Timp and Popolopen Torne, for a distance of almost 11 miles.  Today we just want to get up to the Timp and back because we have food shopping to do later.

About a half mile up the 1777, there is an unmarked trail, the Jones Trail, that comes in from the right.  I’ve come down this trail a couple of times to hit the 1777, but on this day it seemed impossible to find, both on my way up and my way back.  It’s relatively easy to pick up from the Timp-Torne trail if you start from there further north on 9W, but it was not revealing itself to me this day.  There was a cairn on the 1777 trail approximately where the Jones should have been, but there was no obvious trail to see there.

After missing the Jones, you skirt above Tompkins Lake, which can only be seen when the leaves are gone, and just barely.  This looks like a nice little community pond, and there is a clear path that seems to lead down there, but I’m not big into invading other people’s private property.  After this point, the trail gets steeper and rocky, so it’s time to bear down and make some altitude.  If you push, you can probably hit the T-T in about 15 minutes.  There’s a big rock in the middle of the trails’ intersection, so you can’t miss it.  Hang a left here and take the T-T west over some more rocky stuff.

The trail map shows a vista star less than a half mile in from here, right around the junction with the unmarked Red Timp trail (which I’ve never walked since it leads into a Girl Scout camp which does not want hikers strolling through).  There is a viewpoint here, although on this particular day, it was a bit cloudy.  You can see NYC from here, but this is not the big view.  A little more plugging, and you’re at the top.

The Timp has about a 270-degree view.   The view to the south-east is blocked by trees, but you can see the river to the north, and all around counter-clockwise to the south.  Here’s the best shot I got on this day, when the autumn leaves were maybe a bit past peak:

Atop the Timp, Looking North

Through the trees on the right you can see the Bear Mountain Bridge.  Curiously, the BMB held the title of longest suspension bridge in the world when it opened in 1924.  That lasted for just over a year and a half, when the Ben Franklin Bridge between Camden and Philadelphia was opened.  (Both bridges I’ve had the pleasure of driving over many times!)  We’ll probably get a closer look at the BMB in future posts, but here’s a picture I took while walking over it this September (looking north):

Bear Mountain Bridge, Looking North

Like I said, the views from the Timp are worth stopping to enjoy.  You can see the Perkins Memorial tower atop Bear Mountain:

Perkins Memorial Tower on Bear Mountain from the Timp

Perkins Memorial Tower on Bear Mountain from the Timp

This day, the wind was a little tough, although moving to the north side of the peak and taking a few steps down into the rocks cut down the wind quite a bit.  The colors were nice, if not stunning, but that was mostly due to the light.  After a nice contemplative rest, I headed back down the T-T, but took the split for the Ramapo-Dunderberg trail to avoid retracing my steps.  This crosses the 1777, within sight of the T-T, so you just hang a right and pick up your return path.  If you are adventurous, you can go left on the T-T trail when when you hit it and then try to pick up that Jones trail on the right after a mile and a half.  But since I was on the express, I just backtracked on the 1777 and got back to the car pretty quickly.

This was a nice, short hike with some good views, and nothing too strenuous.

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