Sunday, July 10, 2016

Kakiat to Pine Meadow Lake Loop

Kakiat County Park/
Harriman State Park
Rockland Co.,
New York

Hiking Trails:
Kakiat Trail: White blaze
Racoon Brook Hill Trail: Black blaze
Poached Egg Trail: Yellow blaze
Pine Meadow Lake Road: Unblazed
Pine Meadow Lake Southern Portion Path: Unblazed
Conklins Crossing: White blaze
Suffern-Bear Mountain Trail: Yellow blaze
Mountain Trail: Orange blaze

Total Time: 4:40 Hours
Estimated Distance: 8.2 Miles
Level of Difficulty: Very Difficult
Level of Recommendation: Highly Recommended

Points of Interest: Rough hike through Harriman, Good Views, and Scenic Lake
Cons: Pine Meadow Lake very busy on weekends

It's been a while since I hiked from Kakiat Park to Pine Meadow Lake. I also hadn't taken the unmarked trail around the southern part of Pine Meadow Lake in a very long time, and wanted to do that as well.

I parked at the Kakiat parking lot, crossed the Mahwah River, and took the Kakiat Trail at its trailhead. I climbed the Ramapo Escarpment up about 700 feet along the Kakiat Trail, and then up and down along several of the ridgelines, until the Raccoon Brook Hill Trail. I then climbed up the steep ascent to Raccoon Brook Hill, which has several good views along the way. Upon descending, I took the short Poached Egg in its entirety to Pine Meadow Lake Road, which I took to the west, approaching the Conklin Cemetery area, and then took the unmarked path until the Conklins Crossing Trail.

At this point, I went down to the eastern inlet of the lake and took some pictures, and over here got a terrible muscle cramp that required me to rest for about 20 minutes. I then continued along the Conklins Crossing Trail to the Suffern Bear Mountain Trail. I took the Suffern-Bear Mountain Trail south, along several excellent views of Rockland County and the New York City Skyline, meeting up again with the Kakiat Trail. I then took the Kakiat Trail down towards the Mountain Trail, which I took past the power lines to the upper Kakiat View. I then went down the Mountain Trail along this steep portion at the bottom at the entrance of the park and the parking area.

Map of the Route.
Harriman/Bear Mountain Trails, Southern Map

Caution Sign at the Top Urging Non-Experienced Visitors to Turn Around
and Avoid Getting Lost

View on the Kakiat Trail Towards Ramapo Torne

Large Rock on the Kakiat Trail Overlooking Ramapo Torne

Praying Mantis Crawling on the Above Rock

View on Kakiat Trail Towards Ramapo Torne

View from Kakiat Trail Looking South

Strange Rock Formation Along the Raccoon Brook Hills Trail

Bedrock Exposures Along the Raccoon Brook Hills Trail

Ladder Along the Raccoon Brook Hills Climb

View Along Raccoon Brook Hills

Another View Along Raccoon Brook Hills

And One More View Along Raccoon Brook Hills

View at the Descent of  Raccoon Brook Hills

Pine Meadow Lake, from the Eastern Tip

Pine Meadow Lake, from the Eastern Tip

And One Last View of Pine Meadow Lake, from the Eastern Tip

Manhattan Skyline from the Suffern-Bear Mountain Trail
at Cobus Mountain

Zoomed Out to the Above View

Another View from Cobus Mountain

Another View from Cobus Mountain

View from Cobus Mountain Facing the Palisades

Another Warning Sign Cautioning Inexperienced Hikers

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Lake Roland Park Bare Hills

(Formerly Robert E. Lee Park)
Baltimore County,

Hiking Trails:
Red Trail: Red blaze
Red Trail alternate route: Red blaze
Yellow Trail: Yellow blaze
Green Trail: Green blaze
White Trail: White blaze
Orange Trail: Orange blaze

Total Time: 2:00 Hour
Estimated Distance: 4.1 Miles
Level of Difficulty: Easy
Level of Recommendation: Recommended for the Baltimore area

Points of Interest: Interesting geology
Cons: Busy area, lacks good views

Hiking Partners:
David Cynamon
Jacob Rosinsky

I had been visiting family in Baltimore for the weekend, and while there on Sunday morning decided to explore this area right outside the Baltimore city limits along the Jones Falls area. I went together with some local friends of mine in the area, and we decided to explore this area with lots of trails that traverses the serpentine barrens known as the "Bare Hills".

This area is a geologically interesting location, with part of the area overlaid by serpentine bedrock, which creates a micro-environment of short pine trees and sparser vegetation than the surrounding area. The region is named "Bare Hills" because of this. There are lots of trails here, but there aren't really any good views. The area is mostly rolling hills without any significant elevation, hence the lack of viewpoints. We went on Sunday morning which also proved to be quite busy with people.

We parked on Falls Road, at the northern access point of the park. We hiked along the Red Trail south and then west. This wide trail seems to have been a former railroad track converted to a trail. Slightly after the Jones Falls bridge crossing, we took the Red Trail alternate to the Yellow Trail, and then the Green Trail to the Yellow Trail. This is where the main serpentine area is encountered. We took the spur to Copper Hill Road, which we then took to the White Trail for a short distance, and then back to the Yellow Trail. We then cut across on on the path the Orange Trail.

On this short spur trail, we noticed a very large rock outcrop with cliffs below us, and I realized this as the remains of an old quarry. Upon going down I noticed the large area of the quarry and the interesting rock. This area had apparently been mined for serpentine as an ornamental stone back in the 1800's. After exploring a bit, we tried taking a spur across the brook back to the Red Trail, which was showing on my phone GPS, but this crossing of the brook was nowhere to be found, so we just went along the Orange Trail, back to the Red Trail, and then back to our car.

I unfortunately did not bring my camera with me, so these photos were taken with my cell phone and David's point-and-shoot camera. So I apologize for the photo quality.

Map of the Route

Large Quartz Vein within the Surrounding Rock

Me and Jacob Along a Rock Outcrop on the Red Trail

Me and David Over the Jones Falls Bridge on the Red Trail

Jones Falls

Me Crossing a Muddy Zone on Rock Platforms

Abstract Art Along the Tail

Caption for the Above Art

Dense Vegetation at the Inlet of Lake Roland

Entering the Serpentine Barrens Zone

Sparse Tree Covering Over the Serpentine Barrens

Mourning Dove in the Serpentine Barrens

Small Mining Pit Along the Yellow Trail

Interesting Grass that seems to be Specific to the Serpentine Zone

Looking Down the Cliff  Towards the Quarry Floor from the Connector Trail

Looking up at the Quarry Wall from the Quarry Floor

Inspecting Some of the Rocks in the Quarry

Me and Jacob in the Quarry Zone

Me at the Quarry Area

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Eagle Cliff Area Scrambles at Mohonk

Mohonk Mountain House Area
Shawangunk Mountains
Ulster Co.,
New York

Hiking Trails:
Huguenot Trail: Hiking Trail
Whitney Road: Carriage Road
North Lookout Road: Carriage Road
Glen Anna Path: Hiking Trail
Fox Path: Hiking Trail
Eagle Cliff Road: Carriage Road
Undercliff Path: Hiking Trail
Lake Shore Path: Hiking Trail
Short Woodland Drive: Carriage Road
Eagle Cliff Scramble: Climbing Scramble
Humpty Dumpty Road: Carriage Road
Humpty Dumpty Path: Climbing Scramble
Arching Rocks Path: Climbing Scramble
Catherdral Path: Climbing Scramble
Plateau Path: Hiking Trail
Laurel Ledge Path: Hiking Trail
Fern Ledge Path: Climbing Scramble
Sunset Path: Hiking Trail
North Lookout Road: Carriage Road

Total Time: 3:30 Hours
Estimated Distance: 5.75 Miles
Level of Difficulty: Difficult
Level of Recommendation: Highly Recommended

Points of Interest: Great views and excellent scrambles
Cons: Expensive entrance fee, no parking near mountain house and even shuttle to day area cancelled

Hiking Partners:
Shimmy Rosenberg

It had been a while since I visited the Gunks, and I took the opportunity to leave early on this fine early summer day with Shimmy to do some scrambling in Mohonk. Mohonk has some of the best scrambles in the area, and I hadn't been to the Eagle Cliff area in a long time. There are many different scrambling routes to take there.

We drove up to the toll gate atop Mountain Rest Road. Our intention was to get a good parking spot closer to the Mountain House so we would be closer to the scrambling area. I had acquired membership back at the end of December, and I was told by the clerk when I purchased it that I would be granted the privilege of parking near the Mountain House on quieter days or when the parking lot is not full. Being that we arrived early, we were looking forward to parking closer to our objective. However, the staff at the toll gate did not allow us in, and were in fact rude to us about this when we asked about this. Not only that, but they said that the shuttle from the parking lot to the picnic area near the Mountain House - which has always been running for years - is no longer in operation. Day Hikers, even members, must now always walk the additional distance. I was stunned and quite disappointed by this.

I intend on contacting Mohonk Public Relations about this, and should my efforts be ignored or not be genuinely addressed, I will devote a special article to this. This article will be widely disseminated to my followers and to the regional hiking community, and will hopefully attract proper attention to this.

Despite our disappointment, we decided not to let this ruin our day, and still visit and enjoy the area we intended to visit. So we parked out in the parking area, and took the most direct path to the Mountain House: The Huguenot Trail to Whitney Road, to North Lookout Road, Glen Anna Path, and then the Fox Path.

We then walked along through the botanical gardens, towards Mohonk Lake, and then along the Eagle Cliff Road to the Undercliff Path. We took some scenic photos of Lake Mohonk, and continued to the Lake Shore Path, and then Short Woodland Drive, until we arrived at the the Eagle Cliff Scramble. We climbed up the Eagle Cliff Scramble, which affords an excellent view of the south and the west from atop.

We then turned around and went back down the Eagle Cliff Scramble, took the Humpty Dumpty Road, and looped around to the Humpty Dumpty Path. From this point on its quite a dramatic scrambling zone along the route we took, from the Humtpy Dumpty Path, Arching Rocks Path, and then the Cathedral Path. We then took the Plateau Path to the Laurel Ledge Path, and then to the short but very steep Fern Ledge Path. From there we took the Sunset Path and then went around the riding ring, to North Lookout Road and then Whitney Road and the Huguenot Trail to the parking area.

Map of the Route
Shawangunk Trails, Mohonk Area

Large Map Kiosk at the Parking Area

Mountain Laurels in Full Bloom

Shimmy Descending a Staircase Along a Cliff Wall
at the End of the Fox Path

Mohonk Mountain House in the Distance,
with Botanical Gardens in the Forefront

Me Walking Through a Vine Trestle in the Botanical Gardens

Shimmy in the Vine Trestle

Large Trout in Mohonk Lake
These Fish are Usually Visible from the Dock

Mohonk Lake from the Dock at the Mountain House

Tower on Sky Top, Viewed from the Undercliff Trail

Mohonk Lake, Viewed from the Western End

Me at Mohonk Lake

Water Lily in Full Bloom

At the Eagle Cliff Scramble

Shimmy Navigating Through the Eagle Cliff Scramble

Shimmy Posing at the Eagle Cliff Scramble

View Atop Eagle Cliff, Facing Southwest
The Trapps and Millbrook Mountain are in the Distance

Me Atop the Eagle Cliff View

Clouds Developing Over the Catskill Mountains
View from Eagle Cliff Facing West/Northwest

Zoomed Out from the Above View

View of the Southwest Trending Shawangunk Ridge, from Eagle Cliff
Note the Small Forest Fire in the Distance Near the Ellenville Area

Me at the Eagle Cliff View 

Shimmy Navigating Along the Humpty Dumpty Path Scramble

Along the Arching Rocks Path

Shimmy on the Arching Rocks Path

Me on the Arching Rocks Path

Shimmy Under Rocks that are Arching on the Arching Rocks Path