Sunday, June 21, 2015

Butter Hill at Storm King

Storm King State Park,
Orange County,
New York

Hiking Trails:
Butter Hill Trail: Orange blaze
Stillman Trail: Yellow blaze
White Trail Spur: White blaze

Total Time: 1:45 hours
Estimated Distance: 2.3 Miles
Level of Difficulty: Moderate
Level of Recommendation: Highly recommended
Points of Interest: Great views with good scramble
Cons: Walk on road at the end

Hiking Partner:
Shimmy Rosenberg

The day before had been raining very hard, and the forecast was for more rain on Sunday. I had checked the radar in the morning and it appeared that the rain was clearing out. Although the hike started off cloudy and misty, it cleared up to be a beautiful day.

We parked at the parking lot on Route 9W Northbound where it bends by Butter Hill. We parked in the parking area, climbed the Butter Hill Trail on its steep ascent to the view, and then took the Stillman Trail to the top of Butter Hill for an excellent panoramic view. We then turned around on the Stillman Trail alongside the western ridge of Storm King Mountain. A the short White Trail Spur we veered off towards the end of this trail for the view and then turned around back to the Stillman trail.

Towards the end near where the trail hits Route 9W, there are some apparently abandoned interesting items slightly off the trail including a tree tire, balance beam, swinging wire, and climbing wall. I don't know what these are for and what they are doing here. We continued to where the trail hits the road by the underpass, and then walked along the side of the road back to our car.

Map of the Route. West Hudson Trails, Eastern Portion

Trail Marker Plaque at the Beginning of the Hike

View Ascending Butter Hill.
Facing East Towards Bull Hill at Breakneck.

Me Ascending the Scramble

Me in a Ruin Along the Trail
Me Ascending the Mountain

View from Butter Hill Facing West Towards Schunnemunk

View Facing South, with Cold Spring in the Distance.

Route 9W and the Crow's Nest from On Top

Shimmy Admiring the View

At a Viewpoint

Shimmy Overlooking a Vista

View Facing North

View Facing into Black Rock Forest

Beautiful Pink Rose on the Hike

Bright Green Beetle Species I encountered at the View

View of the Newburgh-Beacon Bridge Facing North

Tire Attached to a Tree at the Course Section at the Hike

Me Swinging on a Rope tied to Tree

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Southfields Furnace-Indian Hill Loop

Sterling Forest State Park,
Orange County,
New York

Hiking Trails:
Furnace Loop Trail: Red blaze
Indian Hill Loop Trail: Yellow blaze

Total Time: 1:45 hours
Estimated Distance: 2.2 Miles
Level of Difficulty: Moderate
Level of Recommendation: Slightly recommended
Points of Interest: Waterfalls, historical furnace
Cons: Parts of hike sparsely covered with trees and too sunny, lacks good views

I parked off of Orange Turnpike in Southfields, where there is a trailhead parking of the side connector road. I crossed the road and took the bridge over the brook, and went east on the Furnace Loop Trail, veering off at the waterfall and furnace to take some pictures.

The Southfields Furnace is a giant stone structure from the 1800's that was used to roast iron ore to produce iron. The furnace is partially collapsed and grown over, but it is still mostly standing.

I continued along the Furnace Loop Trail, and then too the Indian Hill Loop Trail up the mountain. I veered off slightly on a newly formed trail that has the markings of a bird; this trail must be new since it is not on my maps nor was it there when I was last in the area several years ago. I took that new trail to the small lake, and then turned around back to the Indian Hill Loop Trail. I continued to the top of mountain, but was disappointed that the views were mostly overgrown. I then proceeded down the mountain and back across the bridge over the brook, and then back to my car.

Map of the Route. Sterling Forest Trails.

Trailhead Intersection of Furnace Loop and Indian Hill Loop Trails

Small Cascade with an Old Bridge Behind It

Waterfall with the Trail Bridge Crossing Behind

Southfields Furnace from the Waterfall

Another View of the Southfields Furnace

Small Pond Ascending Indian Hill

Another View of the Pond

And Another View 
View Atop Indian Hill

Beautiful Blue Sky

Interesting Tree Formation Along the Trail Atop Indian Hill

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Tom Jones Mountain
Harriman State Park

Orange County,
New York

Hiking Trails:
Ramapo-Dunderberg Trail: Red blaze
Victory Trail: Blue blaze

Total Time: 1:00 hours
Estimated Distance: 1.3 Miles
Level of Difficulty: Moderate
Level of Recommendation: Highly recommended for short hike with good views
Points of Interest: Views atop mountain
Cons: Walk along road at the end of the hike

Tom Jones Mountain affords a good climb and good views on a short hike. It’s especially a great hike when short on time, and is good for kids. I parked on the roadside trailhead parking on County 106 where the Ramapo-Dunderberg Trial crosses the road, and took the Ramapo Dunderberg trail up the mountain. I continued along the ridge and then descended down the trail into the valley where I met up with the Victory Trail. I took the Victory Trail north to its terminus at the road, and then walked along the side of the road along the swamp back to the car.

Map of the Route. Harriman/Bear Mountain Trails

Large Rock Face While Ascending Tom Jones Mountain

At the Top of the Mountain

View from the Top Facing East

Descending Tom Jones Mountain

View Right Before the Trail Descent

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Bear Mountain Appalachian Trail Loop

Bear Mountain State Park,
Rockland/Orange Counties,
New York

Hiking Trails:
Appalachian Trail: White blaze

Total Time: 1:15 hours
Estimated Distance: 2.5 Miles
Level of Difficulty: Easy
Level of Recommendation: Highly recommended for a relatively short hike with good views
Points of Interest: Views at Bear Mountain, Bear Mountain Tower

The weather had been awful with strong thunderstorms predicted throughout the day. It had rained in the morning, and there was a temporary lull in the rain. I checked the radar and I noticed I had a small window of opportunity to do a hike. I figured the top of Bear Mountain is a good spot since there are lots of people around, rock shelters, and the possibility of hitching a ride in the event of a storm. The weather was very humid with thick clouds, and towards the end of the hike I saw dark clouds rolling in and heard the thunder in the short distance. In fact, it started pouring only about five minutes after getting into my car.

I parked at the end of Perkins Drive on Bear Mountain in the dead end loop. This road continues past the summit and tower to a dead end with a scenic view facing the western flank of the mountain. You can park your car here at the end of the road in the dead end circle and pick up the Appalachian Trail. I headed for a short distance on the former road route where I saw the trailblazers hard at work rebuilding the new AT up to the summit. They were building some new steps out of large carved rock slabs. This new trail should be ready in 2016 and will connect the AT to a shorter route to the summit. If I have my fact correct, the original AT used to go along this route prior to its reroute more to the north several years ago.

I continued along this former road for a bit longer until meeting up with the Appalachian Trail again, on the western portion of the trail which ascends up to the summit. This route was also recently blazed and the intention was to provide some good views from the southern flank of Bear Mountain. I continued along the AT, past the views and past the connector route, where it goes in a roundabout way to the northern flank viewpoint of the mountain. Here there is a good view facing to the north with the Hudson River and Breakneck Ridge, but it was hard to see anything due to the thick cloud cover. I then continued along the trail along the wheelchair accessible route which passes the summit and goes to the tower.

Despite the ominous weather, there was a surprisingly large crowd. However, one could see the clouds darkening with the thunderstorm rolling in from the west. I decided I would make a quick dash along the AT back to the parking area. I continued along the old route due east (this route will be replaced in the coming year), crossing the road twice and going along the road where it meets up with the trail the third time. I got to my car just in the nick of time and was spared the torrential rain that ensued shortly. In fact these storms brought quite a bit of flooding to the region with flash flood warnings and several inches of rain.

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

Big Sign at the Dead End Explaining Volunteer Work on the AT

Active Trail Construction Zone on the Appalachian Trail

Trail Volunteers at Work

Some of the New Steps Created Along the Southern  Flank
of the Appalachian Trail at Bear Mountain

At the First View Along the Trail. Facing Southwest.

Another View Along the Trail Facing West

Large Rockface with Glacial Rocks on the Trail

Lone Tree Above a Cliff

Facing Southeast from the View

Facing Southwest

Facing Southeast

View from the Northern Flank of Bear Mountain.
Not much of a View Here with all the Cloud Cover.

Bear Mountain Tower

The Main View at Bear Mountain.
Note the Ominous Storm Clouds Rolling In

View Facing Southeast; Hudson River and Peekskill