Sunday, June 28, 2015

Cannonball Trail to Ramapo Lake /
DuPont Trail Closure

Ramapo Mountain State Forest,
Bergen & Passaic Counties
New Jersey

Hiking Trails:
Hoeferlin Memorial Trail: Yellow blaze
Cannonball Trail: Red blaze
Pool Hollow Road: Unblazed
South Ridge Trail: White blaze

Total Time: 1:55 hours
Estimated Distance: 4.5 Miles
Level of Difficulty: Moderate
Level of Recommendation: Not recommended
Points of Interest: Historical Trail, View, and Ramapo Lake

When Interstate 287 was built, it cut off a small section of Ramapo Mountain State Forest, including a part that contains the historical Cannonball Trail. The Cannonball Trail is the remnant of an old revolutionary-era road used to bring supplies from the Paterson area up to Suffern, New York, supposedly to avoid detection by the British troops. When the highway was built, instead of cutting off the hiking trail, the highway department wisely built a pedestrian bridge to preserve the trail. I have passed under this bridge many times and had determined to hike there, but had not got around to it until this hike.

It had been actively raining all day the prior day, and was still wet and drizzling during this hike, but that didn't deter me. I had looked on the trail map and saw the terminus of the Cannonball Trail on Barbara Drive in Pompton Lakes. When I parked there at the location, there were threatening posted signs plastered along the entire area. I was confused, and decided to leave the area and change my itinerary by parking at the Hoeferlin Memorial Trail Trailhead at Pool Hollow Road. More about this later.

I parked at the trailhead, crossed the railroad tracks, and went along the trail which traversed some driveways and then went into the forest. I continued along the Hoeferlin Trail along the old abandoned road bed, and then met up with the Cannonball Trail which join together at this point to cross over the interstate highway. I continued along the Hoeferlin Trail as it climbed up the hill, and then proceeded to the first lookout. Due to the weather, the looking was shrouded in low cloud cover with very poor visibility.

I then turned around, but instead of continuing along the Hoeferlin Trail, continued along the old Pool Hollow Road Trail to the southern end of Ramapo Lake. The southern end is swampy and not nearly as aesthetic as the northern part. At this point I picked up the Cannonball Trail, headed south towards the highway, crossed the highway, and then continued south along the Cannonball Trail.

Near the end of the Cannonball Trail, it meets up with the South Ridge Trail. At this point the Cannonball Trail is supposed to continue towards Barbara Road. However, the trail markers just disappeared and trail seemed to disappear unmarked in an overgrown field. This had me very confused as to how this historical trail just ended before reaching the trailhead at the road. I scratched my head in confusion and then took the South Ridge Trail up and down the ridge back to the Hoeferlin Trail and back to my car.

Upon returning home, I decided to look into the odd nature of the disappearing Cannonball Trail by Barbara Road. A Google search pulled out several pages on this, where I discovered that the small strip of property of the Cannonball Trail at this point is owned by the DuPont Corporation. The DuPont Corporation historically provided access across their property to this site all these years, and for some unexplained reason decided to post this part of this property as off-limits. This effectively cuts off the southern-most tip of the Cannonball Trail.

The Cannonball Trail is an old and historical trail. It has been accessible and enjoyed by hikers, bikers, and joggers for decades. For DuPont to decide one day to block off all access is a travesty. Now for the record, this same DuPont facility is responsible for contaminating the entire area of with toxic materials including lead salts, mercury compounds, explosive powders, chlorinated solvents, waste wire drawing solution, and detonated blasting caps. DuPont has initiated a massive clean-up and remedial operation to try to save themselves from this environmental disaster. So for them to go ahead block access to public hiking trails at this time is a public relations disaster on their end. As it turns out, many news channels are reporting that DuPont does in fact seem to be shirking their responsibilities in cleanup operations. That's not surprising, as they seem not to care about the public or outdoor enthusiasts who care about the environment.

I recently went to their website which is dedicated to this cleanup operation, and left them a message explaining my dismay at their closing of the trail. I hope everyone reading this blog does the same, and perhaps they will see the damage they are causing to the community and reverse their decision.

For some news articles on this, see:

Map of the Route. North Jersey
North Jersey Trails Eastern Map.
Note this early map edition lacks the Interstate 287!

Approaching the I-287 Footbridge on the Cannonball/Hoeferlin Trails.
This Definitely had an eerie connotation to it.

Walking Inside the Pedestrian Bridge

The Hoeferlin/Cannonball Trail Right after the Bridge

Directly Above Interstate 287

The Foggy View Along the Hoeferlin Trail

Rock Face at the View at the Hoeferlin Trail

Pool Hollow Road

The Southern, Swamp Edge of Ramapo Lake Behind the Tress

Cannonball Trail Marker

Confusing Posted Sign as the Cannonball Trail Abruptly Ends at the DuPont Property

Interesting Horse Barn and Sign at the Pool Hollow Road Trailhead.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Bear Mountain Appalachian Trail with Scott Jurek

Bear Mountain State Park,
Rockland and Orange Counties,
New York

Hiking Trails:
Appalachian Trail (AT): White blaze
Appalachian Trail Spur: Blue blaze

Total Time: 1:20 hours
Estimated Distance: 2.1 Miles
Level of Difficulty: Easy
Level of Recommendation: Highly recommended for an easy and short hike with excellent views
Points of Interest: Bear mountain tower and view

Hiking Partners:
Shimmy Rosenberg
Scott Jurek and his crew

Ultramarathoner Scott Jurek is currently hiking/running the Appalachian Trail to break the current record and complete the entire trail in record time. His plan is that he wakes up at sunrise, and hikes all day and even into the night. He has a support crew travelling with him that carries his supplies, and he sleeps on a bed in a support vehicle. This allows him to be well-rested and not have to carry a heavy pack, giving him more speed.

Scott's route is recorded live on GPS, and  this is the day he was in our neck of the woods. Shimmy and I decided to meet him in Bear Mountain. We took two cars, and parked one car at the end of Perkins Memorial Drive past the tower at the dead end. We parked the other car at the top by the tower, where we noticed several news crews awaiting his arrival.

From the top parking area we hiked down the blue-blazed Spur trail which is a shortcut to the AT and goes down to the rockface that used to be Major Welch Trail. We had gotten here a bit earlier than Scott, so I went to the other Spur Trail which goes along the rockface and was the former Major Welch Trail route. We then met up with Scott at this point, and went along with him from here along the top part of Bear Mountain to the Tower. Scott stopped to be interviewed by some news crews, and we then continued along with him all the way down to where our car was parked at the dead end of Perkins Drive.

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

View from AT/Spur Trail Facing Southwest

Same View Further Back into the Trees
The Pond in in the Distance is Queensboro Lake

Another View from the Same Area

View Near the End of the Spur Trail

View of the End of the Spur Trail. Facing Northwest.

Shimmy at the At/Spur View

Me at the AT/Spur View

Scott Jurek and his Contingent Approaching

Scott and his Crew Hiking. Shimmy is the Man at the Rear.

View from the North Face of Bear Mountain.
Facing North towards the Hudson River.

Scott and a Blind Person Being Interviewed by the Media

Camera Crews Interviewing Scott

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Butter Hill at Storm King

Storm King State Park,
Orange County,
New York

Hiking Trails:
Butter Hill Trail: Orange blaze
Stillman Trail: Yellow blaze
White Trail Spur: White blaze

Total Time: 1:45 hours
Estimated Distance: 2.3 Miles
Level of Difficulty: Moderate
Level of Recommendation: Highly recommended
Points of Interest: Great views with good scramble
Cons: Walk on road at the end

Hiking Partner:
Shimmy Rosenberg

The day before had been raining very hard, and the forecast was for more rain on Sunday. I had checked the radar in the morning and it appeared that the rain was clearing out. Although the hike started off cloudy and misty, it cleared up to be a beautiful day.

We parked at the parking lot on Route 9W Northbound where it bends by Butter Hill. We parked in the parking area, climbed the Butter Hill Trail on its steep ascent to the view, and then took the Stillman Trail to the top of Butter Hill for an excellent panoramic view. We then turned around on the Stillman Trail alongside the western ridge of Storm King Mountain. A the short White Trail Spur we veered off towards the end of this trail for the view and then turned around back to the Stillman trail.

Towards the end near where the trail hits Route 9W, there are some apparently abandoned interesting items slightly off the trail including a tree tire, balance beam, swinging wire, and climbing wall. I don't know what these are for and what they are doing here. We continued to where the trail hits the road by the underpass, and then walked along the side of the road back to our car.

Map of the Route. West Hudson Trails, Eastern Portion

Trail Marker Plaque at the Beginning of the Hike

View Ascending Butter Hill.
Facing East Towards Bull Hill at Breakneck.

Me Ascending the Scramble

In a Ruin Along the Trail
Ascending the Mountain

View from Butter Hill Facing West Towards Schunnemunk

View Facing South, with Cold Spring in the Distance.

Route 9W and the Crow's Nest from On Top

At a Viewpoint

View Facing North

View Facing into Black Rock Forest

Beautiful Pink Rose on the Hike

Bright Green Beetle Species I encountered at the View

View of the Newburgh-Beacon Bridge Facing North

Tire Attached to a Tree at the Course Section at the Hike

Swinging on a Rope tied to Tree

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Southfields Furnace-Indian Hill Loop

Sterling Forest State Park,
Orange County,
New York

Hiking Trails:
Furnace Loop Trail: Red blaze
Indian Hill Loop Trail: Yellow blaze

Total Time: 1:45 hours
Estimated Distance: 2.2 Miles
Level of Difficulty: Moderate
Level of Recommendation: Slightly recommended
Points of Interest: Waterfalls, historical furnace
Cons: Parts of hike sparsely covered with trees and too sunny, lacks good views

I parked off of Orange Turnpike in Southfields, where there is a trailhead parking of the side connector road. I crossed the road and took the bridge over the brook, and went east on the Furnace Loop Trail, veering off at the waterfall and furnace to take some pictures.

The Southfields Furnace is a giant stone structure from the 1800's that was used to roast iron ore to produce iron. The furnace is partially collapsed and grown over, but it is still mostly standing.

I continued along the Furnace Loop Trail, and then too the Indian Hill Loop Trail up the mountain. I veered off slightly on a newly formed trail that has the markings of a bird; this trail must be new since it is not on my maps nor was it there when I was last in the area several years ago. I took that new trail to the small lake, and then turned around back to the Indian Hill Loop Trail. I continued to the top of mountain, but was disappointed that the views were mostly overgrown. I then proceeded down the mountain and back across the bridge over the brook, and then back to my car.

Map of the Route. Sterling Forest Trails.

Trailhead Intersection of Furnace Loop and Indian Hill Loop Trails

Small Cascade with an Old Bridge Behind It

Waterfall with the Trail Bridge Crossing Behind

Southfields Furnace from the Waterfall

Another View of the Southfields Furnace

Small Pond Ascending Indian Hill

Another View of the Pond

And Another View 
View Atop Indian Hill

Beautiful Blue Sky

Interesting Tree Formation Along the Trail Atop Indian Hill