Sunday, August 31, 2014

Agony Grind

Agony Grind
Harriman State Park / Sterling Forest State Park
Orange Co.,
New York

Hiking Trails:

Appalachian Trail: Red blaze
Appalachian Trail Connector: Blue Blaze
Indian Hill Loop Trail: Yellow Blaze

Total Time: 2:00 hour
Estimated Distance: 2.6 miles
Level of Difficulty: Difficult
Level of Recommendation: Highly recommended
Points Of Interest: Steep scramble and rock formations, view, and old farmlands
Pros: Good climb, views, quiet area of park
Cons: Loudness of Thruway nearby

Hiking Partner:
Shimmy Rosenberg

Google Map of Parking: 

View 2014 Hiking Locations in a larger map

The weather was very unstable, with thunderstorms in the late morning forecast. So we opted for a hike with an easy bailout. We parked at the Elk Pen area, and took the Appalachian Trail up the Agony Grind. This is a steep climb with very interesting rock formations, cliffs, and outcrops. On the top there is a also a good view. We took the Appalachian Trail past the Sapphire Trail to the Appalachian Trail Connector to the Indian Hill Trail. We we were briefly on the Indian Hill Trail, going through the ruins of an old farm/estate with interesting rock walls. We then bushwacked along the perimeter of the slope back to the Appalachian Trail near the Agony Grind and then back to our car.

Map of the Route.
Harriman State Park Northern Map /
Sterling Forest State Park Map

Appalachian Trail by the Elk Pen

Park Lands Plaque on the Appalachian Trail

Walking Along Arden Valley Road on the AT

Trail Marker Plaque on the AT

Shimmy Huge Rock Formation Before the Agony Grind

Me at the Huge Rock Formation Before the Agony Grind

View While Ascending near the Agony Grind

Another Angle of the Same View near the Agony Grind

Shimmy Climbing Through the Agony Grind

Early Foliage While Ascending the AT

View from the Summit Along the AT.
Facing Southeast Towards the Elk Pen and Thruway

The Same View Facing South

View Facing East

View At the Intersection of the AT and AT Connector Trail

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Dickie Barre Area
Minnewaska State Park
Mohonk Preserve

Ulster Co.,
New York

Hiking Trails:

Bullwheel Trail: White blaze
High Peters Kill Trail: Blue blaze
Lost City Area Trail: Yellow blaze

Total Time: 2:25 hour
Estimated Distance: 3.4 miles
Level of Difficulty: Difficult
Level of Recommendation: Highly recommended
Points Of Interest:
Views and scrambles
Pros: Several great views, walk through unique cliff caves and talus
Cons: Parking fee

Hiking Partner:

Shimmy Rosenberg

Google Map of Parking:

View 2014 Hiking Locations in a larger map

I had not gone to the Gunks this entire season, and was glad to finally have the oppurtunity. This hike involved scrambling and good climbing, and was up to challenging myself on this type of hike for the first time since my surgery.

We parked in Minnewaska at the Park Office area, and took the Bullwheel Trail to the High Peters Kill Trail, where we went due east and then down the mountain. We then went down the mountain and along the foot, to the yellow spur trail to the talus slope. We took this trail up to the area known as the "Lost City". This area compromises a large section of hard Quartz conglomerate that broke off from the main cliff and formed an incredible network of rock cuts and caves. There is no trail going through the Lost City - its more of a self-exploration. I would have liked to see an official route going through here.

We explored the area, went deep into some caves, and then headed back down back towards the High Peters Kill Trail and then back on the same route back. When we got to the High Peters Kill Trail we veered off the trail on to the blue trail with a center. These markings were new since the past year, and my understanding is that they are specifically for rock climbers. In any event this was a scenic spur, skirting the side of a cliff and under a cave-like overhand where we met some rock climbers on rope. The trail spurs up on the top of the mountain as well where we were afforded with excellent views. We then went back down and back on the Bullwheel Trail back to the parking area and back to our car.

Please note my camera is out of commission; these pictures were taken with my cell phone.

Map of the Route.
Shawangunk Map, Mohonk/Minnewaska

Shimmy Walking Along Open Meadow on the Bullwheel Trail

Early Foliage on the Bullwheel Trail

View of the Cliffs near the Dickie Barre.
The Area Under the Cliffs Ahead are the Lost City Area

Me at the Above Viewpoint

Me Descending the High Peters Kill Trail

Plaque at the Entrance to the Lost City Area

Shimmy Walking Through a Large Split in the Rock

Deep Rock Split

Long Dark Crevice

Shimmy in the Long Dark Crevice

Slope with Talus

Cliff Face up Above

Shimmy on a Large Talus Rock

Shimmy Above a Large Rock with Overhang

Shimmy Navigating Through a Tight Squeeze

Shimmy Above a Fallen Rock with a Cave Underneath

Climber Trail near the Whale Rock Area

Rock Climbers Climbing Up an Overhang

Large Overhang in the Whale Rock Area

Looking up at the Overhang

Me on Top of the Whale Rock Area

View Facing South from the Whale Rock Area

The Top Part of the Rock Climber's Rope in the Picture Above

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Popolopen Brook to Queensboro Lake

Bear Mountain / Harriman State Park
Orange Co.,
New York

Hiking Trails:
Timp-Torne Trail: Blue blaze
Popolopen Gorge Trail: Red blaze
1777 Trail: Red blaze
1779 Trail: Red blaze

Total Time: 1:30 hour
Estimated Distance: 3 miles
Level of Difficulty: Easy
Level of Recommendation: Slightly recommended
Points Of Interest: Popolopen Brook and bridges
Pros: Scenic area
Cons: Noise from Palisades Parkway, Proximity to gun range

Google Map of Parking:

View 2014 Hiking Locations in a larger map

I have hiked up Popolopen Torne many times, and its a great hike. I have also hike along the Popolopen Brook many times, but only ventured from Popolopen to Queensboro Lake once in my recent memory. So I decided to revisit this area along the scenic brook surrounded by a deep gorge.

I parked at the Popolopen Parking area right below the mountain, and noticed several new things. First of all, Mine Road is now closed to traffic after Popolopen where it enters West Point Property. I also noticed a new information kiosk at the foot of the trail where it goes up the mountain, as well as some interesting woodwork projects and signs from trail volunteers. I hiked the Timp-Torne Trail down and then made my way to the gorge, where there is a brand new, solid bridge crossing the Popolopen Brook. This crossing had been out for a while and was destroyed by one of the recent storms (I think Hurricane Irene.)

I crossed the bridge, and the trail meets up with the Popolopen Gorge, 1777, and 1779 Trails to confluence four trails. I continued along the path, crossing the next interesting bridge, making my way towards Queensboro Lake. However, I heard gunshots in the distance, and they got closer and closer as I approached the Police Training Range by Queensboro Lake. There is a warning sign about this, but hearing the constant gunshots so close made me uneasy so I turned around at the trail split near the shooting range instead of going all the way the Queensboro Lake.

I took the same return route back, but went up the western flank of the Timp-Torne Trail instead and then walked a short distance on the road back to my car. I had noticed some Magnetite on the ground near the parking lot, and know the distance is very close to the old Forest of Dean Mine and Queensboro Furnace, but upon exploring the area I noticed a large dump of iron ore with lots of magnetite right near the parking area. Its interesting to explore this area and notice the unique rock types present there.

Please note my camera is out of commission; these pictures were taken with my cell phone.

Map of the Route.
Harriman/Bear Mountain Trails Northern Map

Road Closure of Mine Road

Interesting New Artifacts near the Parking Area

Interesting Sign Posted at the Trailhead Parking Area

Sign Posting Restricted Area of West Point Off the Trail

Descending Towards the New Bridge

At the New Bridge Prior to Crossing

Overnight Camper in a Tent on the Trail

Confluence of all 4 Trails

Interesting Bridge Crossing the Queensboro Brook

Another View of the Bridge

Queensboro Brook from Atop the Bridge

Pistol Range Sign at the Split Between the
Popolopen Gorge and Timp-Torne Trails

The Other Side of the Bridge on the Return Route Home

New Kiosk at the Foot of Popolopen