Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area – Cliff Trail – Hackers Falls – Raymondskill Falls

Park Site

Trail Map:  here, though I used the NY NJ Trail conference maps (the whole Cliff Trail is on two maps 122 and 123.)

Miles: 8.07

Trails: Cliff (White), Buchanan (orange), Pond Loop (Blue), Hackers (Yellow)

My Map:

[TL;DR – The climb up is the steepest/hardest part of this hike.  The whole hike is mostly woods roads with only some easy climbs/descents.  Great views, and two waterfalls.]

I haven’t posted in a while; I figured I would rectify that after this weekend’s outing.  And the day I went out was the only nice day of the weekend.  I got lucky, the sun peeked out a couple of times, and for the most part the day remained mostly cloudy.  I drove through rain on the way to the trailhead, and fortunately there was no rain during the day.

A note on parking.  I parked in the Hackers Trailhead parking lot, right across the street from the trail.  I was the first one in the lot at a little after eight in the morning.  The next lot up the road is for Raymondskill falls, and can be used.  However, when I finished the trails on the other side of the road, and before I went to Raymondskill falls, I noticed the parking lot(s) were absolutely packed – at around 11:15.  This was in January.  I can’t imagine this lot in the summer, later in the day.  There were gates on Raymondskill Road that were open, I wonder what happens in snowy weather?  I did not see anyone on the hike until closer to 11, and as I was by the waterfalls.  I had the Cliff Trail to myself.

Start out across the street from the parking lot.  To do the Cliff trail, make a right at the first junction, cross a creek, then climb straight up.  No switchbacks to speak of.  It’s a woods road, so the trail is plenty wide.  And when you reach the top, and the first overlook, you will have completed the bulk of the climbing for the day with only nominal ascents and descents for the rest of the day.

There are four overlooks on the way to Milford Knob, all have generally the same view.

In this next picture, the needle pointing straight up in the middle of the picture (zoom in) is High Point State Park.  It’s much easier to see live.

The Cliff trail meanders across the top of the cliffs that parallel Route 209.  Here’s a shot of the cliff from one of the viewpoints.

While it was mostly cloudy, with not much color, it was easy to pick out some life in the park.  Squirrels and birds were the most “wildlife” I saw.

Striped Wintergreen
Turkey Tail

From many of the viewpoints there were side trails/sidequests that you could take.  Those paths stayed closer to the cliff edge, and no doubt had more phenomenal views.  As the ground was damp, the leaves wet, I decided to stay on the main trail.

The Cliff Trail ends at Milford Knob and has a great view of the town of Milford.

I retraced my steps back to a junction with a spur trail that would lead to the waterfalls.

Both the Buchanan and the Pond Loop were on woods roads as well.

If you take the Pond Loop to the right, you will traverse a section that is pretty wet.  The pond isn’t named on the NY NJ Trail Conference maps.

Eastern Teaberry

The Pond Loop trail (either one) ends at a parking lot.  I took the Buchanan trail to Hackers Trail for the first waterfall, Hackers Waterfall.  You can hear this waterfall long before you see it.

The Hackers trail has one climb that is not long, that sets you back on the woods road.

I took the Hackers trail back to my car.  And from there, I ambled around Raymondskill falls – and this is where I saw considerably more people.  The trail can be slippery.  The views are more than worth it.

Raymondskill Falls

Blazes:

Hiked:  1/27/2024

2023 Analysis

2023 afforded me much more time to hike, and I took advantage of it as much as possible. Weather played into many of the weekends. However, I started to volunteer with the county parks, which gave me more hikes. As I look at the schedule for the spring, I see six or seven hikes with the county parks, though I know weather will be a factor in many of them.

There have not been as many posts in the last couple of months, just because I have been out so much. I’ve done a handful of trails a bunch of times, with one route being completed three times…in one year. I really didn’t feel like writing up duplicates.

I only saw one bear this year, and that was from the van as we neared the parking lot.

So here’s the historical numbers:

2017 hikes: 12
2018 hikes: 10
2019 hikes: 5
2020 hikes: 23
2021 hikes: 29
2022 hikes: 33
2023 hikes: 40

With 52 weekends in a year, that’s a lot of hikes I completed. Granted, there was a series of hikes I volunteered for the county parks that hiked during the week.

Let’s take a look at mileage:

2017 miles: 40.45
2018 miles: 41.54
2019 miles: 23.35
2020 miles: 149.57
2021 miles: 210.77
2022 miles: 236.97
2023 miles: 245.19

There’s not much to say about that.

And finally, elevation gain:

2017 elevation: 2555 feet
2018 elevation: 3300 feet
2019 elevation: 2192 feet
2020 elevation: 17838 feet
2021 elevation: 29480 feet (1 Mt. Everest)
2022 elevation: 35038 feet
2023 elevation: 39544 feet

I hiked more in the Catskills this year, which is automatically more elevation. I’m unofficially working on the Catskills 35, which means I suspect I will be in the Catskills even more.

What were my favorite hikes? There wasn’t one hike this year. I think it was the series to complete the Catskills fire tower challenge that I participated with the county parks that was my favorite. Interesting, there are 6 towers we did in five trips (two are right near each other.) The challenge took us the whole year. In four of the five tower pictures I have of myself, I’m wearing a fleece. Yes, the trip up Hunter in August was “only” 50 degrees. I would expect a fleece in January, February or November. Getting all six towers was a lot of fun for me (and helped me on my way to the Catskills 35.)

I’m looking forward to what 2024 will bring.

Overlook Mountain Wild Forest – Overlook Mountain Fire Tower

Park Site

Trail Map: I used the NY NJ Trail conference maps – a free map for the Fire Towers can be found here.

Miles:  4.98

Trails:  Overlook Spur (red)

Mountain:  Overlook Mountain.

My map:

[TL;DR – This is an easy path, following the old fire tower road straight up.  There wasn’t much to see on the path, save for the ruins of the Overlook Mountain House hotel.  Views were opening up when we got to the top.  There were no snakes at the top (even though it was mating season) due to impending rain.]

This was one of those hikes where if it was called off, it wouldn’t rain all day.  And if the trip stayed on, there would be rain.  Fortunately, that rain held off until we were most of the way home.  And when it rained, it poured.  I wouldn’t have wanted to be on the mountain when it hit.

The parking lot is right across the street from a Buddhist temple, complete with prayer flags and prayer wheels.  It is open for visitation, and while we were there, there was a ceremony taking place.  I did not have the time to stop over and take a look, but I highly recommend it.

So, what is this hike like?  This picture is all you need to know (until you get to the top.)

The hike follows the Overlook Spur trail, which uses the road to the fire tower.  It rarely changes.  And it is uphill the whole way, I don’t recall any level sections.  It was interesting that there were electrical wires overhead the whole way up.  I could have taken this picture ten more times to fill up space.

Fall is definitely coming though.

Just before reaching the top you will come to the ruins of the Overlook Mountain House, one of the old Catskill Hotels.  From reading in the fire tower keeper’s house, this was the third iteration of the hotel.  The trail goes through the ruins, so it is worth checking out.

Shortly after the ruins, I had two interesting finds:

Closed Bottle Gentians
Hen of the Woods

The Hen of the Woods is edible, but it looked like it had been there a while.

As we neared the tower, these signs became more numerous:

Apparently, there are numerous snake dens near the top of the mountain and it is advised to stay on trail.  At the top, the Fire Tower keeper mentioned that this is mating season, and the snakes are usually out and about the top of the mountain.  However, with rain coming in imminently, they were tucked away in their dens.  I would have liked to have seen one or two…from a distance.

The Overlook Mountain Fire Tower:

Beyond the fire tower, and the fire tower keeper’s cabin is a nice viewpoint overlooking the Ashokan Reservoir.

Here is my first shot from when we first got to the overlook.

And here’s a picture I took before leaving.

This was trip four for the County Parks System fire tower challenge, we’ve been to five of the six towers.  Our last trip will be to Balsam Lake Mountain.

Ticks: 0

Blazes:

Hiked:  9/9/2023

Harriman State Park – Beech Loop

Park Site

Trail Map – I used the the NY NJ Trail Conference maps (though I see there is a new edition out.)

Miles: 8.77

Trails:  Arden – Surbridge (red square on white), Red Cross (red cross on white), Beech (blue), Long Path (aqua)

My Map:

[TL;DR – At the trailhead it was in the 50s, by 10:00 it was in the 70s.  On my map, I did this hike in a clockwise pattern.  After my second road crossing, around 10:00, the mosquitoes and gnats were unbearable.  While there are some pictures after this point, I was almost trail running.  Consider, I did 8.7 miles in a little over 3 hours.  I didn’t stop to eat at all – save for one spot, crossing Route 106, where there were no bugs.]

I have done a bunch of local hikes since my last posting.  And I completed another Catskills Fire tower challenge hike – two more to go.  The last one was to Hunter Mountain; though, we took the chairlifts up and down.  Yes, there was significant hiking after the chairlifts.  But if I ran AllTrails or Gaia while on the chairlifts, it would have looked funny to ascend/descend 2000 feet in 20 minutes.   I should be climbing Hunter from the Devil’s Path in a few weeks and I should be writing that up.  But, as I’ve done some local hikes, and a repeat hike in Harriman, I thought I would try something new.  This loop was great.  Minus the bugs.

It was 55 at the trailhead, and I started with the legs of my pants on.  After two climbs, though, I had to take the legs off; the day was getting warmer, and I had climbed a bunch.

Before the second climb, and while crossing a small stream, I got a great shot looking into Lake Askoti.

At the top of the second climb is a great view to the west (and where I unzipped the legs of my pants.)

At this point, the trail is still really nice to walk.

One feature I was intent on finding is the Hasenclever Mine.  I was prepared to veer from my route to find it, but I needn’t have worried.  Hasenclever Road (a woods road) comes from the right while you are on the Red Cross trail.  Right after that road is the mine.  The mine is filled with water, like many of the mines in Harriman.

Chicken of the Woods

After a little more walking, you will come to Tiorati Brook Road.  Cross the road.  There is a small meadow on the other side.  You have to cross the meadow (almost straight across) and look for the blaze on a post, hidden by the brush.

After the meadow, there were signs for “dangerous trail conditions” and a “washed out bridge.”  I found neither.  And I believe the signs are left over from the storm that really wrecked both Harriman and Bear Mountain parks earlier in the summer.  (At the time of this writing, most of Bear Mountain is still not open yet.)

I took this picture while balanced on rocks, in the middle of a small stream.  I’m sort of lucky I have the picture, I was charged by two unleashed dogs.  Fortunately, I did not fall in.

Cardinal Flower

I took the Red Cross trail until the Beech trail veered right.  Following Beech, I found where the bridge may have been washed out (?)  It certainly was fine on this day.  Here’s a shot of the cascades of Tiorati Brook.

After this the mosquitoes and gnats got really bad.  There had been a few bugs before the brook, so while on the bridge I added a lot of insect repellent.  It really didn’t do much good.  My pace was noticeably quicker from this point on.

Heading down the Beech trail I passed Arthur’s Falls.  I suspect in the Spring this is really roaring.  On this day, it was a slow trickle.  (If there were not a horde of bugs, this might have been a great place to soak for a few minutes.)

From here on, there are not many pictures.  I was able to stand long enough to snap a picture of the cemetery that  the Beech trail bypasses, but I couldn’t stand long enough to explore and read the stones.  I’m just glad I didn’t miss it.

This is a nice loop, and may make for a good snowshoe in the winter.

Ticks: 0

Lanternflies: 0 (suprisingly)

Blazes:

Hiked:  9/3/2023

Sundown Wild Forest – Ashokan High Point (out and back, not the loop)

Park Site

Trail map – here, though I used the NY NJ Trail Conference map (141)

Miles – 7.39

Trails – Ashokan High Point (red)

My map

[TL;DR – It has been a couple of weeks since I have gotten out.  I felt it on the steep sections.  Walking by the brook is very picturesque.  The view at the top isn’t the best, even on a sunny day; there are too many trees blocking the view.  Because it rained the night before the trail was plenty wet in spots and there were mushrooms all over.]

I hadn’t been out in a while, and I probably should have done a warm-up hike somewhere to get back into hiking shape – I felt it on the steep section.  I parked in the Kanape Brook parking lot and walked across the street to start the climb up.   Right across from the trail register is a great place to see the brook.

The climb from this point is fairly gradual, but very rocky in some spots.

Cucumber Root

Part way up you will come to a coniferous section that is fairly close to the brook.  I saw some trees down that had all the hallmarks of beaver activity.  This section was also without many rocks.

Many of the stream crossings were simple rock hops.  There is one section where you have to cross Kanape Brook.  The “bridge” is fairly stable.

Due to the rain the night before, the mushrooms were out in all their glory.

Yellow Tipped Coral Fungus
Viscid Violet Cort

After you cross the brook, you will start more seriously climbing.  After a left turn, you can say goodbye to the flat sections.  The trail climbs steeply to the summit.  There are “stairs” in a couple of sections, but they are definitely not in the best of shape as they were put in many years ago.  Here’s a shot of one section.

I had the summit to myself for a short time.  The view (while hazy and somewhat blocked) was gorgeous.  Unfortunately, from this location you cannot see the reservoir.

Summit marker

The way down was much quicker, though not without its challenges.  Rocks and roots were still wet from the night before.

Blusher
Amanita – I’m pretty sure this is Eastern Destroying Angel

Here’s another shot of the coniferous section on the way down.

Here are two Brittlegills (late in the day) in front of some Ghost Pipes.  The Ghost Pipes were popping up everywhere.

One final note, some sites mention that there are many yellow jacket and wasp nests on Ashokan.  I will say that for my entire climb and return I saw (and heard) no bees.  At the top, there were a bunch of black flies, and some honeybees pollinating the wild flowers that were growing.  Mosquitoes abounded in the wet areas.

Ticks: 0

Lanternflies: 0

Blazes:

Hiked: 8/5/2023

Bald Eagle State Forest – Penns Creek Wild Area – Penns Creek Path (Mid-State Trail)

Park Site – you’ll have to scroll down to the Penns Creek Wild Area

Trail Map –  see page 2 of this PDF.  The Mid-State Trail is the orange trail in the middle of the page.  While that trail is long, Penns Creek Path is the shorter section in the middle.

Miles: 6.72

Trails:  Penns Creek Path (note:  This trail is shared with the Mid-State trail in this section – blazed orange.)

My Map:

[TL;DR: A perfect day.  I did this hike with my dad, six plus miles on a rail trail.  I didn’t have a paper map of the route, but you really can’t get lost, the trail is an old rail bed.  Even though the temperatures reached into the 80s, there was a nice breeze the entire time.]

The last time I hiked rail trails was over two years ago, so this would be the first rail trail in a while.  And I haven’t been in Pennsylvania in a while either.   A trip out to see my parents afforded me the time to hike this trail.  A quick note on the day.  The park websites in Pennsylvania are not like what I normally link to when I hike in New Jersey or New York.  And, it took quite a bit of searching to find an online “map” of the hike.  If you know of better resources, please leave a comment and I’ll update.  Take Route 45 to Weikert Road.  Follow that to the end.  Cherry Run Road will come in from the right (at a bridge.)  The road will continue to diminish until you come to the Cherry Run Road parking lot which will be heavily used by fisherman.  The rail trail (portion of the Mid-State Trail) will be to the right.  If you take the woods road at the end of the parking lot, it will take you to the Fish And Game cabin (which is what we did.)  Ultimately that trail will intersect the Mid-State /Penns Creek Path.

There was bright sun and 80 degree weather while we hiked.  I’m normally half way done with trails by the time we reached the trailhead at 10:00.  And there were a good number of people out and about; I’d say the majority of people were fishing Penns Creek, which will be right to your left on the way out on this out-and-back trail.  There are plenty of views of the creek, and you will pass many spur trails that head down to the water for fishing access; some of those trails are sketchier than others.

I didn’t miss the Mountain Laurel blooms this week, it was all over the trail.  I’d guess this area of Pennsylvania is a week behind New York in terms of blooms.

Here’s a good shot of what the trail looks like.

About a mile down the trail you will come to a bunch of locations where there are many rockfalls.  Part of me wanted to scramble up, but it would have taken quite a while.  I believe the top of this would be parts of Sawmill Mountain.

Looking left (across the creek) you can see the ridgeline of White Mountain.  And yes, I believe there is a trail along that ridge.

Near “the end” of this section of the trail you will come to a little cottage with a picnic table out front.  This makes a great place to stop for a snack.  About a quarter of a mile down the path from there you will come to the old rail tunnel.  The tunnel was upgraded/fixed/improved in 2015 – you don’t need a headlamp when going through (though it might be nice.)  I’m told it was very dark before the improvements were made.

Continuing on past the tunnel you will pass a couple of residences before you come to the bridge over Penns Creek.  Water was low today due to the fact that we haven’t had much rain.  There were lots of people fishing, though no one seemed to have caught anything.  Here’s a shot of Penns Creek looking north.

The trail will continue past some camps to a western parking area for Po Paddy State Park.  (If you click on the hiking tab on the website, you’ll see mention of the Penns Creek trail (outside the park) and its description.)  The Mid-State trail turns left at the parking area and heads into Po Paddy State Park.  We continued down Penns Creek trail for a while, which followed the creek on our right.  Ultimately, we turned around and retraced our steps.  However, the trail crosses the creek and continues on.

Ticks: 0

Blazes:

Hiked:  6/10/2023

Harriman State Park – Hogencamp Mountain and Pine Swamp

Park Site

Trail Map: official (?), I used the New York New Jersey Trail Conference maps (119)

Miles: 5.68 miles

Trails:  Long Path (aqua), Dunning (yellow), Ramapo – Dunderberg (red dot on white), Arden – Surebridge (red triangle on white)

Mountain: Hogencamp Mountain

My map:

[TL;DR – Here’s the Reader’s Digest version for those that just want to scroll through pictures.  This was a little shorter than I would normally hike.  But it was phenomenal.  I saw not one, but two Danger Noodles.  No bears.  Hiking on a Friday, there were a handful of people at the parking lot fishing.  I saw one person on the trail.  And, I was actually able to pull into a parking spot a the Reeves Meadow Visitor Center when I got iced tea.  That NEVER happens.]

Lake Askoti parking lot

I went on a Friday instead of the usual Saturday due to the weather forecast.  And as I type this up, I’m second guessing myself.  It was 84 when I did this, it’s 68 now.  The forecast for the weekend has been all over the place.  In hindsight..the day was perfect.  And there was no one around.

Park in the Lake Askoti parking lot, the road down is a little steep, but the lot is large (and empty on this day.  I can’t say for weekends.)

At the trailhead there are two trails, I chose left, and to do the loop clockwise.  The trailhead picture does not show it, but there a lot of dragonflies flying around.  I started on the Long Path.

I missed the Mountain Laurel Bloom by a day or two.  I suspect the weekend will be in full bloom.

At the junction with the Dunning Trail you can find the Hogencamp Mine.  Thinking of the ticks last week, I didn’t want to venture too far off trail.  However, I probably should have as the mine area is impressive.  I could see big piles of rock from the trail, but not much else.  Next time, I’ll explore a little more.

Nope Rope 1 – harmless – Black Rat snake

Just off the Dunning Trail is a nice view looking south.  The body of water is Little Long Pond.

And, I did finally get lucky and find some Mountain Laurel blooms.

I turned onto the Ramapo – Dunderberg trail which I have hiked in various sections all over the park.  The trail is one of the longest in the park.  This section will take you over Hogencamp mountain;  much of this part is hiking on HUGE slabs of rock.

Rock Harlequin

There wasn’t much water to cross on this hike, it hasn’t rained in a while.  This crossing was much easier than it looked.

At the top of Hogencamp Mountain, the trail turns left and there is a great viewpoint.  Because the day was so clear, I could see all over.

There are plenty of rocks to sit on and enjoy a snack.  I don’t know what tower is off on the distance, I could not find the tower marked on my map.  The picture is looking East, maybe a little North.

Eventually the RD trail will junction with Times Square.

There are a bunch of trails junctioning here:  Ramapo-Dunderber, Arden-Surebridge, and the Long Path.  It can be a little confusing.  I made a right onto Arden-Surebridge.

Part way down the trail I encountered this:

Nope Rope 2 – Venemous – Northern Copperhead

The Arden-Surebridge junctions with the beginning of the Dunning Trail.  I took a quick detour down the Dunning to see what I could of Pine Swamp.  Unfortunately, with all the foliage, I couldn’t see much.  If you zoom in, you just make out the swamp between the leaves.

Cross the (dry) stream and you will immediately come to one of the Pine Swamp Mine openings.  There are a bunch of openings, and some ruined buildings – but you will have to venture off trail to find them.  This mine opening can’t be missed though.  I believe it is one of six.  You really can’t walk back into it due to all the water in the mine.

From here back to the car is a pretty easy walk.  This section of the Arden-Surebridge trail is mostly woods road, and fairly easy at that.

The only mushroom of the day:

Deer (Shield) Mushroom

Ticks: 0 (thankfully)

Blazes:

Hiked: 6/2/2023

 

Stokes State Forest – Blue Mountain – Red Maple and Appalachian Trails

Park site

Trail Map – The Stokes map – though I used the NY NJ Trail Conference map

Hike Distance – 9.01 miles

Trails:  Red Maple (Red leaf on white), Brink Road (Shay?), AT (White), Jacob’s Ladder (Blue and White)

Mountain – Blue Mountain

My route:

I haven’t been in this area of NJ i n quite a while, and it was a great day to get out.  Leaving the house I could see my breath.  I was the first car to pull into the Lake Ashroe parking lot in Stokes State Forest, and the temperature made it to the 60s.  It would reach the middle 70s later in the day.  I started without the fleece, and that was a wise move.

This hike starts on the Red Maple trail, which skirts a campground before heading into the woods. The campground seemed full when I went by, and has, by far, the best access to the lake.

The trail is single track until it joins a woods road, named Woods Road.  From here on out the trail is wide and fairly level.  I should note, this section of the trail was infested with mosquitoes.  I couldn’t stop or I would be covered by them.  It was so bad during this stretch I though of cutting the hike short.  Fortunately, it was only this area that was so bad; no other part of the hike had any bugs to speak of.

Geraniums

I made good time in this section, a) because it was wide and flat, and b) the mosquitoes may have carried me off if tried stopping.  At one point I passed a large swamp on my right.  I crossed over Brink Road (the Shay trail), saw the gate, but didn’t realize that’s where I needed to turn in order to reach the Appalachian Trail.  It wasn’t until the Red Maple leaves the woods road and heads off into the woods towards Tillman Ravine that I realized I missed my turn.  Fortunately, I had not gone too far.

The section of Brink Road I used to connect to the AT is not long, maybe a half mile.  The Brink Road shelter is on this trail and is about a quarter of a mile from the AT.  At the junction, I turned right (southbound) to head up Blue Mountain.  A steep climb takes you to some rocks, but there’s no view.  In the research I did for this trip, I distinctly remember views.  A quick look at the map showed a small descent, then climb to another “top.”  After coming out of the woods, and walking through the scrub oak, BAM, views all around, though generally looking north, and west into Pennsylvania.  It was a clear day, so I could see far.

Looking west
scrub oak, also called Bear Oak

If you zoom in on the next picture you can see the High Point tower.

Looking north

I stopped to eat here, and it was really warm in the sun.  From this point I retraced my steps back to Brink Road, and proceed to head north on the Appalachian Trail.  This walk was atop the ridge, and there would be views to both sides if the foliage wasn’t already on the trees.

Pink Lady Slipper

Of course, I stopped to sign the trail register.

 

Another Pink Lady Slipper

Continuing north on the AT, I found a small spur trail that lead to a partial view looking into NJ.

I took the Jacob’s Ladder trail back to the Red Maple trail which would lead to my car.  Jacob’s Ladder had one section that was pretty steep, descending a large rock slab.  Here’s what it looked like looking back up.

There was one tricky stream crossing just before the junction with the Red Maple.  At this point I had only seen about four people in total.  When I rejoined the Red Maple trail, I started to see many more people.  And when I returned to the lot there were many more cars there, though the lot was not entirely full.  After changing, I walked over to see what Lake Ashroe looked like.  This is just one end.

Ticks:  4 5 (a far cry from the 20+ of two weeks ago.)

Lantern Flies: 0

Blazes:

Hiked:  5/27/2023

I’m not dead yet…

I’m not.

Weather and multiple trips to Michigan have conspired to keep me from getting out as much as I would like.  I’ve had a bunch of hikes planned for the weeks where I was not travelling, but weather has been crazy wet around here cancelling everything.  It has been a wet and cold spring; which probably doesn’t bode well for the summer.  So, WHERE have I been in the last three months?

I was thrilled to snowshoe in the Catskills, enough so that I got a pair.  Of course, that just ensured we wouldn’t see snow for the rest of the winter.  I used snowshoes on Red Hill Mountain as part of the County Park System’s / New York State’s Firetower challenge.  It was definitely a blast, and has changed my perspective on winter hiking completely.  Here are two shots from Red Hill:

A couple of weeks later I climbed Slide Mountain in the Catskills.  While I was hoping to snowshoe, we only needed microspikes.  What a great day, with great weather, and great views.

Including my favorite sign in the Catskills:

The week after Slide Mountain I traveled with the Park System (again) to Katterskill Falls.  This was a great hike, but Katterskill Park just gets too crowded for my taste.  The falls were awesome, as were parts of the Escarpment Trail that we hiked.  But there were just too many people.

Almost a month later, I traveled to the Millbrook area in order to hike some trails, hike Van Campens Glen, and see Millbrook village.  The village was neat.  Van Campens Glen and the falls were neat.  But stay away from both the Pioneer Trail and the Hamilton Ridge trail.  Both trails are massively overgrown, and I stopped counting how many ticks I pulled off at 20.  Further, the Watergate area is STILL closed, which means a long road walk back to your car if you parked at the village.

Yesterday, I saw another bear in Harriman, just before the rains came down (again.)  No pictures because it happened so fast.

I’m hoping for better weather in the future so I can get out more.

Double Trouble State Park

Park Site

Trail Map

Hike Distance: 5.97 miles

Trails:  Sweetwater (orange), Swordens Pond (yellow), Clear Brook (purple), Mill Pond(red)

My Map:

There wasn’t a cloud in the sky.  It was cold though, which is ironic because it was in the 60s for the past week.  I had planned on going up north but the trails I wanted to hike were closed for the winter.  And since this park was relatively close to  the house, I decided to check it out.

Double Trouble State Park encompasses an old town and is the site of an ex logging operation and at one time the biggest cranberry bog in the state.  There are numerous Atlantic Cedar groves in the park and many of the trails circumvent the numerous cranberry bogs.  Much of the water in the creeks is stained red due to the cedars.

Most trails are on wide sandy roads

At one point the Sweetwater trail abuts the Garden State Parkway.

For the most part, the trails are flat; there is almost no elevation gain.  My total for the day was 75 feet.

The first body of water I came to on the Sweetwater trail was the Cedar Creek.  After checking it out from the bridge, I climbed down some stairs to get a closer look.

There were plenty of smaller creeks undoubtedly used for moving water from the larger creeks.

The first large body of water I came to was the Sweetwater Reservoir.  It was much colder on the southern side of bodies of water, as the wind was really howling.

At the top of the Sweetwater Reservoir I made a left onto the Swordens Pond trail.  This was more of a “trail” then sand roads.

After walking by the southern end of Platt Reservoir, the Swordens Pond trail makes a loop.  I chose to do the loop clockwise.  And the trail type changed.  Instead of walking on a trail, I was in a ditch.  It was as if they made a fire break out of the trail.  And, I caught a whiff of what I thought was a campfire.

After walking a few minutes, the smell of campfire became more prolific.  It became obvious what I had come across.  All around me were the results of fire.  It was if someone swept out the forest, clearing the ground of leaves, pine needles, brambles, twigs, etc.  It wasn’t until I got home and looked it up, the area had a prescribed burn four days ago.

Half way around the loop I came to Swordens Pond.

The evidence of fire was all around.  However, the fire is good.  It cleans the forest.  All of the sticks, leaves and pine needs add acid to the ground, which would promote the growth of oak trees.  This area would be the Oak Barrens if fire didn’t clean the sandy soil every so often.

Eastern Teaberry

I came to area where fire did not cross the fire break.  Here’s what it looked like on the un-burned side.

Back on the Sweetwater, I continued north.  Where the Nature Trail junctioned, the trail went off into a Cedar Grove.

Here’s a shot of the water in Platt Reservoir.

At a large junction there was a sign describing how a large cedar grove was damaged by Hurricane Sandy.  Efforts are underway to reclaim the land and repopulate it with Cedar trees.

I took the Clear Brook trail up to where it ends at Cedar Creek.  The Clear Brook parallels the trail, but here is what the end of the trail looks like.

Flat Branched Tree Club Moss

At the junction of the Mill Pond trail, there are historic buildings from the town of Double Trouble.  Next to me is the packing plant.

I took the Mill Pond Trail up to the Mill Pond Reservoir.  At times the return path was twenty feet next to me, across a small creek.

The middle of the trail had great views of the reservoir but were very cold due to the wind.

As I was heading back to where I parked using the Mill Pond trail, I noticed some obviously man made stones off the trail.  A short spur trail took me to the Crabbe Family Cemetery which was established in 1938.  There were some stones with dates going back to the late 1800s on them.  And there was a stone with a 2001 date.

Commodore Edward Crabbe purchased the Double Trouble tract in 1903 and established the Double Trouble Company in 1909. His heirs sold the property to the state in 1964.

Just before I reached the car, I looked at some of the other buildings of the town.

School house

Blazes:

Hiked: 2/18/2023