Posts Tagged ‘Ramapo-Dunderberg Trail’

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.

Cornell Mine Trail & Doodletown — May 1st 2011

Info

  • Map: NY/NJ Trail Conference, Harriman/Bear Mountain, Northern Section
  • Trails: Cornell Mine, Ramapo-Dunderberg, and 1777 (East) Trails
  • Type: Loop
  • Distance: Approx. 5 miles
  • Time: About 3 hours
  • Exertion: Moderate with one section of hard climbing

Getting There

Take US 9W South from the Bear Mountain traffic circle.  Drive past Hessian Lake and the main entrance to Bear Mountain SP.  Watch for a road coming in from the right (Seven Lakes Drive).  Shortly thereafter, you will see a parking area on your left.  If you hit the entrance for Iona Island Preserve, you’ve gone too far.  If coming up 9W from the south, the parking area is right after the Iona Island entrance on the right.

The Hike

This is a nice hike for several reasons.  First, it has a bit of everything, a nice panoramic view of the Hudson Valley below Bear Mountain, some good exertion, cascades and streams, less strenuous walking at the end, and a trip through the abandoned village of Doodletown.  From the parking area, cross 9W carefully and enter the Cornell Mine Trail (CMT–blue blazes) before you cross the culvert through which Doodletown Brook runs under 9W.  The brook forms a nice pool at this point, and as you climb the trail to the left, you can see more of the brook and the cascades it forms.  Here’s a video of a nice double cascade:

Double Waterfall

As you meander along the CMT, you stay near the brook for a while.  As I discovered, the trail seems to have been re-routed at some point a few years ago, so if you’re following the ground rather than the blazes, you’ll find yourself off-trail, but it’s OK, just head uphill to your left and you’ll pick it back up easy enough.  There are a few glacial erratics along the way, which is a fancy term for really big rock just hanging out on the ground.

Glacial Erratic

Glacial Erratic

About halfway through this first section, the map shows an unmarked road that is suppose to cross the trail, leading to something called the Edison Mine.  (Yes, that Edison.  Per the Myles’ book, Harriman Trails, TAE did own some land here starting in the 1890′s with the idea of getting iron for his magnetic experiments, but things did not work out.)  I’ve been over this ground several times, and have yet to come across this mine.  At one time, I did manage to follow a trail out of Doodletown that should have taken me across the CMT, but I recall getting very lost and having to bushwhack my way back to 9W.  No matter, this is not our objective today.

The CMT climbs very gently through Mr. Edison’s ex-property, but about a half-hour or so in, the trail will make a noticeable right turn, and before you will be a lot of UP.  As a tease, it will jog along the base of the mountain (Bald Mountain) for a little bit, but then the serious climb begins on a series of switchbacks.  This is one of the hardest climbs in the Harriman/Bear Mountain park.  Again, per the Myles book, you gain about 1000′ in elevation from where you parked the car to the top of Bald Mountain.  I have to say, except for the very last bit, the footing is good, and the switchbacks are well-placed.  It’s a hump, but not a horror.  About 2/3 of the way up, there’s a nice opening in the trees and you can see the river and the Bear Mountain Bridge.  A nice place to catch your breath and have some H2O.  (Truth be told, not the first stop, either!)

Hudson Valley From Cornell Mine Trail

When you hit the end of the CMT, you will be on the Ramapo-Dunderberg Trail (RD)–at 21 miles, one of the longest trails in the park.  Hang a right here, although there is still more climbing to do.  Somewhere in this neighborhood is the eponymous Cornell Mine, although I’ve not run into myself.  Every time I’ve been here, I’ve been just too shagged out to try to find it, but if you have some extra joules left in you, go for it; Myles said it was worth it.

The summit of the hike awaits you.  The top of Bald Mountain is the highest point of the hike as well as its visual high point.  It took me about an hour to get there from the car, but YMMV.  This is a good place to hang out and enjoy the view of the river, Bear Mountain, and the rolling hills of Harriman.  There’s a good 270-degree view here, and the top is rocky (befitting its name I suppose).  I suggest heading to the northern portion of the summit for the best views, and a nice place to have a snack, a drink, or just some quiet time.  Be a bit careful on the way down: the RD Trail does something of a hairpin turn on the top here, and if you’re not paying attention, you will find yourself backtracking.  Just be sure you don’t go past the CMT again, and you’ll be OK.

The second portion of the hike begins, with the RD falling off Bald Mountain fairly quickly.  You will go through a nice, flat path carved through a rhododendron field that will then start to go further downhill.  The unmarked Bockberg Trail comes in from the left and then leaves again almost immediately.  Stay on the RD, although the Bockberg will wind up in the same place anyway.  A fireplace is marked on the trail map with an “F”, and it’s very apparent.  A small stream flows from a swampy area to the left, and the Bockberg trail, which is really a dirt woods road, comes in as well.  Cross the little stream, and you can choose to continue on the RD more or less straight ahead, or you can take the Bockberg as a shortcut.  The map indicates that if you take the RD, there is vista, but the flat, rocky section at the top of the hill is surrounded by trees which, even at this early spring date blocked out just about any view.  So unless you have a problem walking unmarked trails, or need the extra steps, the Bockberg shortcut to the 1777 Trail is recommended.

If you take the RD, watch for the intersection with the 1777 trail, which has circular, blue-printed blazes.  Take a right.  (For you cheaters :-) on the Bockberg, it ends at the 1777, and you should hang a right there as well.)  This stretch of the 1777 starts out as an obvious dirt woods road, becomes gravelly, and eventually becomes a macadam road that leads into the abandoned village of Doodletown.  There’s really nothing left of Doodletown, a hamlet that had been occupied since Revolutionary War days; it was absorbed by Bear Mountain Park, and by 1965 all the populace was gone and the park razed the buildings.  (The primary source on this is Doodletown, by Elizabeth Salter, published by the Palisades Interstate Park Commission.  Most of the historical information comes from this book, as well as the signposts that have recently been added alongside the remaining foundations.)

The 1777 trail runs along what was called Pleasant Valley Road, an appropriately-named stroll on a gentle downgrade that takes you into the razed village.  As compensation for the rigors of the climb up Bald Mountain, the remainder of this hike is pretty much completely downhill, on wide, and sometimes even paved roads.   As I said, Pleasant Valley road starts as a dirt road, heavily eroded.   Pretty soon after the road levels off a bit, if you are really observant, you will see the unmarked Timp Pass Road coming in from the left.  It’s a little tough to pick up, but there is a small tree with a red ribbon tied on it that might help.

Timp Pass Road Comes into 1777 Trail

If you have some extra time and want another great view, this road will take you up to the Timp, which we visited here.  (Of course, if you really want to work the Timp into your hike, then you would stay on the RD and come back here via the pass road.)  Soon after this intersection, you will come to the first of the Doodletown ruins, the Moore home, which has a small shed, a pool formed by a dam, as well as the foundation:

Moore House, Doodletown

This is one of the more extensive ruins you’ll see on the way into the main part of the town.  The park did a pretty good job of knocking down all the houses, so don’t expect this to be like ghost town tour.  The signposts at each home site have pictures of the houses that stood there, although they are a bit grainy.  (If you want pictures, the Stalter book is positively chock-a-block with them.  If you want to play amateur archeologist, then bring the book with you.)

The road becomes mostly paved or gravel as you head into town, but of course it is heavily eroded.  You go past the intersection with a ski trail where a laminated 8 1/2 x 11″ sheet informs you that the You Are Here sign was stolen by vandals.  Way to go, vandals! :-( The ski trail, which was actually a bridle path for the town, makes for a nice side trip either way you decide to go left or right.  But we’re staying on the main road here.  We go past the purportedly 200-year old oak tree.  Looks a bit shabby, but then again, I won’t be so hot looking either when I’m 200 years old.

The 200-Year Old Oak

Pleasant Valley Road ends at Doodletown Road–one of only two other major roads in the place.  You can go left or right here, and the 1777 trail itself splits here as well into a West and an East branch, to mimic the movements of the British troops in 1777, where they did split up on their way up north to capture Forts Montgomery and Clinton near Bear Mountain.  Our journey will take us to the 1777E trail, which goes right into the main part of town.  The 1777W branch takes you past some more razed lots before the road ends.

The main part of Doodletown is very nice and quiet.  There’s a reservoir and dam there, and if desired, when you hit the reservoir, go right instead of following the main road over the brook, and stop by the June Cemetery.  (June being a Doodletown family name; a second cemetery for the Herbert family could be reached just before the end of Pleasant Valley Road.)  There’s a platform you can walk out on into the reservoir to get a closer look at the dam.  Depending on the time of year, this will be where you’ll run into the most people.

Doodletown Reservoir

Doodletown Reservoir

Shortly after you leave the reservoir and continue east on Doodletown Road, Lemmon Road comes in from the left.  This is a nice, secluded walk that will take you out to Seven Lakes Drive.  There’s not much to see on this road, however, until near the end.  After Lemmon, you will notice a trail coming uphill on your right.  This will take you down to the brook, which we were walking along at the start of the hike.  Although I skipped this on this day, it’s a nice detour, and if you feel adventurous on a nice hot summer day, you might want to take a swim in the town’s swimming hole, known as “Ten Foot.”  Expect some cold water!

The last stretch of the road is very badly eroded, likely by some of these very severe rainstorms we’ve had over the last several years.  The 1777E trail departs from road soon after the Ten Foot side trail, following the ski trail/bridle path to the left.  To get back to 9W, stay on the road and you’ll soon be back at the Cornell Mine trail.  Not a bad day’s work.

The Trail Ends--Or Begins!

The Trail Ends--Or Begins!