Doris Duke – 26 March 2016

Info

  • Map: NYNJTC Sterling Forest
  • Trails: Doris Duke (Yellow DD on white)
  • Type: Loop
  • Distance:  4 miles
  • Time: 2.5 to 3 hours
  • Exertion: Moderate

Getting There

The directions on the NYNJTC web site for this hike are good, so find them here.  I took a my own way and got lost.

The Hike

If you’re checking dates on the posts, you can see it’s been some time since I’ve written up a hike.  As with most things, there are multiple reasons, which I need not go into here, but, oh what the hell, why not?  First off, no big hiking trip this summer.  The Mrs., the daughter, and me did take a summer trip to the Adirondacks in 2015, and we did hike up Mount Jo, which was nice although there was the fear we might have to leave the wife behind for the bears at some point.  I also did some roaming around Saratoga Springs park looking at the tufa, tasting the awful spring waters, and doing the battlefield tour.  But none of that got written up, possibly because I somehow managed to lose my Canon point and shoot camera, so now all I have left is the camera on my Nokia 930 Windows phone–not bad, but no Canon.  I’ve also skipped detailing some of the other hikes over the course of the year, and there were few of those that were not just re-runs of earlier hikes.  I took my brother-in-law Carl and niece Irena up Mt. Taurus which I wrote up a while ago.  And to be honest, I’m just feeling less inspired than in previous years.  My bad.

So this post is not so much about the Doris Duke Trail, as nice as it may be, as much as just a check-in that I’m still here and a chance to post some leftover pics from stray hikes that never made it to the page.

But first, the DD Trail hike.  This trail was completed last September, and it is a nicely appointed bit of work.  The 2013 Sterling Forest map mistakenly identifies this as a white blaze, when it should be yellow.  (Perhaps a later edition has updated this.)  In any case, there’s no doubt where you are when you arrive as the double-D blazes are quite distinctive.  The trail is basically a loop, with a little lollipop stick from the parking area.  I took the loop clockwise, so I bore left at the split off the stick.  It’s a pretty moderate walk uphill with one outlook of limited appeal.

First Overlook on DD Trail

First Overlook on DD Trail

This isn’t a trail with a lot of vistas, and this time of year is not particularly photogenic, the trees still barren and the snow long gone.  Nevertheless, there are a few points worth stopping at early on in the trek despite them not being starred on the trail map.  Near the top of the climb an outcrop has a view to the southeast of the Tuxedo Ridge ski area and its now snowless fields:

A Snowless Tuxedo Ridge in the Distance

A Snowless Tuxedo Ridge in the Distance

If you click on the pic you can make out the five or so trails that comprise this very small but convenient ski slope.  Unfortunately this season the place did not even open because of some kind of financial issues.  For whomever owns it (James Mezzetti according to their web site), that was probably a lucky break because the snow in the Northeast was very limited this year, and he would have gone crazy trying to keep the trails skiable.  Sadly, I think there’s a real risk that the place is permanently closed–a bummer for me because it was very nice to just throw the skis in the car and scoot over there in about 45 minutes for a few hours of relaxing skiing.

Coincidentally, one of my “lost hikes” from last year was a bit of a bushwhack up to the top of the mountain to see what it looked like several weeks after closing.

What Was Left of Tuxedo Ridge (2015)

What Was Left of Tuxedo Ridge (2015)

Looking up at the Lift (2015)

Looking up at the Lift (2015)

These were dated April 12th, and there was still lots of snow, whereas this year on March 26th there’s not a flake to be seen.  (Today as I write this–April 3rd–of course, we woke up this morning to snow-covered surfaces and are expecting more tonight–go figure.)

After DD flattens out a bit the next event is the meet up with the Allis Trail (blue) coming in from the south.  DD and Allis will run conjoined for about 3/4 of a mile, and since the Allis is also designated as part of the Highlands Trail, we’re approaching trail blaze Armageddon in some spots like this one:

Enough Blazes for Ya?

Enough Blazes for Ya?

Keeping with the overdoing it theme, there’s a little stretch of boilerplate where someone keenly fond of cairns has been at work:

Keen for Cairns

Keen for Cairns

In a while the DD diverges from Allis, and this is the only starred viewpoint on the DD loop:

Mombasha Lake

Mombasha Lake

This is looking more or less northward from the trail, and would probably be much nicer in the autumn when the leaves change.

After this point the descent begins, with no more vistas to be had.  There is a small pond or marsh which is nice enough with (purportedly) a beaver lodge ensconced:

Beaver Lodge

Beaver Lodge

I could not detect none of those creatures in or around that pile of sticks, but I’ll take the NYNJTC’s web page at its word.

A short jog back to the parking lot, and we’re done.  This was not a particularly fantastic hike, but it was quiet.  I was a little disconcerted by the signs in the lot about wearing bright colors in hiking season.  It’s my understanding that hunting is not allowed in the Doris Duke Wildlife Sanctuary, although I know hunting is allowed in Sterling Forest in general.  Also, AFAIK, spring is not hunting season.  So I suggest they qualify the signs a bit.  Such as, “Although hunting is allowed in the fall, although not necessarily in this particular section, you might want to wear some orange in case you cross paths with some yahoo who doesn’t know where he is or what date it is.”

So just to summarize the hiking sitch over the last year or so…

  • (7/5/15) Another loop around Sugarloaf Mountain near Garrison in the Castle Rock Unique Area.  Did the loop clockwise this time, and had a hard time picking up the unmarked return after coming down the back side of Sugarloaf.  Some nice views of West Point:
    USMA from Castle Rock Unique Area

    USMA from Castle Rock Unique Area

  • (4/23/15)  Above Monksville Reservoir in NJ:

    Monksville Reservoir, NJ

    Monksville Reservoir, NJ

  • (07/12/15) Some trail up in Boonton, NJ–no pic really worthy of inclusion here.
  • (08/11/15) Mt. Jo near Lake Placid:

    Emily Atop Mt. Jo (2877')

    Emily Atop Mt. Jo (2877')

  • (09/10/15) Greenwood Lake area–loop around Lake Surprise (AT & Stateline trails):

    Greenwood Lake

    Greenwood Lake

  • (10/12/14) Mt. Beacon:

    Atop Mt. Beacon

    Atop Mt. Beacon

  • (09/29/14) Ricketts Glen State Park, PA–lots of waterfalls:

    Me & the Mrs.

    Me & the Mrs.

  • (12/05/15) Mt. Taurus (near Cold Spring):

    Irena atop Mt. Taurus

    Irena atop Mt. Taurus

    So yea, it’s not been the best year or so for hiking, and certainly not for blogging about hiking, but the obsession continues–as long as the knees will hold out.

Leave a Reply