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Frequently Asked

Kayak Harriman State Park canoe dog lakes

You can spend a beautiful day canoeing or kayaking the beautiful back country of Harriman State Park. Look at this dog! He’s unmuzzled! :0) ©www.myharriman.com

The New York State Park site for Harriman State Park isn’t exactly a font of information — so here we’ve compiled actual (and common!) questions from search queries, and answered them for you.  Common questions include how to use the Tuxedo-Harriman shuttle from the Tuxedo train station, and where to get a map.  We’ll add to this page as best we can.

 

The most common question of all, without a doubt, is:

Q.  Can I download a free PDF hiking trail map of Harriman State Park?

A.  Yes, you can: Harriman State Park Trails, Shelters and Parking Areas: A Free PDF Map to Download

Harriman State Park (General):

Q. Where is the entrance to Harriman State Park?

A.  There’s no official gateway entrance to this 75-square mile park, and you can enter for free through the roadways that crisscross Harriman.  You could think of the Reeves Meadow Visitor Center as one informal gateway (it’s at the southern end of the park, on Seven Lakes Drive) or Bear Mountain Circle as another, at the northern end.

Q.  Is there a charge to enter Harriman State Park?

A.  No!  There’s no official entrance (like a gate that collects fees) and no charge, UNLESS you are going to either of the two public beaches (Lake Welch or Lake Tiorati) or parking at the Bear Mountain Inn parking area.  A parking fee of $8.00 is collected for these beaches and for Bear Mountain parking.

Q. What time does Harriman State Park close?

A. It doesn’t.

Q.  Does it cost anything to park at Harriman State Park or Bear Mountain State Park?

A.  Yes, if you park in one of the lots that charges.  You’ll pay $8.00 if you park in the Bear Mountain State Park lot (near the Bear Mountain Inn) during the summer or during the weekend in winter. You’ll also pay $8.00 to park at Lake Tiorati or Lake Welch during the summer months, and you might pay $8.00 to park at the Silvermine parking area at certain times in summer.  If you purchase an Empire State Passport, your admission is free.

Q. How big is Harriman?

Harriman is 46,613 acres — 188.64 km2, 75 square miles.  Big, in fact.  It’s the second biggest state park in New York (after Allegany State Park).

Q.  How many lakes are in Harriman State Park?

A.  The official count varies, but if you add the “named” ponds, there are a total of 36.

Q.  When is the park open?  What are the hours?

A.  The park is open year round.  There’s no official gate that closes, and no hours of operation.  The lean-tos along the trails are open all the time, and lakes may be fished at night from shore.  However, some Harriman State Park amenities — like the beaches, boating season, and some roadways and the gates to access roads — close during the winter months, and the Visitor Center at Reeves Meadow is only open on weekends and holidays.  (The Visitor Center on the the Palisades Parkway has more regular hours, and you can buy trail maps there. )Search this site for specific closings.

Getting There, and Parking

Q.  What’s the Tuxedo-Harriman shuttle bus?

A. The Tuxedo-Harriman shuttle bus is a weekend-only shuttle service that can be used for:

  • getting from the Metro-North train station in Tuxedo to many, many of the trailheads;
  • creating one-way routes back to your car, so you’re not forever backtracking or looking for loop hikes;
  • doing overnight hikes, and getting a ride back to the train station and towns by lunchtime the following day.

Q. How can I use the shuttle bus?  Where can I catch it?

A.  The shuttle bus leaves the Tuxedo train station at 10:50 on Saturday and Sunday, and does a scheduled route through the park.  You may get off, or on, the bus, almost anywhere along the route.  Common pick-up areas are Reeves Meadow Visitor Center, the road in front of the Sebago boat launch, Silvermine picnic area, and Elk Pen.

Find more details for the Tuxedo-Harriman shuttle here.

Q.  Is there overnight parking in Harriman if I’m camping in one of the lean-tos, or “stealth” camping (in a tent or hammock)?

Trail conference maps show parking, both on the roadside and in lots, that's available for overnight parking at Harriman State Park.

Overnight parking is permitted in Harriman State Park where a “P” (both bold and unbold) represent official parking areas. There is no roadside parking in areas not marked with a “P”. This map shows convenient — and legal — overnight parking on Route 106, for a hike either north or south on the Ramapo-Dunderberg trail to Bald Rocks or Tom Jones shelters.  Map by NYNJTC.

Yes.  Overnight parking is permitted in any parking area designated on our downloadable PDF map.  These parking areas may also be seen as a “P” or “P” on the  maps from the New York New Jersey Trail Conference (and on the maps, you’ll see two types of “P”s:  the bold “P” represents a parking lot; the unbolded “P” represents roadside parking.  See picture).

As for leaving your car there overnight, make sure you have removed all your valuables.

According to the State Park Police, “as long as you’re parking in the hikers’ lots, notifying the police that you’re leaving your car overnight isn’t an issue.”  Meaning, you don’t have to let them know ahead of time.

Download the map to see these parking areas, along with their GPS locations:

Harriman State Park Trails, Shelters and Parking Areas: A Free PDF Map to Download

Q.  Is there roadside parking in Harriman?

A.  Again, you’ll have to park along the road where it’s labelled with a “P” on the official maps or our PDF version.  These parking areas are all over the park, as you’ll see on our map or your Trail Conference map.  But if you park along any of the roadways in Harriman that aren’t official parking areas or lots, you are liable to get ticketed.

Q.  Is there roadside parking on the Palisades Parkway?

A.  No, parking isn’t allowed on the Palisades Parkway — although there are times on holiday weekends ,when the parking lots at the two swimming lakes (Lake Welch and Lake Tiorati) are so full, you’ll see people illegally stopping and unloading their cars.  Right there on the grassy verges.  Don’t do that.

Q. Is there treasure hidden in Harriman State Park?

A.  This is a juicy one.  The best tales of hidden treasure out there involve Revolutionary War-era outlaw and bandit Claudius Smith.  Smith is said to have buried his silver and thievin’s in the mountains of Harriman, and specifically near the Claudius Smith den near Black Ash Mountain (Blue Disc trail, south section map).  His family came from Canada years after his death and, guided by Smith’s maps, searched the area, but found nothing but muskets.

Bear Mountain

View from the top of Bear Mountain State Park, at the terminus of Perkins Memorial Drive

Evening at the top of Bear Mountain, Bear Mountain State Park. Views like these are easily arrived at, via Perkins Memorial Drive.©www.myharriman.com

Q.  Is Bear Mountain part of Harriman State Park?

A.  No — Bear Mountain is part of Bear Mountain State Park, and it’s adjacent (and connected to) Harriman at the northeast boundary of the park.

Q.  How do I drive to Perkin’s Memorial Tower on top of Bear Mountain?

A.  Here are the directions for driving to the top of Bear Mountain, where you’ll find the tower.

Q.  Where can I get a free trail map of the hiking trails in Bear Mountain State Park?

A.  You can download a PDF version of the Bear Mountain State Park day hike map,  or download a GPS copy of it for your Iphone or Ipad, to help you pinpoint your position on the trails (and try out the map app!) by following this link, and the instructions for uploading the app and free map to your device.   Both are courtesy of the New York New Jersey Trail Conference.

You can also download our PDF trail map for the entire Harriman State Park.  It’s a large file:

Harriman State Park Trails, Shelters and Parking Areas: A Free PDF Map to Download

You can also see our page on Trail Maps for free downloadable PDF trail maps of Harriman’s popular trail areas.  These are basic maps that will allow you to navigate the trails and make out-and-back loops of varying length and duration.

Q.  Can I download the Trail Conference maps for Bear Mountain to my Iphone, Ipad or Android device?

A.  Yes, you can, and the Bear Mountain trail map is available for free.  This is also a great way to sample these maps on your Iphone or Android before you buy the larger set of the Harriman park trails (for $5.99).

The digital trail maps can really enhance your hiking and navigating experience — they’re more than just maps.  Give them a try!  You can download both the maps and the app trailside, if you need.  For a complete explanation of how this works, see our post on the digital trail maps for Harriman State Park, download the app and find free (and not free) maps.

Camping

Q.  Do I need a reservation to camp in Harriman State Park?

A.  There are a few official campgrounds in Harriman State Park, and you’ll need to make reservations or book a spot.  The campgrounds are Sebago Cabins, Beaver Pond, Baker Camp, and the “pioneer-style” camping at Tiorati Plateau and Cedar Pond (these last two are for group campers, such as scout or church groups).  See our pages under the menu item, Overnight.

However, there is another camping option, and you do not need to make any kind of reservation, or pay a fee, for staying in (or near) any of the many lean-tos in Harriman State Park.  For these, you’ll just show up.  See our page about the lean-tos of Harriman State Park.  A bonus of staying in these lean-tos: They’re cool!  Many have great views of a valley or the distant New York City skyline, and are perched on glacier-scraped, bony hilltops.  They also have ample tree populations for hammocking, if that’s your thing.

Q.  Is winter camping allowed?

A.  Yes!  You are allowed to camp in the lean-tos at Harriman State Park.  The other campsites — Beaver Pond, Cedar Pond and Tiorati Plateau, as well as the cabin camps, are closed by mid-October and won’t open until April.

Q.  Can I build a fire in Harriman State Park?

A.  Open fires are only permitted in the firepits and fireplaces of the lean-tos, and in barbecue grills at the beaches and campgrounds (Sebago Cabin Camp and Beaver Pond, Cedar Pond and Tiorati Plateau, and Baker Camp).  If you need to do some cooking on the trail, consider bringing a small sterno camp stove, which can be more efficient for certain types of cooking than a fire pit.

Q: Can I bring my RV to Harriman?  Are there campsites for RVs?

A: Yes.  Beaver Pond campground can accommodate an RV.  However, there is no water or electricity at these sites.  You can download the complete information brochure for Beaver Pond campground here: Beaver Pond Camping Information-

 

Jump into a swimming hole at Harriman State park to relieve the stress of extreme heat while hiking

Hiking Harriman’s extreme heat: Don’t take a jump in the lake; ease into it instead.

Swimming in Harriman

Q.  Will they do a bag check at the lakes (Welch and Tiorati) at Harriman?

A.  Yes, sometimes — though not always.  They also warn against bringing alcohol into Baker Camp and will do a bag check, and trunk search, there.

Q.  Is it legal to swim in other areas of Harriman State Park — the lakes, reservoirs and streams, or swimming holes mentioned on this site and others?

A.  No, it isn’t.  You are also responsible for your own safety if you’re swimming outside areas protected by lifeguards.  However, people do swim in “swimming holes” of Harriman every day in the warm months of summer.  But you’re on your own!  In 2013, there have been three drownings as of July 30.

Q.  What lakes in Harriman Park are (legally) open for swimming?

A.  Lakes Welch and Lake Tiorati are open for swimming and have public beaches.  Lake Sebago is closed for the entire 2013 season, and probably will never re-open.

Q.  Why is Lake Sebago beach closed?

A.  The beach area is closed, officially, because of damage from Hurricane Irene in August, 2011.  As of this writing, nearly a two years have passed since that event.  New York State budget cuts probably have more to do with the persistent closing of that beach.

Q.  When will Lake Sebago beach re-open?

A.  According to a park official, Lake Sebago beach in Harriman State Park will probably never reopen.  According to this official, New York State will not spend the money needed to repair the damaged roads, displaced sand, and other destruction, or to staff the lifeguard stations or buildings.  (If you want to experience this beach before it turns completely to wilderness, why not pay it a visit?  Bring your bike; park at the picnic area at Lake Kanawauke, on Route 106, and ride south on Seven Lakes Drive until you reach the entrance road to Sebago Beach.)

 

Boating (Kayak, Canoe, Rowboat, Inflatable):

Q.  Can I boat in ANY body of water in Harriman?

A.  No.  Boating in Harriman is limited to the following lakes: Askoti, Island Pond, Kanawauke, Sebago, Silvermine, Skannatati, Stahahe, Tiorati, and Welch.

Q.  Do I need a permit for a kayak (or canoe) in Harriman State Park?

A.  Yes.  In fact, you need a permit to put any type of watercraft into the water of Harriman State Park.  It’s a fairly easy process that can be done on the same day as the day you plan to go out on the water, and it can be done entirely within the park.  See our page on boating in Harriman State Park.

Q.  Can I bring my kayak/canoe to Harriman State Park?

A.  Yes, you can bring your own watercraft (motorless!) to Harriman.  Get a permit; see our page on boating in Harriman for information about the permit process.

Q.  Can I get a permit for an inflatable boat?

A.  Yes.  Permits for inflatable boats are given if the boat has documents or displays National Marine Manufacturers Association ABYC, ISO or CE endorsement.

Dogs:

Q.  Are dogs allowed in Harriman State Park?

A.  Yes!  They are allowed in all areas of Harriman Park except the beach areas of Lake Welch, Lake Tiorati and (now closed) Lake Sebago.

Q.  What are the rules for dogs in Harriman?

A.  The typical rules apply: they must be leashed.  Then the weirder rules kick in: they must be muzzled.  Why this rules exists is beyond me but let me say I have never, ever seen a muzzled dog in Harriman.  I don’t know anyone who has ever seen a muzzled dog in Harriman.

Most dogs you will encounter on the trails will be unleashed, and loving every minute of it.

Q.  Are dogs allowed on the Harriman State Park beaches?

A.  No.  According to the New York State Park rules for Lakes Welch and Lake Tiorati, dogs are not allowed on the beaches.  They’re not allowed in buildings, camping, or picnic areas, either.

Q.  Can I bring my dog to one of the lean-tos in Harriman for an overnight camping trip?

A.  Yes.  Keep him under control and be respectful of others who might be sharing a lean-to site with you.

Q.  Can I bring my dog to Bear Mountain State Park?

A.  Yes.  They must be leashed (the old 6-foot-leash rule applies).  Dogs aren’t allowed in the picnic or swimming areas, or in the Trailside Museaum (we made that mistake, once.  Accidentally!)

Climbing

Q.  Is rock climbing allowed in Harriman State Park?

A.  Yes.  As of May 1, 2013, the Powerlinez climbing area in Harriman is open for technical climbing.  See our post about Powerlinez climbing in Harriman here.

Wildlife

Q. Are there dangerous snakes in Harriman State Park?

A.  Yes.  There are two types of poisonous snakes in Harriman: the copperhead, and the timber rattler.  These snakes are dangerous when disturbed.  If you hear rattling in the bushes near the trail, that’s a timber rattler letting you know he’s in the area, and you should stick to the trail.  Don’t go looking for him!  In some cases, a snake may be shedding his skin or sunning himself by lying on rocks or out across the trail.  When shedding, he may not be able to see you.  The take-away here is, keep your eyes on the trail; don’t hike alone; bring a cell phone, and be alert.

Stay away from the timber rattler habitat: grassy, sunny, open areas are especially favored. Don’t go off the trail into high grass.

The bite from a northern copperhead is rarely fatal.  It is, however, incredibly painful.

Never touch a dead timber rattler.  Incredibly, they can still bite you, as their nervous systems remain active for some time after death.  Remember Glen Close at the end of “Fatal Attraction”?  The bathtub scene?  Like that.

Q.  Are there bears in Harriman State Park?

A.  Yes, there are black bears, and they are becoming increasingly bold around the leanto shelters of the park.  There are also bears who visit the campgrounds of Beaver Pond and Sebago Cabins.  For this reason, never sleep with your food nearby, but bring an approved, bear-thwarting bear canister for your food.

Q.  Are the bears active in winter?

A.  Even though black bears go into hibernation around the end of November, you cannot trust the Harriman bear to hit the snooze button.  Black bears have been seen in Harriman State Park in winter, outside their dens.  Bear tracks have been spotted in the freshly-fallen snow.  So for this reason, don’t camp with food nearby.  Use a bear canister (and see our post on bear activity).

Berry-Picking

Q.  Can I legally pick berries from Harriman State Park?

A.  Yes, you can; in fact, you can pick (and eat) in every New York State park.  It’s allowed by the code NYCRR, Part 190:  “No person shall deface, remove, destroy or otherwise injure in any manner whatsoever any tree, flower, shrub, fern, fungi or other plant organisms…found or growing on State land, except for personal consumption….”  .

Blueberries raspberries elderberries wineberries and serviceberries grow on the trails of Harriman State Park

Blackberries, raspberries, blueberries — both high and lowbush — wineberries and serviceberries grow in abundance along the hiking trails of Harriman State Park. The forest fruit ripens at the very end of June.

Q.  What’s the difference between a wild blueberry and a huckleberry?

A.  Blueberries and huckleberry bushes look similar, and certainly the fruit looks similar, too.  But the huckleberry is smaller and black (the eastern variety, that is) and grows in denser clusters on the bush.

Q.  When is blueberry season?  When are the other berries ripe for picking?

A.  Blueberries are usually ready around the second week of July, with huckleberries ripening the following week.  Blackberries are ready around the final days of July and into the first week of August.  Elderberries follow the blackberries and are ripe by mid-September.

Last of all are the  grapes in Harriman.  A wide variety of grapes grow wild in the park, including small fox grapes (sour and not for eating, but great for preserves),  Concord (loose-skin) varieties, and other tough-skinned grapes grown by former residents of the meadows and valleys of Harriman.  These grapes ripen in September – early October.  Picking the grapes makes a great outing in the cooler weather!

Q.  Are Harriman’s wild serviceberries edible?

A.  Yes, they are, and they’re really good!  You’ll find serviceberry (shadberry) trees all over Harriman State Park, especially in the rocky, higher elevations.  Serviceberries are good on cereal or in muffins, but they’re also a little on the small side, so you’ll be picking them for a while before you get a decent basketful.  Pick the ones that are dark red/purple.

Hunting

Q.  Is hunting allowed in Harriman State Park?

A.  Yes.  Hunting is allowed in the area of Harriman west of NY Route 17 and into Sterling Forest State Park. Other areas of Harriman-Bear Mountain are not open to hunting.

Winter Sports

Snowmobiling

Q.  Is snowmobiling allowed in Harriman State Park?  Where can I ride my snowmobile?

A.   Yes.  Snowmobiling is allowed (and is free!) in the Lake Welch area of the park.   There must be at least 6 inches (6″) of snow on the ground for park maintenance to groom the trail and for you to bring your machine onto it.

Lake Welch is open for snowmobiles between 8 am and 4 pm.  You’ll sign in at the gate off of Route 106, and then park at the furthest parking area.  Gate 3 is where the 5-mile route along Lake Welch Drive  starts.  Traffic on the trail (which is really just Lake Welch Drive) is two-way.

Lake Welch is closed in winter during the weekends, EXCEPT when there is snowmobiling (i.e., when there is at least six inches of snow on the ground). 

…and when there is snowmobiling, Lake Welch Drive is off limits to both snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.

If you need more particulars or if you need to know whether there are 6″ of snow at the park, you can try calling the office and leaving a message (845-947-2444).

Cross Country Skiing

Q.  Is cross-country skiing allowed in Harriman State Park?

A.  Yes, and you can ski almost anywhere there’s snow, except for the Lake Welch area when there is more than six inches of snow (because Lake Welch Drive is only open to snowmobilers at that time).

Q.  Is there a fee for snow activities?

A. No, unless you park at Bear Mountain State Park’s parking lot, where you’ll pay eight dollars on the weekends, or fees associated with organized winter activities & events (ice skating, Groundhog Day, etc.)

Q.  Are ski trails groomed?  Are there any rental facilities?

A.  The trails are not groomed, and there are no facilities for renting your gear.

 

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