Sunday, June 26, 2011

Mohonk Scrambles

Shawangunk Mountains,
New Paltz
Ulster County,
New York

Total Time: 2:45 hr
Estimated Distance: 4.7 miles
Level of Difficulty: Difficult (Tight scrambles and climbs)
Level of Interest: Highly Recommended; one of the best hikes.
Points Of Interest: Outstanding scrambles and caves, panoramic view

Huegenot Trail
Bonticou Carriageway
Rock Rift Trail
Lookout Carriageway
Whitney Path
Tallman Path
Pinkster Path
Mohonk Path
Sky Top Carriageway
Sky Top Path
Lake Shore Carriageway
Fox Path
Glen Anna Path
North Lookout Carriageway
Whitney Carriageway

Hiking Partner:
Sruli Rosenberg

Google Map of Parking:

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Mohonk is situation on one of the prettiest parcels of land in the Northeast. Its beautiful mountains, vistas, white rocks, and fantastic scrambles really make this a unique place. However, it is not a state park but rather privately owned. The price to get in is outrageous ($25 per person) but still worth it. The crowds in the main area by the hotel are also a distraction from the serenity, especially during the weekends. However, the scrambles and views are top notch and still make this one of the most outstanding hiking destinations.

One of the biggest challenges for hikers at Mohonk is that there are so many Carriage Roads and trails, and not all are clearly labelled and go where you want them to go. But there is an excellent number of choices a to choose from.

We parked at the entrance to Mohonk at Mountain Rest Road, and took the Huegenot Trail east. From there we cut accross and bushwacked down the really steep hill to the Bonticou Carriageway, which we then took the Rock Rift Crevices. The Rock Rift Crevices provide a trail going through an outstanding scramble inside caves and tunnels, and is very challenging yet rewarding, and surprisingly not well-known.

After coming out the crevices we headed up the mountain to the Lookout Carriageway, which had great views facing north and east, and then Whitney Path to the Tallman Path, and then the Pinkster Path to the Mohonk Path, which climbed Sky Top. From there we took the Sky Top Carriageway to the tower at Sky Top, and then attempted to go down the Labyrinth but it is a one way trail the other way, so we just cut across a shortcut scramble down to Lake Mohonk at the Lake Shore Carriageway. From there we walked along the Mohonk Lawn and Botanical Garden until the Bruin Path, which has some nice scenery of cliff walls, and then headed back via the Fox Path to the Glen Anna Path, and then to the North Lookout Carriageway, Whitney Carriageway, and then to the Huegenot Path.

Map of the Route

Sruli at the beginning of the Rock Rift Crevices
Sruli Navigating Thru a Crevice
Me in Rock Rift Crevice
Inside a Passageway in Rock Rift Crevices
Squeezing my way through.
This is NOT a hike for fat people!
I can barely fit in here! Rock Rift Crevices.
Nearing the End of Rock Rift Crevices.
A viewpoint along the "Lookout Carriageway".
Facing north.
Sruli in a Gazebo on the Lookout Path above the cliff.
Mohonk Mountain House from the end of the Tallman Path.
Facing east.
View from Sky Top.
Facing southeast towards Storm King and Beacon Mnt.
View of the Trapps from Sky Top.
This cliff is the most popular rock climbing cliff in the northeast.
Sruli with the Trapps in the Background.
View of Eagle Cliff from Sky Top. Facing southwest.
The Smiley Tower atop Sky Top
with Sruli posing from above.
The Mohonk Mountain House with Mohonk Lake.
From Sky Top.
With Catskill Mountains in background.
This is a famous picture.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Sugarloaf Hill

Hudson Highlands State Park,
Putnam County,
New York

Total Time: 1:40 hr
Estimated Distance: 2.7 miles
Level of Difficulty: Moderate (About 700 foot elevation gain)
Level of Interest: Recommended for a relatively short but good hike with a nice view.
Points Of Interest: Good view, Varied Terrain, Cactus Grove on top

Sugarloaf Trail (Red blaze)

Google Map of Parking:

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Sugarloaf Hill is a nice yet relatively small mountain on the east side of the Hudson River. This was actually my first time climbing this mountain, and it took a bit to find the proper trailhead. The way to the parking area is by making a right turn when coming north on Route 9D at the wooden sign that says "Castle Rock Unique Area", and then going up the dirt road (Wing and Wing Road) towards an old farmhouse, where there is a hiking trailhead right after that.

The hike takes you through some old farmland and an overgrown grassy area in the beginning. It then enters the forest where there is a nice gazebo, and then starts climbing following some old roads up. It passes a small pond, and then starts the final ascent to the top. The top of of the mountain features sharp cliffs on both the left and the right side and is a sharp ridge. The end of the trail features the viewpoint, which faces the Hudson River and the southern highlands including the Bear Mountain Bridge.

The top of the mountain also has a very large cactus grove. These beavertail cacti can survive the winter and grow in rocky and sunny areas in a few sporadic locations in the area. They were flowering into beautiful yellow flowers. I turned around and went the same way back, though took a few shortcut switchbacks.

Map of the Route

Castle atop Castle Rock from the parking area.

Sugarloaf Hill from the beginning of the trail. Looking south.

Going towards the view. Facing South.

Sugarloaf view at the end of the trail.
Facing south towards Anthony's Nose (L) and Bear Mnt (R)
with the Bear Mountain Bridge span.

Flowering Cactus at the view area.

Another flowering cactus

West Point on the left and Bull Hill on the right
from the summit facing through the trees.

West Point nestled between Storm King on the right
and Breakneck Ridge on the left.
Facing north from right before the grassy area.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Twin Lakes and Baileytown

Harriman State Park,
Orange County,
New York

Total Time:
2:30 hr
Estimated Distance: 4.6 miles
Level of Difficulty: Very Easy
Recommendation: Not Interesting or recommended
Points Of Interest: Scenic Lakes and Baileytown cemetery

Google Map of Parking:

View Twin Lakes and Baileytown in a larger map

The northernmost area of Harriman State Park around Route 6 has fewer trails then the rest of the park. I wanted to check the area of Baileytown, which is an old abandoned settlement that was swallowed up by the park. All that remains of Baileytown is the cemetery and a few foundations. I was disappointed to find the road paved much of the way and the area is just full of State-run summer camps. I went the week before these camps started, so its not a good idea to go here during July or August. It was a good day for this type of hike since the the weather was gloomy.

I started in the Parking area along Route 6 near Route 293 (this parking area is meant for fishermen fishing in the many lakes around here) and walked along Route 6 across the dam, and skirted down it to Lake Massawippa for pictures. I then climbed up again and took the camp road all the way down until Baileytown Road, which is an old path, towards the cemetery , and then continued further looking for any additional signs of prior habitation.

From there I turned around, and made a bushwack along the eastern part of Lower Twin Lake (not recommended!). I got caught in the thorns and in a swamp (I didn't include this bushwack part in the map above) and eventually made it to Route 6, which I followed back to the car.

Map of the Route
Lake Massawippa from Route 6 Bridge/Dam.
Facing north.

Dam of Lake Te-Ata and Route 6 Bridge

Water Pipe Bridge crossing outlet of Lower Twin Lake

Sign for Twin Lakes Museum.
This is an old stone single-room stone building atop the hill,
and I took a peek inside and it is abandoned.
If anyone knows what this building is,
I would appreciate your comments.

Monuments in the Baileytown Cemetery.

Lower Twin Lake, photo from Bushwack.

Lake Te-Ata from Route 6, facing southwest.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Wildcat Mountain

Wildcat Mountain
Harriman State Park,
Orange County,
New York


Wildcat Mountain Trail: White Blaze

Total Time: 1:30 hr
Estimated Distance: 2.5 miles
Level of Difficulty: Medium
Recommendation: Recommended for a relatively short hike to a good viewpoint.
Points Of Interest: Wildcat Mountain Viewpoint

Hiking Partner:
Rachel Friedman

Google Map of Parking:

View Wilcat Mnt in a larger map

This is a trail in Harriman I have never taken before, and it is the only trail in Harriman on the other side of Route 17 and the Thruway. It is a very short ascent to the view of Wildcat Mountain, and the views are good. We parked in the park-and-ride at the intersection ramp of Route 17 and 17A, where the trail starts, and climbed this short and somewhat steep stretch to the view. After the view we continued several thousand feet further climbing hoping for another view, which was not to be found, so we turned around and headed back the same route.

Map of the Route
View above Wildcat Mnt. Facing South
toward Route 17 and the NYS Thruway
At Wildcat Mnt View facing east.
At view facing south.
Rachel with the blooming rhododendrons.