Sunday, August 29, 2010

Bash Bish Falls/Sunset Rock/Prospect Hill - Bash Bish State Park, MA and Taconic State Park, NY

Bash Bish State Park, MA
Taconic State Park, NY

NY/NJ Trail Conference South Taconic Trails Map #4
Mt. Washington State Forest Map - Massachusetts DCR

From the New York State Thruway I-87/I-287, take the Saw Mill Parkway north to I-684 north. I-684 north turns into 22 north. Stay on 22 north all the way to Copake Falls, NY, then turn right on 344 to Taconic State Park.  Pass the Bash Bish lower parking area on the right in Taconic State Park and proceed to the upper Bash Bish parking area a short distance ahead on the right in Bash Bish State Park, MA.  GPS coordinates: 42.113844, -73.491608

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HIKE DISTANCE:  8.1 miles

From the upper Bash Bish Falls parking lot in Massachusetts, with your back to Route 344, head to the right on the blue-blazed trail.  This trail is not shown on the main map but there is an enlargement of it on the reverse side of the map.  This trail is rocky and at times descends steeply while going through a beautiful forest which chokes out most of the sunlight.  You will be able to hear the waterfalls which become increasingly louder.

At 0.4 miles, arrive at a gravel road.  Turn left to go a short distance to Bash Bish Falls.
View from the upper platform.
Up close view at bottom of steps leading to the falls.
Start the hike early because the falls will be crowded later in the day as you come this way again.
After visiting the falls, head back the way you came on the gravel road, keeping to the left as the blue-blazed trail you came down on veers to the right.

You will soon see signs indicating you are leaving Massachusetts and entering New York.  The gravel road will run parallel to Bash Bish Brook.
At 1.0 miles arrive at the Taconic State Park, NY lower Bash Bish Falls parking lot where there are porta potties.  Continue through the lot veering right to Route 344 where you will see the Cedar Brook Trail trailhead directly across Route 344.
This is an optional return route if water levels are low as this trail is impassable otherwise.
Cross over Route 344 and turn left.  Walk a few steps over the bridge then turn right into the woods where the white-blazed South Taconic Trail heads north.  Follow this trail heading towards the campgrounds.
Most of the South Taconic Trail will be a woods road up to Sunset Rock.
Follow the white-blazed Taconic trail to the right when the campground is visible straight ahead and then to the left at a chain link fence section.  The trail will be going uphill, sometimes gradually, other times more steeply.  At 2.6 miles arrive at the other end of the Cedar Brook Trail keeping left on the South Taconic Trail.

At 3.25 miles arrive at a sign which points to the left for Sunset Rock.  Follow red blazes painted on the stones on the ground, then on trees for a short distance to the overlook.  You will need to stand on Sunset Rock for better views over the trees.
Views of the Hudson Valley with the Catskills in the distance.
Retrace your steps on the red-blazed trail, turning left on the white-blazed South Taconic Trail.  You will soon enter an arbor tunnel where the trees form a canopy overhead.

At 3.5 miles keep to the left when an unmarked trail veers right.  At 3.7 miles cross over Sunset Rock Road, turn left and walk briefly down the road to the continuation of the white-blazed South Taconic trail on the right.
At 4.1 miles there will be a Massachusetts state line marker dated 1898 straight ahead.  Turn left before the marker to Prospect Hill views.

I hiked farther north almost another mile from this point as there were supposed to be more views but I did not see any so unless you want a longer hike, retrace your steps back from this point for an 8.1 mile hike.
At 5.6 miles arrive back at the blue-blazed Cedar Brook Trail trailhead.
This trail is strenuous with some very steep downhill sections where you need to watch your footing carefully but it is a much prettier and interesting trail than the woods road of the South Taconic Trail you came up on.  Only attempt this trail during periods of low water as otherwise the trail would definitely be not be passable.  You will be rock hopping over Cedar Brook several times.  If water levels are high or if you are not up for a more strenuous section, return the way you came via the South Taconic Trail.  Either way, you will end up back at Route 344 where you go left through the lower Bash Bish Falls parking lot to the gravel road that takes you back to the falls.

At 7.7 miles arrive back at Bash Bish Falls and turn left on the blue-blazed trail which leads back to the parking lot.

At 8.1 miles arrive back at the parking lot.  If you are up for a very short but challenging rock scramble to some great views, head on up by the sign at the south center of the parking lot which directs you to a scenic view.  There will be hand rails and cables to assist in climbing up.

If you are heading back home south on Route 22, about half an hour away from the park is a farm market on the right that has some very nice organic produce.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Appalachian Trail, NJ - Millbrook Road to Crater Lake, Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area

ABOUT THE PARK: Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area

TRAIL MAP: NY/NJ Trail Conference Southern Kittatinny Trails Map #121

I-81 to exit 12 (Route 521-Blairstown); left on NJ-94 South to stop light; right on Bridge Street; right on High Street briefly on to Millbrook Road.

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GPS coordinates: 41.059215,-74.963497

There are a few parking options - I'll go into detail here since parking is limited.

Parking for two cars at the northbound A.T. trailhead where this hike starts:

Parking along Millbrook Road facing east - black car at southbound AT trailhead; red car at gravel pull-off. (These would be on your left heading west.)

HIKE DISTANCE: 12 miles out and back including loop around Crater Lake

Views are limited along this section of the AT. You catch glimpses of both east and west views between the trees so I would imagine views would be much better all along the ridge when the leaves are down. Much of this hike is fairly level with some ups and downs. You are starting out up high at 1250 feet with the highest elevation around 1490 feet.

Start northbound on the white-blazed Appalachian trail where it reenters the woods after following Millbrook Road west for a short distance.

At .4 miles arrive at Black's Pond which has a beaver lodge.

At .7 miles arrive at a power cut with views to the east and west, although marred by towers and power lines.

For the next 3 miles you will be walking along the ridge. The trail turns to smooth, easy woods road about half way along the ridge.

At 3.2 miles, a view over Fairview Lake to the east:

At 3.9 miles there will be a water pump to the left. Stay to the right, cross over Blue Mountain Lakes Road, turn right at the AT sign. Follow the road briefly and reenter the woods to the left at the next AT sign.

At 5.1 miles turn right on the orange-blazed trail which will bring you to the east side of Crater Lake. There are side trails to the lake, closer to the north end you will find picnic tables at the lake.

Because cars can drive up to the lake, there will be other people around. At the north end of the lake is a parking lot with surprisingly decent restrooms.

I could find no orange trail blazes at all in this area. To continue around Crater Lake, take the service road from the parking lot (across from the restrooms):

A short distance ahead the service road curves to the right, the orange-blazed trail goes to the left (blazes on tree). From this point the trail is again poorly blazed and several unmarked trails branch off. I did not do this correctly but did end up back on the A.T. which is what you want. I stayed left at the first fork, right at the second fork and that brought me to the white-blazed A.T. - turn left on the A.T. A short distance ahead is a view to the west.

From here stay on the white-blazed A.T. back to where the hike began.

NOTE: As you start to hike away from Crater Lake at the southern end, you will come to an intersection where the orange-blazed trail begins at triple blazes on the right. In this area, the orange trail loops around and crosses over the A.T. again a short distance ahead. If you continue straight ahead on the A.T. you will need to descend very steeply down an escarpment. If you prefer to avoid this section, take the less steep orange trail detour to the right, then right on the white-blazed A.T. when the trails intersect again.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

West Mountain/The Timp/Doodletown - Bear Mountain and Harriman State Parks, NY

NY/NJ Trail Conference Harriman-Bear Mountain State Parks
NY State Parks - Bear Mountain State Park
NY State Parks - Harriman State Park

NY/NJ Trail Conference Northern Harriman Bear Mountain Trails Map #119 (recommended)
New York State Parks - Bear Mountain State Park Trail Map

I-87/I-287 (New York State Thruway) to exit 13N (Palisades Interstate Parkway North); after 15 miles on Palisades Interstate Parkway North, exit 19 for US-6 East, keep right on Seven Lakes Drive; watch for narrow paved road on right (pictured below) in about .4 miles and turn right - no signs but this is the parking lot which holds about 12 cars.

GPS coordinates: 41.304258, -74.01571

HIKE DISTANCE: 7.3 miles (1st half moderate/strenuous, 2nd half easy)

NOTE: It seems that due to vandalism trail markers are often removed in these parks. I will note those areas and how to tell if you have gone too far.

Facing the barrier at the far end of the parking lot, take the white disk with red 1777W trail to the left.

Keep left on the 1777W trail at both of the forks (unmarked).

.25 miles - the 1777W trail turns right merging with the white-blazed Appalachian Trail for a short distance. When the trails split, stay right on the white-blazed A.T. leaving the 1777W trail.

.8 miles - after a steep uphill climb the white-blazed A.T. turns left; after another brief climb you arrive at east facing views of Bear Mountain with Perkins Tower and the Hudson River.

After another short uphill climb the blue-blazed Timp-Torne trail joins the white-blazed A.T. from the right, keep left on the blue/white trail to views facing west.

This trail continues along a ridge with several more west-facing views of Harriman State Park and the Palisades Parkway, which provides some traffic noise for a while until the trail leaves the ridge.

1.8 miles - At the trail junction sign, keep left on the blue-blazed Timp-Torne Trail when the white-blazed A.T. continues to the right.

A yellow trail will join for a while then branch off - continue on the blue-blazed trail.

2.3 miles - Arrive at the West Mountain shelter with great views of the Hudson and the New York City skyline.

Nice, shady break spot downhill a little bit beyond the shelter with great Hudson views and lots of overhead flight activity:

2.8 miles - after descending West Mountain, watch for the blue-blazed trail to make a left turn. An unmarked trail will go to the right. Although the turn is blazed on a tree, this turn is easy to miss if you are not paying close attention. If you end up at an intersection with the red-dot-on-white and red-cross-on-white trails, you missed the turn.

3.4 miles - arrive at The Timp summit with views of the Hudson River and the New York City skyline. You can also look back over at West Mountain and see the shelter you were at previously.

Stay on the blue-blazed trail as the red-dot-on-white trail crosses over.

4.4 miles - arrive at an unmarked intersection with a cairn in the middle. When you look to the left you will not see any markers on the trees. This is, however, where you turn left. You will not see markers for the 1777 trail until you walk farther down the trail.

If you come to this series of stone steps going up along a vertical rock wall, you missed the turn and need to backtrack.

The 1777 trail takes you through Doodletown, now an abandoned ghost town. Signs posted along the way point out interesting facts and sometimes show drawings or pictures of the homes which once stood at those sites.

There are also some old cemeteries. The oldest tombstone I saw was dated 1816 but there were many older stones which were illegible.

If you want to spend time more thoroughly exploring Doodletown, you might want to print out the map below from Wikipedia as we saw a note saying the sign you would come to as you entered Doodletown was removed by vandals.

6.0 miles (not counting walking around Doodletown) the 1777 trail splits off into the 1777W and 1777E trails at the sign:

Take the 1777W trail to the left.

6.5 miles - stay on the 1777W trail as the yellow-blazed trail crosses over.

7.0 miles - the white-blazed Appalachian Trail joins from the left briefly; keep left on the 1777W trail as it leaves the A.T. after a short distance.

Keep right at the two unmarked forks.

7.3 miles - arrive back at the parking lot.