Sunday, December 14, 2014

Tallman Mountain State Park

Rockland Co.,
New York

Hiking Trails:
Long Path: Green blaze
Bike Path: Unblazed
Orange Trail: Unblazed

Total time: 2:00 hour
Estimated Distance: 4.75 miles
Level of Difficulty: Moderate
Level of Recommendation: Recommended
Points of Interest: Piermont, Tallman Mountain Views
Pros: Historic and rustic village, good climb, good views
Cons: Busy area and built up area

Google Map of Parking:

With my near completion of all the trails in Harriman/Bear Mountain State Parks, I am starting to branch out and explore many of the other hiking area in the area. There is a large network of trails along the Palisades from New Jersey into New York, and although I've been to many hikes in that area, there is a lot more to explore around here.

Tallman Mountain isn't much of a mountain, with an elevation just short of 200 feet. However, it just out sharply and steeply from the village of Piermont and the Hudson River, and has expansive views. The State Park with the same name offers several trails, a biking trail, and several park facilities such as picnic area, tennis courts, a pool (though not sure if its used anymore), etc. There are only two marked trails traversing the park - a short connector trail blazed orange, and the Long Path, which goes through the length of the park. There is also a popular bike trail going from one end of the park the other. There are also some elevated unmarked trails that crisscross in perpendicular form over swampy area.

I parked in the village of Piermont, and quaint village with a certain charm that I always find a pleasure to walk through. I walked towards the Bridge Street Drawbridge, which is an historical, crank drawbridge over the Sparkill Creek that has been preserved. The Long Path meets up here, by the curve on Ferdon Ave, and then I took the Long Path up the steep but short escarpment. At the top there is a picnic area with great views over the village of Piermont.

I continued along the Long Path, past where it crosses the Bike Path, and followed it along elevated trail areas through a large marshy area. The Long Path then meets up with the Bike Path again, by the ruin. I took the combined bike path and Long Path to the other parking area at the southern end of the park, and then turned around and continued along the bike path, until the split with the unmarked trail towards the view. This area has a nice view of the giant swamp alongside the Hudson River, as well as the Tappan Zee Bridge. It also allows for nice viewing across the river to Westchester at Dobbs Ferry and Hastings-on-Hudson. I continued along the unmarked trail to the Long Path, and took detoured on the Orange Trail to the main parking lot. From there I took an old unmarked trail down to the pool area, and then down the closed road on the side of the Hudson River Swamp back around to Ferdon Ave to my car.

Map of the Route

Historic Drawbridge Over Sparkill Creek.
Tallman Mountain is in the Background

View of Sparkill Creek Crossing the Above Bridge

The end of Sparkill Creek Prior to its Draining into the Hudson.

Tallman Mountain Behind the Trees

View of Piermont and the Hudson from the View
on Tallman Mountain. Facing North.

Another View of Piermont from Tallman Mountain

Large Swamp in the Hudson and Piermont Pier in the Distance

Looking Over to Westchester Across the Hudson River

Marshy Area along the Long Path

Long Path in Tallman Mountain State Park

Boardwalks Along the Long Path

Ruin on the Bike Trail where it meets the Long Path

View from the Southern Part of Tallman Mountain.
Facing Northeast.

View Across the Hudson River from Southern Part

View Facing the Tappan Zee Bridge and Piermont Pier. Facing North.

Search Key: 108-111

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Pine Swamp Mountain Loop

Harriman State Park
Orange Co.,
New York

Hiking Trails:
Arden Surebridge (A-SB) Trail: Red blaze
Long Path: Green blaze

Total time: 1:30 min
Estimated Distance: 2.2 miles
Level of Difficulty: Moderate
Level of Recommendation: Recommended
Points of Interest: Lake Skanatati, Pine Swamp Mountain Loop
Pros: Nice view and good bushwack atop Pine Swamp Mountain
Cons: Rerouting of A-SB Trail is a big disappointment

Google Map of Parking:

View 2014 Hiking Locations in a larger map

The weather had been much colder than predicted, and the winds were very strong. I was not expecting it to be so cold and had not dressed in my warmest garb. So I opted for a shorter hike than originally planned. I had been here the week prior and noticed a significant rerouting of the A-SB Trail, and wanted to further explore it. The week before it was snowing, and I was also constrained on time and couldn't properly check it out.

I had parked at the parking area by Lake Skanatati, and took the A-SB Trail on its new route which is further east from the original trail. I noticed some orange temporary fencing around the place of the original trail, showing a clear closure of the original trail to the viewpoint. I took the A-SB on parallel to Seven Lakes Drive, which you can see below the hill. I noticed this time that the Red Cross Trail has also been rerouted. Its new terminus was right before it descends to Seven Lakes Drive, cutting off about 1000 feet of the original trail where it starts from the viewpoint.

I took the A-SB trail until it connected to its original location where it bends due west. The original trail had a bunch of branches deliberately covering it showing that the trail is closed. I was curious as to what happened to the view and which trail goes there now, so I took the old A-SB route now now deblazed back to the great Pine Swamp Mountain view. I was very disturbed to notice that there is no longer any trail going to this viewpoint. I have no idea why they would reroute the trail around this excellent viewpoint. I certainly hope this is temporary and they plan to add a trail from the parking area back up the viewpoint.

From the viewpoint, I bushwacked around parallel to the trail, crossed over the valley due west, and climbed up to the western summit of Pine Swamp Mountain. The top of this mountain is easily walkable and there are even some fire pits showing more frequent usage, despite it being off the trail. I continued along the center of the ridge due south, and prior to meeting up with the Long Path I went down the steep hill to the Pine Swamp outlet stream which I took to the Long Path trail.

At the trail stream crossing, there was a large group of trail conference members with some tactical equipment used to raise up a large boulder in the stream, to enhance the trail crossing over the stream. From this point I took the Long Path back to my car.

Map of the Route.
Harriman / Bear Mountain State Park Northern Map

Lake Skanatati from the Parking Area

Lake Skanatati from the Parking Area

Lake Skanatati and Lake Kanawauke from Pine Swamp Mnt View

Same View as Above, Zoomed Out

At the Same View, Looking Southwest Towards Black Rock Mountain

Large Pine Tree at the Summit of the Western Part
of Pine Swamp Mountain, This Tree is Clearly
Visible from the Parking Lot by the Lake.

Scenery Atop the Western Part of Pine Swamp Mountain

Fire Pit at Pine Swamp Mountain, off the Path

Crew Working on Hoisting Rocks in the Brook 

The Crew at Work, Climbing a Tree

Lake Skanatati from the Long Path

Lake Skanatati from the Long Path

Lake Skanatati from the Long Path

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Oregon Ridge Park

Baltimore Co.,

Hiking Trails:
Ridge Trail: Tan blaze
Red Trail: Red blaze
Laurel Trail: Blue blaze

Total time: 1:00 min
Estimated Distance: 1.6 miles
Level of Difficulty: Easy
Level of Recommendation: Recommended in the Baltimore Area
Points of Interest: Nature Center, Natural Area

Google Map of Parking:

I was in Baltimore visiting family for the weekend, and we stuck around Sunday morning and went to this park that has some hiking trails. While not dramatic, this wooded area close in proximity to Baltimore is very refreshing and was a very good place for a family hike. There are several trails and some hills and valleys which are relatively large for the Baltimore area. We parked at the Nature Center entrance and explored the Nature Center, which explains some of the wildlife in area with several animal species (think of it as a mini, two room indoor zoo.)

We then took the Loggers Red Trail, to the Ridge Tan Trail, back to to the Loggers Red Trail, and then climbed down the hill via the Laurel Blue Trail. At the bottom we explored the farm area, which has some domestic animals, as well as the playground and gardens.

The weather was very warm and may have even gotten up to 60 degrees. There were still small but melting pockets of snow in some of the shady areas on the top remaining from Wednesday's snowstorm.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving Snowstorm New A-SB Trail

Harriman State Park
Orange Co.,
New York

Hiking Trails:
Arden Surebridge (A-SB) Trail: Red blaze
Red Cross Trail: Red blaze

Total time: 0:35 min
Estimated Distance: 1.2 miles
Level of Difficulty: Moderate
Level of Recommendation: Slightly recommended
Points of Interest: Lake Askoti
Pros: Was a great hike in the snow
Cons: End of hike requires long walk on the road

Google Map of Parking:

View 2014 Hiking Locations in a larger map

We had just gotten several inches of snow the day before, and I hear just a few more miles north in the mountains there had been a significant amount of snow. Thanksgiving is pretty early for a snowstorm, so this was quite unusual. But there was definitely a lot of snow, in the form of a thick, wet snow that seemed to stick to everything. It was quite beautiful and a scene to behold. Luckily I was off from work and able to explore in the morning, being that it was Thanksgiving. Although the storm had pulled out the night before, there was still some light residual snow falling throughout the morning including during this hike, making it a surreal experience.

I parked at the parking lot down by Lake Skanatati, and had planned on taking the A-SB Trail up the mountain to the view. Due to my limited time, I had intended to make the hike short and complete it at the view atop Pine Swamp Mountain, and then head back down the same route.

However, upon ascending the mountain, I noticed the trail being routed with a new route going towards the east. Now I noticed that the trail crews had been working in the area recently and refurbishing the trail. Now I figured that this was a work around the short rocky scramble. However, I was surprised to find the trail continuing along parallel to the road and not turning back west to the view!

I continued along the new trail, not sure as to its destination, until I noticed it finally merging with the original trail as it made the turn descending to the Pine Swamp. This seems odd to me as it would be seemingly eliminating a very important part of the trail which includes an excellent view! Perhaps the Red Cross Trail has been routed back to the view, though I'll have to further explore to know forsure. It was hard to tell exactly what was going on as well due to the snow covering the ground with no prior foot marks on the trail.

Once I approached near the original trail, I turned around and then bushwacked down towards the valley towards the Red Cross Trail as it descended towards the 7 Lakes Drive. I took the Red Cross Trail to the road, and then headed south along the road, along the side of Lake Askoti, all the way back to the parking lot. The road was eerily quiet; only one car had passed me during the entire walk along the road. I have to return to further explore what is going on here and how the rerouting of the trails has been done.

Map of the Route

Lake Skanatati at the Beginning of the Hike

Another View of Lake Skanatati

Dense Heavy Snow At the Trailhead

At the Beginning of the A-SB Trail

Beech Trees with Withering Foliage and Heavy Wet Snow

7 Lakes Drive. Sign Says "Icy When Wet"

Lake Askoti Behind the Trees

Lake Askoti

Lake Askoti. Note the Little Snow Man in the Middle

Zoom in to the Little Snowman

Lake Askoti

Lake Askoti

7 Lakes Drive and Lake Askoti

Lake Askoti

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Kakiat First-Season Snowstorm

Kakiat County Park
Rockland Co.,
New York

Hiking Trails:
Old Mill Trail: Blue blaze
Kakiat Trail: White blaze

This was the first snowfall in the season, and was very early. This was the day before Thanksgiving, and we got around 5 inches from this storm. I decided at the end of the day to do a quick loop in Kakiat Park around the Old Mill Trail. I arrived at Kakiat about half an hour to sunset, and started walking. It was a bit windy and the snow was very wet and heavy, and I saw lots of branches sagging. This gave me an uneasy feeling with the trees after I saw some large branches coming down, and I cut the walk short and just took the first part of the Old Mill Trail to the connector trail, back to the Kakiat Trail to the end.

The Mahwah River at the Entrance to Kakiat

Large Field with Gazebo

Looking Back Towards the Bridge Crossing the Mahwah River

View From Underneath the Gazebo

The Bridge Over the Mahwah River