Sunday, January 1, 2017

West Mountain Cats Elbow Loop

Harriman State Park,
Rockland Co.,
New York

Hiking Trails:
Beechy Bottom Bike Path: Unblazed
Appalachian Trail: White blaze
Suffern-Bear Mountain Trail: Yellow blaze
Timp-Torne Trail: Blue blaze
Ramapo-Dunderberg Trail: Red blaze

Total Time: 2:40 hour
Estimated Distance: 4.8 Miles

Pros: Good climb and scramble, very scenic areas and views
Cons: None

Hiking Partners:
Debbie Koegel
Eli Koegel

This was our first hike of the year, on New Years which also happened to be Sunday. Though it was seasonably cold for this time of the year, there was no snow at all. We parked at the end of the Anthony Wayne parking area, which surprisingly was open in the winter, and started on the bike trail south the Appalachian Trail. We took the Appalachian Trail up West Mountain, and veered off the trail through the valley to meet up with the Suffern-Bear Mountain Trail. We then took the Suffern-Bear Mountain Trail to the Timp-Torne Trail, to the West Mountain shelter.

This is a busy shelter and people are often encountered here, but being that it was morning on New Years, was very quiet, with only a couple there at the shelter, which were the only other people we saw along the entire hike. We continued down the Timp-Torne Trail to the The Timp valley, went the short distance on the unmarked Timp Pass Trail, and then took the a Ramapo-Dunderberg Trail up the southern slope of the southern portion of West Mountain. This trail has excellent views southward its entire length as it skirts the southernmost portion of West Mountain. We continued along to the Suffern-Bear Mountain Trail, which we climbed down on a difficult scramble down. We then cut across from the Suffern-Bear Mountain Trail back to the Ramapo-Dunderberg Trail, which we took to Beechy Bottom Road. We continued along Beechy Bottom Road for a short distance and then bushwacked down the hill, across the stream, to our car in the parking area.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

North Hill Area
Harriman State Park,

Rockland Co.,
New York

Hiking Trails:
Reeves Brook Trail: White blaze
Seven Hills Trail: Blue blaze
Hillburn-Torne Sebago (HTS) Trail: Orange blaze
Pine Meadow Trail: Red blaze
Stony Brook Trail: Yellow blaze

Total Time: 2:30 hour
Estimated Distance: 4.0 Miles

Pros: Solitary hike, good climb, good scramble, great views
Cons: None

Overall this is one of my favorite hikes in Harriman. I had not been to this area in a while, and wanted to stay more local while still doing a great hike. While most of the snow had already melted, the deeper valleys still had snow, and many of the trails were icy. I had brought my footgear with cleats which really made the difference hiking on the ice.

It was a very cold day, and I had to dress in many layers. I parked at the trailhead, which was very empty for a Sunday. I took the Reeves Brook Trail up to its intersection with the Seven Hills Trail, and took the steep scramble up the cliff here to the North Hill view. I then continued past the gas  line, and up to the Chipmunk Mountain summit. I descended on the HTS Trail, and then took the Pine Meadow Trail to the Connector Trail to the Stony Brook Trail, and then back to the Pine Meadow Trail to the parking area.

Icy Conditions at the Beginning of the Trail

Small Waterfall on the Reeves Brook

Reeves Brook Waterfall Zoomed Out

Scramble Up the Seven Hills Trail

Going up the Scramble

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Ramapo Reservation in the Rain, Snow, and Fog

Ramapo Valley County Reservation
Bergen Co.,
New Jersey

Hiking Trails:
River Trail: Yellow/Green blaze
Vista Loop Trail: Yellow blaze
Reservoir Trail: Pink blaze

Total Time: 1:00 Hours
Estimated Distance: 2.2 Miles
Level of Difficulty: Easy
Level of Recommendation: Recommended but usually busy

Points of Interest: Scenic lakes
Cons: Many people even in bad weather

Hiking Partner:
Nathan Kuznicki

I had met some friends for a group training in the NY/NJ Trail Conference Headquarters in Mahwah, and we had planned a hike afterward. The problem was that the weather was awful. There was a snowstorm the previous day on Saturday, and we received about five inches of snow. On Sunday, the snow had changed over to rain, but it was a cold damp rain with the snow melting slightly, causing a thick fog over everything.

Due to the condition, with an active cold rain in snowy terrain with thick fog, we decided to limit the length of the hike to a short one right nearby in Ramapo Reservation. We parked in the parking area, crossed over the Mahwah River, and took the River Trail to its end at the new Vista Loop Trail. We then veered off to the waterfall, went back on the Vista Loop Trail, and then at MacMillan Reservoir cross over the dam to the other side at the Reservoir Trail. We took the Reservoir Trail down to the end shortly after the dam, and took the newly renamed Ridge Loop down back to the Vista Loop at Scarlet Oak Pond and then back to our cars.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

NJ Palisades - Alpine Boat Basin to Huylers Landing

Palisades Interstate Park
Bergen Co.
New Jersey

Hiking Trails:
Shore Trail: White blaze
Huyler's Landing Trail: Red blaze
Long Path: Green blaze
Closter Dock Trail: Orange blaze

Total Time: 2:00 hour
Estimated Distance: 4.8 Miles
Level of Difficulty: Moderate

Pros: Peaceful walk along river and good view
Cons: Urban views and noise from highway

I had been to the Palisades a few weeks prior, and decided to continue doing some additional stretches of the Long Path and Shore Trail that I had not yet done. The area features dramatic diabase cliffs along the side of the Hudson River, with a pleasant walk alongside the river on the bottom, and nice views above the cliffs on top.

It was a cold December day, and I needed full winter gear. I parked at the Alpine Boat Basin down at the bottom of the Palisades, and went on the Shore Path southward along the side of the river towards Huylers Landing. Across the river was an urban view of the waterfront and downtown of Yonkers, population roughly 200,000.

At Huylers Landing, I went on the old jetty that goes into the river to get some better views, and then took the Huylers Landing Trail up the cliffs. The trail is steep, but is relatively easy and not quite as strenuous as I thought it would be. At the top of the Huylers Landing Trail, I took the Long Path north parallel to the Palisades Parkway. This part of the hike is very loud from the constant cars in proximity on the highway. The trail goes to the Alpine Lookout, which also affords excellent views from the top of the cliff towards Yonkers. Approaching the Alpine lookout, there is a smaller lookout right off the trail extending over a columnar rock face in the cliff (surrounded by a fence) with a very good view of the structure of the cliffs.

I continued along the Long Path, past the Alpine view, past an old stone ruin, and then eventually to the Closter Dock Trail. I took the Closter Dock Trail down the mountain, to the Shore Trail right before the Alpine Boat Basin and then back towards my car.