Before I even begin to fill you in about the awesome hike that I did today (7/7/16), I really need to address this sign. I encountered this “ICE” sign about 1/2 of a mile down the road from the Silver Mine Picnic Area. Even though it was only a short distance into my hike, by the time I looked up and saw the sign in front of me, I was already bathed in sweat and as I always do when it is this hot and humid, I wonder, often times out loud, “WTF am I doing??” But I couldn’t help but laugh out loud as I thought about the absurdity of having an ICE sign be the first thing that you would see on today’s post. When I began hiking at 7:20 am, the temperature was already in the mid 70’s with humidity near 90%.
Ok. With that out of the way, I was on Amazon a few days ago and I saw and eventually bought a book called “Circuit Hikes in Harriman-35 Loop Hikes and Trail Runs in Harriman and Bear Mountain State Parks” by Don Weise. Even though I have the trail maps associated with both Northern and Southern Harriman and Bear Mountain, it is sometimes difficult to figure out distances, elevations and other pertinent information you might want to know when you are planning a hike. So if you hike by yourself or don’t want to do a two car hike, this is the book for you!
As I flipped through the book, I immediately liked the way that the author has each hike laid out. Each one is a chapter of the book and has all of the information that would need to plan a hike. With each hike you get a rating, distance, hiking time, attractions, lowest elevation, highest elevation, total elevation gain, parking GPS coordinates and what map is associated with the hike.
After the 4th of July lung buster , I thought that for today’s hike I would look for something in the easy to moderate range (the author’s method of describing each hike). I settled on the Stockbridge Mountain and Lake Nawahunta Hike (Weise 87-91). With a distance of 5.2 miles, a total elevation gain of 990 feet and a difficulty rating of easy to moderate, this would be the perfect way to start the day (87).
Parking at the Silver Mine Picnic Area, I found the Menomine Trail (yellow Blaze) and headed out on the trail.
Even at the picnic area, you should take some time to just look around and take in the view.
Running parallel to Seven Lakes Drive, the trail quickly crosses the road and becomes an idyllic earthen trail covered in pine needles. You wouldn’t think that in July you would be overcome by the smell of the pine needles, but this was certainly the case today. It was truly intoxicating!
As you move steadily along the trail, look to your left and you will see Lake Nawahunta.
I can’t explain the feeling of the soft earth under your feet as you move through the woods. The sounds of birds filled the air as well as the chipmunks searching for food, often times surprised by the sound of my boots hitting the ground forced them to scramble for cover.
Shortly after you pass the lake, you will see the Menomine Trail veer off to the left and an unmarked woods road heading up and to the right (you will return and finish the hike this way). You are going to take the unmarked woods road. Don’t worry, even though it is not marked, you can’t possibly get lost or wander off of the trail.
The hiking is pretty easy as you proceed along the trail. Very slight ups and downs provide you with a sense that you are gaining elevation, but not so steeply that you can’t enjoy everything that is going on around you on the trail.
Just about 1.8 miles into the hike, the unmarked woods road intersects with the Long Path. If you are hiking with small children or are looking for a relatively easy 4 mile hike, turn around here and head back the way that you came. If you are going to continue on for the next 3 miles, turn left and follow these aqua blue blazes:
One thing that you will notice as you make the left turn on to the Long Path is the ground becomes much more rocky than the previous 2 miles.
Even though the climb itself is not that steep, from the time that you turn onto the Long Path, you find yourself heading uphill. With the humidity as high as it was, I took the opportunity to stop several times to drink water so I wouldn’t get dehydrated.
The climb comes to an end and three miles into the hike you will come across one of the most interesting sights in the entire park. The Stockbridge Cave Shelter (see photos below) has a fireplace and plenty of space for several people to sleep. Upon inspection, it is obvious that it is well used, but with that said, there was no litter and that was actually nice to see for a change.
After hanging out at the shelter for a bit, I took the trail up to the right of the shelter. Seeing the initial steepness of this climb, I originally thought that I was in for more of the same of what I had just experienced.
This was not to be the case and as I crested the top I was happy to see the terrain level off as I continued towards my destination.
After passing the Stockbridge Shelter, the trail heads steeply downhill and intersects with the Menomine Trail. This is the yellow trail you started on and it will take you all of the way back to your car in the Silver Mine Picnic Area.
As I approached the lake, the overwhelming smell of pine took over took my senses once again and as I stopped to take a picture, I stood and took several deep breaths. Closing my eyes, all I could imagine was setting up a tent and hanging out for a couple of days!! Unfortunately, this spot, as incredible as I think it is, was just to close to civilization for my liking.
Shortly after passing the spot in the picture above, I was back on Seven Lakes Drive heading back to my car. As I slowly walked on the side of the road, now totally dripping wet from sweat, I thought about Don Weise’s book and found the information in it to be spot on. If I still had younger kids I would definitely take them on this hike and remember, you can make this shorter if you need to for whatever reason.
A big thumbs up for the Stockbridge Mountain and Lake Nawahunta hike!!!!!!