Sunday, October 3, 2021

Appalachian Trail Stairway to Heaven Pinwheel Vista

Wawayanda State Park /
Appalachian Trail National Scenic Area
Sussex Co.,
New Jersey

Hiking Trails:
Appalachian Trail: White blaze
Appalachian Trail Spur: Blue blaze

Total Time: 1:30 hour
Estimated Distance: 2.7 Miles

Pros: Very good climb with excellent view
Cons: Lots of people and very busy, parking is a challenge
Hike Type: Up and out
Level of Difficulty: Difficult

Google Maps of Parking:

This was the last stretch of the Appalachian Trail within the proximity to my home that I had not yet hiked. I had meant for a while to hike here, and finally had the opportunity on this hike. This hike is a dramatic part of the Appalachian Trail where it climbs up Wawayanda Mountain, quite steeply and over rocks and steps. The trail is very steep and can be difficult for inexperienced hikers, but it affords an excellent view on the top. However, it is a very busy trail with lots of people, and as the day progressed, there were more and more hikers.

The parking is also a bit of a challenge. There is a small parking area at the trailhead, but it was full. Immediately next to the trailhead is a paid lot where you can download an app for your phone to pay. There is also parking across the street at Heaven Hill Farms but it's a bit of a walk. I was lucky to get a very tight parking spot being that I had a small car.

I parked before starting the trail up the mountain, I instead crossed Route 94 and took the Appalachian Trail into a cow pasture, where the trail actually goes in the field together with the cows. At the boardwalk part I turned around, back to the main area, and started the hike in earnest. The first part of the hike is mostly level, walking through some more fields, crossing under a power line, and getting a great view of the mountain ahead as I approached it. Upon reaching the foot of the mountain, the trail turns abruptly to the right and enters a field of boulders before starting the ascent. From here the ascent is steep and all the way up. The trail continues up the mountain, and then does a turn to the left continuing the ascent. The reason this section of the trail is called "Stairway to Heaven" is because of the steep ascent along many steps with a beautiful view at the top.

After a steep set of stairs, the trail joins the blue-blazed spur trail to the view, which is a short distance after the large rock pile at the trail intersection. Then there is a short climb to the view, known as the Pinwheel Vista. It's actually not the top of Wawaynda Mountain, but it is the primary view. The view faces north, west, and southwest, and is very expansive. There was already a crowd at the view but it was still manageable. After enjoying the view, I turned around and headed down the mountain along the same route, and headed back to my car along the same trail.

Appalachian Trail Through the Cow Pasture

Cow Calling It's Young

It's Calf Came and Started Nursing

Beginning of the Hike from the Parking Lot

Trail Plaque

Power Lines in the Field Before Ascending the Mountain

Wawayanda Mountain the Distance

Sign about Venomous Snakes

Approaching Wawayanda Mountain

Ascending the Boulders

Why it's Called Stairway to Heaven

Pike of Rocks and the Spur Path

Approaching the View

Pinwheel Vista View

Overlooking Heaven Hill Farms

View on the Bottom after the Descent

Sunday, September 26, 2021

Tom Jones Mountain Short Loop

Harriman State Park,
Orange Co.,
New York

Hiking Trails:
Ramapo-Dunderberg Trail: Red blaze
Tom Jones Shelter Spur Trail: White blaze
Victory Trail: Blue blaze

Total Time: 1:00 hour
Estimated Distance: 1.6 Miles 

Pros: Good climb with nice views
Cons: Walk on road at the end
Hike Type: Loop
Level of Difficulty: Moderate

Map of Route:

This was another beautiful September day. This is a short hike but one of my favorites in Harriman. I was going to park at the Ramapo Dunderberg Trailhead in the valley on County Route 106/Kanawauke Road. The small roadside parking area was already full, so I drove further up and parked on the side of the road near the marsh. I took the road down for a little bit, and then took the Ramapo-Dunderberg Trail steeply up the mountain. I took the spur to the Tom Jones, and then descended the mountain. At the Victor Trail intersection, I took that trail back to the road which I walked on, next to the marsh, until getting to my car.

Map of the Route

Overlooking Jackie Jones Tower

Lake Sebago in the Distance

Day-Shining Moon

Trail Shelter Spur

Lake Sebago in Distance

Friday, September 24, 2021

Jackie Jones Fire Tower and Minisceongo Falls

Harriman State Park,
Rockland Co.,
New York

Hiking Trails:
Suffern-Bear Mountain Trail: Yellow blaze

Total Time: 1:35 hour
Estimated Distance: 2.6 Miles

Pros: Great view on tower, impressive waterfalls
Cons: Communication tower mars pristine view
Hike Type: Out and back
Level of Difficulty: Moderate

Hiking Partners:
Elisha Friedman

Map of Route:

This was a beautiful September day, and the air was clear with bright blue skies after getting several inches of rain the previous day. This was a great hike for a nice view as well as a good waterfall. We parked at the parking trailhead at the entrance to Harriman State Park at the Suffern-Bear Mountain Trail, and took the trail up the mountain through the ORAK ruins. We climbed passed the Jackie Jones communication tower and then to the Fire Tower, and climbed to the top and took a small break at the top and took some pictures there. The sky was exceptionally clear and the 360 degree view from the top of the tower was remarkable.

We then turned around and took the trail down, and we took the unmarked trail parallel to the Minisceongo Brook down to the waterfalls. This waterfalls is, in my opinion, the largest and most impressive in Rockland County, and is really unknown, with no official trail and not being on the map. I hope it stays this way! With the large amount of rain, the waterfalls were quite impressive, with several small cascades and the main drop which has an upper and lower section. After descending to the bottom of the waterfalls we returned back to our car.

Map of the Route

ORAK Ruin Gate House

Ruins at ORAK

Ruins at ORAK

Jackie Jones Communications Tower

Fire Tower

Jackie Jones Communication Tower from the Fire Tower

Lake Welch and Beach

NYC Skyline

Hi-Tor and Hudson River

Looking North to Bear Mountain and Northern Highlands

Me in the Fire Tower

Lake Welch Beach

Me on the Fire Tower

Minisceongo Brook

Minisceongo Brook Small Cascade

Minisceongo Falls, Upper

Minisceongo Falls, Upper

Me at Minisceongo Falls, Upper

Minisceongo Falls

Minisceongo Falls

Minisceongo Falls

Me at Minisceongo Falls