'Short Hikes' Category

Huckleberry Ridge State Forest – 12 Jun 2016

Info

  • Map: NYNJTC Northern Kittatiny Trails (Map 123)
  • Trails: Lenape Ridge (red) and Minisink Ridge (yellow)–but more on the colors later
  • Type: Loop
  • Distance:  4+ miles
  • Time: 2 hours
  • Exertion: Moderatly moderate

Getting There

Take I84 West to its last exit in NY, Exit 1 (not surprisingly) for Port Jervis, and take a left on the ramp for US Rte. 6 West.  At the next light make a very sharp right onto Minisink Ave, and follow that for maybe a half mile to the hiker’s parking lot on the left.  It’s easy to miss, but despite the notation on the map, it’s a legit parking area, and not simply on-road parking.

The Hike

So trying to figure a hike for a beautifully clear if somewhat windy Sunday afternoon, not minding a bit a of a drive since I was well sucked into yet another Steven King book on CD (Duma Key in this case), I picked this somewhat obscure destination because there were lots of stars (vistas) on the map, and I kind of like this funky part of Orange County where New York seeps into Pennsylvania across the membrane of the Delaware River.  (How’s that for a run-on sentence?)

Never having hiked HRSF (see the title), I’d no idea what to expect, but I’d done the AT here from High Point SP in NJ, which is just a quick drive up Rte. 23 from Port Jervis, and knew it would be, well, bucolic if nothing else.  This was a pretty straightforward loop hike, but it held a few surprises which I will go into some detail on shortly.  Perhaps part of this was due to the vintage of my map, 2009.  On that map, it clearly states that the Lenape Ridge trail is blazed white, and the Minisink Ridge Trail is blazed red.  But that is no longer the case.  The Lenape is blazed red and the Minisink yellow, although there is ample evidence as you walk along that they were indeed at one time blazed white and red respectively.

Now this raises some questions in my mind.  Say you’re the caretakers of HRSF, and you have two trails, one blazed white, the other red.  For some unknown reason you decide, “Hey I don’t like those colors, let’s change ‘em!”  Why do you want to do so?  I dunno, but ya do.  Yeah, I guess white’s not the most definitive of colors, and as the AT is in the vicinity, it might not be a bad idea to stay away from its totemic blaze color.  OK, so let’s lose the white on the Lenape trail.  What would you select?  How’s ’bout red?  Well, no because the Minisink trail that runs parallel to the Lenape, and intersects it at the beginning and end is red.  So what now?  Let’s change both!  Make the Lenape red and Minisink yellow so we’re sure to confuse anyone with an old map!  It’s not clear to me why any reasonable person or organization would embark on such a re-coloring project, but then again I don’t understand why Congress wants to allow people on the terrorist watch list to buy guns.  They just do.  Yes, there’s a nice kiosk at the trailhead properly identifying the trail colors.  Unfortunately, that kiosk does not fit in my pants pocket, and I was in a rush to get started on the hike, so I skipped it.  If I hadn’t, this is what I would have seen:

Kiosk with the Right Trail Colors

Kiosk with the Right Trail Colors

So OK, let’s move on…

This hike is a very simple, narrow loop, about two miles in each direction.  Since it is a ridge walk, as you can tell from the names of the trails, it’s a pretty easy-going journey with minimal ups and downs once you attain the ridge lines.  Based on the number of vista stars on the NYNJTC map, I decided to chose the Lenape Trail as my first segment because I find myself always more receptive to things at the start, as opposed to the end, of a hike.  The two trails are conjoined from the parking lot, and you walk a few hundred feet before they split here:

Which Way to Go?

Which Way to Go?

I admit to pausing here for a couple of minutes to translate the color scheme from my map to reality.  I figured they can always change color, but you can’t make left right or vice-versa, so I hung the right and assumed the Lenape was now to be blazed in red.  Shortly along the way, evidence of the transformation confirmed my theory:

Red Tag Overlays a White Blaze

Red Tag Overlays a White Blaze

Now I have to say that this trail is nice and all, but despite four vista stars on the map, they’re all pretty much the same, and all just show the ridge of High Point SP in NJ to the south and I84 climbing out of the Delaware River Valley:

The Way I Got Here--I84

The Way I Got Here--I84

Zoom in on the High Point Monument in NJ

Zoom in on the High Point Monument in NJ

I suspect in the winter this might be a much better hike because the leaves block everything to the west.  There’s a little peek down into something called Heinlein Lake, but I don’t grok what’s special about it–it seemed pretty swampy to me.  (There’s a pun in there; big ATTABOY if you can find it.)  When the Lenape Trail finally crashes into the Minisink Trail you’re at a power line that rips right through the ridge into the valley and beyond.  It does expose some scenic farm country, if you can overlook the high tension wires:

Farm Country

Farm Country

Pastures and Wires

Pastures and Wires

Now we switch over to the Minisink Ridge Trail, with its yellow, formerly red, blazes.  Here is the testimony to its transformation by the crazed caretakers of HRSF:

Yellow Tag atop Red Blaze

Yellow Tag atop Red Blaze

(I know it looks orange, but I swear it was yellow–I’d better check my new camera!)

For a trail with only two vista stars, I found this to be more scenic than the Lenape.  There was some variation in the valley below, from farm to golf course, with the buildings of Port Jervis and Matamoras PA to the southwest.  There were good stretches along the ridge where you would have an exposed view for a couple hundred feet.  To add to the natural beauty, the wind was blowing like an MF-er, up to 40 MPH I heard later on the news.  So it was a warm day in the 80′s, clear and sunny, with this beastly wind that almost blew me off the ridge a few times.  (Hyperbole alert!)  Here are some pics of the nicer of the two ridges:

Farm from Minisink Ridge

Farm from Minisink Ridge

Golf Course from Minisink Ridge

Golf Course from Minisink Ridge

Looking back North from Minisink Ridge

Looking back North from Minisink Ridge

So, now here comes the big shocker of the day…  One of the, um, challenges of walking this trail is that it’s a little hard to follow.  I can understand this to some degree.  Exposed ridges and escarpments have very limited tree coverage, trees being the primary recipients of blazing.  There seems to be a lot of deadwood hanging on by a thread up here, perhaps due to the winds, climate change–who knows?  So after a few minutes along the ridge I got a little lost.  There was actually a little diversion to the right off the ridge line that I missed–had to backtrack a little, happens to the best of us, no biggie.  After re-acquiring the trail, I continued on the crest and came to this obvious turn to the left:

Turn Left, Right?

Turn Left, Right?

I admit I was suspicious right then and there.  Going left would actually start me back on a northerly course, but OK, I’d seen this before–some jigs and jags and you’re back in the right direction.  But after I hung the left, I kept walking back along the ridge until I hit the spot where I had previously been lost with no further blazes to be seen.  Something was wrong.  I walked back to my “last known good,” looked on the other side of the tree and saw this:

Go Left from the Other Direction?  I'm Confused

Go Left from the Other Direction? I'm Confused

So if I were coming from the south, I’d turn left as well?  Does not make sense.  Since I’d just walked where the reverse blaze directed, I knew it was correct, hence the one on the opposite side of the same tree must be wrong.  I must pause here and say that I’ve seen lots of sub-optimal blazing in my hiking.  Sometimes they indicate a turn that’s not really a turn, or a straight ahead that’s anything but, but this was the first time I found a blaze that sent me in the absolute opposite direction of where I was supposed to go.  But, it’s OK because it’s just another reminder that you have to keep thinking out on the trail, and that blazes and maps are not always correct, so you need to apply your senses to the task.  I was a little shocked with this blatant misdirection, but not angered.  (I’m way more pissed off about the blaze colors!)

The remainder of the hike is without much to see.  The trail descends and stays in the trees, skirting the railroad tracks that occasionally come into view.  One impressive stone bank greets you near the end of the hike:

Rock Wall on the Descent

Rock Wall on the Descent

This was a little steep and mushy as I made my way down along side this rock beast.

Once back at the trailhead, I perused the sign I’d skipped on the way up then drove into Port Jervis to revisit this quaint little place with its most famous attraction, the old Erie Railroad turntable:

Railroad Turntable

Railroad Turntable

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.

Two Utah Hikes — 4-5 Sep 2013

I had an opportunity to tag along with the Mrs. to a conference she was attending for work in Park City, UT.  I figured it was a chance to hike out in the west for the first time, so even though I tend to think of Utah as the ne plus ultra skiing destination, I decided to endure the site of barren slopes and still chair lifts for a chance to do some high-altitude walking.  Both of these hikes were in the Wasatch National Forest, in the Uinta Mountain Range, or at least the western section thereof.  Hike #1 was to the top of Bald Mountain, while #2 was into the “notch” in Notch Mountain.  Both hikes were near enough together that you could see one from the other.

No Country for Old Skiiers :-(

No Country for Old Skiers :-(

One striking feature of hiking here is that, at least for the few trails I took, there are no blazes and very few cairns.  There are some signs at critical junctures, but by and large you are left to following the trail by looking at the ground and taking the obvious path.  In a few spots there are some rocks aligned as a kind of curb to guide you around turns.  I never felt lost for more than a few seconds at any point, although these hikes were fairly contained.

Info

  • Map: The only trail map I used was one I picked up for free in a small general store on UT Rte. 150.  It was a double-sided single computer printout sheet describing 6 day hikes in the area.  For a two-pager it had more than enough info, but unfortunately I seem to have lost it on the trip back home.
  • Trails: Bald Mountain and Notch Mountain Trails, both un-blazed.
  • Type: Out and back
  • Distance:  4 miles (#1) and 6+ miles (#2), round trip.
  • Time: 3 to 4 hours each, depending on your hang time at the top, and how much the altitude affects you.
  • Exertion: Moderate–none of these is a killer, in spite of walking above the 10,000 ft. level.  Hike #1 is steeper, but Hike #2 is longer.

Getting There

From Park City, head east on UT Rte. 248 for about a dozen miles into the town of Kamas.  Make a left onto Rte. 32 north, then in a block or two, a right onto Rte. 150 east, AKA the Mirror Lake Scenic Byway.  The trailhead for #1 is after mile marker 29 on 150, and you cannot miss the sign for Bald Mountain.  The trailhead for #2 is after mile marker 26 with a sign for the Crystal Lake TH.  There is another TH and a campground here, so you have to decipher some confusing signage to get to the right parking area.  There are three trail heads off this parking area, so be sure to take the one for Notch Mountain, which should be the first on the right side of the lot as you come in.  BTW, if you drive past a sign within the first five miles on 150 that says “Uinta Information,” pull over and drop into the store and look for the double-sided trail map.  That’s all you’ll need for these hikes, although if you feel generous you might purchase the National Geographic map of the area–or some smoked trout.  Another expense you will have to account for is a parking pass for the Wasatch Forest.   It’s only $6 for 3 days, and there are several stations along the way where you can purchase a pass if the kiosk is manned, or do a self-serve pass, which entails filling out an envelope, stuffing the $6 in, and dropping in a locked box.  This is all fine unless, like me, you do not typically carry writing instruments with you while hiking, nor is there one in the glove box of your rental car.  In this case I relied on luck, and presumed that they could always match up the pre-printed serial number on the envelope with the one on the tag I hung on the rearview.

Hike #1 (Bald Mountain)

Bald Mountain’s moniker is obvious once you see it.  About five miles away on Rte. 150 it pokes out of the woods and greats you with its barren loftiness.  As you approach the turnoff, there is a scenic pull off to the left if you just wanted to take pictures of the promontory, but go around the hairpin turn and the trailhead sign will point you to the left into the parking area.  Your first view of the mountain is imposing–and very bald:

Bald Mtn from the Base

Bald Mtn from the Base

The summit is just under 12,000′, but not to worry, because (as the groaning engine on my rented Nissan clearly attested) you’ve already climbed a hell of a long ways up into the Uintas, so there’s only about 1200′ of vertical gain to conquer from the lot.  The sign at the trailhead is cautious:

About the Trail...

About the Trail...

The only real challenge here is the altitude, which for whatever reason does not really seem to bother me much.  Occasionally I would have to stop to catch my breath, but considering that Mount Marcy at 5344′ was the highest point I had made it to on foot to date, it was surprisingly not an issue.  The other thing to consider is that, should a thunderstorm roll in from the south, which apparently they tend to do in the later afternoon in these here parts, being exposed out on this… well, bald mountain mountain might be detrimental to one’s life expectancy.  The one-pager trail map has a warning in ALL CAPS about DESCENDING IMMEDIATELY if thunderstorms blow in.  On the plus side, once you gain some altitude, you can see the thunderheads coming in from miles away.  The only trick is judging how long it will take before they threaten to make you a headline in tomorrow’s local paper.

The trail begins to climb immediately with several switchbacks.  Then there is a long traverse along the base of the mountain going steadily upward.  The view is nice, even though you’re only a few hundred feet into the climb.

Just the Beginning

Just the Beginning

Once the long traverse switches back you start a climb through some stunted pine trees, just like the ones you see in the krumholtz sections of the Adirondacks.  Eventually the trees fade out, and you’re left walking on a barren field of rocks, although the actual path of the trail has been mostly cleared.

Rock Field

Rock Field

The hump right above the field in the photo is a false summit, but the real one is not far beyond that.  You stroll through the debris on a gentle upward slope, traversing to the eastern side of the mountain now.  The next section switches back along the eastern face getting into terrain with larger and larger boulders.  The views to the east show you the heart of the Uintas, including Hayden Peak at almost 12,500′.

The Uintas

The Uintas

Several times you scramble over some rocky steps, convinced you’re at the top, only to see another bit of climb after that.  But it was around 90 minutes from the start that I finally hit the peak, decorated with two large cairns, one of which is in the picture below.

The Summit of Bald

The Summit of Bald

The view from here is about as spectacular as one could imagine.  By my guess, it’s at least a 50 mile view.  The weather was clear (as you can see) with almost no haze.  All four directions have postcard views.  Here’s one from the northwest, with the tip of Reid’s Peak poking up along side us.

Reid's Peak and Northwest

Reid's Peak and Northwest

The usual 45 minute hang time ensued, consumed by picture taking, lunch eating, and chatting with two other guys who had followed me up with their dog.  With mid-afternoon approaching, we observed some rain clouds moving in from the south, as promised by the morning’s weather forecast.  It was only about ten minutes into my descent when it did start to rain, but only lightly for about 15 minutes, and no lightning!  The trip down was uneventful, but I took my time and enjoyed the scenery.

Once back at the car, I continued a few more miles on Rte. 150 to its namesake, Mirror Lake.  Unfortunately the rain was a little steadier by then, but donning my trusty Cape Cod windbreaker, I took the 1.5 mi loop around the lake, which is shadowed by Bald on its eastern side and the main Uinta range on its west.  The rain reduced the lake’s mirroring power to some degree, but you can get the idea.

Mirror Lake

Mirror Lake

Hike #2 (Notch Mountain)

Keeping with the well-named peaks scheme, the following day I was back along UT 150, stopping this time a few miles back to go for the Notch Mountain Trail.  The map clearly labels this edifice as one mountain, but it sure looks like two to me.  You be the judge…

Notch Mountain--One Peak or Two?

Notch Mountain--One Peak or Two?

When I finally did get up there into the “notch,” the bumps on either side looked totally different.  I suppose if I were a geologist I might be able to describe how a glacier ripped across this ridge and formed the notch, but I’m not, so who the hell knows?  Anyway, this is another relatively moderate trek with only about 500′ of vertical gain.  The compensations are that it has a little more distance, a little more varied terrain (including some pretty lakes), and there are still great views from the notch.

The first mile is a pretty flat walk to Wall Lake, which again is in keeping with our theme of apropos appellations.

Wall Lake

Wall Lake

The peak right behind it is Mount Watson, not part of the Notch.  The trail skirts along the southern shore of the lake, crosses a small wooden bridge over a stream going down from the lake, and into more flat meadows.  A couple more lakes are passed by, with a puncheon or two to get you over the swampy parts of the meadows.

Another Nice Little Lake

Another Nice Little Lake

Puncheon Thru the Meadow

Puncheon Thru the Meadow

After about another mile or so, the trail begins to climb into the Notch–not very steeply, with plenty of switchbacks and a very clearly defined path.  When I arrived in the Notch, I went a little beyond to (a) be sure I had really passed the high point, and (b) to see what was on the other side of the mountain, so to speak.  We’ll come back to the Notch views in a second, but the valley on the other side of the Notch is quite spectacular: silent and pristine, like you’re the only person in the world.

Valley Behind the Notch

Valley Behind the Notch

I walked down no more than a quarter mile, maybe two hundred feet descent tops.  With more time and energy, I would probably like to keep following this trail, which curiously after another 7 miles or so would take you right back to the trailhead for Bald Mountain, without going over that peak of course.  Then I walked back up to the Notch for some squat time, lunch, and photos.  Not 360-degree views like yesterday, but respectable nevertheless.

View from the Notch

View from the Notch

Instead of encountering two guys and a dog like yesterday, I ran into one guy with two dogs.  We traded photo takes, so here’s mine:

Me from the Notch (no dogs)

Me from the Notch (no dogs)

The windbreaker was necessary at the top here because there was a pretty stiff wind a-blowin’, and I would not have been too comfortable sitting there for very long.  All the way up and back down, though it was just shorts and a T-shirt.  Pretty lucky weather for a place that within a month will probably be covered in snow!  In line with continuing coincidences I and my temporary companion noticed some thunderheads moving in from the south.  So this hastened the start of my descent, although I had certainly had a good fill of scenery, quiet, and relaxation.  The trip down was easy, the scenery being more varied than yesterday.  Back at Wall Lake I stopped for some shoreline strolling, but got a move on when I began to hear the rumbles of those thunderheads.  Continuing with the serendipity of these two days, I arrived back at the parking lot, leisurely changed out of my hiking boots, took a whiz in the dank and foul rest room, and was unlocking my driver’s side door just as the raindrops began to fall.  By the time I was back out on Hwy 150, it was pissing rain, with thunder and lightening.  Driving back along the road I could see that the showers had moved through there earlier, dropping significant rainfall.

Coda

The next day (Friday) was our fly-home day, so no hiking was in the cards.  Since we had a red-eye flight back, we had some time to kill in Salt Lake City, so we dropped by Temple Square and took the tour.  All very nice, the young Mormon missionaries were so very friendly, and the buildings and grounds spotless and groomed.  I won’t delve into any of the religious aspects of the tour, at the risk of driving away the one or two readers I might have.

The Temple

The Temple

Just as we were leaving the square we witnessed what I can only call a kind of sandstorm in downtown SLC.  After coming out of the Vistor’s Center it seemed like there was a smokey haze all over, as though a fire was burning nearby, yet no on was concerned.  The wind had picked up while we were inside, and was blowing dirt, dust, and debris into our faces as we walked back to the car.  It seemed to me that the skies would open up an any minute, delivering a drenching downpour, but that never materialized.  As we drove away toward the lake on I80, we could see the dust cloud engulfing downtown.

Speaking of the Great Salt Lake…  I’m probably not the first correspondent to report that the only thing “great” about it is its size.  I think this has been a very dry summer, so the lake has receded some, and we had to walk out about a half mile on this black, stinky sand to get to the water, which we never quite got to as the sand became too mucky.  I remember many years ago driving through SLC and stopping off to see the lake, disgusted by the millions of fleas living along the waterline.  The fleas are still there, living in the damp sand now, as well as a good number of bird carcasses.  Perhaps the Lake is something of an acquired taste, as I did see some people walking about as though they were enjoying themselves, not to mention a woman in a wedding dress being photographed near the shoreline.  I guess this is just payback for all of the great scenery that lives up in the hills above town.

The (So-called) Great Salt Lake

The (So-called) Great Salt Lake

A Photographer’s Delight — 4 Aug 2013

Info

  • Map: NYNJTC, West Hudson Trails, Map 114
  • Trails: Otterkill (Red), Trestle (White), unmarked
  • Type: Loop
  • Distance:  ~2 miles (if you cheat), about 5 if you don’t
  • Time: 2 hours (if you cheat), double that if you don’t
  • Exertion: Easy

Getting There

Get off the NYS Thruway at Exit 16 (Harriman) and go north on NY 32.  (On weekends the traffic for the Woodbury Common Outlet Mall might piss you off a bit.  There are alternatives.)  You drive several miles north with Schunemunk Mountain on your left.  In the town of Mountainville, look on your left for signs for the Black Rock Fish & Game Club, and take the left there at Taylor Rd.  Follow Taylor for about a mile, and when it ends at Otterkill Rd., make the left.  Go under the train trestle and watch for a nice hiker’s parking lot on your right.  From the lot, the trailhead is back east on Otterkill, right before the trestle.

The Hike

The “cheating” part of this hike is an unblazed woods road you can use as a short-circuit if like me, you spend too much time admiring the scenery and taking pictures.  The true loop, which I did over a year ago, has you taking the Otterkill to the Jessup (yellow) heading west, with a right to a short jog on the red Barton Swamp Trail, to the Trestle Trail back north.  For a decent day’s exercise, I do recommend the full loop, but truth be told, the cheating route gets you to the best views.  I’ve taken the Jessup Trail a few times, and have to admit there’s not much too see in this stretch of it.  There’s not much on the Otterkill after the nice valley overlook I’ll describe below, and so the full schlep only gives you some extra lookouts on the Trestle, which are nice, but don’t beat the three vistas you’ll see below.

How To Cheat: if you start on the Otterkill, you will walk for about 15 mins or less and might be able to pick out the woods road on your right.  (I built a cairn here this trip, so that might help.)  The NYNJTC trail map clearly shows this road, but it is a little tough to pick up.  Following it varies from easy to hard, but you just pretty much have to keep heading uphill, and sooner or later you will hit the Trestle Trail.  To get to Vista #3 described below, you will have to go left here for a few minutes up the hill and then backtrack, but it’s worth it.

The draw of this hike is the three photogenic spots:

  1. The train trestle on Otterkill Road/Trestle Trail
  2. Valley overlook on the Otterkill Trail
  3. Northward overlook on the Trestle Trail

Vista #2 is nice, especially for panoramas, but the the other two are the stars of the show, each worth a trip in its own right.

Vista #1: The Moodna Viaduct

The Moodna Viaduct is a single-track rail trestle that takes NJ Transit’s Port Jervis Line across the valley of the Moodna Creek.  The land right around and under the trestle is spectacularly unused.  I don’t know why–perhaps it is a farm that’s not being farmed, but the trail map shows it as private land, so you have to wonder how long it will be before some Orange County developer decides how wonderful it would be to spread a schmear of condos across these hills, so go now!

The Hills of the Moodna Viaduct

The Hills of the Moodna Viaduct

There’s a weird kind of industrial beauty to this structure spanning an otherwise pristine valley.  I can’t quite figure out why being a train track makes it better than a road overpass.  Maybe it’s the rust?

Moodna Viaduct

Moodna Viaduct

If you have seen the movie Michael Clayton, you might recognize this location as the place where Michael (George Clooney) pulls his car over to approach the (supposedly) wild horses atop the hill just before his car explodes.  (If you haven’t, I recommend you rent or stream it–tonight.)  Some interesting info on this structure can be found in the Wikipedia article.

The Trestle Trail starts just before the point where the viaduct crosses Otterkill Rd.  A short walk uphill brings you to the junction with the Otterkill trail.  If you take that, you will quickly reach the level of the train track and have the view over the valley.

The Trestle

The Trestle

BTW, the picture above was taken on my earlier trip in Jan 2012, and I prefer it to the shots I took this day.  The sign with the open mouth has since disappeared–not sure whether that’s an improvement or not.  Anyway, here’s a shot from the current trip.

The Trestle (Currently)

The Trestle (Currently)

I suppose that being a responsible blogger, I should caution you to mind the trains that might come down this track.  In a contest of Man vs. Train, Train always wins, so don’t do silly stuff like picnic on the track or try walking over the trestle.  I’d hate for someone to get killed or injured being stupid here and forcing NJ Transit to fence this place off.  Update Oct. 2015: on a return visit here last month with my daughter we discovered that NJ Transit, bless their utilitarian hearts, have erected a fence in this spot, making the snapping of the above photo today if not impossible, then certainly illegal.

Vista #2: the Moodna Valley

Resuming the southbound walk on the Otterkill, you soon reach an outcrop where you have a nice view of the valley through which Moodna Creek flows north-south before it turns to the west and goes under the viaduct.  There’s nothing particularly outstanding here, just some nice verdant hills and not a lot of civilization.  What there is blends in nicely with the terrain.

Moodna Valley

Moodna Valley

This location makes for a great panorama shot, however something was off for me with the lighting, so my stitched-together pic has some very oddly-lighted sections and does not look good.  Perhaps yours will work out better.

Vista #3: the Northern View

Continuing north you can either take the Otterkill to the Jessup and wend your way back to the northbound Trestle Trail (details above), or find the woods road that is no more than a 5-10 minute walk from the valley overlook.  If you take the short cut, hang a left when you get to the Trestle. and walk up the hill for another 10 minutes or so.  (If you do the full loop, this vista will be the 3rd star on the map, and it will probably take you 20-30 minutes of walking once you hit the Trestle.)

This outcrop has an interesting feature, a memorial bench for someone named Sharon Guilfoyle:

Sharon's Bench

Sharon's Bench

(Sharon seems to have passed away in 2007 at only 50 years old, but a Google search for her did not find any other information.)  The bench is a curious amalgam of natural branches and posts as well as some sawed boards.  The construction is quite skillful, with countersunk screws, albeit the raw branches in the back reduce the comfort factor to a degree.  But it is a welcome rest stop, particularly because it looks out on this wonderful scene:

The North View--The Gunks and Catskills

The North View--The Gunks and Catskills

The near range in the foreground is the Shawangunks, and the Mohonk tower can clearly be seen in the middle of the shot.  The Catskills lay beyond, and although this was a very clear day, they are a bit misty here.  My estimate is that this is at least a 50 mile view.  It was a midsummer’s day, so ideal air conditions were unlikely.  (My few shots from the Jan 2012 trip show haze as well, so…I will have to wait for a clear fall day, perhaps.)  You can see the Viaduct from here as well as Stewart Airport (if you dig that kind of thing).  It’s a 180-plus-degree vista, and warrants some serious hang time.  And there’s a nice bench to sit on to take it all in.  Another reason why it’s a bad idea to picnic on the train track–this is a much better spot!

Hooiberg, Aruba — 31 July 2013

Info

  • Map: no map; maps are considered gauche in Aruba, as are street signs and route numbers–in general anything that would assist people who do not know where they are going is frowned upon.
  • Trails: a big set of concrete steps going up the hill; you can’t miss it.
  • Type: Out and back
  • Distance:  2 miles, probably less
  • Time: 1 hour
  • Exertion: Moderate

Getting There

My best suggestion is to find someone who’s been there before and take him with you, but even that might not help.  The only thing you have going for you is that Aruba is pretty much flat except for 3 or 4 hills, of which Hooiberg is the second highest.  It is also smack in the middle of the island and can be seen from just about anywhere.

Hooiberg--You Can't Miss It

Hooiberg--You Can't Miss It

The Hike

There are certainly better hikes in Aruba, particularly in Arikok National Park, but here’s the deal with Aruba–it’s pretty freaking hot.  The sun shines all the time.  It’s a great place to hang out at the beach or the pool–or at the bar by the pool, but not the kind of place you want to exert yourself without carrying a lot of water and slathering on the sunscreen.  Being of Irish ancestry and living almost all my life in the Northeastern US, this is not my native climate, and I did not feel a mere 5-day stint in someplace similar to Arizona would acclimatize me sufficiently.

So I opted for the slightly sissy climb of the purported 562 concrete steps (which I did not count) up to the top of this volcanic 541′ tit that one can’t help but notice upon approach to Queen Beatrix airport in Oranjestad.

The 562 Steps

The 562 Steps

We started around 9:00am, trying to avoid the high sun and heat and, even with a few stops, made it to the top in about 30 minutes.  The views from Hooiberg can be quite impressive as long as you are prepared for two small disappointments.  First, there is a lot of microwave gear at the top of the mountain, embossed with graffiti, and second, you can’t actually get a 360-degree view of the island because of said gear, so one has to clamber over cables and concrete to get to all the vantage points.

View from Hooiberg

View from Hooiberg

As Aruba lies diagonally in the Caribbean Sea, pointing northwest to southeast, the western and southern side of the island (e.g. above) is where all the resorts are, while the northern and eastern side is much more like the northern California coast–rugged, rocky, and pounded by the surf.  From Hooiberg the windward side is harder to see, as in the picture below.

Looking Toward the North Coast

Looking Toward the North Coast

Coming down is a piece of cake, although the second section off the top is fairly steep, but it does have a railing.  Once this excursion was completed, we went to Calabashi Rock, not much of a climb, but an interesting place:

Calabashi Rock

Calabashi Rock

The bigger challenge of the rock is actually finding it, because, apropos of what I said above, it seems to be a quaint local custom to try to get tourists as lost as possible while on this little happy island.

Morris Canal Greenway — 23 June 2013

Info

  • Map: NYNJTC, Jersey Highlands Trails, Map 126
  • Trails: Morris Canal Greenway (Yellow), Highlands (Blue-ish)
  • Type: Out and back
  • Distance:  2 miles
  • Time: 2 hours
  • Exertion: Non-existent

Getting There

Find your way to I80 west of I287.  Take Exit 25, Rte 206N, and pretty quickly exit on the right, following the signs for Waterloo Village.  Keep following the signs as you go along Continental Drive.  When that ends, make the left onto Cty Rte. 604, and look for the signs to the aforementioned village.  You will likely miss it, and if you’re like me, won’t be able to figure out where to park once you get in there.  So I advise you to park about 50 yards up the road on the right–there is a little gravel entrance leading to a large parking area for the Highlands Trail.

The Hike

OK, so full disclosure: not a lot of hiking recently.  Many of the winter weekends were spent skiing, and then I had to deal with a knee injury that as of yet may require surgery.  I’ve been walking all along, but sometimes with pain, and sometimes not able to maintain my usual pace.  Last few weekends as the weather has gotten hotter, I’ve been more inclined to get out, chores permitting.  Last week was Harriman, which I hope to post later (it’s probably going to be longer than this screed).  This weekend I decided to invest in some driving and tried to hit this Morris Canal Greenway thing smack in the middle of Jersey.  Long story short: it was a bad hike.  Several reasons:

  • I selected perhaps the least appealing part of the Greenway to walk.
  • Bugs–lotsa bugs.
  • Not a lot of trail maintenance going on in Warren & Sussex Ctys, NJ by my reckoning.
  • Not a lot of blazes, esp. for the Greenway.
  • Did I mention bugs?

So Waterloo Village…  On the map it says “restored,” which indeed it seems to have been, and quite nicely:

Waterloo Village (restored)

There’s also an attractive church, if you’re into that kind of thing.  My beef with this is that the sign at the entrance to the park said ” no unauthorized vehicles–church service.”  Indeed this was a Sunday, but it was 2:30PM, and after parking across the street and walking into the Village, I soon realized there was not a soul in the place.  Completely deserted:

Waterloo Village Church

In front of the church was a stream, which to my best guess was remnants of the Morris Canal.  It was hard to tell, as there were no signs about, and the distinctive blazes I was expecting were nowhere to be found.  I headed west into the brush, thinking that I was probably close to the right track.

Where Is This Greenway?

Eventually, you run into the light blue diamond blazes of the Highlands Trail, which the latest edition of the NYNJTC map says is supposed to be running alongside Rte. 604 at this point, but clearly it is not.  As both the Highlands and the Greenway trails eventually conjoin, it was not much of leap of faith to figure I was doing OK by following the blue diamonds.  Eventually, I did see one of the yellow octagons above, but they are a bit scarce.  The Highlands Trail is blazed much better, so if pretended I was hiking that.

OK, so the Greenway…  Yea, it’s green, and there’s some water, although in most places it’s a pretty stagnant backwash.  The underbrush keeps you from seeing the main stream while you walk on a muddy towpath and deal with the denizens of the stagnant water–mosquitos and plenty of them.  Walking in the “green” part of the Greenway is so abysmal that you actually appreciate the couple of times it veers out of the woods onto 604 for a few yards.

By about an hour in, and little more than a mile an a half, after all my meandering about Waterloo Village, I’d had it.  I turned around back out to 604 after yet another plunge into the infested woods, and started to walk back to the parking area.  I had a great idea to try to pick up a hiking trail, Waterloo South, on the opposite side of the road, and take it to its partner, Waterloo North, which would deposit me back on 604 closer to my destination, but 1 minute in I was greeted by this thrilling blowdown:

Waterloo South Trail? I Think Not!

Four downed trees within 20 yards did not bode well.  Likely due to Hurricane Sandy which was, oh 8 months ago.  Not much in the way of trail maintenance going on in Warren County these days, huh?  Rather than wrestle with this nonsense (which would really piss off my bad knee), not to mention the omnipresent bug swarm, I returned to 604 to hump back to my car.

I wish to cast no aspersions on the Morris Canal Greenway, Warren County, or any part of NJ, but this was not a good hike by any measure.  Probably mostly bad luck on my part, and there are probably much nicer spots on the canal.  Perhaps I will revisit when the mosquitoes are gone.  Sadly, the best picture of the day comes from a rest area on I80:

Scenic Overlook, I80, Near Exit 19

Bull Hill — 21 July 2012

Info

  • Map: NY/NJ Trail Conference, East Hudson Trails, Map 102
  • Trails: Nelsonville, Undercliff, Washburn
  • Type: Loop
  • Distance:  approx. 5 miles
  • Time: 2 hours
  • Exertion: Moderate

Getting There

From the intersection of NY 301 and NY 9D in Cold Spring, head east on 301 though the village of Nelsonville.  Just before you get out of the village, make the left onto Woods Ave, which becomes Gatehouse Road.  (If you hit the fork where County Road 10, Fishkill Rd, heads off to the left, you just passed it.)  Gatehill Rd turns into a single-lane dirt road but keep going until you see the hikers parking on the right.  A kiosk with trail information will confirm you’re in the right spot.

The Hike

So today I made a wonderful discovery: how to get to the top of Bull Hill, AKA Mt. Taurus, in under an hour.  If you take the Washburn trailhead on NY 9D, you have more arduous climbing to do, and could be at it for half again, or even twice as long.  I made that from-9D hike for a second time last September, but never finished the blog post; I will incorporate some of that information here to atone for my sin.

The New York Walk Book considers the Washburn from 9D route the most strenuous hike in the Highlands region.  While I’m not up for arguing this point, the hike up Breakneck Ridge, just to the north across hollow of Breakneck Brook, is in the same ballpark and certainly the terrain there is more rugged.  This I also did last September and wrote about here.  As with that hike, getting to the top of Bull Hill provides you with a panorama of the Hudson, West Point, Constitution Island, Storm King Mountain, and several other points of interest.  From the summit you can clearly see Stewart Airport in Newburgh down to the Manhattan skyline, a distance of at least 60 miles.

From the parking area, head west on the green-blazed Nelsonville Trail.  It’s an easy, flat woods road that quickly hits the junction with the yellow-blazed Undercliff Trail.  You might be confused as I was because the diamond-shaped plastic blazes still say “Nelsonville” on them, but I think that’s just because you’re still in the Nelsonville Nature Preserve.  In any case, hang a right onto the yellow trail, and it will begin the noticeable but not gruesome ascent of the mountain.  After a short climb, the trail forms a little U to bring you out to a nice overlook that provides a view that is merely a hint of what is to come.

About 15-20 minutes later you reach a rocky outcrop that provides a great river view facing southwest, including a complete overlook of the USMA at West Point, across the river.

West Point from Bull Hill

West Point from Bull Hill

The land mass in the foreground on the east side of the river is Constitution Island, which is not open to the public, but which I have walked on an approved tour.  It’s nice, but up here’s better. :-)   As the photo shows, it was a wonderfully clear day, with temps back down into the 70′s and almost no haze.  It was simply a day where the outdoors just begged me to get out of the house.

Very soon after the outcrop, you hit the junction with the white-blazed Washburn Trail, where you go right.  (The Undercliff continues up to Breakneck Ridge.)  I recognized the junction from my earlier hike, and quickly realized what a short cut this way had been.  Yes, you miss some of the great views on the way up the Washburn, e.g., here is one from that earlier hike:

Cold Spring from Bull Hill

Cold Spring from Bull Hill

You do get a better shot of the town of Cold Spring on the river, and there is an old quarry you pass at the beginning, which is nice too:

Quarry on the Washburn Trail

Quarry on the Washburn Trail

In either case, right after the intersection of the Washburn and Undercliff trails, you hit a section of the trail where there are nice views across the river to the Crows Nest and Storm King Mountains.

Storm King Mountain

Storm King Mountain

Shortly after these vistas, you hit the Main Event, if you will.  Look for the letters “NYC” painted on a boulder, scramble to the top of a huge rock ledge, and you can see the Manhattan skyline with the naked eye.  Here’s what it looks like at 14x zoom:

Manhattan on Top, West Point on the Bottom

Manhattan on Top, West Point on the Bottom

Due to the long zoom and the twisting of the Hudson, you would swear that the person taking this picture was on the west side of the river, i.e. on the same side as the USMA.  But as you know, I was on the east side of the river.  I estimate this view at about 50 miles.  If this doesn’t make you want to come up here, nothing will!

Since at this point you’re pretty much at the summit, most of the serious climbing is done, it now becomes a ridge walk for about a half mile before you start the downward trek.  The map indicates you cross the Catskill Aqueduct at this point, but it’s not obvious to me on any of my three trips up here exactly where it is.  I have my suspicions, but that’s about all.  There is a dual vista up here where you can look south or north.  Look for a split in the trail and take the southern view to the right first.  It’s nice, but since you’re facing more easterly at this point, there’s nothing too impressive.  That’s reserved for the northern view to the left, where the trail turns out onto an exposed face and you get river views of Newburgh and Beacon.

Newburgh-Beacon Bridge over Breakneck Ridge

Newburgh-Beacon Bridge over Breakneck Ridge

Mount Beacon

Mount Beacon

You can see the agonizing trail of Breakneck Ridge before you and the river, bridge, and city of Newburgh behind it.  Turning right, you catch sight of the comm. towers on Mount Beacon.  The latter destination I last visited in August of 2011, but did not write up.  Great place to hike, especially if you like to walk uphill!

After these wonderful views, it’s time to wend your way back.  The Washburn Trail descends on the woods road it joined at the summit on a series of switchbacks.  Except for the rocky footing, it’s an easy way down.  It ends at the joint trailheads of the Notch (blue) and Nelsonville trails.  We return to our original path by going straight and continue the gentle exit off the hill, passing two smaller trails, the Lone Star (blue) and Split Rock (red), along the way.  When you cross the Catskill Aqueduct this time, it’s obvious and also a signal that you’re right around a bend from where you parked the car.

This is a perfect hike if you have the following goals in mind:

  • Great views
  • Under 3 hours
  • Not a lot of climbing
  • Great views

So wait for a clear weather day, and fit this into your busy schedule.  You can thank me later.

Three Hudson-Palisades Loops — 1, 4, & 8 July 2012

Info

  • Map: NY/NJ Trail Conference, Hudson Palisades Trails, Map 108
  • Trails: Shore Trail, Long Path, Huyler’s Landing, Dyckman Hill, Closter Dock, and Carpenter Trails
  • Type: Loops
  • Distance: Loops A & C, approx. 4 miles; Loop B, approx. 7 miles
  • Time: Loops A & C: 2 hours; Loop B: 4 hours
  • Exertion: Easy, with one moderate climb on each loop

Getting There

Loop A: Palisades Parkway to Exit 2 (Alpine).  Follow signs to Alpine Boat Basin.  There is a reasonable $5 parking fee at times.
Loop B: Palisades Parkway, Rockefeller Lookout (first of 3 on the Parkway).  Parking is free.  Note: if you’re coming from the north, you need to go to Exit 1, and get back on the Parkway northbound to get to the lookout.
Loop C: Palisades Parkway to Exit 1 (Englewood).  Follow signs to Englewood Boat Basin.  Again, the $5 parking fee is a good investment.

The Hikes

Here I will combine three hikes I took within eight days in the same general area.  The basic outline of these loops is this: the Long Path (teal blazes) rides along the crest of the Palisades, while the Shore Trail (obviously) goes along the shore of the Hudson River and has white blazes.  Every few miles there is a short, steep trail connecting the two, which makes for some very nice loop hikes.  The ascent is about 300-400 feet from river to clifftop, and some of these connector trails are very well built with steps and switchbacks.  It goes without saying that the only safe way to get between these two major trails is via the connector trails.  Every few years someone falls from the top of the Palisades to his death, and going off-trail in this area is a Bad Idea.

Of the two parallel major trails, the Long Path (which begins in Fort Lee, near the GW Bridge) is the more popular.  Except in its southernmost section, the Shore Trail is much more deserted.  In many parts it feels very isolated, with the river at your feet and the cliffs hanging above you.  And although there is the paved Henry Hudson Road only a few dozen feet above you for the entire way, it can get very lonely down there.

Loop A (Closter Dock to Huyler’s Landing)

For this I began at the Alpine Boat Basin and willingly acceded to the $5 parking fee to make sure that the climb up the Palisades was in the middle of the hike, not the end.  It’s not easy to pick up the Shore Trail from the parking lot, but just walk south and as soon as you run out of Boat Basin, you’ll catch the little dirt path that continues along the river.  I must say that for some reason, perhaps just the mood I was in, the whole run along the river seemed somewhat gloomy.  Perhaps the plaque commemorating John Jordan, which appears on a boulder at the start of the hike, gave a melancholy start to the day:

John Jordan Plaque

John Jordan Plaque

Apparently Captain Jordan slipped on some ice and fell down the Palisades, although from where is not clear.

The trail is narrow and sandy, with occasional breaks in the brush to allow you to view the opposite shore.  At this point, what is across from Alpine is my home town, the city of Yonkers, NY, a working-class place where both sides of my family, at least back to my grandparents, were born and/or raised.  Yonkers since its heyday in the 1940′s, 50′s, and 60′s as a bedroom community for NYC, has been a perpetually hard-luck town, known more for its crime, corruption, racial problems, and poor schools than for its Victorian-style homes, river views, and diverse population.  But I do feel a connection to it, as I view what still looks like a vibrant city across the river from tony Alpine, NJ.

Yonkers Pier, from Alpine, NJ

Yonkers Pier, from Alpine, NJ

The run down to Huyler’s Landing takes you almost opposite the Yonkers/Bronx city line, but as best I can tell, you are still across from Yonkers when you hit the little beach and breaker that mark the Landing.

Looking at South Yonkers from Huyler's Landing

Looking at South Yonkers from Huyler's Landing

A word about Huyler’s Landing and the eponymous trail we’re about to ascend is in order.  Per some signs back in the Boat Basin we’ll mention at the end of this hike, in November 1776 Gen. Cornwallis landed 5,000 British troops here and marched them up this trail to the top of the Palisades to attack the Colonial army at Fort Lee.  This was shortly after he had beaten the stuffing out of Washington’s army in Brooklyn, as well as capturing Fort Washington in Manhattan.  The Americans just barely escaped into the the (then) wilds of New Jersey, abandoning Fort Lee.  Thus began an ignominious retreat for Washington across the state, which would only be halted on Christmas Day when he crossed back over the Delaware and attacked the Hessians at Trenton.

So we climb up the trail those lobster-backs took that day, although we won’t get quite to Fort Lee as they did for now.  The trail is pretty wide at the start until it crosses over the paved Henry Hudson Drive.  Then it gets a little narrower, but it’s still pretty well laid out with a moderate grade.  The distance is about a half mile, so although not very steep, you do have about 15-30 minutes of exertion.  You’ll know when you’re near the top by the wonderful traffic noise of the Palisades Interstate Parkway (PIP).  It will be our constant companion as we head north back to Alpine after making a right onto the Long Path.

There are only three points of interest along the crest here.  The first is an overlook on a pulpit overlooking the river.  Because of its protrusion from the cliffs, you get nice views up and down the river.

The Pulpit

The Pulpit

Upriver from the Pulpit

Upriver from the Pulpit

Downriver from the Pulpit

Downriver from the Pulpit

The next point is the Alpine Lookout, which does not have any views to compare with the pulpit, so you can just skate right on by this.  The last point is the Zabriskie Ruin, which will appear on your right.  From the bits I’ve dug out on the web, this mansion, called Cliffdale, was quite the residence.  I took some pics, but this web site has better ones, taken on a very sunny day in the winter, whereas mine were under full leaf cover, and later in the day, e.g.:

Zabriskie Ruin

Zabriskie Ruin

This is really quite an extensive set of ruins, just be careful as you walk on the first floor tiles because there are lots of holes you wouldn’t want to fall into.

The rest of the hike is getting to the Closter Dock Trail (orange blazes), and back down to the shore, making a right to get back to the parking lot.  As you enter the Alpine Boat Basin from the northern end, you walk past this impressive plaque:

Incorrect Plaque

Incorrect Plaque

Unfortunately, as we now know (and as a newer, albeit less durable sign right next to this plaque tells us) the Brits did not land here, but rather about 1.5 miles south at Huyler’s Landing.  (These signs also disagree on the date as well–Nov. 18 above and Nov. 20 for the newer one.)

The Straight Scoop

The Straight Scoop

Somehow the metal plaque bolted onto a boulder seems more impressive, in spite of its factual missteps.

Loop B (Huyler’s Landing to Dyckman Hill Trail)

In keeping with this Revolutionary War theme, I thought it apropriate to return to Huyler’s Landing on July 4th and continue with another cliff and shore loop.  This time, I parked in the Rockefeller Lookout and headed north on the Long Path to the Landing Trail I’d come up on Sunday.  It’s 2.4 miles.  There are a couple of views across the river of the Bronx, but we’re jaded now, and they’re old hat!  The nice thing about the LP here is that it is very flat and for the most part not rocky, so you can make good time and not have to focus most of your attention looking at your feet so you don’t trip.  After the last serious Hudson view (Clinton Point), the trail turns off the cliff top to skirt the Greenbrook Sanctuary.  You’ll know because of the chain link fence that follows you on the right for about a mile.  In the middle of this mile, you walk past the gated entrance as well as the connector trail into the Lost Brook Preserve to the west, which has an extensive set of trails, albeit without any of the vistas you get on the LP.

The junction with the Huyler’s Landing Trail is a welcome sight of an old friend from the previous hike.  This time we’re going down.  At the landing, I spent a little time, re-hydrating and cooling off some.  It’s quite an isolated spot, although you do get some power boats whizzing by from time to time.

Huyler's Landing

Huyler's Landing

Once recharged, I proceeded south on the Shore Trail.  This section seemed a bit less dark and oppressive than the run from the Alpine Boat Basin on Sunday.  There are more river views and a bit less overgrowth.  It’s 3.3 miles to the Englewood Boat Basin and the exit trail back up to the LP.  For the first couple of miles, the trail is pretty sandy with easy, flat walking.  On this day my progress was slowed by the abundant raspberry bushes which were covered with ripe berries.  I stopped at least a dozen times to grab a handful.

There are two waterfalls along this section, Greenbrook and Lost Brook Falls.  However, since it’s not rained much lately, the former was down to a trickle, while the latter was bone dry.  I have seen the Greenbrook when it was running heavy, and it’s very nice, so someplace to think of when we get bombed with rain again–or maybe even better, in winter after a big snowfall!

Greenbrook Falls, down to a Trickle

Greenbrook Falls, down to a Trickle

There are also two “docks” interspersed between the falls, Lambier’s and Powder Docks, which are little more than a pile of rocks extending 50 feet into the river with various clumps of debris scattered about.

Shortly before the Undercliff Picnic Area, I walked passed a simply amazing section of these orange flowers coming from the rocks and scores of butterflies flying in and out of them.  Unfortunately, I am not a botanist nor a entomologist, so I don’t know what these are, but they sure looked nice:

ShortlyButterfly & Flower

Butterfly & Flower

I took some short videos of these creatures, and it is a poor representation of them because (a) I’m a lousy videographer, and (b) they move very fast.  But you can get some idea; just imaging a hundred of them all around you!

Video: Butterflies on the Hudson

Shortly after you leave the flutterbys behind, you will hit the Undercliff Picnic Area.  This is a nice little spot on the river with ruins of a former bathhouse from the days when people actually swam in the Hudson like we do at Jones Beach these days.

Bathhouse Ruins at Undercliff

Bathhouse Ruins at Undercliff

I wasn’t trying to get all artsy-fartsy with this pic, but the sun was right above the ruins and I had some limited angles.

As you approach the Englewood Boat Basin, you can see the Henry Hudson Bridge across the way that spans the Harlem River from Spuyten Duyvil in the Bronx to Innwood in Manhattan.   (Innwood Park, BTW, is an amazing place that I hope to cover in some future post.)  On this day, as I had spent some extra time picking raspberries and being hypnotized by butterflies, I opted for the “high tide” route of the shore trail, even though it was clearly low tide.  This brings you onto Henry Hudson Drive and gives you an extra hundred feet or so of altitude when you start to climb up from the Boat Basin.

The route out is the Dyckman Hill Trail, a very nicely-built set of stone ramps and steps that comes up along a small waterfall.  Since I shortcut up to the drive on this leg, I did not get the pleasure of the full ascent–that would have to wait for my next trip.  At the top, you’re right at the entrance to the PIP, but the sign for the Long Path is obvious and you trudge back to the Rockefeller Lookout, with darn little to see that you’ve not already peeked at earlier from better vantage points.  OK, so maybe I was getting a bit tired.

Loop C: Dyckman Hill to Carpenters Trail

A few days later it seemed logical to continue the theme here with a third loop, this time starting from the Englewood Boat Basin, up to the LP, then south to Carpenters Trail and back along the shore.  All of this was old territory to me, but I had only a short time this day, and no inspiration, so I figured it would at least make for a better blog post.

As with its Alpine cousin, the PIPC charges you $5 to park at then Englewood Boat Basin, but hey, they can use the dough, and it’s only a finn.  It also fits in well with my tactical philosophy of doing the hard part first when you’re still fresh.  It was a pretty hot day, as the others had been, so best to get the steep out of the way early.  When you park at the Basin, you get a nice clear shot across the river at the aforementioned Henry Hudson Bridge and Innwood Park.

Henry Hudson Bridge & Innwood Park

Henry Hudson Bridge & Innwood Park

The Dyckman Hill Trail can be picked up at the picnic area, or just go back up the road a bit and you will catch the yellow blazes on the stone walls.  It is a wonderful construction of stone blocks that ease you up the hill for the first part, followed by elegantly wide steps for the steep bits.  (The phrase, They don’t build ‘em like that anymore, came to mind.)  There is a stream which rolls downhill, becoming a waterfall in some places, which was even running a bit although it’s been pretty dry here of late.  It’s really not a bad climb, closer to 300 ft. in this part, and the footing is excellent.  At the top, go south (left) on the LP, and re-encounter our old bugbear, the Palisades Parkway.

There is a little spur almost immediately to an overlook, then back onto the PIP track.  At St. Peter’s College (on your left, separated by a chain link fence), you get a very interesting shot through the trees of what I am pretty sure is the Whitestone Bridge, which connects the Bronx to Queens on Long Island:

Whitestone Bridge from St. Peter's College

Whitestone Bridge from St. Peter's College

If you have binoculars and shift yourself around on the path a bit, I believe you can also pick out the Throggs Neck Bridge a bit further to the east.  This is about a 10-mile view.

A little more walking brings you to a little hidden gem called Allison Park.  The plaque on a boulder near the edge of the cliff explains the origin of this place:

Allison Park, Englewood Cliffs, NJ

Allison Park, Englewood Cliffs, NJ

This is a quiet little spot, cut off by the PIP, with unobstructed views of the river, benches, rest rooms, and a water fountain.  (If you were to do a long, southerly hike along the LP, you could do worse than to stop here for a break.)

As we’re approaching the George Washington Bridge in Fort Lee, that structure looms in all our views.  Directly across the river is yet another Manhattan treasure, Fort Tryon Park and the tower of the Cloisters (I’ll save the GWB pic for later):

Fort Tryon Park, Manhattan

Fort Tryon Park, Manhattan

The LP continues on uneventfully, with occasional overlooks.  The Ross Dock in Fort Lee is our target below, and we get to see it from above from a nice pulpit near the end of our LP journey.

Ross Dock, Fort Lee, NJ

Ross Dock, Fort Lee, NJ

Of course the graffiti on the rocks enhances the view so much.  Kudos to our resident mutants!  This is a good spot to take a few snaps of the GWB, opened according to Wikipedia in 1931, the bridge with the most vehicular traffic in the world, 4th longest suspension bridge in the US (was first in the world until 1937, now 20th), and oh yes, a perpetual choke point of the NY Metropolitan Area.  That said, I think this is a pretty nice photo of the bridge–I guess I got lucky:

The George Washington Bridge

The George Washington Bridge

Shortly after these vistas, the Carpenters Trail comes in first on the right, from its journey under the PIP and its trailhead in Fort Lee.  The route down on the left comes a few steps later, and oddly, there’s no signpost for it.  Just look for a four-way intersection and take the hard left, almost a U-turn.  This is an exceptionally well-built trail that descends a very steep path down to the shore.  Not as elegantly appointed as the Dyckman Hill Trail we first took, but it has a much harder job of keeping you from falling off the Palisades, and it does it quite well:

Carpenters Trail

Carpenters Trail

BTW, you should not get the impression that this was some trail that in the bygone days, salt of the earth carpenters used to get up and down the cliffs to do their work of building this great nation of ours.  In fact, it’s named after the Carpenter Brothers Quarry, which, had it not been for the efforts George Perkins (he of Perkins Memorial Tower atop Bear Mountain), would have chopped up the entire length of the Palisades for trap rock.  (See the Palisades book in the References.)

Back at the river, we’ll go left and head back north.  If you have a few extra steps you want to take, it’s worth the half mile or so to follow the Shore Trail to the GWB for an impressive view of the span from its underside.  On this day the Ross Dock was very crowded with picnickers, but come back in the winter when it’s empty for a nice restful view of the NY skyline.

The trip back up the shoreline is uneventful and under a mile and a half.  This part differs from some of the more forlorn bits we did in the previous loops.  The crowds from the Ross Dock or Englewood tend to meander up and down the river, and the path is well traveled, as demonstrated by the raspberry bushes which were stripped pretty clean this Sunday compared to Wednesday’s cornucopia north of Englewood.  At several points along the way stone docks appear on your right with steps going down to the water, evidence of the days when the entire Hudson shore was heavily used for recreation before pollution turned it into a notorious waterway.  Near the end of the trip, an interesting little garden and bench with a plaque commemorating Dan Holovach sits on a quiet little beach with a nice view of Fort Tryon Park across the water:

Beach Garden

Beach Garden

The Boat Basin pops up around a corner, and you’re back to the car.

Summary

So there are the three loops.  The opposite shore regions roughly work out to Yonkers, the Bronx, and Manhattan for A, B, and C, respectively.  They can be combined for longer hikes, and Loop C could be extended to go all the way south to Fort Lee Historic Park, which would add another couple of miles.  The upper run of the Long Path provides more vistas because of the height, while the Shore Trail has much more varied attractions: beaches, waterfalls, docks, picnic areas, interesting flora and fauna, and no traffic noise!  At this point, I’m pretty sure I’ve hit all of the Shore Trail at one time or another.  If you want to be a Shore Trail completist, be aware that north of the Forest View Trail (the last connector trail in NJ) are the Giant Stairs.  This is a poorly-named section of boulders quarried off the cliff that pour down straight into the river that is a strenuous rock scramble.  There was a sign in the Stateline Lookout restaurant I saw last week that indicated the Giant Stairs were closed for now due to instability.  Should they be re-opened, be aware that it is not something to be attempted on a rainy or icy day.  Although well-blazed it is still tricky.  The half-mile run will take at least an hour, and it will be a workout.

The run from the GWB up to the NY state line is about 11 miles.  The Shore Trail ends there, but the Long Path continues on into Rockland County because it is… well… long.  It continues along the Palisades as they turn inland near Haverstraw, and keeps on going through Harriman Park and onward.  The run along the river is probably the most dramatic part of the LP until you get up to the Shawangunks.

A One-Year Update

Went back to Loop B on 7  July 2013, particularly to check out the butterfly situation.  Hurricane Sandy that roared through in the Fall of 2012 seems to have somewhat nailed the site with the orange flowers.  There were still a good number of the butterflies, but the bushes with the flowers seem to have been upset a bit by the storm.  The flowers were not as plentiful, and the insects seemed a bit reduced, although there was another spot a bit to the south that also had quite a few of them, albeit without the flowers.

One other nature note:  last year’s trip on 4 July reported abundant raspberries along the trail.  This year on 7 July, the bushes seem like they are just about to pop.  Only got a few of the early birds.

Turkey Mountain — 3 June 2012

Info

  • Map: NY/NJ Trail Conference, Jersey Highlands, Central North Region
  • Trails: Yellow, Green, Blue
  • Type: Loop
  • Distance: Approx. 4 miles
  • Time: About 2 hours
  • Exertion: Easy

Getting There

From the I287 south, exit at NJ 23 north.  After about 2 miles, you’ll pass county Rte. 511, so make the next jug-handle left back over to 23 south, then hang the right onto 511 south.  (If you don’t know what a jug-handle left is, well then my friend, you have not been driving in New Jersey enough!)  Pyramid Mountain County Park is a few twisty miles off on this road on the right.  A good-sized parking lot, visitor center, and port-o-potty await.

The Hike

OK, so after inadvertently letting my membership in the NY/NJ Trail Conference lapse a couple years ago, I re-upped for $30 and saved almost twice that with my member discount when I purchase their 11-map bundle set for about $80.  The time had come to refresh some of these maps I’d been using for over 10 years.  Some I’d lost on hikes (you know sometimes how you swear you put the map back in your pocket, but it just disappears?), some were getting out of date, and some in the bundle I’d never even bought before, so for the whole magilla, it seemed like the right thing to do.  I spent an exciting hour the day they came in looking over the set, figuring out where were new trails I’d never seen, trails I’d walked but were not on the map in prior editions, and just new areas I’d not known before.

I noticed that the northern NJ maps had been expanded somewhat of late, and include areas not in earlier versions.  I was not a fan of these previous maps because the contours were only at 100 feet and they were lacking in detail.  This set is much nicer now with 20-foot contours, larger scale (1″ = 0.63 mi. now, vs 1″ = 0.73 mi.), and there’s just more Tyvek.  So my first excursion into Terra Incognita was to the Pyramid Mountain Natural Historic Area in Morris County.  There are two “mountains” in this park, Pyramid itself, and Turkey Mountain, which is the one I selected.

According to the New Jersey Walk Book, some of these trails do have names, but not all, so I will refer to them simply by their colors.  From the parking lot, walk to the south exit, past the port-o-potty and cross back over Rte. 511.  There’s a nice crosswalk that you should use, although since this is New Jersey–well, if truth be told, since this is the Northeast, there’s little protection from being hit by a car in a crosswalk, beyond having a good court case should you survive.  The trailhead for the Yellow trail is obvious.

The Yellow is a gravel road at the start and pretty flat for the first half-mile or so.   You quickly pass the Red Dot Trail (see if you can guess the blazes for that one), and shortly thereafter a white-blazed trail.  After passing the Blue trail, you descend into a wet area that’s still pretty wooded and not really a swamp.  The other terminus of the White trail we passed earlier comes and goes, and the first landmark of any note is a so-called “limestone quarry,” which to me just looks like a long hole:

Limestone Quarry?  Looks like a hole to me!

Limestone Quarry? Looks like a hole to me!

I know, it’s a terrible picture.  They’ll get better.  As the Yellow trail meanders around the park, it gets a bit dark and dreary.  My original intent was to take the Yellow to its end, with a wide loop to the northeast, but it began to rain, so rather than get stuck in a downpour, I opted to hack over to the Green trail, which after the Yellow goes under the power lines, runs almost parallel to it for a good bit.

At the Green, I made a left, roughly back west.  This brings you soon to a ruined foundation and fireplace.  I’ve not been able to determine the origins of the place, but it looks pretty mean and small.

Ruins on Turkey Mountain

Ruins on Turkey Mountain

If you walk around to the front of the house, there’s a sign indicating a short spur trail to a decent view.  Now if you’re into high-tension wires, this is the place for you, but especially on this kind of cloudy day, the supposed view of the NYC skyline was not evident, at least from this point.

View of the NYC Skyline, but not Today

View of the NYC Skyline, but not Today

I spent some time wandering around this area, and did catch some skyline later on.  There also seems to be another ruin consisting of only a fireplace and chimney across the rut for the power line, but there’s no easy way to get up to it.  I tried–it’s not worth it.

Going back to the Green trail, there’s another vista shortly after the ruins overlooking a grandiosely-named Lake Valhalla.  From here, I did get something of the view promised earlier, although it was still pretty cloudy.

Ah, There's the Skyline!

Ah, There's the Skyline!

Shortly afterward, the Green trail ends at the Blue trail we passed earlier.  Hanging a right gets us back to the lovely power line and we’ll walk under this for the rest of the hike.  As these things go, it’s tolerable.  There’s a nicely maintained set of rock stairs as you drop down off the hill called the 100 Steps.  It deposits you in this odd section of the power line rut where it looks like they clear cut about two acres and then topped the rest of the trees down to Rte. 511–for no apparent reason, since the wires are way above the tallest trees.

Love What You've Done with the Place!

Love What You've Done with the Place!

Well, at least it was quiet.

That’s pretty much it.  I wish I had not short-circuited the route under the threat of rain.  I also did not properly judge the distances on my new map due to scale changes, so this wound up being a shorter hike than I would have liked.  I will probably go back at some point an see what’s up on the eponymous Pyramid Mountain.  Not a great hike, but to paraphrase an old saying, A bad day hiking is better than a good day working.

Looking for the Lichen Trail – May 6th 2012

Info

  • Map: NY/NJ Trail Conference, Harriman Bear Mtn Trails, Northern Section
  • Trails: Dunning, Lichen, Long Path, et al
  • Type: Loop
  • Distance: Approx. 5-6 miles
  • Time: About 3 hours
  • Exertion: Easy

Getting There

From the Palisades Parkway, take Exit 14 for Cty Rte 98 West (left at end of exit ramp).  Rte. 98 leads into Cty. Rte. 106 which then enters Harriman SP.  Go past Lake Welch and when you get to Kanawauke Circle, take the 12 o’clock exit to stay on 106.  Shortly thereafter there will be a parking area on the left.  (Probably have to pay on summer weekends.)

The Hike

It’s been a while since I’ve posted any new hikes.  The winter, while weirdly mild, was busy with other things.  I did a lot of short hikes, more like long walks, around Rockland Lake, the Old Croton Aqueduct, and even some in Harriman, but nothing, as they say, to write home about.  Today I decided to do a real hike, and was tossing a few different routes around in my head even as I drove up there.  The still seasonally-closed Tiorati Brook Road (dudes, it’s friggin’ May already!) and a full parking lot at Lake Askoti made me go to Plan C as described here.

My target for the hike was a short interior trail, called the Lichen Trail.  According to the Myles book, it was first blazed in 1933 and so named because of the variety of lichen on this very short (0.46 mi.) trail.  I don’t know a lichen from a liking but I’d gone over this once several years ago and remembered that I though it was a nice little trip with a decent view at the summit of Surebridge Mountain.  Because it’s not close to any parking and there are many other trails in the area, it’s easily overlooked.  So I decided to return to see if it was as nice as I remembered.  (Short answer: I think so.)

The parking area at Kanawauke Circle has a lot of picnic tables and grills, plus a boat launch, so it’s a popular spot.  Fortunately, it’s a pretty big lot, so even though today was a pretty crowded one in HSP, there were plenty of spots to be had.  Plus, as compensation for roads being closed, the ticket booth was not (wo)manned, so it was free.  The one bad part about this lot though is that it’s not really next to any hiking trails, so you have to do some road walking to get to the trailhead.  When you come out of the westernmost driveway of the lot, cross the road and walk on the lakeside of the guard rail.  This will get you a fairly protected walk right until the tip of the lake.  I suggest crossing back over a little before you hit the turn because there’s a very narrow shoulder, and you don’t want your back to traffic here.  There are a couple of pull-outs right around the bend here aside Little Long Pond, but they’re often taken and technically not legal parking, but you might try to snag one of these instead of the picnic area to reduce your chances of being mashed by a car or motorcycle.

Once walking along the pond, you’ll notice an iron gate across a dirt road entrance, but this is not where you want to go.  A short way further west along the road reveals another gate, and this is the path you want, the unblazed Crooked Road.  (As I found out on the return trip, you can take the first gate, just keep to the left at the first fork.)  It’s easy to follow Crooked Rd. because a lot of the macadam is still in place.  After a minute or two it forks, but you can take either as it will rejoin a few minutes after that.  I took the right fork.  It’s less than half a mile up to the intersection with the Dunning Trail (yellow blazes).

Taking a clockwise loop today, I made a left onto the Dunning, which is a nice wide trail (still technically Crooked Road) and a pretty easy climb up around Hogencamp Mountain.  About a mile into it the trail breaks out of the woods onto an interesting terrain of bare rock with scattered boulders called Bowling Rocks.

Bowling Rocks

Bowling Rocks

The bare, moss-or-lichen covered rock will be a motif which will stick with us until we’re off the Lichen Trail.  It can be a little tricky to follow the trail here because there are few trees.  (Remnants of a forest fire some time ago are still evident.)  There are also a few spots where water flows over the bare rock, making for some slippery conditions.  But it’s a nice little spot, and although there are no great vistas, the scenery is still quite nice.

After a few twists and turns the Dunning intersects the Ramapo-Dunderberg Trail (red dot on white).  Here we’ll take the RD to the right (northward) and continue on with the bare rock with strewn boulders.  At some point within a quarter mile or so is the Goldthwaite Memorial, a plaque attached to one of the boulders to commemorate George Goldthwaite’s hike of the 21-mile RD Trail in 4 hrs., 51 mins, which is over 4 MPH–a pace I can do only on flat ground.  Of course he did this in 1929, so I imagine some must have bested this by now, but, hell, I think George still deserves that plaque!  Unfortunately, I was unable to locate said plaque.  I’d seen it before, and I think it’s easier to catch in if you’re traveling north to south, but perhaps I got distracted.  Next time.

More Rock

More Rock

The Lichen Trail has blazes with a dark blue “L” on a white background.  The trailhead is easy to pick up from your RD walk since the terrain is pretty wide open.  The Lichen continues on with a similar look.  It’s a nice rolling ramble, usually quiet, although on this day there were three people in two groups that I ran into.  The summit–if you can call it that, because the climb is so gradual–is a nice view with a glimpse of Island Pond to the west.

Summit from Lichen Trail

Summit from Lichen Trail

I have to admit that I got a bit off-trail at the top here.  There was a section which seemed to have suffered from a fire where I could not find the next blaze.  The summit is fairly expansive, and there are stray cairns in various spots, so I was unsure of where the trail was.  By the time I thought I’d detected a blaze on a remote boulder, I saw one of the three hikers coming from the north, so I re-oriented myself quickly.  No worries–it’s not like you can get lost here!

The move off the top descends rapidly, and at this point we lose the bare rock+boulders motif we’ve come to enjoy.  The route back to the car is not exceptionally visual, but sometimes you just have to appreciate the isolation and unspoiled woods.  The Lichen trail drops you onto the conjoined Arden-Surebridge Trail (ASB–red triangle on white) and the teal-blazed Long Path.  (The only reason why I even know what color teal is, BTW.)  The right turn at Surebridge road leads you into the intersection known as Times Square.

Times Square

Times Square

If you look closely, you can see the TIMES SQUARE painted on the boulder.  Its notoriety comes from being the intersection of three major trails in the park: ASB, Long Path, and RD.  The boulder contains some painted indicators which way to go for the RD vs. the ASB (which someone has manage to scratch up so it looks more like ASS) because the blazes are very similar: red circle vs. red triangle on white.  Other than this, it’s a pretty dreary place!

We let the ASB drift off to the left here and stick with the lovely teal blazes of the LP.  On this trail, we will start heading back to the Dunning Trail, around the other side of Hogencamp Mountain.  This takes us into the ruins of the Hogencamp Mine.  If you pick up Lenik’s Iron Mine Trails book, you can meander around the area and identify old foundations and mine shafts.  E.g. here’s one:

Mine Shaft #1

Mine Shaft #1

Note the pipe in the pool.  Iron mining was a big deal in this area until the late 1800′s, and Harriman is loaded with these old holes in the ground.  Hogencamp is one of the bigger complexes in the park, so if you’re into this kind of thing, I advise you to buy Lenik’s book (deets in the References) and at the point where Crooked Road hits the Dunning Trail, make a right instead of the left I took.

Now this little mine shaft:

Mine Shaft #2

Mine Shaft #2

As I stared into the pool below, I realized that should anyone accidentally fall in, you’d better hope fellow hikers would be close by, because there is NO WAY you could ever climb out of that hole.  So, be careful when you go exploring round here.

Not being into archeology this day, I picked up the Dunning Trail again, hanging a right and leaving the LP.  On the way to pick up the Crooked Road intersection, I walked past this snake, just lying across the trail:

Snake on the Dunning Trail

Snake on the Dunning Trail

Hanging a left onto Crooked Road, I kept to the left because I’d noticed another dirt road coming up from the east side, so I wanted to see where that went.  I had an idea, which turned out to be correct that it just fed into that first gate we passed on 106.

I thought about following the left turn as this other road neared 106.  The map indicates it goes almost all the way around Lake Kanawauke, but I was not up for the exploration.  Save something for next time.