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Autumn’s Last Hurrah, Using the Bus

This 8-mile hike is currently sporting the gaudiest colors of the fall.  Use the shuttle to do a one-way trip right back to your car or the train station; don’t forget your camera.

One of the beautiful things about using the Tuxedo-Harriman shuttle (in its last weekend on October 31 and November 1) is that, even if you have a car, it opens up a world of hiking possibility.  With just one car and the shuttle, you can hike a one-way route back to your car, without having to retrace your steps.

We decided last week that, after running the shuttle for much of the summer, we’d actually use it ourselves.  We hopped off on Seven Lakes Drive near the entrance to the (private) Thendara Mountain Club by noon and made it back to the Tuxedo Train Station in time for a sushi dinner and the drive home.

Brilliant blueberry bushes flame on along the Arden-Surebridge trail in Harriman.

Brilliant blueberry bushes flame on along the Arden-Surebridge trail in Harriman.

This 8-mile hike takes you from the edge of Lake Tiorati to your return train (or parked car) at Tuxedo.  On the way, you’ll walk through blazing-red blueberry patches, rocky “whaleback” hilltops with incredible views and, again, those blueberry balds.  Two rustic, hundred-year old shelters make perfect places to stop for lunch, and the woods are dotted with old, disused mines.  The Ramapo-Dunderberg Trail is your pathway home.

The soft, leaf-carpeted trail leaves the road near Thendara Mountain Club and weaves through some colorful forest. At the end of October, the leaves were still largely in the trees. Nice.

The soft, leaf-carpeted trail leaves the road near Thendara Mountain Club and weaves through some colorful forest. At the end of October, the leaves were still largely in the trees. Nice.  I half-expected to meet a centaur coming down this magical pathway.

Here’s the route:

  1. Pick up maps, food, coffee, drinks at the Tuxedo train station.  There’s a bathroom there, as well.  On Saturday, a Farmers Market is in the train station to sell all kinds of fruit, vegetables, pies and breads, empanadas, cheese, etc.  And the Tuxedo Wines and Spirits shop, just a stone’s throw from the station, has backpack-ready single serving wine and spirits to bring along.
  2. Take the 10:45 shuttle from Tuxedo train station to the Seven Lakes Drive entrance to Thendara Mountain Club (onboard volunteers will let you know when to get off).  Please note: Thendara Mountain Club is (a wonderful club!) for members; don’t go up their driveway.  Just cross the road to the trail.
  3. You’ll find the faded, unblazed trail directly across the street from Thendara, heading into the woods.  In just a few feet, the trail widens into a carpet of green grass and fiery fallen leaves.
  4. Follow this unblazed trail to its junction, in about a half mile, with the red-blazed Arden-Surebridge trail, and take a right turn.
  5. In half a mile, you’ll reach “Time Square” (a converging of three trails).  Here, you’ll follow the red-blazed Ramapo-Dunderberg trail to the left as it climbs a hill.  This is the trail you’ll follow the rest of the way to Tuxedo.  Note: Both the Arden-Surebridge Trail and the Ramapo-Dunderberg Trails have red in their blazes.  The R-D trail blaze, which is red on white, is shown in the picture below.
Follow the red-on-white marker all along the Ramapo-Dunderberg trail, back to the Tuxedo train station.

Follow the red-on-white marker all along the Ramapo-Dunderberg trail, back to the Tuxedo train station.

Along the way, you’ll pass a number of abandoned mines.  You’ll pass the Bald Rocks and Tom Jones shelters, and some pretty gorgeous look-outs over a colorful viewshed.  You’ll cross Route 106 and continue following the red blazes of the R-D trail, finally emerging high above the little town of Tuxedo and its picturesque train station.

When you emerge from the woods into a neighborhood, turn left onto Grove Drive, then right onto East Village Road, and follow it back to the parking lot.

Leave a little time to stay for dinner at the sushi place across from the station, then board the train back to the city.

This is such a photo-worthy hike, with views for miles. There are plenty of places to stop for lunch or some wine and cheese, including blueberry balds and two rustic shelters.

This is such a photo-worthy hike, with views for miles. There are plenty of places to stop for lunch or some wine and cheese, including blueberry balds and two rustic shelters.

To get to the Tuxedo train station for the 10:45 shuttle bus:

By train from NYC: Take the first morning New Jersey Transit/Metro-North train from Penn Station to Tuxedo (changing once at Secaucus Junction) on Saturday or Sunday (the shuttle bus only runs on weekends, up to Sunday, November 1).

OR

By car to Tuxedo: 

Follow N.J. Route 17 north to the New York State Thruway and take Exit 15A (Sloatsburg). Turn left at the bottom of the ramp onto N.Y. Route 17 north, and continue for 4.9 miles, passing through the villages of Sloatsburg and Tuxedo. Just past the Tuxedo railroad station, turn right onto East Village Road, cross the tracks, and turn left into a commuter parking lot (free parking on weekends; $2.00 parking fee on weekdays).

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Trail Details:

Distance: 8.05 miles from the trail’s start on Seven Lakes Drive (in front of the Thendara driveway) to the Ramapo-Dunderberg trailhead in the Tuxedo train station.

Trail Type: One way (not a loop) from the shuttle stop to your car or train station.

Route: Shuttle to Seven Lakes Drive at Thendara Mountain Club; unmarked trail to Arden-Surebridge Trail; then to Ramapo-Dunderberg Trail, and out to Grove Drive in Tuxedo, and to train station.

Time: We did this hike in six hours, and we’re pretty slow (I have a broken toe at the moment!) and stopped a number of times.  The opportunities for photographs are as good as it gets in the Harriman backcountry, so allow time for lots of lingering.

Difficulty: Moderate.  Not too much up-and-down.  Trails are well-marked and easily followed.  The distance might tire your feet, though, so make sure you wear sock liners so you don’t get blisters!

Dogs: Yes. Dogs are allowed on the bus if they don’t have an accident and are well-behaved.  This is a great dog hike.  Small streams; nothing too steep that a dog can’t manage with a boost.

Tip 1: If you DO have a car, don’t miss the wonderful new cafe, Dottie Audrey’s, in Tuxedo.  I’m addicted to this place, its fresh breads and pastries, the out-of-this-world chowder, coffee, sandwiches, and salads.  The bakery/cafe is just a mile and a half north of the Tuxedo train station on Route 17, and well worth a post-hike (or pre-hike) visit.

Tip 2:  We love the Farmers Market in the Tuxedo train station.  The market’s last weekend is the end of October.  Pick up local apples, empanadas, bread, cheese or whatever else is in store to bring with you on the trail.

Tip 3: From spring to the end of October, the official New York New Jersey Trail Conference map sets for Harriman and Bear Mountain are available for sale (9.95) at the train station on weekends only. During the week, they’re also available for purchase at the front desk of the Tuxedo public library, across the street from the train station and Post Office.

The vibe at Dottie Audrey's for your post-hike refreshment: healthy, local, creative, delicious.

The vibe at Dottie Audrey’s for your post-hike refreshment: healthy, local, creative, delicious.

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