Sunday, January 31, 2016

Storm King Mountain Winter Loop

Storm King State Park
Orange Co.,
New York

Hiking Trails:
Butter Hill Trail: Orange blaze
Stillman Trail: Yellow blaze
Bluebird Trail: Blue/Red blaze

Total Time: 3:10 Hours
Estimated Distance: 4.0 Miles
Level of Difficulty: Very difficult due to icy conditions
Level of Recommendation: Highly Recommended

Points of Interest: Great views and general scenery

Hiking Partner:
Shimmy Rosenberg

Storm King is one of my favorite mountains in the area. It requires a very scenic drive and then has a good short climb to a fantastic true 360 degree view. It was already a week since the large snowstorm, and this area was further north with less snow, and combined with a warm week, there was little snow remaining here. We arrived at the trailhead parking on Route 9W, and were surprised to find the parking area entirely full without a single spot! This was indeed very strange since it was still early in the morning and in the winter. We saw people along the trails, but not quite the crowds that were apparent from the busy parking area. There must have been a big event going on which we missed out on. We ended up parking on the side of Route 9W off the shoulder, along some other cars parked on the side.

We took the Butter Hill Trail up to the rock summit of Butter Hill. Butter Hill has great views throughout from all sides. We then tok the Stillman Trail to the Bluebird Trail, which snakes partially down the mountain, to the Stillman Trail. All was going well up to this point, with little snow or ice. At this point, where the trail is along the northeast part of the mountain, the entire trail and side of the mountain was one big sheet of ice and icicles along the path. Apparently the large amount of melting snow had refrozen and formed a solid thick glaze over the trail. Luckily I had worn sneakers with cleats in anticipation of difficult ice conditions. Up until this point I was feeling pretty stupid for wearing them, but from this point until the view at the mountain bend, I was glad I had them.

At the next view at the point we continued along the Stillman Trail to the eastern summit, and then went back to the intersection of the Bluebird Trail. We went back up Butter Hill, then continued on the Stillman Trail and cut across a very short bushwack back to the Butter Hill Trail and then downn the mountain back to our car.

Map of the Route.
West Hudson Highlands Western Map

The Overflowing Parking Lot at the Trailhead

View Ascending Butter Hill

Butter Hill, Looking West Towards Schunnemunk Mountain

Route 9W from Butter Hill, Looking Towards North Point and Crow's Nest

Me Atop Butter Hill

Shimmy at Butter Hill

Me at Butter Hill

View from the Butter Hill Summit, Facing North to Newburgh and New Windsor

On the Ice with my Cleats at the Boardwalk

Me and Shimmy on the Boardwalk

Very Icy Conditions Along the Trail

Hudson River Facing North

Hudson River Towards Newburgh and the Newburgh-Beacon Bridge

Facing South Towards the Storm King Highway and Cold Spring Across the River

Bull Hill (Mount Taurus) Across the River

Large Freight Train at the Base of the Mountain

Shimmy at the View

Me at the Storm King Summit, Looking Over Newburgh

Me at the Storm King Summit, Looking Over Beacon

Summit View Atop Storm King Looking North Over the Hudson River

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Stony Brook Post Snowstorm

Harriman State Park
Rockland Co.,
New York

Hiking Trails:
Long Path: Pine Meadow Trail: Red blaze
Stony Brook Trail: Orange blaze
Pine Meadow Connector Trail: Unblazed

Total Time: 1:50 Hours
Estimated Distance: 2.2 Miles
Level of Difficulty: Very difficult due to conditions
Level of Recommendation: Highly recommended for a snow hike

Points of Interest: Scenic area
Cons: Wasn't able to make it to the view

Hiking Partners:
David Kunkel
Shimmy Rosenberg
Morty Rosenberg

Map of the Route.
Harriman/Bear Mountain State Parks Southern Map

Reeves Brook Crossing

Pine Meadow Trail Near Beginning

Shimmy in his Winter Garb

Hiking Along the Trail

Fallen Tree Across the Stony Brook

David Kunkel

Natural Hole in the Snow

Morty at the Gas Line

Gas Line

Along the Route, on the Stony Brook Trail

Stony Brook Trail

Evergreen Mountain Laurels along the Pine Meadow Trail

Serene Scene along the Pine Meadow Trail on our Return

We experienced a very large snowstorm over the weekend, with a total snowfall of 1.5 to 2 feet. It had snowed all day Saturday, and had stopped late Saturday night. Sunday morning was bright and sunny (though very cold), and the streets were finally drivable. I figured it would be difficult to go on most hikes in the area without snowshoes, as blazing a new path in snow, especially when its very deep, is very difficult. I figured the best place to go in the area was along the Pine Meadow area at the Reeves Brook parking area near Sloatsburg, as its the most well-travelled area in Harriman State Park.

However, I was wrong in that there were very few people area. I have never seen this busy trail so empty. There was a small group that had gone out on the trail before us, so we weren't trailblazing the path; however the conditions were still difficult. So much snow that right at the beginning of the hike, Shimmy slipped and injured his knee. He decided to go back to the car and wait for us while he remained incapacitated.

The rest of us went along the Pine Meadow Trail to the Stony Brook Trail, and after it meets up with the Kakiat Trail there is a bridge crossing the brook towards the Cascade of Slid. I had planned on crossing the bridge up the Kakiat Trail. However, nobody had been this far up before preceding the storm, so had we gone further on the Kakiat Trail we would have been making our own fresh trail on this difficult part of the hike. Due to the difficulty, we opted to bail out early and instead take the Pine Meadow Connector Trail which cimbs up the side of the steep vally to the connect to the Pine Meadow Trail. Once we hit the Pine Meadow Trail, we took that back along the way to our car.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

High Tor & Little Tor

High Tor State Park
Rockland Co.,
New York

Hiking Trails:
Long Path: Green blaze
Little Tor Trail: White blaze

Total Time: 2:10 Hours
Estimated Distance: 4.0 Miles
Level of Difficulty: Moderate
Level of Recommendation: Highly recommended

Points of Interest: Excellent views
Cons: Lots of graffiti and views are very urban

Hiking Partner:
Shimmy Rosenberg

High Tor is one of the most prominent peaks in Rockland County. It is the tallest point in the Palisades, formed from a volcanic diabase intrusion. It had been a while since I had last been here at High Tor, and decided to give it another visit. This was a two car hike, where we parked the first car on South Central Highway, near its location at the Long Path, and the other car on South Mountain Road at the parking area on the top of the ridge.

We started at the Long Path off of South Mountain Road near Ridge Road, and took the Long Path up the mountain. The beginning part is a mild climb, and it then evens out, before a more serious climb to the summit. We took this trail up to the top, where there is a fantastic, 360 degree view looking over the entire Rockland county, Westchester across the river, and the Manhattan skyline is clearly visible in the distance. The mountain sits directly over Haverstraw, which provides the viewer an unobstructed view of the urbanized landscape below, which also includes West Haverstraw, Garnerville, and Stony Point.

After High Tor, we continued along the Long Path towards Little Tor. Little Tor is a very similar formation in the Palisades as High Tor, with a rocky Promenade sticking out from the surrounding area. We veered off the Long Path the short Little Tor path, which goes to to the summit where there is another excellent view. Instead of turning around at the end of the short dead end trail, we bushwacked down the northwestern side of the mountain back to the Long Path. We then continued along the Long Path to the trailhead at South Central Highway where we had our other car.

Map of the Route.
Palisades Trails (northernmost map)

Shimmy on the Final Ascent Towards the High Tor Summit

Lake DeForest from the High Tor Summit

New Condo Development on the Hudson River,
and Across the River into Westchester, from the High Tor Summit

Zoomed Out into Haverstraw from High Tor Summit

Looking North Into the Hudson River and Hudson Highlands

The Manhattan Skyline from High Tor Summit

New City from the High Tor Summit

Looking Southeast Towards the Hudson River and Hook Mountain

Looking into Ossining from Across the Hudson River

Zoomed Into Colorful Houses in Haverstraw

Hudson River and Hudson Highlands, Looking North.

Looking West Towards Concklin Farm and Ramapo Mountains

Another View of the Manhattan Skyline

Zoomed Out Over Haverstraw from the Summit

Me at High Tor Summit

Bowline Park in Haverstraw

Bowline Poweline, Haverstraw, and Train from Little Tor

The same view at Little Tor, Zoomed Out

View at Little Tor, Looking North

View from Little Tor Looking Northwest

Shimmy at Little Tor

Looking at the Western Ridge of the Palisades from Little Tor

Looking over Garnerville from Little Tor