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In springlike weather, a group of college students has a picnic high atop Anthony's Nose, in the Hudson Highlands.

A group of college students hiked to the top of Anthony’s Nose on a warm almost-spring day. Views from The Nose take in Iona Island, the Bear Mountain Bridge and Inn, and much of the Hudson Highlands.

Hike To Anthony’s Nose: Choose the South-Facing Slope.

With the warmer weather, winter is loosening its grip on Harriman State Park, and every day the streams and rills are a little faster and wider, and the ice on the trails is giving way to mud, especially later in the day.

I get really excited about the daily temperature at this time of year, and the most-consulted app on my Iphone is the weather app.  I’m looking for not just single warm days, but the trend that says that we’re finished with this cruel, dispiriting winter. Every day in the ’50s feels like a gift.

Rugged Camp Smith trail, going up to Anthony's Nose, is rocky and largely free of snow.

The Camp Smith Trail to Anthony’s Nose quickly opens up to views of the Hudson River and Highlands, and the Bear Mountain Bridge. And, look! No snow.

I don’t want to hike in the snow at this point.  So in early spring I take care to check a topography map, or a Google terrain map, before I go, and make a point of keeping away from valleys, gorges and north-facing slopes.   This pays off if you’re eager to put away the spikes and just put on the hiking boots and poles.

Today I climbed the almost snow-free Camp Smith Trail to Anthony’s Nose.  This easy-to-follow hike ticks all the boxes:

  • challenging, but not too bad;
  • a southwesterly-facing, sunny slope for most of the way, so shade isn’t a problem, and neither is snow;
  • simple enough so you aren’t consulting the map constantly;
  • a great replacement for an hour at the gym;
  • a series of stunning panoramic views;
  • ideal place to picnic or pop a bottle of Prosecco and sit for an hour (and there’s plenty of space for multiple groups)
  • parking at the trailhead.

For an outstanding, early-springtime, snow-free hike in the warmer weather of March and April, climb the Camp Smith Trail to Anthony’s Nose.  Park the car along Route 6/202 (Bear Mountain Bridge Road) at the pullout (GPS: 41.31202, -73.96474) and hike north along the blue-blazed Camp Smith trail.  Take the early stream crossings at Broccy Creek carefully so you don’t get your boots wet, and take your time climbing the ridge so you don’t get too puffed out.  At just over a mile into the hike, watch carefully for where the blue trail forks to the left, toward the sounds of Bear Mountain Bridge.  This will take you in just a few yards to the views atop Anthony’s Nose.  Bring friends, bring a picnic, bring your coffee maker, and just hang out.  You probably won’t be alone, but there’s tons of room to spread out.

“Happy Hike Day!”, wished one of three guys hiking to the top as I passed them.  So that’s what this was — Hike Day!  Well, okay.  I’m on board.

Cold water of the Hudson River and a top-down view of Bear Mountain Bridge from high above, on Anthony's Nose.

The eastern pylon of Bear Mountain Bridge, seen from Anthony’s Nose, along the Camp Smith Trail. Hunks of ice still float in the Hudson River in mid-March.

I emerged at the top of the Nose to find a large group of friendly, reclining college students picnicking in style.   (In what can only be described as a mirage, the group turned and saw me and immediately offered up some cardamom coffee.  Fantastic!  I’ll post the recipe in a later post, or you can look for the recipe online.  It’s called in a style called Arabic, with cardamom.)

They asked about the trail coming up — they’d reached the Nose from the north, taking the Appalachian trail to get to the Camp Smith trail.  That part of the AT starts with a very steep climb up a shady, north-facing and rocky hillside.   It had been difficult with the snow and, in parts, ice, and it was made worse by the shoes they were wearing (“the sucky shoes”).

I don’t think that any footwear is truly waterproof, and my experience is that once my “waterproof” shoes get wet, it’s a long time before they dry out.  So I avoid conditions that will be snowy and soggy and lead to that uncomfortable trenchfoot feeling.

And I really avoid those shady hillsides.  Take springtime where you can find it!

PS:  Thanks to the students, I got the very last Tim Tam in their picnic.  Nice group.

Students sit on the cold rocks of Anthony's Nose, overlooking the Hudson River in spring.

Views from Anthony’s Nose of distant Iona Island and the Hudson Highlands, south of Bear Mountain Bridge.

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