Wednesday, April 11, 2012
Hiking in Harriman
She's in the background of this photo, making camp at the William Brien Memorial Shelter. We camped here on a route that scribed a great if lopsided circle, from the Bear Mountain Inn to West Mountain Shelter to the Brien shelter and back to the Inn. Over three days I visited some places I haven't seen in decades and checked out some new ones as well.
The view from West Mountain Shelter looking down the Hudson Valley to New York City remains one of my favorites. It's a great destination for a first-time backpacker: the route to the shelter on the Suffern-Bear Mountain Trail climbs enough to make things challenging without making things so hard that a novice will get discouraged.
Even more impressive, though, was the view from the summit of Black Mountain ascended from the east on the Appalachian Trail. I had never walked this stretch before, and it involved a sprint where the Appalachian Trail crosses the Palisades Interstate Parkway. Once you cross the Parkway, the path climbs gradually and then steeply to a beautifully contoured stretch of trail that runs along the summit of Black Mountain. The view towards Bear Mountain to the east, and the great ridges of Harriman State Park to the west, is spectacular. If you stay on the Appalachian Trail from this point, you can then walk to the Brien shelter and camp for the night.
From the Brien shelter, we returned to the Bear Mountain Inn via Popolopen Gorge, a route that I can't recommend at this time because all sorts of earth moving efforts turn your walk into something like a hike through a construction site. Nevertheless, we eventually came back to Hessian Lake and the Bear Mountain Inn, which marked handsome end to our journey.
It was great to share old memories with Allison, a skilled backpacker in her own right, who at the age of 16 already has stories of outdoor adventures to pass on. Doubtless she will accumulate more.
In our crowded metropolitan region, Harriman remains an invaluable resource that makes the pleasures of the outdoors available to everyone. To learn more about the park, and hiking in our region, check out the NY/NJ Trail Conference. Their good work makes possible the great hiking opportunities of Greater New York.