Sunday, January 6, 2019

Blue Mountain Reservation Hiking, Peekskill

Westchester Co.,
New York

Hiking Trails:
Dickey Brook Trail: Yellow blaze
Yin Trail/Yang Trail: Green blaze
Limbo Trail: Red blaze
Blue Mountain Trail: Blue blaze
Blue Mountain Summit Trail: Blue blaze
Briarcliff-Peekskill Trailway: Green blaze
Sitting Duck Trail: Green blaze
Spitzenberg Climb Trail: Unblazed
Rocky Glen Trail: White blaze

Total Time: 1:10 hour
Estimated Distance: 2.3 Miles

Pros: Many trails in small area
Cons: Views are not so impressive, trail maps are very confusing

This was my first time at Blue Mountain Reservation. I have heard of the area for a long time, and that it's mainly a biking area, but never visited it previously. It's close by and in familiar territory, so I am glad to have finally visit it.

This area is very famous among mountain bikers. They are many rugged single and double track trails throughout the park, and this can make hiking difficult with all the bikers. Hikers are advised use the main double track trails otherwise its uncomfortable to keep on avoiding and moving aside for quick bikers. However, I was here in the winter, with very muddy and wet trails, and I didn't see any bikers! Not a single one during the entire hike! I also didn't see that many hikers either, despite it being a seasonably-cold-but not-too-chilly weekend day.

My main issue with the area is that the maps are very innacurate. The trails are different than the maps with extra bends and intersections. I actually used Maprika with a digital map and was surprised how many inconsitencies there were! Nevertheless I was still easily able to follow the route without a problem.

I parked in the main parking area by Lounsbury Pond, and took the Dickey Brook Trail for a short distance to the Yin Trail. At some point I unknowingly crossed over on an unmarked trail to the parallel Yang Trail, which I took the Limbo Trail. I took this to the Blue Mountain Trail, which is a hiking-only trail up to the summit of Blue Mountain. There is a view facing west near the summit, but it has too much growth and was slightly disappointing. Near the top there is also an abandoned ruin, and the trail routes right through a seasonal pond, which I had to go around.

After looping around the summit of Blue Mountain, I went back down on the same trail to the Blue Mountain Summit Trail, heading south to the Briarcliff-Peekskill Trailway, and then the Sitting Duck Trail, which I then took to the very short Spitzenberg Climb Trail, which takes you to the rocky summit of Mt. Spitzenberg. This mountain has a better view than Blue Mountain, and faces southwest. There is also a ruin on top of this mountain. The view here can use some trimming as well as it is beginning to get overgrown.

I then turned back down the Spitzenberg Climb Trail, went back to the Briarcliff-Peekskill Trailway, and then took the Rocky Glen Trail, past the pond, to the parking area. It started raining along the way, with the rain mixing with sleet in a heavy squall.

Map of the Route

Lounsbury Pond at the Beginning of the Pond

Small Cascade on the Dickey Brook Trail

Seasonal Overflow Pond along the Dickey Trail

View from Blue Mountain, Facing Bear Mountain and Dunderberg Mountain

Another View from the Blue Mountain Viewpoint

View from Blue Mountain, Facing Southwest towards Indian Point

Ruin on the top of Blue Mountain

Overflowing Seasonal Pond where the Trail Goes on Blue Mountain Summit

At the Very top of Blue Mountain

Another view of the Seasonal Pond on Blue Mountain, with the Trail Marker

Path to Mt. Spitzenberg

Abandoned Ruin on top of Mt. Spitzenberg

View from Mt. Spitzenberg, Facing Southwest towards Hi-Tor

Another Angle of the Above View

View from Mt. Spitzenberg, Zoomed Out

Zoomed in Towards the Hudson River and Hi Tor

Selfie on Mt. Spitzenberg

Strange "Skull Rock" at the beginning of the Rocky Glen Trail

Pond along the Rocky Glen Trail, with Rain Drops during the Squall

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Vista Loop at Ramapo Reservation Winter Hike

Ramapo Valley County Reservation
Bergen Co.,
New Jersey

Hiking Trails:
Vista Loop Trail: Yellow blaze

Total Time: 2:00 Hours
Estimated Distance: 3.6 Miles
Level of Difficulty: Moderate
Level of Recommendation: Highly Recommended

Points of Interest: Scenic areas, views and lakes
Cons: Area can be very busy

Hiking Partner:
Shimmy Rosenberg

I had hiked the new Vista Loop Trail about two years ago, and wanted to make another trip to do the loop in the opposite direction. We parked at the main parking area, and crossed the Ramapo River, which was flowing very strongly due to all the recent rain.

We took the southern part of the Vista Loop first, and went past the waterfall on the new trail made closer to the waterfall view. The waterfall was impressive as well due to the rainfall, and it looks like the rangers removed the large fallen tree in the middle of the falls.

we continued to the MacMillan Reservoir, then climbed up to the Rocky View through a short spur. We continued towards Cactus Ledge, and then looped back down towards Hawk Rock, getting some nice views along the way, and then headed down to the end of the trail at Scarlet Oak Pond, and taking the path back over the bridge over the Ramapo River and back to our car.

Map of the Route

An Overflowing Mahwah River

Scarlet Oak Reservoir at the Beginning of the Hike

Me at the Beginning of the Vista Loop Hike 
New Signage at the Vista Loop Trail


Me at the Waterfall

Waterfall at Ramapo Reservation

Another View of the Waterfall

Me in Front of the Waterfall

Spillway over the Dam at the MacMillan Reservoir

MacMillan Reservoir from the Dam

Another View of MacMillan Reservoir

Climbing up the Rockface Away from MacMillan Reservoir

Moss Growth over a Rock Outcrop

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At the First View

Light Snow Dusting at the Upper Area of the Hike

New Trail Signage

View from Cactus Ledge

Ramapo College from Cactus Ledge

Scarlet Oak Pond from Cactus Ledge

Hawk Rock and Scarlet Oak Pond

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Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Refurbished Jackie Jones Fire Tower

Harriman State Park,
Rockland Co.,
New York

Hiking Trails:
Suffern-Bear Mountain Trail: Yellow blaze

Total Time: 1:10 hour
Estimated Distance: 2.3 Miles

Pros: Scenic, quiet area
Cons: None

I had heard that the Jackie Jones Fire Tower had been reopened, with access even to the top enclosed part. The last time I was here, the tower was closed with the bottom stairs removed so it could not be climbed. This hike was my inspection of the tower and seeing it reopened, including the top part. This great news for all hikers and makes this area once again a great hike.

I was off from work, and had a bit of time for a quick hike. I parked at the trailhead parking at the Suffern -Bear Mountain Trail on County Road 106 at the entrance to Harriman State Park. I took the trail past the ORAK Ruin, continuing up past the Jackie Jones Communications Tower, and then to the Fire Tower. I climbed up the steps to the top of the tower, and entered the enclosed area which is now open. It offers panoramic views from all four sides. I took pictures from the top, but the glass was a bit dirty and reflective for my pictures on the top. (Pictures were also from my cell phone). I then climbed down and took the Jackie Jones Communication Tower Road back down to the parking.

Map of the Route

Beginning of the Hike with the Trail Marker and Light Snow Cover

Gatehouse of the ORAK Ruin

Orak Ruin

Suffern-Bear Mountain Trail at the ORAK Ruin with the Snow

Another Building of the ORAK Ruin

At the ORAK Ruin with an Interesting Tree

Greenery on the Suffern-Bear Mountain Trail in the Mountain Laurels

Jackie Jones Fire Tower

New Steps on the Fire Tower

View from Fire Tower, Facing North to Jackie Jones Communication Tower

View Facing West to Lake Welch

View Facing Southeast with the NYC Skyline in the Distance

View Facing North

Tribute to the Volunteers who Rebuilt the Fire Tower Inside the Fire Tower