Monday, January 19, 2015

Congers Lake Loop

Congers Lake Memorial Park,
Rockland Co.,
New York

Total time: 0:50 hour
Estimated Distance: 2.5 miles
Level of Difficulty: Very easy
Level of Recommendation: Highly Recommended
Points of Interest: Scenic lake and boardwalk
Pros: Interesting boardwalk trail, scenic lake
Cons: Built-up suburban area, noise from road, and noise from train

The previous day was Sunday, and I had originally scheduled to go on a good hike. However, the weather was about as awful as you could ask for. It started raining in the morning, but was only 26 degrees, so the rain froze on impact creating a hazardous slick of ice. There were hundreds of accidents that morning. The temperature gradually warmed above freezing, but the rain remained unabated and strong all day as a cold hard rain.

I therefore pushed off my hike to Monday which was Martin Luther King Day. Although I was not off from work, it was lighter than usual at the office so I was able to get out a little bit for this hike.

Congers Lake is a scenic lake that is right nearby Rockland Lake. A loop path has recently been constructed around the entire lake, making this a great place to walk or bike. Much of the western side is acually a boardwalk, meandering above the lake in a boardwalk fashion. This is definitely more of a walk than a hike, but because of the scenery and unique boardwalk, I am including it here.

I parked at the main parking area for Congers Lake Memorial Park.  I only noticed after that this parking area is for Clarkstown residents only, but there are plenty of other parking and access points around the lake to park at. Although the weather was cold, there were lots of people walking here. I presume in when the weather is warm it gets quite busy over here, especially on weekends. I headed north along the eastern side of the lake, and went fully around the lake, including the end of the walk where it loops along the peninsula. Towards the end of the walk a very large freight train passed along the tracks very close to the western shore of the lake.

I didn't bring my camera, thinking there wouldn't be any good photo ops, but I was wrong. The pictures below are therefore taken with my cell phone camera.

Map of the Route.

Fawn I Encountered Right Off the Path Right After I Started Walking
This Deer Must Have Been Injured as it Didn't Move Despite my Coming Close.

View of a Frozen Congers Lake Looking from East to West

Congers Lake Looking from North to South.
This Part Isn't Frozen Since its Right by the Inlet

Boardwalk Snaking Across the Lake on the Northwest Park

View of the Boardwalk Along the Side of the Lake

Looking Towards the Northeast.

Facing South, with Hook Mountain on the Left Side in the Distance

Beautiful Colors. From the Southern Part of the Lake Facing North.

Freight Train Approaching.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Hook Mountain and Rockland Lake Loop

Hook Mountain and Rockland Lake Loop
Hook Mountain State Park /
Nyack Beach State Park /
Rockland Lake State Park,
Rockland Co.,
New York

Hiking Trails:
Yellow Trail: Yellow blaze
Long Path: Green blaze

Total time: 2:30 hour
Estimated Distance: 4.7 miles
Level of Difficulty: Moderate though conditions were difficult
Level of Recommendation: Highly Recommended
Points of Interest: View of Nyack and Hudson River, and Historical Sites
Pros: Excellent Views and Scenery
Cons: End of hike built up and busy, and walk on road not enjoyable

This was my first hike of 2015. This is a unique hike in that it straddles three separate but connected state parks. The beginning of the hike and main summit is in Hook Mountain State Park, a small straddle of the Long Path crosses along the edge of Nyack Beach State Park, and the part near Rockland Lake is in Rockland Lake State Park.

I had been quite busy the last few weeks and the weather didn't necessarily cooperate, so glad to finally have been able to get out for a good hike. The weather was absolutely frigid. When I had left in the morning, my recollection was that the temperature was 14 degrees. It gradually warmed out throughout the day, but I had to make sure to be very well dressed for this hike. The sky was covered with clouds, though the south and east had a cloud line which allowed the sun partially to shine in, resulting in very interesting lighting effects for my photos.

I parked on Route 9W as it crests over the Palisades north of Nyack. There is roadside parking here, and its also the terminus for the yellow trail which takes you to the crest of Hook Mountain. I continued along the Long Path all the way down to the Rockland Lake Landing, where I took the road and then bushwacked to the side of Rockland Lake. I walked along the east and south shore of the lake along the busy path, and then took Route 9W up the mountain on the side of the road back to my car.

Map of the Route

Snow at the Very Beginning of the Hike on the Yellow Trail,
Ascending to the Hook Mountain Summit

Me at the Hook Mountain Summit,
Decked in Winter Garb

View from Hook Mountain Looking South Into a Snow-Covered Nyack

Tappan Zee Bridge Construction from Hook Mountain Summit

The Above Picture Zoomed Out, with a Partial View of Nyack

Zoomed Into Nyack, with the Manhattan Skyscrapers in the Distance
Above the Palisades Ridge

Another View Into Nyack

Looking North Towards Rocckland Lake

A Fuller View of the Tappan Zee Bridge

View of the West From Hook Mountain

A Zoomed Out View of Nyack and the Tappan Zee Bridge

A View of the Hudson River and Westchester

Looking Down from Above the Cliffs Towards Nyack Beach State Park

A Nice Perspective of the Tappan Zee Bridge

A View of the Hudson Looking Northeast

Another View of the Hudson, Looking East

Wild Yucca at the Summit.
I presume this is not here Naturally but was Transplanted.

Cliff Walls Along a Quarry

Looking Down Into the Sheer Quarry Walls

Intresting Graffiti Using a Long Path Trail Marker

A Frozen Rockland Lake, Looking South.
Hook Mountain Rises to the Left.

Frozen Rockland Lake Looking North,
Towards the Haverstraw Quarry and Hi Tor.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Sterling Ridge Trail from Route 17A

Sterling Ridge Trail from Route 17A
Sterling Forest State Park
Orange Co.,
New York

Hiking Trails:
Sterling Ridge Trail: (Blue blaze)
Highlands Trail Aqua blaze)

Total Time: 1:40 min
Estimated Distance: 2.15 miles
Level of Difficulty: Easy
Level of Recommendation: Not recommended
Points of Interest: Sterling Lake View
Pros: Quiet area
Cons: Too many power lines and lack of significant good views

Google Map of Parking:


I want to start covering more areas in Sterling Forest. I parked on Route 17A on the high ridge between the Tuxedo Ridge Ski Area and the village of Greenwood Lake. There is a small parking area off the road, where the trails can be accessed. This parking area is for both hikers and hunters in the winter. Throughout the winter (Oct 1 - Feb 28) this area is open to hunters, so it is very important not to hike in this area without wearing highly visible clothing.

I took the Sterling Ridge Trail where it is combined with the Highlands Trail, and took its south. It goes along the side of the a nice ridge, and in some parts  there is a 100 foot cliff face on the east part. I continued along the trail past the power lines until the first view on the map. This view shows some of the ridges in the distance, and Sterling Lake is visible through the trees. The rocky exposure is scenic but the actual view is not so impressive. I was thinking of bushwacking down the valley to the Sterling Valley Loop trail and taking that trail back up to the parking area, however due to the active hunting season I reasoned that I’d rather play it safe. I therefore returned back to my car back along the same route.

Map of the Route.
Sterling Forest Maps

Sign at the Parking Area Warning Hikers of Hunting Season

Beginning of the Trail

Plaque at the Trail Intersection at the Trailhead

Interesting Scenery Along the Sterling Ridge Trail. Facing East.

Sterling Lake Behind the Trees from the Sterling Ridge Trail

Nice View by the Power Lines Gap, though Somewhat Marred by the Power Lines.
The Body of the Water is the Northern Finger of Sterling Lake.

Another View from the Power Lines

Approaching the Viewpoint with the Large Rock

At the View on top of a Large Rock

At the View, Where I Turned Around

At the View, Facing Northeast

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Lake Massawippa and Brooks Hollow

Harriman State Park
Orange Co.,
New York

Total time: 1:25 min
Estimated Distance: 2.2 miles
Level of Difficulty: Easy
Level of Recommendation: Recommended for off the beaten path hike
Points of Interest: Abandoned structures, Lake Massawippa Dam
Pros: Scenic lake
Cons: Very eerie location

Google Map of Parking:


I had been in this area on my hike several weeks prior (details on this hike), and bushwacked from the Long Path down from Howell Mountain through Brooks Hollow to the dam. I had noticed an additional trail going through the valley but I didn't have the ability to properly explore it, and it wasn't on the maps. I also had wanted to come back to further explore the area around the abandoned structures.

I parked on Route 6 opposite the dam on the small parking spot for the camp road. I crossed the street and took a slight bushwack over the road cut towards the old paved road heading north from Route 6 on the eastern side of Lake Massawippa. The road is very overgrown but is very distinct. It goes through an area of numerous abandoned and destroyed structures, and is quite creepy. According to the Harriman Trails book by William J. Myles, this used to be a boy scout camp. The old remaining structures are definitely creepy, and for those who enjoy this type of exploration, this is a great place. Few people are familiar with this area as its not on a hiking trail, and is in a lightly traversed region of the park.

The old road loses its pavement at the camp, but it continues distinctly it reaches the brook. At this point it disappears, but its only a short bushwack to get to the Long Path from here. I did that bushwack just to measure. Due to the high volume of water, crossing the brook proved difficult.

I then turned around back on that old camp road, and then near the lake dam veered off walk along one side of the dam to get some good lake views. I then turned around, headed back for the path, which I took to Route 6, and then walked west for just bit back to my car.

Map of the Route.
Harriman/Bear Mountain Trails Northern Route

Frozen Seasonal Pond off the Path to the Abandoned Structures

The first of the Abandoned Structures

The Largest of the Abandoned Structures

Several Abandoned Structures, Presumably Bunkhouses

Dilapidated Structure on the Verge of Collapse

The Same Building as Above, Zoomed In

Partially Frozen Lake Massawippa from the Dam

The Same View, Zoomed Out

Lake Massawippa from the Dam, Looking Towards Brooks Mountain

Lake Massawippa from the Dam, Looking South.
Note Some of the Abandoned Structures Beyond the Lake's End.