Trail map – official, we used the NY NJ Trail Conference Map
Hike Distance: 7.97 miles
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.