At the end of the subway line in Yonkers, you can rent a car for $44.00 a day. Take your group to a quieter trailhead in Harriman, and save.
Let’s say you and four friends are heading to Harriman State Park’s trails from New York City. You’d like to backpack and camp out, but you’ve already hiked the trails near the more crowded areas around Reeves Meadow Visitors Center or Bear Mountain, and want to try a different spot. At the very least, you’d like to avoid the crowds near train stations.
You might take the Metro-North train up to Peekskill from Grand Central, or take the Port Jervis line to Tuxedo or Sloatsburg, and from there, hire a taxi to deliver you to a quieter area of the park. Taxis are usually standing in front of the Peekskill station, and you can arrange for taxi pickup to meet you in front of the Tuxedo station.
And that’s not a bad choice. It costs around $21.00 ($24.00 each if you’re traveling peak) to take the Metro North or Port Jervis line round-trip from the city, and you can share a cab with your four friends for another twenty dollars or so.
So the total expense for your group is a little over $100.00, and depending on how far into the park you’d like to go, your taxi will add to that accordingly.
But have you ever considered saving a little money and expanding your options by renting a car? Picking up a rental from New York City starts at around $150.00. But, if you take the subway up the end of the “1” line — at Broadway and 242nd Street in Van Cortlandt Park — you can get picked up at the subway station by Yonkers Enterprise Rent-a-car on Maclean Avenue and leave in a rental car that costs around $44.00 a day.
That’s $100.00 less per day than renting from just a few miles away in Manhattan.
Make sure you reserve your car in advance, and let them know they’ll be collecting you from the subway station.
Add in subway fare to get to Van Cortlandt park, gas, and bridge tolls and the total for the four of you is still reduced by a little under half the price of taking the train.
But the real bonus is that you get to access some of the more remote areas of the park and expand your reach.
You can tackle longer trails with a key exchange (described below), and at the end of your hike, stop at one of the many restaurants or bars along the rivertowns of Garrison, Cold Spring, or Peekskill.
And if you have a dog and a jogger stroller, you can bring him on the subway with you, and bring him hiking, too. (The MTA allows dogs on the subway as long as they’re contained).
Yonkers Enterprise Rental Car
230 MCLEAN AVE
YONKERS, NY 10705-4420
Phone: (914) 968-1000
Open Monday thru Friday, 7:30-6:00;
Closed on Sunday.
Try the Key Exchange
Open your adventure up to even more options with a pre-arranged “key exchange”. It takes a little planning, but it enables you to hike a trail end-to-end without retracing your steps to the car. Try it overnight, and rendevous at one of the shelters on the trail.
Here’s how it works. Split your group into two groups. Drive one group to the end of the trail and drop them off, then drive to the opposite end of the trail and park the car.
You’ll hike in until you meet at a pre-arranged midpoint, or close enough to halfway along the total length of the trail. If you’re staying overnight, make it a lean-to on one of the Harriman traverse trails. Make sure both of your groups are crystal-clear as creek water on where you’ll settle in for the night, because you’ll be exchanging the car key when you set out in the morning, continuing in opposite directions.
Then, of course, the other group will arrive at the parked car, carrying the set of keys, and they’ll return to the start of the trail to pick you up. Mission accomplished.
Be in touch with your smartphones (Verizon coverage is good throughout the park, except near Silvermine)! Know your key exchange buddies! Be prepared! If you haven’t done so, load the Trail Conference PDF maps (for use with the Avenza app) into your phone, so you know exactly where you are on the trail as you hike.
I recommend the two long traverses — the (east-west) Ramapo-Dunderberg trail, and the (north-south) Suffern-Bear Mountain trail — for a weekend-long traverse with key exchange. Both trails are interesting, scenic, well-marked and modestly challenging, have parking at one end, and have a choice of lean-tos at which to meet up and bed down for the night.
The halfway lean-to for the Suffern-Bear Mountain trail is the Big Hill shelter. Along the Ramapo-Dunderberg trail, three shelters — Bald Rocks, Fingerboard or Brien Memorial — make good stopping points.