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

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