[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:
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.
Trails: Arden – Surbridge (red square on white), Red Cross (red cross on white), Beech (blue), Long Path (aqua)
[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.
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.
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.
[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.
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.
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.
The way down was much quicker, though not without its challenges. Rocks and roots were still wet from the night before.
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.
Trails: Long Path (aqua), Dunning (yellow), Ramapo – Dunderberg (red dot on white), Arden – Surebridge (red triangle on white)
Mountain: Hogencamp Mountain
[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.]
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
Trails: Timp-Torne (blue), Rampao-Dunderberg (white with red dot)
Mountains: the Timp, Bald Mountain, Dunderberg Mountain
As the week before this hike progressed, I thought I would be hiking more local; my initial plan was to hike Double Trouble State Park, in the northern Pine Barrens. Mid week, one of my friends sent a group text to see who wanted to hike in Bear Mountain State Park. Obviously, I don’t need my arm twisted to hike, or hike in that area. Unfortunately, our other friend couldn’t make it. Part of the problem was deciding on which day to go. The weather looked iffy on Sunday, so Saturday was agreed upon. It turned out to be a glorious day, with the gusts of wind making it a little chilly. (And it’s a good thing I didn’t go to Double Trouble as the state has been doing controlled burns in the Pine Barrens.)
All I knew was we were hiking the Timp-Torne trail, and I immediately assumed we were hiking the northern portion with all the views – a walk off West Mountain along the ridge. I was surprised when we got off the Palisades Parkway at exit 15 and made our way over to 9W. We parked at a small lot where the Timp-Torne and Ramapo-Dunderberg began. This was an area of Bear Mountain I hadn’t hiked. The initial plan called for us to take the Timp-Torne to the Timp, and come back along the same way. However, if the weather wasn’t bad and time wasn’t a factor, maybe we’d head from the Timp to Bald Mountain, and explore the Ramapo Dunderberg and the area of the Spiral Railway.
Right off the bat, there is a very steep climb to get up on the ridge. After the junction with the Ramapo-Dunderberg, we headed off upon the Timp-Torne. And right away we came to evidence of the Spiral Railway.
More climbing brought us to the top of the ridge and the Unfinished Tunnel.
Taking a peek inside:
Harriman Trails devotes four full pages to the Dunderberg Spiral Railway, and we would walk over parts of it on the latter half of the hike, including the steep incline that made up the projected path for the cables that would pull the cars up. The Railway was started in the 1890s and was envisioned to bring ore out of the mountains down to where Jones Point is now for shipping down to New York City. The lower tunnel (pictured above) was completed, along with a handful of stone abutments (we passed some of them.) Much of the “path” was carved out but never finished, much like the tunnel pictured above. Cars were supposed to be pulled up to a circle, then would head west to reach the mines. The cable way incline is part of the Ramapo-Dunderberg trail and is just north of the junction with the Timp-Torne. This was definitely an interesting area to hike. The project for the Spiral Railway ran out of money, went bankrupt, and was never finished.
Our plan, though, was to reach the Timp. When the wind wasn’t blowing it was almost hot. Coming up the back side of the Timp we had a great view looking south.
The top of the Timp was gorgeous, with views in all directions. The West Mountain Shelter was clearly visible (no one was there) and you could see in all directions.
Coming off the Timp we came to the junction of the Ramapo-Dunderberg. It was still early and the weather was really nice. So we set off to Bald Mountain which we reached rather quickly. I had hiked this before, though in the opposite direction. The views from the top of Bald Mountain were just as good and Bear Mountain was right in our faces. We followed the RD off Bald Mountain and I took a few minutes to find the Cornell Mine, to no avail. It would take more bushwacking than I wanted to exert at this time, so I’ll look for it again on another trip. At the junction of the Cornell Mine trail, we headed east on the RD. This was an area I had never hiked and would lead to more of the Spiral Railway.
It was a rather easy climb to the top of Dunderberg Mountain and there were ample views. It was really neat to walk into the groves of young Beech trees.
Just before one climb we found a pond (not listed on the map).
Along the ridge were more groves of trees, and some really nice walking with only minor ups and downs.
Just before the long descent, we came across a viewpoint that looked north up the Hudson River and provided a great view of Bear Mountain, the Bear Mountain Bridge, and Anthony’s Nose. Iona Island is in the foreground.
Just a note on the Ramapo-Dunderberg trail immediately before it rejoins the Timp-Torne. You will descend along the cable way for the Spiral Railway, where a lot of elevation is lost. This part of the trail is made up of “gravel” but I would call it softball-sized rocks. It’s steep, and this has ankle roller written all over it. Take it easy on this section. I’m sure it’s just as treacherous going up.
We saw a couple of woodpeckers. There were some hawks at the top of the Timp. That was about it.
This was hike 1 with the Monmouth County Park Systems on their Fire Tower Challenge. They are running trips to see the six fire towers in the lower Catskills. The challenge description can be found here. While there are five towers on top of mountains, a sixth is right next to the visitor’s center which we drove right by. I suppose, if you live in the area, this is not that bad. Coming from the Jersey shore, this is a bit of a drive, and makes the challenge more interesting. There are trips all throughout the year. Trip 1 was to Mt. Tremper and the visitor center.
The Catskills got snow on Wednesday and Thursday before our trip. The weather called for sun in the morning, with partial clouds in the afternoon. Fortunately, that didn’t happen; it was sunny all day. However, this would be a microspikes day – up and down in microspikes. And, we had snowshoes strapped to our packs. That wasn’t a problem for me, I was testing a new pack. It actually came last Saturday, but I was already out and it was too late to use. I’ll review it down the road after a few more trips. The bottom of the mountain was mostly snow and ice and microspikes definitely helped. As we got higher on the mountain there was more snow – we estimated about eight inches at the top. I never used the snowshoes – I should have, I don’t know when I’ll get the chance again.
Zoom in on the picture of the kiosk. At the lower left you’ll see a warning about timber rattlesnakes. Supposedly, around the 1450 mark there is a quarry to the left of the trail housing a den of almost 100 timber rattlesnakes. During warmer times, the snakes are out on the rocks and trail sunning themselves. Obviously, at this time of year, we didn’t see any. Maybe I’ll come back to check that out.
This would be a relatively easy walk up. The trail follows an old Jeep road up the mountain. There were a couple of steep sections, but not for too long. At the top, with more snow; the snow covered all the rocks we would have had to deal with. Because of the snow we basically walked up a hill. On the way down, the temperatures warmed up to the high 40s and the snow became much softer. The bottom of the mountain became a mud puddle.
The higher we ascended, the more snow we found and the less ice.
Before reaching the top, at around 1.8 miles, you will come to the Baldwin shelter (and privy.) Just above the shelter is a spring that had a lot of water running through. At the top of the mountain, you will find another shelter. From there it’s about 250 feet to the tower.
As I am not one to climb towers, here’s a view from the first landing.
Here’s what the tower looks like.
There wasn’t much of a view from the top of the mountain, even with the leaves down. I heard from our group that the view was much better all the way at the top of the tower; but the trees are almost as high as the tower.
We made quick work of the descent. I was able to grab a few more pictures. I took pictures through the trees while the leaves were down. I suspect that during the spring and summer, you can’t see much.
While I took a picture of these rocks due to the ice, I think the snake den would be a little above this (towards the right.) Our trip leader mentioned it on the way up.
Life: None, it was too snowy. Not even any tracks.
It was 22 degrees at the trailhead, but, because I haven’t been out in a couple of weeks, I was heading out. There was no snow on the ground, though I had microspikes with me, lesson learned from a couple of weeks ago. I was the third car in the parking lot, though by the time I finished up, the lot was full. I saw only one or two other people on the trails until I got to the Timp-Torne where I ran into some very large groups. And, while I was mostly in Bear Mountain State Park, I crossed over into Harriman briefly.
The 1777 W trail has a spot where the tops of the trees have been snapped off. It’s pretty surreal. At this point the trail is pretty level, and there are a couple of brooks to rock hop.
Here’s a shot looking back. The water seemed higher than I would have expected.
After turning onto the Suffern-Bear Mountain trail, the trail started to climb, ultimately making its way up West Mountain. There were a couple of spots that were pretty steep. Like this one. And it was 8:50 in the morning when I reached this spot. Nothing like a good workout to start the day.
The picture is deceiving, the terrain is almost straight up; you can sort of tell by the trees. And it was cold, though all the uphill kept me warm.
The scramble led to a false summit of West Mountain. At the top was a vernal pond, with a layer of ice on the top.
From here it was on to the top of West Mountain. At the junction with the Timp-Torne trail, I went left to visit the West Mountain shelter. This shelter is a little bigger than the other shelters I’ve seen, the sleeping platform goes the width of the shelter. However, the shelter was packed (not with campers); there were two large groups of hikers that were milling about. The shelter has a great south-looking view; with the Timp right in front of you, and clear view of New York City. I took some pictures, then headed out.
From this point I took the Timp-Torne trail north. The map showed multiple viewpoints along the way, and they did not disappoint. There were views on both sides of the trail – sometimes looking west, and sometimes looking Northeast at Bear Mountain.
Here’s one of the first viewpoints.
The next viewpoint, though, was my favorite. It overlooks the southern portion of the Anthony Wayne recreation area parking lot, and looks west into Harriman state park. The Appalachian trail junctions here.
While sitting here for a minute eating a snack, I realized my phone was buzzing with incoming texts and mail. Odd, I thought, because I lost reception when I pulled into the parking lot. So I sent out a few texts and noticed the signal strength was almost 100%. Upon looking around, I figured out why:
You would never see that in the summer, with all the leaves on the trees. That’s the Palisades Interstate Parkway just behind the tower. The parking lot is just to the right.
Here’s a shot of Bear Mountain from the right side of the trail.
Walking the ridge along the top of West Mountain had great views, and not just from the viewpoints. I was lucky in that all the leaves were down; I imagine it’s tougher to see in the summer.
The last scramble for the day occurred at this point. You have to squeeze between the rocks. Right in the center of the picture, the trail turns right and goes straight up the small cliff. It’s easily doable up. I’m not sure I would want to try it down. There must have been a trail that went around the climb, because I could hear people, but I couldn’t see them.
From here I took the Timp-Torne to the Fawn trail, then back to the car. There is a good scramble downwards (or up, if you’re going the other direction) just before the junction with the Fawn trail. This was a really great hike for views – and the viewpoints will be great all year round. With the leaves down there were some extra views.
Trails: Blue Disc (blue circle on white), Ramapo-Dunderberg (red circle on white), Kakiat (white)
Mountains: Pound Mountain, Big Pine Hill
It was 22 degrees at the trailhead. I hadn’t been out in over a week due to rain, and I have re-hiked some trails over the past couple of weeks. I wanted to get back into Harriman. While it rained at home the night before, I did not consider the amount of snow that would be on the ground in the park. This fact may, or may not, play into the hike. None the less, I started with hat, gloves and jacket over the fleece. In the shade, it remained cold; however the sun felt great.
Snow was still on the ground, and did not disappear until the sun was high overhead and above the surrounding mountains. I started out on the Blue Disc trail.
The first stop of the day was Almost Perpendicular, a rock scramble to a cliff. There’s nothing like scrambling before 9:00 in the morning.
The views, though, were spectacular.
The Reeves Meadow Visitor Center can be seen in the distance. It’s (relatively) empty in this picture, I’m sure it was a madhouse later in the day.
Lots of Needle Ice, and it made a crunching sound when walking on it.
After Almost Perpendicular, it was a fairly level walk until Elbow Brush. There was lots of icicles and melting snow on Elbow Brush.
I liked Elbow Brush, it’s similar to the Lemon Squeezer, further to the north. Here’s a picture looking into the rocks. It’s not the best picture due to the position of the sun. Ultimately, you enter where the middle shadow falls.
Here’s what it looks like inside:
After Elbow Brush, the trail heads to Claudius Smith Den. While rounding a curve I almost ran into this guy.
The Blue Disc trail junctions with the Tuxedo-Mt. Ivy trail at Claudius Smith Den. Claudius Smith Den is allegedly where the outlaw Smith and his gang hid out during the Revolutionary War. There is a cave a short way down the Tuxedo-Mt. Ivy trail, but I did not investigate. There was a group that was camping (probably right in front of the cave) – and probably illegally – and I did not want any part of it. If I do the hike again, I’ll go to the cave. Here’s a shot of the rocks. I scrambled to the top using the Blue Disc Trail.
The view from the top:
And here’s where I get in trouble.
At the top I stopped to talk with a group of women – we had been leapfrogging each other since the parking lot. They were taking the Tuxedo-Mt. Ivy trail to the right for a more gentle trip back to the car. Originally, I had planned on the Tuxedo-Mt. Ivy trail to the left, but looking at the map, that would get me back to the car in about an hour. Too short. Looking at the map, I could finish the Blue Disc trail then come back down the Ramapo-Dunderberg and add about another mile and a half. That felt right. The women at the top were not going to risk the downhill (off Big Pine Hill) but mentioned that since I had trekking poles, it “shouldn’t be that bad.” Shouldn’t be that bad? I’ve always gotten in trouble when I extend or change my plans.
Side note: I am in the middle of reading Harriman Trails, by William J. Myles and Daniel Chazin. If you have ever read the trail descriptions on the NY NJ Trail Conference page, they were likely written by Daniel Chazin. The book is excellent (I highly recommend) but it is more a guide and historical reference. Do not get the book thinking it will help plan routes. It can add color, but it is not for planning. It has an excellent history of the trails, roads, lakes that make up Harriman and Bear Mountain state parks. Sure, there are trail descriptions, but there is so much more. The following sentence concerning the Blue Disk trail stands out to me: “Blue Disc now descends steadily, for much of the way over bare, sloping rocks that are often slippery in winter.” I don’t know how I missed that, or didn’t retain it when I read it.
Here’s a shot looking off the back of Big Pine Hill, with Black Ash Swamp in the center. This is before the downhill. The swamp is right behind the bare tree in the center of the picture.
You’ll notice there is still snow on the ground. And those rocks? They were slippery. Many coated with ice. The leaves didn’t help. In the summer, this is a great downhill. Snow covered? Not so much. It was here that I remembered why I tend to head south during the colder months, to avoid this situation. I have microspikes on the way.
The trail comes to the southern end of Black Ash Swamp.
Blue Disc ends at Tri-Trail Corner, where the Ramapo-Dunderberg and Victory trail all converge.
I was going to take the Ramapo-Dunderberg back from this spot, but it looked like I would have to backtrack. Ramapo-Dunderberg crosses a stream, and the rocks didn’t look inviting. Neither did the water. I fell a couple of weeks ago, I didn’t want to make that mistake again. Conveniently, the Blue Disc trail uses a natural dam to cross the water.
The swamp is on the other side of the rocks.
A little spur trail connects the Blue Disc with the Ramapo-Dunderberg. I have been on the Ramapo-Dunderberg trail a bunch of times, though not in this section. It was mostly a woods road. The trail does go past the Black Ash mine, though I didn’t find the mind (and wasn’t bushwacking in the snow on a hill to find it.)
I junctioned with the Kakiat trail to head back to my car.
This section of the Kakiat is mostly woods road. Part of it is near Route 87, so there is some road noise. It eventually turns away and heads back towards the Blue Disc trail.
Trails – White Bar (white), Triangle (yellow), Ramapo-Dunderberg (Red dot on White), Dunning (yellow), Nurian (White)
Mountains – Car Top, Parker Cabin, Tom Jones, Black Rock
After getting clobbered by chiggers last week in the Pine Barrens, I thought I would return to the mountains. Certainly, I thought the temperatures would have killed off most of the bugs. It was 37 at the trailhead, though I passed through areas were it was down to 34. And, with the sun out, the temperatures rose into the 50s making for a perfect day. There were sporadic groups of hikers out, though I saw a scout troop heading up Tom Jones Mountain, likely making for the shelter. And there was a scout troop at the Bold Rock shelter.
The hike starts by going up Car Pond Mountain from the parking lot.
Then, there is a big descent that drops lower in altitude than the parking lot. There is a nice view right off the back of Car Pond Mountain.
I took the Triangle trail east to head up Parker Cabin Mountain. Right near the top was a solo hammock camper – he mentioned that it got near freezing at night. At the top was brilliant sunshine. (For the first part of the hike I was in the shade as the sun had not risen above the mountains.) The view from the top of Parker Cabin is expansive.
From here I took a jaunt over to Tom Jones Mountain. Between each of the mountains was a descent, which meant an ascent to the next mountain. Usually, the elevation gain was not too bad.
The Tom Jones Shelter is at the end of a spur trail off the top of Tom Jones Mountain.
The view from the shelter is pretty nice too.
From there, I found the top of Tom Jones Mountain and had a snack. The sun was pretty warm, and views were almost 360 degrees.
Walking across the top of Tom Jones mountain I could see where I was headed next, Black Rock Mountain. This would be the only mountain where there would be significant elevation loss, and a climb back up. The trail goes down to the road, then climbs back up Black Rock Mountain. This picture sort shows the detail. At the end of the rock, the trail drops down significantly. In about a half hour, I would be standing at the top of the mountain in the center of the picture.
The climb up from the roadway is pretty steep in sections, with one or two rocks to scramble up. At the top I reached my favorite viewpoint of the day, with 270 degrees of view.
After sitting for a while and having another snack, I had a decision to make. The Nurian trail leaves from here and would get me back to my car in about a half hour. However, about a half hour up the trail would be the Bold Rock shelter, and I could loop back to my car adding about two miles.
I took the long route.
Walking the top of Black Rock Mountain is walking mostly on exposed rock. The Black Rock lookout is just as nice a view as the others. This would be my highest point of elevation in the hike. Most of the trail looks like this (until it heads back into the forest.)
I found the Bold Rock shelter. It appears to be the same size as the Tom Jones shelter, though doesn’t have a view right in front. A short hike to the back leads to a view, that will be better when the leaves fall.
Here’s a shot of the bear hang. There was a bear hang at the Tom Jones shelter too. Apparently, bears have learned to check the shelters for food.
Behind the shelter a scout troop was setting up camp. And closer to the view, there were others that had pitched tents. It would be busy at this shelter tonight.
Many many years ago I backpacked in the snow in Harriman, and we stayed at a bigger shelter. I remember all of us fitting in the shelter, so it could not have been either of these two.
I picked a good weekend, the colors were out. I’m not sure it is peak, but there were spots of vibrant colors all around.
Compare the views from two weeks ago to get a good idea of how the color has changed.