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 up at the Tuxedo Public Library, and at the Reeves Meadow Visitor Center, Palisades Visitor Center and Bookstore, and most New York City outdoor retailers.
- Whether you’re driving or taking the train, the shuttle starts at the Tuxedo train station….
- …HOWEVER, you can use other parking areas in the park, and THEN catch the shuttle as it comes through the park. Ride the shuttle to a particular trailhead, then hike back to your car.)
- REMEMBER: THE SHUTTLE RUNS ONCE A DAY; There is no “afternoon sweep” of the park to collect returning hikers, so it’s your responsibility to get yourself to public transportation, your own car, a taxi service, or the morning shuttle as it comes around again.
Overnight #1: The Beach and a Shelter
Light on the hiking, this excursion lets you enjoy a day at the lake (a public beach) and a night in a Fingerboard Shelter.
Take the shuttle to Tiorati Circle/Tiorati Beach. You can enjoy the warm lake water, and then it’s just a mile-and-a-third up the Appalachian Trail to the neaby Fingerboard Shelter.
Tiorati is a quieter public beach, with fewer crowds than at Lake Welch. The beach has a small concession stand.
Overnight #2: Big Hill Shelter, and Two Reservoirs
Big Hill Shelter is an old stone shelter perched on a hill, with views of the Manhattan skyline in the distance. Great place to take in the fireworks on the Fourth of July!
Take the shuttle to the interection of St. John’s Road and Lake Welch Drive. You’ll be following the aqua-blazed Long Path southeast, and in two miles, you’ll reach Big Hill shelter.
The shelter’s a good place to stash your stuff and do some “slack packing”. Hike to the Jackie Jones fire tower (three-quarters of a mile along the yellow-blazed Suffern-Bear Mountain Trail, heading north). Or, take the unblazed trails southeast toward Second Reservoir, then loop over to Third before returning to the shelter via the Suffern-Bear Mountain Trail.
For your return trip the following day (Sunday), get going early enough to catch the shuttle as it rolls along Lake Welch Drive at Old Turnpike. Or, if you have enough time, hike the unmarked trail past Lily Pond, and emerge from that trail near the corner of Lake Welch Drive and Seven Lakes Drive. The shuttle will pick you up a little after 11 o’clock, and from there it’s a quick ride into Sloatsburg, where you can get off at the Characters Restaurant parking area for lunch, then hop on the train back to New York.
Overnight #3: Silvermine to Bear Mountain
You’ll pick up some of the nicest terrain in the park when you reach West Mountain and the Timp-Torne Trail, en route to your final destination at Bear Mountain, and the Shortline bus ride home.
Mileage: The whole trip is around ten miles if you detour briefly to stay at the West Mountain shelter overnight. Different trails can be combined once you reach West Mountain, and you can use either the Appalachain Trail or the Suffern-Bear Mountain Trail to descend into Bear Mountain State Park.
The Shortline Bus leaves Bear Mountain for New York City on Sunday evenings at 5:19. Consult their schedule for other times.
Overnight #4: The Overnight With Kids at Stockbridge/Cave Shelters
This overnight is a good one if you’re bringing kids, because the hike isn’t strenuous, there’s plenty of room in the areas surrounding the Stockbridge shelter if you need to pitch tents, and there’s always the Cave Shelter a little farther along the Long Path.
Take the shuttle up to Silvermine parking area. You can spend some time on the shores of Silvermine Lake, then you’ll head west through a narrow parking area along a river, following the yellow-blazed Menomine Trail. (Make sure you have a Trail Conference Map!)
When the Menomine Trail intersects the Long Path (aqua blazed), turn right and climb the trail to the Stockbridge Shelter, or continue along to the Cave Shelter. (For my money, the Cave Shelter is interesting but I’d rather spend the night in the Stockbridge!)
You’ll need to bring water, or filter it from the either of the lakes or streams.
In the morning, catch the shuttle back to Tuxedo or Sloatsburg for lunch if it’s Saturday or Sunday. Or, if it’s Monday morning when the shuttle isn’t running, you’ll need to call a taxi (we suggest using the Deborah Taxi: (845) 300-0332. She runs a seven-seat taxi service).
Overnight #5: Epic Appalachian Trail Overnight
Lake Tiorati (Arden Valley Road) to Manitou Station (13 miles)
Take the shuttle to Arden Valley Road, where the Appalachian Trail intersects it. You’ll get off there and, heading north, will follow the AT to your choice of two shelters: the Brien Memorial shelter, at 4.2 miles in (positioning you for an early start in the morning) or, if you’re energetic, the beautiful West Mountain Shelter, another four miles from the Brien Memorial Shelter (at a total of 8.2 miles from your shuttle drop-off on Arden Valley Road). Both shelters see a lot of traffic from AT and Long Path thru-hikers, so say hello!
The next morning, stay on the AT to follow it over scenic West Mountain. A great stretch of trail awaits you today, as you climb formidable Bear Mountain to Perkins Tower, a great place to rest and have something to eat (there are vending machines up there, as well!)
If you’ve spent the night at Brien Memorial and intend to take the Manitou train back to the city, bear in mind you’ve got to cover nine miles before you reach that station. The last weekend train back to the city from Manitou Station is at 7:30 (there’s a 4:26 pm as well), so you’ll need to hustle.
But, you can also catch the Shortline Bus from Bear Mountain. The evening bus leaves at 5:19 pm, and gets to Port Authority by 7pm. Get to Bear Mountain early, and you’ll have time for a drink in the bar before you hike across the river to the train station.
Overnight #6: North of Route 106
There are so many interesting trail-and-shelter combinations in this area, I can’t recommend one specifically. But I’d like to point out that this area of the park is simply beautiful and fascinating, with three shelters — Bald Rocks, Fingerboard and the unmaintained shelter along the Long Path — to choose from.
Take the shuttle along Route 106, and get off at any of the pull-offs after Lake Stahahe (for the Ramapo-Dunderberg or White Bar Trails) or in the Skannatati parking area (for the Long Path). You can also get off near the Thendara Driveway, and hike the Bottle Cap Trail to the Ramapo-Dunderberg Trail, then head south toward the Bald Rocks shelter.
MAKE SURE YOU HAVE YOUR TRAIL MAPS!
Remember to leave yourself enough time in the morning to catch the AM shuttle on Saturday or Sunday morning if you’re camping on Saturday — there’s no morning shuttle service on Monday.