Come for the peace, or come for the adventure.

Harriman State Park is the perfect place to spend a day or a weekend.

The Best Day Hikes in Harriman, Using the New Shuttle

The Train: 9:21 train from Penn Station, arriving Tuxedo at 10:17. The Trails: Ramapo-Dunderberg; White Cross; Triangle Victory Tuxedo-Mount Ivy Distances: 3.2 miles (shortest combination of trails) and up. Difficulty: Moderate. Features: 100-year old lean-to shelters, lakes, streams, forest, rocky “whaleback” mountaintops. Shuttle cost: $5.00, weekends (Saturday and Sunday) only. Take the Train to the Shuttle to Some of the Park’s Prettiest Trails. One of my very favorite areas of the park is right on the new Tuxedo-Harriman shuttle route (weekends only).  This means it’s easy to get to from the Tuxedo Train Station to Harriman’s best hiking trails or, if you’re coming by car, you can create a one-way hike back to it by parking in Tuxedo and boarding the shuttle.  Simple! The area I’m writing about contains the trails that go from Route 106, over Tom Jones, Parker Cabin, Black Ash and Blauvelt Mountains.  In that part of the park, you can visit the pretty shores of Lake Skenonto and Lake Sebago, see Claudius Smith Den, have your lunch with your feet up at Tom Jones Shelter. There are plenty of trail combinations to get your there, and while I could plan each and every combination, my suggestion is this: pick up the map set when you get to the Tuxedo Train Station.  Take a look at the trails, pick your perfect combination of scenery and miles (if you can hike 3.2 miles, you can do a trail with the shuttle!) With the maps, the park is the kingdom and the map is your key to it.  With more than 230 miles (MILES!) of hiking trails, I... read more

Six Overnight Trips In Harriman, Using the New Shuttle

Take the Shuttle to Your Next Overnight — Especially if You’re Carless The new weekend shuttle, from the Tuxedo train station through Harriman, opens up a world of possibilities for the car-less hiker coming by train from New York City.  What’s more, even if you DO use your car to get to the park, the shuttle may be included in your plans to enable one-way hiking where loops aren’t possible. Below are my suggestions for just a few of these overnight backpacking possibilities that use the new Tuxedo-Harriman shuttle. Important to Keep in Mind: The shuttle runs on weekends only (except for Friday, July 3, a holiday.  It runs then, too) You’re likely to find others camping at the lean-tos.  No worries!  Bring a tent and get comfortable around one of the fire rings, and enjoy the camping community vibe. You won’t be able to catch a shuttle out if you’re spending the night Sunday-Monday.  However, you can arrange for a pick-up on Monday by texting or calling Deborah Taxi: (845) 300-0332.  She runs a seven-seat taxi service. Bring water!  Most of the shelters have no water nearby, but you can collect and filter stream and lake water, or bring your own in. Make sure you have maps from the New York New Jersey Trail Conference.  You can purchase either the paper trail maps, or download (purchase) the digital PDF maps for use with the Avenza app on your smartphone (highly recommended!).  Trail maps are available for sale at the Hikers Information booth at the Tuxedo Train Station on Saturday (and Friday, July 3); you can also pick them... read more

Ride the Harriman Shuttle

Take the Train From New York, Then Ride the Big Yellow School Bus to Your Next Harriman Adventure You’ve seen two hundred cars parked along Seven Lakes Drive at the Reeves Meadow Visitor Center.  Or, you’ve seen hikers and backpackers get off the trains at Sloatsburg and Tuxedo and wonder how to get to the trailheads in Harriman State Park. In an effort to encourage train travel to the park, and to make it possible for those who come by train to get to some of the more remote trailheads and camps,, the Tuxedo Chamber of Commerce and A Better Tuxedo are bringing an old-fashioned mode of transportation to shuttle bliss. Starting Friday, July 3, at 10:50 AM, then running weekends only. The shuttle is your classic, 42-seat school bus.  The cost is $5.00 a seat.  And it will meet your train from New York City at the Tuxedo Train Station, give you a half hour or so to pick up goods at the Farmer’s Market (Saturday AM only), Bentley’s Deli, or the grocery store, then set off on its loop through Harriman State Park. You can hop off the bus along the shuttle’s route through the park.  From there, you’ll have to hoof it along any of Harriman’s 230-plus miles of hiking trails to get back to the train station or bus station (or your car, if you’ve driven to Tuxedo or Sloatsburg). See the Turn-by-Turn Route Description at the Bottom of this Post! But the shuttle enables you to plan out adventurous one-way hikes back to the station.  It lets you spend a weekend in the... read more

Five Places to Park (that AREN’T Reeves Meadow) in Harriman

When you see the cars lined up in front of the Reeves Meadow Visitor Center, remember: the park is the size of almost three Manhattans!  The trick to finding your solitude, and a handy parking spot, is in going to some of the other parking areas.  Here are five suggestions. Memorial Day Weekend: Stay Away from Reeves Meadow! This coming weekend is Memorial Day weekend, and the weather looks like it’s going to be clear and beautiful.  That means there will be a long, long line of cars — close to 200 — parked up Seven Lakes Driver near the Reeves Meadow Visitor Center. Don’t be fooled into thinking that the only trails in the park begin and end at the Reeves Meadow Visitor Center!  Get the trail maps and spend some time studying them.  Once you see that the park is criss-crossed by an incredible network of trails, built long ago by the Trail Conference and maintained lovingly ever since, you’ll stay away from Reeves Meadow on busy weekends. So here are five other places to leave the car in Harriman State Park, with suggestions for what trails to take when you’re there.  Remember that if you’re spending the night at one of the shelters, you are allowed to leave your car in a legal parking area overnight. And remember to have a map, and preferably two: a paper map in your hand, and a digital map on your smartphone.  Why both?  Because some get lost with a paper map in Harriman, and you can lose battery power on your smartphone. Maps: 1.  The Trail Conference trail maps,... read more

Base Camp Tuxedo

Base Camp Tuxedo’s Very First “Speakers and Suds” Night #1: NYNJTC’s West Hudson Program Coordinator Sona Mason, “Wild Trails” Tuxedo Train Station Saturday, May 9, 2015. 6:45-9pm; Free and Open to All. Tuxedo to me has always been this adorable little town in the heart of the parks.  One look at the map, and it’s obvious what a great “Trail Town” Tuxedo could be: all that green of Harriman to the east, Sterling Forest to the west, surrounding the pointy little houses and civic buildings that seem like they fell out of a Grimm’s fairy tale.  Deep in the valley under Dater Mountain, a train track from New York City stops at a train station that could be the envy of any town, anywhere.  A river rushes by. MyHarriman and the Tuxedo Chamber of Commerce has launched something we’re calling “Base Camp Tuxedo”, a thus-far loose idea of programs or events designed to enhance the trail-town experience. “Speakers and Suds” is the first of those programs, a series of fun evening presentations that showcase some local craft brew and spirits, while dishing out some useful information from expert speakers about different ways to use and protect the park. Our very first S&S event is Saturday, May 9, at 6:45-9pm at the Tuxedo Train Station, and features the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference’s West Hudson Program Co-ordinator, Sona Mason. Sona will be speaking about trails that start near Tuxedo and run deep into the heart of the parks.  She’ll tell you some places to go and what you’ll see there, with plenty of surprises for those just learning about the... read more

Climbing at the Powerlinez

by Norm Rasmussen, Torne Valley Climbers Coalition Rock climbing is an option for the more adventurous in the park. DISCLAIMER: Rock Climbing is an inherently dangerous activity. The only way to ensure safety while rock climbing is to receive proper instruction from certified guides and professionals. The Torne Valley Climbers’ Coalition and PIPC are not responsible for your safety while climbing at the Powerlinez and you are solely response for your safety while technically climbing rocks. As winter finally releases its relentless grip on the Hudson Valley, Harriman springs to life. The sweet fern and rhododendron fields sparkle green. Fragrant herbs, crushed under foot by hikers from all over the region, grow abundantly and add a layer to the already amazing atmosphere that Harriman offers to so many. As if hiking and backpacking, paddling and swimming, weren’t enough – rock climbing is also an option for the more adventurous in the park.   This may be new information to some. Thanks to the efforts of a small group of climbing activists called the Torne Valley Climbers’ Coalition, a section of Harriman State Park has been opened to allow people to do technical rock climbing.  This area on Wrightman’s Plateau is called the Powerlinez and is accessible via a trailhead on Torne Brook Road, in Suffern, New York For climbers everywhere, this is a huge win. Here’s why: the New York State Park system has generally been pretty closed to climbing. The laws created around climbing were based out of fear – climbing is dangerous, so let’s not allow it at all. Since then, no one has stood up to... read more

New Maps for Harriman

All the Miles You’ll Hike The New York New Jersey Trail Conference has updated their Harriman map set, and there’s one new feature I love: trail mileage.  This changes how I prepare for my hikes.  Training for a month-long hike in the Sierras,  I find myself going to Harriman to train more than ever, because now I can keep track of how much I’ve done, how long it’s taken me, and how my uphill hiking speed is doing (it’s not good). Now you can easily put together a hike of a mile or two or ten, tailor it specifically to how much time you have for the hike, how much time you need to reach that shelter by sundown.  My dogs, God rest them in their crotchetiness, were capable of about four miles before they had a refusal.  They would celebrate this new development. Buy the Map Set Here! You could still use the “Measure” tool on the Avenza map app to get a rough idea of how far your planned hike is.  But I’ve found those distances are off, and often really short of actual distance.  That tool doesn’t account for distances on the incline/decline; actual distances are usually greater, and the new maps will show you this. Mileage is shown from trail junction to trail junction, or from mileage markers. Buy the Maps, Support the Trails Remember, it doesn’t cost you anything to enter the state’s second-largest park. And it doesn’t cost you anything to hike its trails and woods roads.  So think of the purchase price (9.95, plus 1.60 postage and handling) of these maps as... read more

Suffern-Bear Mountain Trail, 83 Years Ago: “A Stiff New Trail Calls to Hikers”

83 years ago, the New York Times printed Raymond Torrey’s description of the Suffern-Bear Mountain Trail. Today, instead of a pretty stream at the Suffern end of the trail, there’s an interstate.  The Palisades Parkway now cuts through the trail below Pyngyp Mountain.  And the old copper trail markers have been replaced by paint spots and plastic squares*. But it’s still a vigorous, challenging trail, calling to hikers.  Read Torrey’s article below: The New Suffern-Bear Mountain Trail (reprinted from the New York Times, 1927 “The Suffern-Bear Mountain Trail, the ninth of such footpaths for hikers made during the last seven years by volunteer workers form the New York City metropolitan district walking clubs in the Harriman State Park, in the Highlands of the Hudson and in the Ramapo Mountains, is now almost complete.  It discloses new scenic viewpoints and new aspects of the hills and forests, lakes and streams of this 40,000-acre preserve. “This new trail is twenty-four miles long, following the curves of ridges, dipping into gaps for springs and waterholes, yet pursuing a course intended to combine with scenic values a reasonable degree of directness.  It begins at Suffern, on the main line of the Erie Railroad, thirty miles from New York, and follows the Ramapo Rampart, the long straight front of the Ramapo Montains.  Then it angles back to another parallel northeast-southwest ridge and runs north and northeast to the headquarters of the Harriman Park, at Bear Mountain. “It will be a hardy hiker who does all of this trail in one day, for it rivals in ruggedness the Ramapo-Dunderberg Trail, twenty-five miles long, from Tuxedo... read more

Quest: A Long-Lost Memorial

Finding an 80-year-old Memorial to a Boy Scout, Chiseled Along the Suffern-Bear Mountain Trail Gordon Wren, Director of the Rockland County Fire and Emergency Services, sent me the following story.  I’ve never seen this memorial, but when the snow clears out, I’d love to try to find it.  (And if you find it, we’d love to post a picture.): “My father, Gordon Wren, Sr. was born in 1921.  As a teenager in Rockland County during the Great Depression, he spent much of his spare time in the local woods and mountains. He recalls camping at a Boy Scout camp in the mid 1930s, a camp called Camp Winaki.  The camp was located on a lake now known as Breakneck Pond, in the town of Haverstraw.  One of his fellow Scouts by the name of James Daley passed away from what he recalls as a congenital heart defect.  A group of Scouts hiked up to a ridge above the lake and, using a hammer and chisel, created a memorial for their friend. I enjoy hiking those same mountains over 80 years later.  My father asked me to look for the small memorial but he only had a general recollection of where it was.  I looked for several years, without success. Last spring, I was hiking the Suffern-Bear Mountain Trail and my dog, Teddy, decided to take a shortcut around a steep area of the trail.  As I waited for him, I looked down and saw the chiseled letters at my feet in the hard, native rock.  I called my father on my cellphone to tell him that I had found... read more
“We set up camp, gathered firewood, and had a great night under the stars. The area was very clean and the view was amazing…The trails were beautiful and once we figured out how to navigate them we had no trouble.” Matthew R.