Hike Recommendations

Where should you hike today? Where is a good swimming hole? Are the Mountain Laurel out in Harriman yet?

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Colum McKeown's picture

Hi, I'm going to New York in November for a week and while I'm there would love to check out some running trails that are accessible from Manhattan (only using pubic transport). I came across a trail called, I think, the  Lenape trail in the South Mountain Reservation, just wondering what people's opinions are of this trail or if there are other trails that you could recommend?   Cheers Colum
Michael K7's picture

What Patrick said is all true- here are my experiences/opinions: 1- I've run at South Mountain Reservation numerous times. Not sure what distance you are looking to cover, but i usually run from the Locust Grove Parking area on the Lenape Trail (yellow) to Hemlock Falls, then i run the Turtleback Trail (orange), then the Rahway Trail (white) back to the parking area. Most of the route is easily runnable, there are some sections i usually walk, and if the area is wet from recent rains, there will be lots of mud and slippery rocks. Plan on getting your feet wet. The whole route is about 8 miles, but you can skip the Turtleback loop and then the route is about 5 miles, although i must say that the Turtleback is one of my favorite trails to run on. The terrain at SMR is fairly rugged, with many rocky/rooty sections, and a couple of moderately steep ascents/descents. The initial climb on the Lenape Trail is probably the hardest- i usually walk it to let my legs warm up. A bonus is that the parking area is only a short walk from the train station (about a block and a half), which isn't the case for many trails- some areas require a mile or more roadwalk before you hit the trails. If you're going to South Mountain Res, i would recommend downloading and printing the trail map- it's free, just google "SMR trail map".   Patrick's suggestion of the Long Path in the Palisades is also a good one, but i would NOT recommend using the Shore Trail- many sections are strewn with debris/litter, and are dangerous to walk on, much less run. Instead, i suggest starting your run at the Lost Brook Preserve, there are several well-marked trails (you can get in a good 5 or 6 miles without repeating any sections) that i find very enjoyable to run. Then cross over 9W to the Long Path, and you can run the LP back to the GW Bridge (about another 5 miles), then run or walk over the bridge back to NYC. There is a bus from Port Authority that will drop you off at the Lost Brook Preserve- Rockland Coach is the bus line, you need to make sure you ask for a ticket to Tenafly, and specify the bus that stops at Rt 9W and Clinton Ave. However, I would not recommend trying this run without the TC Palisades map set. Patrick's other suggestions for Harriman and the East Hudson areas are also great, but be aware the terrain in Harriman is PUNISHING, and you should plan to spend at least 4 hours there, as buses and trains don't run hourly. The East Hudson Trails aren't quite as gnarly, but they are by no means easy IMO. I would not advise going to either of these areas for the first time without the TC trail maps. The Rockefeller Preserve has miles of technically easy trails (with some nice hills mixed in), but some of the trails can be confusing to follow, even with the trail map (at least for me). Also, there is no direct bus/train to the Preserve. You will have to take the train to a nearby station, and run or walk to the Preserve. I usually go to the Phillipse Manor station, walk to the OCA, then run to the Preserve.   Any questions, feel free to ask- good luck, and have fun!
Colum McKeown's picture

Hi Patrick/Michael,   Thanks very much for the replies and the great advice. The 'Locust Grove Parking area on the Lenape Trail (yellow) to Hemlock Falls, then i run the Turtleback Trail (orange), then the Rahway Trail (white) back to the parking area.' sounds like a nice run so I think I'll check that out plus it seems handy enough to get to by train. Looking forward to checking out the trail.   Thanks again   Colum 
Michael K7's picture

You're welcome- definitely download and study the map before going. While most of the route is fairly obvious, the transition from the Falls to the Turtleback is somewhat convoluted, and there's a section of the Rahway that's a bit confusing. But with the map you should be fine- have fun!
PVPatrick's picture

Colum, I am personally not familiar with South Mountain Reservation. However I would suggest to you trying the Long Path north along the Palisades. The trail can be accessed from the New Jersey side of the Geroge Washington Bridge and is quite runable. There is a parallel shore (white blaze)trail that runs along the Hudson river at the foot of these same palisades which can be used as a loop possibility. Other possibilities for you are via Bus to Bear Mt State park, bus to Harriman State Park (Rt17), Train to Harriman State Park via Port Jervis line on MetroNorth. Bear Mt/Harriman trails are extensive and quite challenging in both elevation and trail surface composition(rocks and roots). Metronorth Hudson line to Philipse Manor stop to access Rockefeller State Park preserve (miles an miles of well groomed carriage trails). Hudson Line to Garrison to access Hudson Highlands State park. Hudson line to Cold Spring to access Hudson Highlands/Bull Hill (Mt Taurus). The trails accessible from Garrison and Cold Spring are similar to that of Bear Mt/Harriman in terrain. If you need additional details on any of these, feel free to contact me.
pintoj's picture

Please ask Dan to consider adding the Buckabear Pond Loop trail to the Hike of the Week he publishes in the Record.  It is short (2.5 miles) and has a pretty view over the Clinton Reservoir.  Only downside (for some folks) would be that you need to get a hiking permit from the NWCDC.
Estelle's picture

The Buckabear Pond Trail is closed and unmaintained. One can walk out to the peninsula on the Clinton West/(white blazed) trail, and make a loop using that from the Red and back to the Red. There is no crossing of the beaver dam - any blazes have long been removed.   One must either continue north on the Clinton West Trail up to P4 parking, to reach the new route of the Highlands Trail. Unfortunately, with the loss of that crossing a hike on the HT has to be an in and out, or a shuttle hike with a car left at P9 on Paradise Rd.   And yes, hiking permits are definitely required, along with their regulations as to hunting seasons where there is only Sunday hiking allowed. 
pintoj's picture

Yep Estelle, I am suggesting the loop hike that is still possible as you described.  Not the old one that used the Dam.
Georgette Weir's picture

has been forwarded to Daniel for his consideration. Thanks for the input!
thegup's picture

Go to Fahnestock park and you can do a hike that includes Beaver Pond, Jordan Pond, John Allen Pond and HIdden and Clear Lakes.  All very nice.
PVPatrick's picture

And dont forget Canopus Lake!
Suzy's picture

Some days you want vistas or meadows.  I'm thinking ponds, lately.  Poring over the maps for a good pond-to-pond trail, but do you have any suggestions?  Any area is good for me, except Catskills. I like a good pond, not too swampy. Boulders around the edges are nice.  Serene, interior, hard to reach.  Do you have a suggestion?  Thanks!
Jeremy Apgar's picture

One of my favorite scenic lakes is Lake Rutherford in High Point State Park (here's a photo from last autumn):

Lake Rutherford

Very peaceful, cool rocks all around, views of High Point monument in the distance, and even some great waterfalls nearby if you feel like exploring.  Nearby Sawmill Lake is also nice (here's a photo of Sawmill Lake from the A.T.):

Sawmill Lake

A nice 7-mile loop hike with great ridge and lake views is possible from Sawmill Lake to Lake Rutherford and back along the Blue Dot, Appalachian, and Iris trails (I haven't done this exact loop hike, but now I really want to!).

~Jeremy, TC cartographer

Michael K7's picture

You could also go to the Ramapo Reservation in NJ  (North Jersey Trails map set), there are quite a few ponds/lakes accessible from the parking area on Rt 202.
Michael K7's picture

I second Patrick's suggestion of Island Pond. If you take the woods road off the ASB trail (the one that goes north, past Garfield Mine), you will come to some ruins right on the edge of the pond. One of my favorite spots in the park! There is also Curry Pond in the East Hudson- the map that has the Garrison trails will show you that one. Have fun!
PVPatrick's picture

How about Island Pond to little green pond in Harriman? A big popular pond and a tiny remote pond. You can devise lots of loop possibilities from The Elk Pen parking area. Or 4 ponds/lakes from Sebago boat launch to Breakneck Pond to Lake Wanaksink to Pine Meadow Lake? That's where i am heading soon!
Suzy's picture

These are all welcome suggestions and I plan to check them all out.  Green Pond I know; I first noticed it on the map where I thought I'd spilled some Gatorade, but no, it was a pond and it remains for me the pond to which other ponds aspire.  Off I go -- thank you very much!
an1089's picture

Going camping/hiking with my 4 year old son.  Looking for suggestions for easy hike and camping.  Want to avoid the camp grounds and give my son a true camping experience. Any help appreciated!
PVPatrick's picture

Camping is permitted only at designated camping areas which in Bear Mt State Park means you can only camp in or around the West Mt shelter which is a three sided stone structure with a partial wooden floor. It is a rather steep climb (at least 500 feet) regarless of which trail you use to get there. The majority of the trails at Bear Mt and Harriman are somewhat challenging to very challenging. The shortest route to West Mt shelter likely is by parking at Anthony Wayne and hiking the appalachian trail to the timp torne trail to the shelter. I would advise referencing the trail conference Harriman Park- Northern map #119.
an1089's picture

Going camping/hiking with my 4 year old son.  Looking for suggestions for easy hike and camping.  Want to avoid the camp grounds and give my son a true camping experience. Any help appreciated!