Sunday, May 12, 2013

Dunderberg Spiral Railway and Loop

Bear Mountain State Park
Rockland County,
New York

Hiking Trails:

Ramapo-Dunderberg Trail: Red blaze
Timp-Torne Trail: Blue blaze

Total Time: 3:30 hour
Estimated Distance: 6.15 miles
Level of Difficulty: Very Difficult (though easier on a direct route)
Level of Recommendation: Highly Recommended (though not the exact route that I took)
Points Of Interest: Historic railway, outstanding views
Pros: Good climb, several excellent views
Cons: Trails a bit confusing, views are of built-up areas

Google Map of Parking:

View 2013 Hiking Locations in a larger map

I am usually good at planning a route, even if it involves a slight bushwack or using unofficial trails. This hike was definitely a challenge for me, having veered off base two separate times, as well as losing my camera. I had attempted to do some new routes on the Dunderberg spiral Railway track, but miscalculated and  ended up in a totally different place then planned on two different occasions on this hike.

The Dunderberg Spiral Railway was a project started in the late 1800's that was supposed to bring a trail up and down the mountain with a hotel on top. This project was never completed, though much of the path for the railway and several tunnels remain. Several of the trails go together with different parts of the unfinished railway, and other parts are very overgrown.

I had done Dunderberg the week before, but was out of time to complete the full route. There was one section of the Ramapo-Dunderberg Trail I wanted to complete, and I resolved to complete it on this hike. I parked on Route 9W at the Ramapo-Dunderberg and Timp-Torne Trailheads. There is a flat thicket area with many thorns vines prior to the steep face of the mountain. There is a small parallel trail directly from the parking area to the other trails, and I took this to start. I then started climbing the joint trails until the split.

At the split, I continued on the Ramapo Dunderberg Trail along the steep cable include, and tried contining along the cable incline after the trail departed, and I got lost here since the cable track is totally overgrown at this point and indiscernible. I ended up bushwacking north-northwest, and then reached a different railroad trail which led me back to the blue Timp-Torne Trail instead of the Ramapo Dunderberg Trail. I continued along the Timp-Torne Trail across the stream, and up the mountain. At this point there is an excellent view high up above the Hudson River. It also overlooks the Indian Point nuclear power plant right across the river. I had left my camera at this point without realizing it.

After the view my plan was to bushwack and cut across to the Ramapo-Dunderberg Trail and then take this trail as the return route. However, I ended veering more to the east then the north, and my GPS stopped working so I couldn't verify the bushwack on its proper eat. I ended up well west of where I was supposed to go, and was at a different spot in the notch between Bald Mountain and The Timp. Once I got my bearings straight, I climbed up the trail to Bald Mountain, (which has one of the best views in the park.) I then continued west along the Ramapo-Dunderberg Trail to where it meets with a dirt path which is probably part of the railway. It was too hard to retrace my steps back through the bushwack I got lost in, so I cut across the dirt path and then did a short bushwack back to the main view on the Timp-Torne Trail. Thank God my camera was here on the rock where I must have left it, untouched. After breathing a sigh of relief, I continued down the Timp Torne Trail back to the trailhead.

Map of the Route

Railway Tunnel near the beginning of the hike

View right near the first tunnel, at the beginning of the steep ascent.
Looking towards Indian Point on the other side of the Hudson River.
Note the trail in the thicket area below.

Green frog resting on a log on the Ramapo-Dunderberg Trail

Part of the railroad bed

Beautiful flowering dogwood tree

View of the Hudson from the Bushwack Part.
Facing South.

A very overgrown portion of the railway

Another view from one of the railway bushwacks. Facing south.

Railway tunnel

This bird is called a scarlet tanager.
It has an orange-red head and body and black wings and tail.
It has an amazing color and is even stronger than a cardinal.
This bird was right near the view on the R-D Trail (below)

View from the Ramapo-Dundeberg Trail
Facing east across the Hudson River to Indian Point.
This is where I lost my camera.

Another  view, facing south along the Hudson River.

Same view, zoomed in.

Same view  facing  northeast, towards Peekskill

View from Bald Mountain, facing North to Bear Mountain.
Taken from my cell phone camera.

View from Bald Mountain, facing south towards the Timp Pass
Taken from my cell phone camera.
View from Bald Mountain, facing west to West Mountain.
Taken from my cell phone camera.

View of the Thicket Area at the end of the hike

1 comment:

  1. Hi. Where you say "meets with a dirt path which is probably part of the railway." you were probably on one of the service roads used to bring supplies up the mountain, never intended to be part of the railroad. And yes, while the inclines are both mostly graded, there are some significant gaps in them which make it easy to lose your way.