Sunday, August 26, 2012

Castle Point and Ramapo Lake

Ramapo Mountain State Forest
Bergen and Passaic Counties,
New Jersey

Hiking Trails:

Hoeferlin Trail: Yellow blaze
Castle Point Trail: Red blaze
Cannonball Trail: Red blaze

Total Time: 1:10 hours
Estimated Distance: 3.0 miles
Level of Difficulty: Moderate
Level of Recommendation: Easy yet significant hike with good points of interest.
Points Of Interest: Mansion Ruins, View, and Pretty Lake

Google Maps of Parking:

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This is a popular area on weekends, though this area in the State Forest is quiet since most people hike to Ramapo Lake. I parked on the upper parking area on Skyline Drive, and crossed the street and took the Hoeferlin Trail parallel to the road. This small section has a surprising small climb. From there, took the Castle Point Trail, crossing the busy road, and continued along to the old abandoned estate with all its ruins. The first ruin is a stone tower which was once a Water cistern. As this was my first time here, I entered the structure and looked around inside. I then continued along to the ruined castle, which also has a great overlook of the Wanaque Reservoir and the Wyanokies. According to the New Jersey Walk Book (Daniel Chazin), the castle is the abandoned mansion known as Foxcroft, built around 1910 by William Porter, a stockbroker. It was occupied until 1940 and set on fire by vandals in the 1950's. The trail goes right through it, and then starts descending right after a nice view of Ramapo Lake.

From there I took a woods road down to a rocky point at the base of Ramapo Lake, and then retraced myself back to the Cannonball Trail, and took this trail north. This part of the Cannonball Trail is under erosion control and has been rerouted as annoying switchback loops which make it take much longer than it should. After hitting the road, I took a shortcut path to the Hoeferlin Trail which I took back to the parking area.

Map of the Route

Wanaque Reservoir and the Wyanokies, from the View. Facing Southwest.

Wyanokie High Point, from the View. Facing Southwest.

Water Tower Ruin

Inside the Water Tower Ruin

Old Swimming Pool from the Estate.

Trail as it enters the Estate Ruin

Inside the Abandoned Estate Ruin

Ramapo Lake Before Descending. Facing Southeast.

View from the Descent, facing South-Southwest.

Closer View Approaching Ramapo Lake

At the Shore of Ramapo Lake

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Panther Mountain View

Harriman State Park
Rockland County,
New York

Hiking Trails:

Pine Meadow Trail: Red blaze
Suffern-Bear Mountain Trail: Yellow blaze

Total Time: 1:30 hours
Estimated Distance: 2.2 miles
Level of Difficulty: Slightly Difficult
Level of Recommendation: Recommended for a short but good hike
Points Of Interest: Good climb, nice view

Hiking Partner:
Shimmy Rosenberg

Google Maps of Parking:

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This is a short and quick hike with a good view. I was preparing to go on vacation, so had to wake up early and do this hike first thing in the morning and be back quickly. We parked at the Horse Stable trailhead at the Ramapo Equestrian Center of Route 202, and climbed up the mountain on the Pine Meadow Trail. The trailblazers added a new shortcut cutting through the gas line. Took the trail up halfway towards the Suffern-Bear Mountain (SBM) Trail, and then continued the ascent along the SBM Trail, which is quite rugged. At the top there is a very nice view facing east southeast, with a view of much of the lowland of Rockland County, the Hudson River, the Palisades, and the Manhattan skyscrapers in the distance. At this point we turned around and went back the same way, the taking the shortcut along the stream and then bushwacking the overgrown part before the gas and power lines.

Map of the Route

Shimmy on the new shortcut part of the path,
marked by large rock piles

View ascending looking toward the notch. Facing south.

View from top facing east, towards the terminus of the Palisades

At the top, facing southwest, with the NYC Skyline in the distance.

Me at the top view.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Slide Mountain

Catskill Park Preserve
Catskill Mountains,
Ulster County,
New York

Hiking Trails:

Phoenicia-East Branch Trail: Yellow blaze
Curtis-Ornsbee Trail: Blue blaze
Wittenberg-Cornell-Slide (WCS) Trail: Red blaze

Total Time:
4:00 hours
Estimated Distance: 7.6 miles
Level of Difficulty: Difficult
Level of Recommendation: Recommended
Points Of Interest: Good Climb, Views, Famous Mountain

Hiking Partners:
Shimmy and Mordy Rosenberg

Google Maps of Parking:

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Slide Mountain is the tallest peak in the Catskill Mountains, at 4,180 feet. Though it lacks the dramatic view from its peak as some of the lower Catskill Mountains have, it is still an impressive climb and does have views along the ascent. We parked at the Slide Mountain Road trailhead, crossed the mostly dry branch of the Neversink River, and started climbing up the Phoenicia-East Branch Trail. From there we continued on the Curtis-Ornsbee Trail, taking a lollipop loop around the Curtis Monument and up the mountain. The Curtis-Ornsbee Trail is a longer route, but is more scenic, with two additional views along the way as well as some nice rock formations and climbs. The WCS Trail in its place lacks good points of interest. The Curtis-Ornsbee Trail ends at the OCS Trail, and at this point enters coniferous forest at about 3800 feet. A beautiful-north facing view comes out on the left near the summit. There actually is not much of a view left at the summit, as it has been overgrown and the old tower that used to be at the top is long since removed. We hiked down a little bit further, about 600 feet, to get to a different view facing east towards the Ashokan Reservoir. After that we turned around and headed down the WCS Trail all the way down back to the Phoenicia-East Branch Trail and then back to our car.

Map of the Route

Me at the Trailhead

Curtis Monument.

This rock looks like a whale.
On the Curtis-Ornsbee Trail

First View on the Curtis-Ornsbee Trail. Facing Southwest.

Me at the above lookout.

Second Lookout on the Curtis-Ornsbee Trail. Facing Table Mountain

View Approaching the Summit. Facing North.

Another View Facing North,
with the Devil's Path Mountains in the Distance.

Overgrown View at the Summit.
Facing east with the Ashokan Reservoir in the Middle.

Rock At the Summit with the Burrough's Plaque.

Shimmy and Mordy Above the Conglomerate Rock

Me and Mordy at the Summit.


Ashokan Reservoir in the Distance, from the lower view.

Cornell and Wittenberg Mountains. Facing northeast.

Hump of Cornell Mountain

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Bear Mountain Major Welch

Bear Mountain State Park
Rockland and Orange Counties,
New York

Hiking Trails:

Major Welch Trail: Redblaze
Appalachian Trail: White blaze

Total Time:
2:00 hours
Estimated Distance: 4.2 miles
Level of Difficulty: Difficult
Level of Recommendation: Highly Recommended
Points Of Interest: Excellent Climb, Amazing Views, Famous Mountain

Hiking Partner:
Yehuda Koblick

Google Maps of Parking:

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It was a brutally hot and humid day in August, and not a day to climb over 1000 in elevation. But this was my opportunity to take off the afternoon from work and hike one of my regional favorite hikes - the Major Welch Trail. Due to the steep yet smooth rocky outcrops, I usually hike down this trail rather than up, but Yehuda and I both needed a good working, so we took the steep Major Welch Trail up the mountain this time. We parked in the main Bear Mountain area (note: there is usually an $8 fee to park here), walked along the path along the west sure of Hessian Lake on the Major Welch, and then climbed the mountain on this trail on its northern side. We had a very difficult time climbing this trail due to the extreme heat and humidity.

As the trail evens out at the plateau-like top of the mountain, the trail had been recently refurbished with a gravel footing. A new trail with blue blazings has been routed on the top, and it forms part of the old Appalachian Trail which has also been rerouted along the top on the western side. I have to come back and explore this new trail. At the top we took a short break at the view, and then headed down. We took the newly created steps down, where we were graced with the annual antique car show which is every Wednesday evening in the late July and August. It's well worth a visit.

Map of the Route

Ascending Along the Major Welch Trail
on a Large Exposed Rock Face Climb

Popolopen Torne While Ascending Along the Major Welch

Bear Mountain Bridge and Anthony's Nose From the Major Welch Lookout

Looking North from the Major Welch Lookout

Yehuda Along the New Portion of the Trail on Top with a New Bridge

Trail Junction and New Blue Trail Signage on Top

Yehuda at the Summit Tower
Me at the Summit View. Facing Southwest.

View from the Summit, Facing South Towards West Mnt and Bald Mnt.

View from Summit Facing southeast toward Dunderberg Mnt