Sunday, November 15, 2020

Cascade Lake Park and Prospect Rock

Cascade Lake Park /
Abraham Hewitt State Forest /
Appalachian Trail National Scenic Trail Area
Passaic Co., New Jersey & Orange Co., New York

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

Total Time: 1:45 hour
Estimated Distance: 3.6 Miles
Hike Type: Loop

Pros: Great Scenery and Good Climb
Cons: Cascade Lake Park trails are not well marked

Google Map of Parking:

This trail was a continuation of my completion of all the segments of the Appalachian Trail in my area. My furthest contiguous point to the west was at the State Line Trail at Prospect Park. This hike continued a further segment from the Cascade Lake Park area and picking up the trail from that vantage point. I was in the area in the late spring, where I went to the top from the other side from the State Line Trail at Greenwood Lake.

I had seen the Blue Trail coming out from Prospect Rock and intended to come back here and explore the area. This was that opportunity. The weather was cold and windy, and my first real taste of wintry-like weather. I parked at the Cascade Lake Park parking area, and took the Red Trail going along the side of the lake and heading south.

Cascade Lake Park is a local park adjacent to Bellvale/Bearfort Mountain with many wide trails. It is generally not a very scenic area, except for the lake and dam and last stretch of the Blue Trail up Bellvale Mountain. 

I continued on the Red Trail until its hard bend, but went ahead straight on the unmarked woods road that connected directly to the Appalachian Trail. I took the Appalachian Trail east up the mountain all the way up to the Surprise Lake Trail, and then continued to the intersection of the State Line Trail. I then crossed the state line from New Jersey to New York, where the marker indicates the state line crossing. I then continued to Prospect Rock, a large rocky outcrop on Bellvale Mountain with sweeping views of the Greenwood Lake area.

I then took the Blue Trail to the west from near the top down descending on the path to where it widens and continues its descent down the mountain. I then went past the dam of Cascade Lake taking some pictures of the dam, and then walking along the side of the lake back to my car.

Map of the Route

Cascade Lake and Dock

Another View of Cascade Lake

Small Cascade South of Cascade Lake Near the Bend in the Red Trail

Trail Connecting to the Appalachian Trail with Evergreen Trees Along the Sides

Intersection of the Appalachian Trail

View from the Top of the Ridge, with the Manhattan Skyscrapers in the Distance

Another View Near the Summit

Surprise Lake in the Distance and Wyanokie High in the Distance

Large Rock Face and Pitch Pines

Appalachian Trail at the State Line Trail Intersection

New York / New Jersey State Line Marker on the Appalachian Trail

First View at Prospect Rock, with Greenwood Lake and Fox Island in the Distance

View of Greenwood Lake, Looking South

Worn Out Flag at Prospect Rock on Bellvale Mountain

View from Prospect Rock at Bellvale Mountain Looking Northeast

Bare Rockface at Prospect Rock, Facing North

More Exposed Rock Face on Bellvale Mountain

Me at Prospect Rock at Bellvale Mountain 

Greenwood Lake Looking East

Another View of the Worn Out Flag

Purple Conglomerate Rock on Bellvale Mountain

Waterfalls over the Cascade Lake Dam

Zoomed Into the Cascade Lake Dam Waterfalls

Looking over the Cascade Lake Dam

View of Cascade Lake from the Blue Trail

Another View of Cascade Lake

Sunday, November 8, 2020

Giants Stairs Loop Palisades

Palisades Interstate Park,
Bergen Co., New Jersey /
Rockland Co., New York

Hiking Trails:
Long Path: Green blaze
Shore Trail: White blaze
Forest View Trail: Black/White blaze

Total Time: 2:30 hour
Estimated Distance: 4.4 Miles

Pros: Great views, and excellent scramble
Cons: Urban views, lots of people
Hike Type: Loop hike

Google Maps of Parking:

This was a beautiful late fall day, with exceptionally warm weather in the 70's on a November Sunday. I parked at the road to the State Line Lookout off the Palisades Parkway, and the area was very full with lots of hikers and people looking to get out. The main parking lot was full and I parked on the side of the road. It's a good thing I got here early because when I returned the police had shut the area to additional traffic.

The Giants Stairs is a famous scramble, and is one of the best in the area. It's a challenging trail through the talus of the Palisades cliffs. It's a great hike but is also very busy on nice weekends such as this one. I parked right near the Long Path where it crosses the road, took the path to the end of the parking area, to the lookout area for some views. I then continued along the Long Path towards the Border Monument at the state line, and then to the view facing the Tappan Zee Bridge at High Gutter Point. I then descended into Skunk Hollow and down to the Hudson River waterfront at Peanut Leap Falls. The falls was mostly dry and had many visitors hanging around the area.

I went south along the Shore Trail on mostly even terrain, crossing the state line back into New Jersey, and then approached the Giants Stairs, which I scrambled across until reaching the Forest View Trail. I took the Forest View Trail steeply up the mountain, and then took the Long Path north for a short distance back to my car.

Map of the Route

Overflow Parking on the Side of the Road

View Across the River Into Westchester

View of the Hudson and Northern Yonkers

Long Path Trail Marker

Steep Cliff at the State Line Lookout

Bird Count List at the State Line Lookout

View from the State Line Lookout Facing North

View from the State Line Lookout Looking Northeast

Information Plaque at the State Line Lookout

Boundary Monument at the NY/NJ State Line

Interesting Rock Formation at High Gutter Point

View across the Hudson River to Hastings-on-Hudson

View North from High Gutter Point to the Tappan Zee Bridge

Another View from High Gutter Point, Facing North to the Tappan Zee Bridge

Me at High Gutter Point

Shore Trail Descending

A Very Busy and Mostly Dry Peanut Leap Falls

Down at the Hudson River, Facing North

Hudson River Shoreline

Warning Sign about the Giant's Stairs Scramble

Many People Going Very Slow at the Beginning of the Scramble

Tri of Helicopters over the Hudson

Shore Trail Fall Scenery

Ascending a Pile of Boulders at the Giant's Staircase

Nice Scenery along the Giant's Stairs

More Rock Hopping along the Trail

Looking up at the Palisades Cliffs

Final Stretch of the Giant's Stairs

Descending the Rocks at the end of the Giant's Stairs

Rocks Plunging into the River at the Giant's Stairs

Scenic Foliage on the Shore Trail near the Forest View Trail

Shore Trail Going through the Swampgrass
Beautiful Colors along the Shore Trail

Beginning of the Forest View Trail