Sunday, December 28, 2014

Sterling Ridge Trail from Route 17A

Sterling Ridge Trail from Route 17A
Sterling Forest State Park
Orange Co.,
New York

Hiking Trails:
Sterling Ridge Trail: (Blue blaze)
Highlands Trail Aqua blaze)

Total Time: 1:40 min
Estimated Distance: 2.15 miles
Level of Difficulty: Easy
Level of Recommendation: Not recommended
Points of Interest: Sterling Lake View
Pros: Quiet area
Cons: Too many power lines and lack of significant good views

Google Map of Parking:

I want to start covering more areas in Sterling Forest. I parked on Route 17A on the high ridge between the Tuxedo Ridge Ski Area and the village of Greenwood Lake. There is a small parking area off the road, where the trails can be accessed. This parking area is for both hikers and hunters in the winter. Throughout the winter (Oct 1 - Feb 28) this area is open to hunters, so it is very important not to hike in this area without wearing highly visible clothing.

I took the Sterling Ridge Trail where it is combined with the Highlands Trail, and took its south. It goes along the side of the a nice ridge, and in some parts  there is a 100 foot cliff face on the east part. I continued along the trail past the power lines until the first view on the map. This view shows some of the ridges in the distance, and Sterling Lake is visible through the trees. The rocky exposure is scenic but the actual view is not so impressive. I was thinking of bushwacking down the valley to the Sterling Valley Loop trail and taking that trail back up to the parking area, however due to the active hunting season I reasoned that I’d rather play it safe. I therefore returned back to my car back along the same route.

Map of the Route.
Sterling Forest Maps

Sign at the Parking Area Warning Hikers of Hunting Season

Beginning of the Trail

Plaque at the Trail Intersection at the Trailhead

Interesting Scenery Along the Sterling Ridge Trail. Facing East.

Sterling Lake Behind the Trees from the Sterling Ridge Trail

Nice View by the Power Lines Gap, though Somewhat Marred by the Power Lines.
The Body of the Water is the Northern Finger of Sterling Lake.

Another View from the Power Lines

Approaching the Viewpoint with the Large Rock

At the View on top of a Large Rock

At the View, Where I Turned Around

At the View, Facing Northeast

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Lake Massawippa and Brooks Hollow

Harriman State Park
Orange Co.,
New York

Total time:
1:25 min
Estimated Distance: 2.2 miles
Level of Difficulty: Easy
Level of Recommendation: Recommended for off the beaten path hike
Points of Interest: Abandoned structures, Lake Massawippa Dam
Pros: Scenic lake
Cons: Very eerie location

Google Map of Parking:

I had been in this area on my hike several weeks prior (details on this hike), and bushwacked from the Long Path down from Howell Mountain through Brooks Hollow to the dam. I had noticed an additional trail going through the valley but I didn't have the ability to properly explore it, and it wasn't on the maps. I also had wanted to come back to further explore the area around the abandoned structures.

I parked on Route 6 opposite the dam on the small parking spot for the camp road. I crossed the street and took a slight bushwack over the road cut towards the old paved road heading north from Route 6 on the eastern side of Lake Massawippa. The road is very overgrown but is very distinct. It goes through an area of numerous abandoned and destroyed structures, and is quite creepy. According to the Harriman Trails book by William J. Myles, this used to be a boy scout camp. The old remaining structures are definitely creepy, and for those who enjoy this type of exploration, this is a great place. Few people are familiar with this area as its not on a hiking trail, and is in a lightly traversed region of the park.

The old road loses its pavement at the camp, but it continues distinctly as it reaches the brook. At this point it disappears, but its only a short bushwack to get to the Long Path from here. I did that bushwack just to measure. Due to the high volume of water, crossing the brook proved difficult.

I then turned around back on that old camp road, and then near the lake dam veered off walk along one side of the dam to get some good lake views. I then turned around, headed back for the path, which I took to Route 6, and then walked west for just bit back to my car.

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

Frozen Seasonal Pond off the Path to the Abandoned Structures

The first of the Abandoned Structures

The Largest of the Abandoned Structures

Several Abandoned Structures, Presumably Bunkhouses

Dilapidated Structure on the Verge of Collapse

The Same Building as Above, Zoomed In

Partially Frozen Lake Massawippa from the Dam

The Same View, Zoomed Out

Lake Massawippa from the Dam, Looking Towards Brooks Mountain

Lake Massawippa from the Dam, Looking South.
Note Some of the Abandoned Structures Beyond the Lake's End.

Harriman/Bear Mountain Trails Completion

This blog post is the official announcement of my completion of all marked trails within Harriman/Bear Mountain State Parks. For my entire life, I have been hiking these trails. During the last three years, I made an effort to complete every section of every marked trail within these park systems. This is no easy feat, with over hundreds of miles of trails. From 2006 until now I have every single section of every single hiking trail within Harriman/Bear Mountain State Parks. While I have also done much hiking and trails prior to 2006, from 2006 onward I know that I have completed all the trails. In any case of doubt, I made sure to do the trail again to ensure that all parts of the trail were 100% complete.

I only have about 4 hikes remaining for my next goal to have all parts of all the trails of the park systems actually documented within this blog. Due to the winter road closures, I won't be able to complete them until the spring. Once that happens, I'll have every section of every trail in the park system documented within this blog.

My hiking experience includes easy and difficult hikes, as well as short and long distances. It includes all seasons, from summer heat-waves to brutal winter hikes on frozen lakes, and everything in-between. In the blog are hikes during snowstorms, surprise thunderstorms, rattlesnake encounters, tick infestations, and a torn meniscus.

Trails are often rerouted, and I purchased a new 2013 map edition so I can have an outline of the latest trails to the best of my knowledge. Oftentimes I slightly veer off a few feet from the actual trail. My criteria for following a trail is where the main path of the trail is still visible.

Overall it has been an amazing experience, and it's great to have so many trails and scenery within such close proximity. I'd like to give a shout out to all my dedicated hiking partners over the years.
  • Shimmy Rosenberg
  • Yehudah Koblick
  • Morty Neuman
  • Debbie Koegel
  • Eli Koegel
  • Srully Rosenberg
  • Jacob Baldinger (from the early days)

Long Path at Florence Mountain

Harriman State Park
Orange Co.,
New York

Hiking Trails:
Long Path: Green blaze

Total time: 1:25 min
Estimated Distance: 2.2 miles
Level of Difficulty: Easy
Level of Recommendation: Not Recommended
Points of Interest: View of Woodbury Commons
Pros: None
Cons: View is of built-up area, power lines throughout area, and old road instead of path

Google Map of Parking:

This was my final hike in Harriman/Bear Mountain State Parks prior to my completion of all marked trails. I know this was going to be a boring and uneventful hike, but it had to be done. I parked on the side of Route 6 immediately before the divider and its descent down the mountain. I crossed the street, and walked along the road to the east to complete the part of the Long Path that goes on the side of the road. I then turned around and continued west on the Long Path on the route towards the outside of Harriman. The path follows an old road, presumably Route 6, prior to the routing of its current route. In many places the double yellow line is still visible, albeit faded. About halfway down there is a view facing west overlooking Woodbury Commons which is immediately below the mountain.

I continued to the end of the path where it hits the road. It was disappointing to see the other end of the trail at the dead end has no parking signs all over the place. There is plenty room to park here for someone who wants to hike, and I don't know why they put those signs up. I turned around upon hitting the road and took the same trail back. Since this was a short and uneventful hike, I drove down Route 6 for a second hike at the Lake Massawippa Area, which i'll describe in the next post.

Map of the Route.
Harriman/Bear Mountain State Park, Northern Map

The old Road Where the Long Path Goes.
You can even see the Original Double Yellow Striped Divider

Where the Path and Power Line Meet.
The View Is Just Beyond the Bend.

View of Woodbury Commons from the Power Line Intersection

Looking Towards Mt. Aramah to the South

Zoomed Out View of Woodbury Commons from Under the Power Lines

End of the Road at the Border of Harriman.
Note the "No Parking" Sign

A View of the Road that Concurs with the Long Path Outside of Harriman

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Tallman Mountain State Park

Rockland Co.,
New York

Hiking Trails:
Long Path: Green blaze
Bike Path: Unblazed
Orange Trail: Unblazed

Total time: 2:00 hour
Estimated Distance: 4.75 miles
Level of Difficulty: Moderate
Level of Recommendation: Recommended
Points of Interest: Piermont, Tallman Mountain Views
Pros: Historic and rustic village, good climb, good views
Cons: Busy area and built up area

Google Map of Parking:

With my near completion of all the trails in Harriman/Bear Mountain State Parks, I am starting to branch out and explore many of the other hiking area in the area. There is a large network of trails along the Palisades from New Jersey into New York, and although I've been to many hikes in that area, there is a lot more to explore around here.

Tallman Mountain isn't much of a mountain, with an elevation just short of 200 feet. However, it just out sharply and steeply from the village of Piermont and the Hudson River, and has expansive views. The State Park with the same name offers several trails, a biking trail, and several park facilities such as picnic area, tennis courts, a pool (though not sure if its used anymore), etc. There are only two marked trails traversing the park - a short connector trail blazed orange, and the Long Path, which goes through the length of the park. There is also a popular bike trail going from one end of the park the other. There are also some elevated unmarked trails that crisscross in perpendicular form over swampy area.

I parked in the village of Piermont, and quaint village with a certain charm that I always find a pleasure to walk through. I walked towards the Bridge Street Drawbridge, which is an historical, crank drawbridge over the Sparkill Creek that has been preserved. The Long Path meets up here, by the curve on Ferdon Ave, and then I took the Long Path up the steep but short escarpment. At the top there is a picnic area with great views over the village of Piermont.

I continued along the Long Path, past where it crosses the Bike Path, and followed it along elevated trail areas through a large marshy area. The Long Path then meets up with the Bike Path again, by the ruin. I took the combined bike path and Long Path to the other parking area at the southern end of the park, and then turned around and continued along the bike path, until the split with the unmarked trail towards the view. This area has a nice view of the giant swamp alongside the Hudson River, as well as the Tappan Zee Bridge. It also allows for nice viewing across the river to Westchester at Dobbs Ferry and Hastings-on-Hudson. I continued along the unmarked trail to the Long Path, and took detoured on the Orange Trail to the main parking lot. From there I took an old unmarked trail down to the pool area, and then down the closed road on the side of the Hudson River Swamp back around to Ferdon Ave to my car.

Map of the Route

Historic Drawbridge Over Sparkill Creek.
Tallman Mountain is in the Background

View of Sparkill Creek Crossing the Above Bridge

The end of Sparkill Creek Prior to its Draining into the Hudson.

Tallman Mountain Behind the Trees

View of Piermont and the Hudson from the View
on Tallman Mountain. Facing North.

Another View of Piermont from Tallman Mountain

Large Swamp in the Hudson and Piermont Pier in the Distance

Looking Over to Westchester Across the Hudson River

Marshy Area along the Long Path

Long Path in Tallman Mountain State Park

Boardwalks Along the Long Path

Ruin on the Bike Trail where it meets the Long Path

View from the Southern Part of Tallman Mountain.
Facing Northeast.

View Across the Hudson River from Southern Part

View Facing the Tappan Zee Bridge and Piermont Pier. Facing North.

Search Key: 108-111

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Pine Swamp Mountain Loop

Harriman State Park
Orange Co.,
New York

Hiking Trails:
Arden Surebridge (A-SB) Trail: Red blaze
Long Path: Green blaze

Total time: 1:30 min
Estimated Distance: 2.2 miles
Level of Difficulty: Moderate
Level of Recommendation: Recommended
Points of Interest: Lake Skanatati, Pine Swamp Mountain Loop
Pros: Nice view and good bushwack atop Pine Swamp Mountain
Cons: Rerouting of A-SB Trail is a big disappointment

Google Map of Parking:

View 2014 Hiking Locations in a larger map

The weather had been much colder than predicted, and the winds were very strong. I was not expecting it to be so cold and had not dressed in my warmest garb. So I opted for a shorter hike than originally planned. I had been here the week prior and noticed a significant rerouting of the A-SB Trail, and wanted to further explore it. The week before it was snowing, and I was also constrained on time and couldn't properly check it out.

I had parked at the parking area by Lake Skanatati, and took the A-SB Trail on its new route which is further east from the original trail. I noticed some orange temporary fencing around the place of the original trail, showing a clear closure of the original trail to the viewpoint. I took the A-SB on parallel to Seven Lakes Drive, which you can see below the hill. I noticed this time that the Red Cross Trail has also been rerouted. Its new terminus was right before it descends to Seven Lakes Drive, cutting off about 1000 feet of the original trail where it starts from the viewpoint.

I took the A-SB trail until it connected to its original location where it bends due west. The original trail had a bunch of branches deliberately covering it showing that the trail is closed. I was curious as to what happened to the view and which trail goes there now, so I took the old A-SB route now now deblazed back to the great Pine Swamp Mountain view. I was very disturbed to notice that there is no longer any trail going to this viewpoint. I have no idea why they would reroute the trail around this excellent viewpoint. I certainly hope this is temporary and they plan to add a trail from the parking area back up the viewpoint.

From the viewpoint, I bushwacked around parallel to the trail, crossed over the valley due west, and climbed up to the western summit of Pine Swamp Mountain. The top of this mountain is easily walkable and there are even some fire pits showing more frequent usage, despite it being off the trail. I continued along the center of the ridge due south, and prior to meeting up with the Long Path I went down the steep hill to the Pine Swamp outlet stream which I took to the Long Path trail.

At the trail stream crossing, there was a large group of trail conference members with some tactical equipment used to raise up a large boulder in the stream, to enhance the trail crossing over the stream. From this point I took the Long Path back to my car.

Map of the Route.
Harriman / Bear Mountain State Park Northern Map

Lake Skanatati from the Parking Area

Lake Skanatati from the Parking Area

Lake Skanatati and Lake Kanawauke from Pine Swamp Mnt View

Same View as Above, Zoomed Out

At the Same View, Looking Southwest Towards Black Rock Mountain

Large Pine Tree at the Summit of the Western Part
of Pine Swamp Mountain, This Tree is Clearly
Visible from the Parking Lot by the Lake.

Scenery Atop the Western Part of Pine Swamp Mountain

Fire Pit at Pine Swamp Mountain, off the Path

Crew Working on Hoisting Rocks in the Brook 

The Crew at Work, Climbing a Tree

Lake Skanatati from the Long Path

Lake Skanatati from the Long Path

Lake Skanatati from the Long Path