Tag Archives: Circuit Hikes in Harriman

The Promise Of Summer Hiking

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Summer at its finest in the Hudson Valley.

“Only by going alone in silence, can one truly get into the heart of the wilderness. All other travel is mere dust and hotels and baggage and chatter.”

-John Muir

Since my hiking last summer added up to an incredible almost 118 miles, needless to say, I have bigger plans for this summer. My first plan and goal? Not to do anything stupid that will end my hiking excursions in literally a second.

With that said, I am planning hikes all over the Hudson Valley. Bear Mt., Harriman State Park, hikes East of the Hudson, West of the Hudson and Fahnestock State Park. Anything and everything is fair game once the summer gets started.

I remember two years ago when I based many of my hikes from a book by Don Weise entitled, Circuit Hikes in Harriman, 35 Loop Hikes, and Trail Runs in Harriman and Bear Mt. State Parks and 50 Hikes in the Lower Hudson Valley by Stella Green & Neil Zimmerman. I had carefully planned out each hike carefully according to what is listed in the book. Filled with awesome views, each of the hikes that I completed were worth every step. This year, I can leave the book with either the page number or the number of the hike so folks know where I am.

Obviously, I still have several hikes from both books that I have not done so with the exception of a very few, I am going to try and do all new hikes.

And of course I’ll beat that dead horse again: My primary goal will be overall safety and hydration. I am way too old to do a repeat of last summer.

So what are the first five hikes am I looking at this summer?

  1. Anthony’s Nose-Only in the very early morning and on a weekday. Any other time and it becomes an overcrowded nightmare of city folks and small children. (Not that I have anything against these folks, but I do my best to stay away from the Nose on Friday’s and weekends.)
  2.  Parker Cabin Mountain-Chapter 10 in Circuit Hikes. Although I haven’t done this hike, the book boasts five summits and 1,640 feet of vertical climbing in a relatively short five miles. This could be a tough one.
  3. Pine Swamp Mountain-Chapter 18 in Circuit Hikes. Another hike I haven’t done, this six mile easy to moderate hike promises views of the remnants of several large iron mines.
  4. Hasenclever Mine-Yet another hike from Circuit Hikes that I have not done, this one offers a shorter hike and a longer one with views of rock formations, a Civil War Cemetery, and of course, Hasenclever Mine (chapter 19).
  5. Second Reservoir-Chapter 32 in Circuit Hikes, this falls under the category of Trail Runs and Walks. At almost nine miles, the book says you will see scenic lakes and wetlands on this hike.

Of course, the objective is to do many more than the five listed above,  but these are ones that caught my eye from reading the descriptions in the book and that I would like to do first.

As always, HAPPY HIKING!!!

 

Lake Wanoksink (13)

‘Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out going to the mountains is going home; that wilderness is a necessity…”
― John Muir

Starting at the Lake Sebago boat launch, the blue blazed Seven Hills trails begins as soon as you cross Seven Lakes Drive. Like many of the hikes in this area, as soon as you enter the woods you begin a punishing climb. This one happens to go on for approximately half of a mile. The pictures below show the steepness going up and down the trail. On the left is the climb up. Since this is a loop hike, the picture on the right is the hike down.

The trail continues moving downhill until you begin another ascent where the Seven Hills Trail veers sharply off to the right  and for a brief time becomes Woodtown Road West. After about a quarter of a mile, you make a sharp left turn and begin walking on Pine Meadow Road West.

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The point on the Seven Hills Trail where it becomes Woodtown Road West.

Although this sign is pretty big and prominently placed where it can’t be missed, people still drop water bottles, trash and yes, even diapers on the trail and the side of the trail.

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You would think that this sign was self explanatory…

Stay on this road until you intersect with the end of the yellow blazed Buck Trail and then make a right turn onto Pine Meadow Road East. Although the Harriman-Bear Mountain Southern Trail Map 118 is pretty detailed about where you need to go, these roads are unmarked and some trails and other roads veer off to the left and right all along your route. At one point I did make a wrong turn but with good results. I stumbled upon these ruins and I took a short break to rest and take some pictures.

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After doubling back to the correct trail, I eventually got to the shores of Lake Wanoksink where because of  the weather, the views weren’t that great. It’s still an interesting picture!

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Lake Wanoksink

Once you head around the lake, take some time to walk across the earthen dam where if you look to your left, you see this bridge that you will soon cross over.

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Happy hiking!!!!!

Summer 2017 Mileage:

7/25/17-7.1-65.72

Second Reservoir (10)

“One step at a time is good walking.”
–   Chinese Proverb

“It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.”

-Henry David Thoreau

For today’s hike I went back to Don Weise’s Circuit Hikes in Harriman. Last summer I tried several of his hikes and I really enjoyed the variety of what he had to offer. This hike, starting at the Lake Sebago boat launch, stayed primarily on woods roads. Despite a steady ascent right after you turn on to the road from Seven Lakes Drive, the rest of the hike spent more time rolling through the woods rather than climbing unreasonably steep hills.

Along with some walking in the general area of the lake, this hike measured 10.1 miles.

Since it is covered in detail in chapter 32 of Don Weise’s book, I won’t spend much any time going into the logistics of the hike.  Instead, take a look at the pictures that I took along the way.

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Pine Meadow Road

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An awesome sign about a mile into the hike.

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Cranberry Mountain Trail

 

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Another view of the Second Reservoir

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A snake on the trail.

Summer 2017 Mileage:

7/17/17-10.1-50.92

 

 

 

A Variation on the Doodletown Bridle Path (2nd Attempt)

***I received several messages yesterday saying that the pictures associated with this post could not be viewed. I am reposting the hike from yesterday and hopefully they will come out. If they don’t, please leave me a reply. Thanks to everyone who let me know yesterday!

“In winter, I plot and plan. In spring, I move.”

-Henry Rollins

We are enjoying another beautiful day here in the Hudson Valley. It appears as though winter has left us and spring will take hold until summer crashes down upon us (in a couple of days!) So, a great day means a great hike. Today, my daughter and I went into Bear Mt. and did a variation on one of the hikes in Circuit Hikes In Harriman. I got to spend some quality time with my daughter and got some fantastic pictures. Spring continues to be an awesome time to hike and get recharged for summer.

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A Variation on the Doodletown Bridle Path

“In winter, I plot and plan. In spring, I move.”

-Henry Rollins

We are enjoying another beautiful day here in the Hudson Valley. It appears as though winter has left us and spring will take hold until summer crashes down upon us (in a couple of days!) So, a great day means a great hike. Today, my daughter and I went into Bear Mt. and did a variation on one of the hikes in Circuit Hikes In Harriman. I got to spend some quality time with my daughter and got some fantastic pictures. Spring continues to be an awesome time to hike and get recharged for summer.
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Horn Hill Bike Path X2-Walking Meditation

“The mind can go in a thousand directions, but on this beautiful path, I walk in peace. With each step, the wind blows. With each step, a flower blooms.”

-Nhat Hanh
“Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet.”
-Nhat Hanh
“Walk so that your footprints bear only the marks of peaceful joy and complete freedom. To do this you have to learn to let go. Let go of your sorrows, let go of your worries. That is the secret of walking meditation.”
-Nhat Hanh

 

Last summer I did a whole bunch of hikes from a book called, Circuit Hikes In Harriman by Don Weise. Today (4/11/17), I was going to do a pretty lengthy hike but when my daughter asked if she could go hiking again today (WOW!!), I decided to do this relatively easy loop in Harriman State Park.

Once again, the difference in what the woods look like from season to season is truly amazing. Five and a half miles later, I think that I got some pretty decent photos.

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The start of the Horn Hill Bike Path. Nice and flat!

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Canada Geese feeding a pond next to the trail.

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The same geese…

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Trees along the trail.

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The Appalachian Trail crosses this trail at two points during the hike.

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The AT headed south towards Georgia.

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Looking south behind us on the trail.

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As you hike along the bike path, the Ramapo Dunderberg Trail crosses its path. Here are some nice stone steps to help you on your way.

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Beechy Bottom Road

 

Lake Sebago and Skenonto-I Dub Thee…Solitude…

“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity”
― John Muir

“In solitude there is healing. Speak to your soul. Listen to your heart. Sometimes in the absence of noise we find the answers.”

Dodinsky

WOW!!! All I can say about this hike is solitude…If you are looking for hike where after being on the trail for less than a mile you pretty much don’t see or hear any signs of civilization, then this is your hike. Of course this is just another quality hike that I got from Don Weise’s book, Circuit Hikes in Harriman-35 Loop Hikes and Trail Runs in Harriman and Bear Mountain State Parks. (I completed this hike on 7/13/16).

If you look at this hike on the map, it resembles a melting lollipop!

Starting off at the end of Johnsontown Road (which is a circle), the beginning of the trail is clearly marked with horizontal white bars.

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The beginning of the trail immediately starts heading uphill, although slightly and for a short period is, at first, a mixture of dirt and road. As you move deeper into the woods and away from everything, the trail goes through many variations and runs the gamut from dirt to rocks to a fine grassy surface.

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A pleasant surprise that I had on the trail today was the wildlife that I encountered. Usually I don’t get to close to many animals, but today, I could have reached down and touched the rabbit that you see in this picture. It was truly amazing!

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I am not going to lie, I love rabbits!

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The trail, meandering its way through the woods, continues to move uphill ever so slightly and at times you don’t even notice that you have been gaining any elevation until you turn around and look at where you have been.

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Although you do spend time on trails at the start, you also find yourself traversing a woods road that is easy to walk on. As I have noted on other hikes, this is also one in which you could introduce small children to the joys of hiking.

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One and a half miles into your trip you will pass the Dutch Doctor Trail on your right. You will also encounter this shelter again on the return trip, this time on your left side.

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One of the other scenic wonders that are in abundance in this area are the isolated and stray boulders that just appear to be cast throughout the park. These boulders seem to have just been placed where they are by some unseen force.

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Continue to follow the white bar trail for 1.75 miles where you will see the start of the yellow triangle trail. This, and the victory trail (later) will signify the head of the lollipop. Stay to your right and now follow the yellow triangle trail.

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One of the more unique things that I did notice after I moved on to the yellow triangle trail was the almost immediate change in the terrain of the trail. The triangle trail represented a calmer, more meditative and deliberative approach to this hike. Notice how the lush woods seem to envelop you as you become one with the terrain. It is more earthen and the sound of your boots striding along the trail signifies the solitude that I was seeking.

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At almost three miles, you will be able to see Lake Sebago on your right. I decided at this point to stop for a water and picture break.

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The trail becomes a little tricky at this point as you should continue on to the right along the shores of Lake Sebago. The markings aren’t that clear, but even if you follow what looks like what should be the obvious trail, you will end up back on the yellow trail triangle trail shortly. Staying on this trail, you will eventually come to the shores of Lake Skenonto.

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After you spend some time at Lake Skenonto, a short walk will bring you to the Blue “V” (victory) trail (this is a woods road for the time you will be on it). As it was another incredibly humid morning, it was a great relief to find that when I turned onto this trail, a strong breeze began to blow. Luckily and thankfully, this breeze stayed with me for the rest of the hike.

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After walking on this road for almost a half of a mile, you will see the familiar markings of the horizontal white bars that you had left to go on the yellow trail. Turn left here and you will now stay on this trail for the remaining three miles of your hike.

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Please note that once you turn back onto the white bar trail, it begins a nice uphill climb that will get you breathing pretty hard! As you move up the hill, feel free to periodically look to your right to enjoy the views.

After you crest the hill, you will start a descent that takes you to the end of your hike.

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Another interesting rock formation.

As I noted at the start of this post, this is an excellent hike if you are looking to get away from everything for a few hours and still get a good workout. During this hike I heard nothing but birds singing, chipmunks and squirrels running through the woods and the distant sound of freight trains. The breeze, which I gladly welcomed on the latter part of the hike, provided its own mystical soundtrack as I moved through the woods. There were no car horns, trucks, anything that resembled the civilized world.  To say that it was bliss would be an understatement.

That is why I dub thee…solitude.

Another awesome hike!!!

 

It is official-I am now the “Old Guy”

“Age fast, age slow-it’s up to you”

-Kenneth Cooper

For several years now, I have gotten used to people, both men and women, who will open doors for me and refer to me as “sir”.  Although I am 51 years old, I still feel pretty young, even though sometimes it is harder to get up in the morning. The way I look at it is, if I wake up and can get out into the woods for a hike, it has been a good day. Today, however, I actually felt old-if only just for a minute.

The hike that I did today was a loop that looks like an oddly shaped and really demented lollipop. At a length of a little bit over 6 miles, it goes up one trail, loops to another and then another before coming back on the original trail.

I passed the Dutch Doctor Shelter on the way up the trail at about 8:30 am, and then again a couple of hours later on my return trip. When I passed it the first time, I heard voices coming from the shelter so I didn’t stop to investigate and kept on going. On my return trip, I had planned to stop and take pictures of the interior, but somehow I missed it!

As I moved down the trail, I heard voices once again and came upon a group of about 10 teenagers. I could tell by the discussion that the group leaders were having with several of the “campers/hikers” that they were not happy. I stopped and asked one of the group leaders the usual questions-“Where were they from? How long were they hiking?” and she told me that they had hiked to the shelter yesterday and were hiking back this morning to return home.

I could sense the frustration of the young leader as she tried to get the group moving again. Some of the kids she said had complained the entire way to the shelter and were still complaining even though they  were only about 3/4 of mile into the return 1.85 miles this morning. Listening to some of these kids you would think that they had been out in the woods for days and had hiked many, many miles. Obviously this was not the case.

Here is the reason I am telling you this story. The leader asked me how long I had been hiking for (since it was early in the day) and was interested in knowing how long my hike was. I told her that I had been out for almost three hours and was about to complete 6.35 miles. After a few minutes, I took my leave and only got about 20 yards away when I heard one of the leaders say with a certain level of sarcasm (I think)-“Holy shit! That old guy is about to finish almost seven miles and you can’t hike for a mile or two? Stop bitching and start walking.”

Wow…It’s bad enough to have everyone call you sir, but when did I become the “old guy”?

The Horn Hill Bike Path

“With beauty before me, may I walk 
With beauty behind me, may I walk 
With beauty above me, may I walk
With beauty below me, may I walk
With beauty all around me, may I walk
Wandering on the trail of beauty, may I walk”
–  Navajo: Walking Meditation 

“And into the forest I go, to lose my mind and find my soul.”

-Unknown

 

It was yet another beautiful day here in the Hudson Valley (7/11/16). When I got to the south parking lot of the Anthony Wayne Recreation Area (AWRA) at about 7:15 am, the temperature was in the high 60’s  with no real humidity. Their was a slight breeze, which at that time of the morning actually raised goose bumps on my arms. Without a doubt, that certainly beat the alternative of heat and bugs. For almost the middle of July, you couldn’t ask for anything better!

The other day I introduced you to a book  written by Don Weise called, Circuit Hikes in Harriman-35 Loop Hikes and Trail Runs in Harriman and Bear Mountain State Parks. Since I am familiar with the AWRA, I  saw the Horn Hill Bike Path listed as one of the “trail runs, walks, ski loops, and mountain bike rides” and decided to try it out.

After you get off of the Palisades Parkway and enter the AWRA, go to the second parking lot (the south lot) and park by the kiosk. This marks the start of your hike as well as the end.

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Depending on the time of day that you begin (or end) your hike, this would be the perfect place to sit down and enjoy a snack. It is well shaded and today it even had a bed of pine needles that you could easily throw a blanket down on if you chose to do so.

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Starting out on the bike path, the walking is easy as the trail is flat and winds through the woods with a serpentine like quality. Tree roots fill the trail and almost beg you to be cautious as you move south away from the parking lot and further into the woods.

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The trail continues winding through the woods and still has not gained any appreciable elevation. As I kept walking, I couldn’t help but think about how much small(er) children would enjoy this hike. Since the area is wide open, they can actually run ahead of you (a little bit!) and do some exploring. The one thing that they will really love are the wooden bridges that guide you for the first part of the hike.

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After approximately ten minutes of hiking, the bike trail intersects with the AT for the first time. Even at 7:45 am, I could hear thru hikers in conversation as they were already making their way towards Bear Mountain.

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Crossing the AT, the trail meanders until it makes a 90 degree left turn. Weise’s book has a short loop and a long loop listed as your choices for the day. Either one would be a worthy choice, but if you choose the short loop (3.85 miles), you will continue on the Beechy Bottom Road for the remainder of the hike. If you decide to hike the longer figure eight loop (5.6 miles), the trail veers off to the right, .1 of a mile after you make the left turn. After the turn, the trail is no longer flat and you start climbing up hill pretty steadily.

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Although this is a climb, it certainly is manageable and shouldn’t cause much distress. After several minutes of heading up hill, the trail flattens out and you are directed to make a right turn to continue the climb.

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As you move along, make sure that you take the time to check out everything around you. I was pleasantly surprised at the diversity of the trees, plants and bushes in the middle of July and I can only imagine what this area looks like when the fall foliage is in full effect later in the year.

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The loop will continue on a downwards slope and as you near the end and just before you rejoin the Beechy Bottom Road, you will literally be yards from the Palisades Interstate Parkway. I had originally planned to take a water break at this point, but I quickly changed my mind. After enjoying so much quiet, I found that the vehicle noise from the Parkway disturbing to say the least. Wanting to get away from the cars, buses and horns as quickly as I could, I forged ahead and didn’t stop until the quiet returned. Luckily, at this time of year, the woods are pretty dense and this has a habit of dulling all of the extraneous noise that civilization produces, which meant a return to peace was not far off.

Soon after my water break I finished the loop and headed on to the Beechy Bottom Road. Since I could only hear the clicking of my hiking poles and the sound of my boots propelling me forward, I knew that the peace I longed for on the trail was with me again.

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Once again, the AT runs through the bike trail and heads steeply up West Mountain (Not noted on the sign below).

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Moving on, the road remains flat and there are many places to stop and eat lunch, a snack or just to rest. If you choose not to stop for an extended amount of time, you will find that the miles disappear quickly. Although the hike never really gets difficult, the fact that you have been walking on roots and rocks for most of the way make for some sore feet. At this point you are beginning to feel it!!!

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As you near the end of the hike, you will go down a short downhill section and you will see a sign that tells you to go right. After you make this right turn, immediately veer left instead of staying on the road. I make this point because even though I read the description in Don Weise’s book, I continued on the road itself. This, of course, is no fault of the author, it was my not reading it correctly! Anyway, that added about 1/2 mile onto the hike as I figured out my mistake when the road ended and I had nowhere else to go.

Turning back around and heading back on the road, I made the correct turn and about 15 minutes later, you will see this locked gate, signifying the end of your hike in the woods.

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At this point you will turn left and walk all the way to the far parking lot where you began. Since I did the longer loop and added about a half of a mile due to my mistake, this hike ended up being just a little over six miles.

Although I was tired, the walk back on the road next to the main parking lot had several interesting things to photograph. Here is a sample of what I saw on my walk back to my car:

As with every hike that I do, I can tell you that this was a truly an excellent way to start the day! It helps to keep things in perspective and allows for time to reflect without all of the distractions that we are faced with each and every day.

Thank again to Don Weise as this proved to be another superb circuit hike that I not only look forward to doing again this summer, but also as the seasons change.

Another Great Hike-Stockbridge Mountain and Lake Nawahunta

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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.

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Even at the picnic area, you should take some time to just look around and take in the view.

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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!

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As you move steadily along the trail, look to your left and you will see Lake Nawahunta.

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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.

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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.

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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:

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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.

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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.

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Looking back down the trail as I take a water break.

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Still some more climbing ahead!

 

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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.

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Check out the chair made out of a tree. It was a lot more comfortable than I thought it would have been!!!

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.

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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.

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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.

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The end of the Menomine Trail. Follow this trail all of the way back to where you began your hike!

 

 

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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.

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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!!!!!!